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June 2008

Running T-Shirts - Hot Off The Press!

Thank you for your posts on Thursday of why you run.  I was so very inspired from all the I_am_a_runner_1 posts on Take It and Run Thursday of why we run and what makes us a runner.  After reading through them, I felt like I just couldn't let them just sit there.  So I compiled all the text together and sat down at my most favorite web tool - WordleHave you Wordled?   It is a simple on-line application which takes lots of text and turns it into a word cloud. I_am_a_runner_2 It's fabulously addictive!

Here are a glimpse of the the reasons you run and what makes you a runner - in the form of a word cloud.  They are really quite striking. 

So striking in fact, thaI_am_a_runner_3t I just couldn't stop.  Next, I turned to the wonderful list of "Why I Run" from each Lounger's profile.   It is quite a list - over 700 runners reasons of why they run.   I fed that list in the Wordle engine and - waalahh! - more inspirational ways to look at the reasons we run. Why_i_run_8

Since it is Running T-Shirt week in the Lounge, I did the next logical thing - I put some of these Wordle word clouds on T-Shirts in Zazzle.  It's really cool to see "Why I Run" come to life.  I couldn't stop myself after I started!  I added them to cups, cards and even stamps.

A glimpse of the Runners' Lounge gallery is below.  Without you and your reasons, the shirts wouldn't be as cool.  Heck, they wouldn't even exist.

We are looking forward to your running T-shirt sayings, ideas and inspiration on Thursday!

That's What The Lounge Is All About

This morning I received a note and pictures from Catherine and Mel that they proudly finished the Wee Little Virtual 5K.  It's special because they did it!  And then what gave me goosebumps all over, was noticing how proudly they displayed their "I am a runner" bracelets with the beautiful Capetown, South Africa shoreline in the background.


That moment was a high point for us and our work on the Lounge Runners' Lounge.  Just a year ago, the Lounge was a vaporlike dream still rolling around in Tom and my heads.  We know 1runners20lounge20logowe wanted a way to connect runners across the world but wondered if two ordinary runners could do it.   This one picture was confirmation that we can and we are.   I feel so lucky to know Catherine and Mel tried and succeeded!

My little hometown post office is in constant amazement of my daily mailings.  I have sent bracelets to almost every state in the U.S.A., but now regularly mail to South Africa, New Zeland, UK, Belguim, and Canada.  It feels good to keep connecting with more and more different runners.  It also reminds me that many geographic, cultural and time zones may make us different, but as runners, we share so much in common.

With the busiest time of the running season upon us, we hope you have found some time to connect with other runners in the Lounge.  There are some great Lounge Groups to check out including,

Or, if you are looking for a few good threads and forums, check out:

And outside of these discussions, don't forget to connect with runners.   The Search Profiles page give you 12 different ways to search and find runners.   I especially like the "Connect with Runners" categories.  If you haven't filled your out (via your profile), take a moment to do so.

It only takes seconds to reach out to a runner in the Lounge.  Do it today!

"Mom, I Am A Runner."

Today was a big day for my son.   On his training plan, it was his first real road race.  We choose the annual 2 mile/5K Independence Day run/walk in our hometown.  It's a small race, 21 years strong, that kicks off the 4th of July celebration for the next week.

He was so excited to do the race!  He was a big bundle of energy, ready to run!   

As his mom, I was a little nervous if he was going to be able to do the full 2 miles.  In the last four weeks since he got off his cast and boot after foot surgery, it has beImg_0385en tough to get his leg strength back.  But he hasn't complained much and he keeps trying - so we keep moving forward.  We had worked up to about 1 1/2 miles on the walk/run plan so this would be a PR for him in distance and time.

I reminded him over and over that no matter what, we would stay the course with our plan. We would run our run.  Race our race.   We were going to walk and run, with a bit more emphasis on the walk side.  It was good he heard it and agreed with it because it was a really fast field and we found ourselves escorted by the sag wagon/ambulance after about a half a mile.   I thought it might discourage him, but he just looked back and said, "Look mom, we are in front of 4 runners."   My response..."ummm, no.. we are last (smile)."   "No, see our shadows are behind us and there are 2 guys in the ambulance - see we aren't last."   I like his logic about the shadows and made a mental note to remember that next time.

After 2 long miles of walk/run we crossed the finish line.   He was so excited, he threw his arms up, gave a big "whoot!", and had the biggest smile.  And me?  I did my best not to cry like a baby.  I am so proud of what he has done!

As we walked to the water, he stopped and turned to me and said very matter-of-factly but happily,

"Mom, I am now a runner."

And I am thinking to myself, "don't cry, don't cry".   We take a few more steps and he turns back and says,

"You know, running and crossing the finish line felt so good, like the best feeling ever. I know why people run." 

More tearing up from me.  Img_0388

When his sister saw him she immediately asked, "Tucker, did you win your race?".   His response, "Of course I won - I finished."  That's my boy!  Bring honor to all those brave enough to run a race and finish last.   This makes my 4th race that I have finished last and the one I am most proud.

His race and spirit was a good reminder of what running is all about - it's about trying, it's about pushing yourself, it's about finishing what you started, and last but not least, it is about enjoying your running moments.

And good luck to all the runners in Wee Little's Virtual 5K race!  All are runners who are doing their first 5K as they graduate from the Couch to 5K program.   You are all winners!

Open Mic Friday: Meet Steve Speirs

Open_mic_friday We enjoy meeting every kind of runner.  And today's Open Mic Fridays features a runner whose is fun loving, competitive, collects running quotes, and knows his running very thoroughly.  We're delighted to feature Steve Speirs.

Welcome to Runners' Lounge, Steve!

How did you develop your passion for running and fitness?

I've enjoyed running since my high school days in the UK, where I would run to keep fit for football (rough translation = soccer) and rugby. In the early 80's my rugby coach persuaded me to enter my first road race – the Cardiff Half Marathon - where, without really training, I finished in the top 30%. I've been hooked ever since.

Frederick06_09 You race often. What's your secret to staying motivated and healthy?

I love the local running scene where you can find races every week if, like me, you're that way inclined. I'm not sure I have a secret to staying motivated - I guess I'm just lucky that it comes really easy to me. I constantly strive to be the best I can in all walks of life, and running is no exception. As for staying healthy, my lifestyle and eating habits are pretty good and I tend to listen well to my body.

I also swear by Hammer Nutrition products where I've discovered a great range of endurance fuels and training supplements that got me through 7 months of training and an Ironman Triathlon, and have been fueling me ever since.  I'm definitely not perfect though; the couple of occasions I didn't pay heed to the warning signs, I got injured and was forced to take time off. 

You just recently started a custom-designed marathon training plan.  What about the plan is unique and makes you excited about following the plan?

Well, the plan was put together by coach Greg McMillan and is based on a very detailed questionnaire Greg had me complete. The plan is the first time I've ever "paid" for a training program and I'm excited to have something non-cookie-cutter to follow in my build-up to the Richmond Marathon in November. You can read more about the plan and my decision to part with $150.  Oh, the things I'll try just to run a PR!

Tell us about your other blog?  And how do you keep up with them and your running community?

Shamrock08_0014_layer_9 My other blog started as a blog about my country of birth, Wales. For those who don't know (probably most of you reading this), Cymru is Welsh for Wales. Cymru is pronounced cum-ree by the way. The Welsh blog soon turned into a place to post about my training and racing, and before long I was blogging about all kinds of random stuff: fitness, cycling, beer, recipes, rugby, boxing, my iPod, making money online, my MINI Cooper, web design and blogging to name just a few.

I tend to post to my running blog every day, even if it's just to record brief details of a training run. Updates to my other blog  are more sporadic; mainly due to lack of time, not lack of interest.

As for keeping up with my running community; if someone takes the time to leave me a comment, I'll typically take a few minutes to reply - it's just the right thing to do. Honestly, I really appreciate everyone who takes time out of their busy schedules to read my ramblings when there are probably a hundred more important things going on in their lives.

What's your secret to marathon success?

I look back at the late '90s and remember dreaming of a sub-3 hour marathon. With a then PR of 3:27 (PB if you're a UK reader), I thought it was impossible. However, in November '99, in my first marathon in the USA, I ran 3:05 at Richmond, and vowed to train hard all winter for the Shamrock Marathon the following March. Unfortunately, with six miles to go at Shamrock I was forced to the side of the road with stomach problems, somehow got going again and finished in 3:00:35; close but not close enough.

I think this race was a huge turning point and gave me enough confidence to believe I could one day run a sub-3:00. 20 months later, again at Richmond, I ducked under 3 hours by the narrowest margin of just 24 seconds.

So, my secret to success? I guess the term success is relative, but my "secret" would have to be confidence. Definitely respect the classic distance but be confident in your ability and go for it.

Notable fact: my last ten marathons have all been sub-3:00 efforts.

Img_1294 You love running quotes.  What is your favorite(s)?

That's a tricky one to answer. Any of the quotes on my blog could be classed as a favorite, but I must say this recent one from Kara Goucher is high on the list at the moment:

"Get out there and do what you love!"

Which race is your favorite?

No particular favorite, although several hold great memories for me:

  • Cardiff Marathon, Wales - my first marathon attempt. I was barely out of high school and had no idea what I was doing.
  • London Marathon - both "Londons" were wonderful experiences - highly recommended if you ever get a chance to run it.
  • Richmond Marathon - the venue of my first sub-3:00 and also my wife's first ever marathon finish - such a proud moment!
  • Charlotte Marathon - the venue of my current marathon PR. It was 19 degrees at the start, but nothing would have stopped me on that day.

Actually, any race where I can challenge myself, cheer on fellow runners and enjoy the camaraderie could be classed as a favorite.

How about a favorite race distance?

Has to be the marathon; the ultimate challenge.

What's been your greatest athletic accomplishment?

Training for and completing my one and only Ironman Triathlon attempt in Lake Placid, NY in 2004. Also, I have to mention seeing my wife Ally finish her Ironman a couple of hours after I'd crossed the line was a huge moment for me too.

What is your current running goal?

Definitely a sub-2:50 at Richmond in November. I still dream of breaking 17 minutes in a 5k, but maybe this one's not meant to be.

Most of us have a quirky running trait  How about you?

Quirky? Does drinking a Guinness and eating Macaroni Cheese the night before a marathon count?

What are your non-running interests?

Too many to mention really: my family, web design, my MINI Cooper, music, reading, house projects, bike riding, coffee and my latest "obsession" - saving up enough money to buy a 60's VW Bus.

Who is your running hero?

Paula Radcliffe, Sebastian Coe, Steve Jones. Apologies for the lack of US heroes; I'm British remember? :)

What stands out as your greatest running moment?

Probably finishing third at this year's Frederick Marathon and picking up $300 prize money. I ran the last 10 miles on my own and had no idea where I placed until I'd crossed the finish line. Remarkably I didn't wear a watch and didn't even know what pace I was running.

What's going on in your life outside of running?

Recently I launched the "hundred push ups" web site and have been astonished by it's success. Not sure how it all happened but the site has had almost one third of a million unique visitors since it's June 9th "launch".

As mentioned above, I'm saving hard to buy a 60's VW Bus. At the moment any spare time I have is spent researching and reading up on the classic vehicle! Maybe one day I'll have enough...

If money could buy you a running dream, what would it be?

Great question! I would have loved to be at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, lining up against Seb Coe and Steve Ovett in the 800m and 1500m.

Most runners have a favorite running shirt.  What's yours?

Probably my Charlotte Marathon shirt from 2006 - my fastest marathon and quite a cool shirt too.

Do you mind sharing the best running advice you've ever been given?

(In a strong Welsh accent): "Just put one foot in front of the other until you get to the finish" - my rugby coach before my first ever marathon.

And what's your parting advice you'd like to share with the rest of us?

(In a not-so-strong Welsh accent): "Just put one foot in front of the other until you get to the finish."  Actually, Kara Goucher's "Get out there and do what you love!" is pretty good advice too.

Take It and Run Thursday: You Are A Runner

Take_it_and_run_thursday_2 Welcome to Take It and Run Thursday!

It's our way to bring together the knowledge of all of us ordinary runners.  It's the virtual equivalent to putting our virtual heads together.  Even though many of us aren't elite athletes, coaches or authors, it doesn't mean that we haven't earned a well deserved PhD in running.   Whether you are starting out, have 50 years of running under your belt or somewhere in between - all of us have lessons learned that make us wiser and better runners.  

Today's theme is .... ... 13 words or less:  "You are a runner...."  Finish the thought in 13 words or less.  When did you know you were a runner?  What did it take, in your head, to label yourself or tell others that you were a runner?  Was it a quick transition or did it take a long time?   If you have hung around in the Lounge for a while, you know my biases about this topic - but I would be interested in hearing your thoughts of what makes someone a runner.

Just post your name and the title/topic of your post in the first spot and the link to your post in the second spot.    

Next weeks theme is - "That is a great running Tshirt!".   Do you have a great running Tshirt or have the perfect phrase for a Tshirt?   Look through your closets, do some virtual window shopping on the intranet, or make up your own.  Drop it off on Thursday!

Click here for a the complete list of great posts on "You Are A Runner..."

You are a runner...

You are a runner...when you crave running. 

I started running to get fit, lose weight, and get a better pair of legs.  But over the years, running evolved from just a physical activity to something I need just like air and water.

On a pretty regular basis, I find that even when my legs don't need a run my mind does.  I_am_a_runner_only_band Just  yesterday, my brain was plotting out a long, flat, easy course so my legs could take it on an hour of mindless running to work through questions at work and to do lists at home.   It seems like the wheels of my mind turn easier when my legs are also turning over during a good run.

And then on other days, when too many days have gone by without a run, I feel my legs just itch to get out there and move.   

When I tell someone I need to run, it usually isn't because I have a run on my training plan, but instead because I need to run to recharge, reorganize, relax and rejuvenate.   That is the reason I crave running and also the reason I know that I am definitely a runner.

Picture by me - The famous "I am a runner" bracelet from Runners Lounge.  Since the fall when we launched the Lounge, Tom and I have given away thousands of "I am a runner" bracelets to runners who proudly proclaim their runningness.   

Related Posts:

Why I run...in 13 words

I_am_a_runner_shirt This week for Take It And Run Thursday, we invite everyone to complete the statement about why you are a runner…in 13 words or less.

It can be a variation on how you define yourself as a runner, when you recognized you became a runner or what it took to become a runner. 

The challenge—besides saying it in 13 words—is to express yourself without having to explain it further.  Let your statement speak for itself.  There are no wrong answers.

So here goes:

I’m healthiest, happiest, strongest, and enjoy the most meaningful life when I run.

We also hope you have fun and enjoy others’ views.

Running shirt on Flickr by Nordicteem

Feeling a little smarter....

Thanks to the Loungers who participated in our "Knowledge Drive" last week.  We had some great new tips and posts roll in and start to fill our shelves.

Here is a glimpse of some of the new information added:

It was a nice way to wrap up the week, soaking in a tub of knowledge.   A little information always makes my running better.

As for prizes, it was too hard to choose from all the participants, so I enlisted the help of experts (ie, my kids) to pick names from a hat.  And the winners are...

bvccollins:  The winner of the book, "The Complete Runner"

irishcream:  The winner of a SpyBelt

felicepd:  The winner of two pairs of DryMax socks

Congrats winners!  Drop me an email at amy@runnerslounge.com with your mailing address so I can send your prize.

Thanks for helping to fill the shelves!  And remember, anytime is a good time to add a post or tip.   

The more we share, the more we learn and the better we run.  The better we run, the more we enjoy running and the more we smile.  The more we smile while we run, the more it makes nonrunning friends wonder what is so great about running and decide to give it a try.  And what do new runners need more than a good pair of shoes?  Running information!   So share some today.  Because the more we share....   

Open Mic Friday: RazZDoodle

Open_mic_friday This weeks Open Mic Friday is with RazZDoodle, from the famous Running Off At The Mind blog and RazZDoodle from the Lounge.

You recently celebrated your 2 year anniversary of running.   What advice would you give other beginning runners and Couch to 5K followers? 
Find a supportive network.  Whether it be a running group, message boards, blogs, etc., it's important that there are people out there that can celebrate/commiserate with you and can answer any question you have.  I've found that runners are the most supportive group and I've gotten great advice from ultramarathoners to people who started running yesterday.  Runners Lounge is the perfect place to start!  You guys have done a pheeeenomenal job with it!  (you're paying me in cash for this, right?)  {Editor's note:  ummmm....not really.  But if it makes you feel better - you are so right!}

Why did you start running?

That's kind of a long story, but I'll shorten it.  I started running for three reasons: 
A couple of years ago, my doctor told me that I needed to work on stress management.  I was having mild anxiety attacks and his prescription for it was.....wait for it......medication.  NOT a fan of that, so he said, "Well, you could always exercise."  Huh, ya think maybe I could try that rather than doping me up?  Thanks, doc!
I had an iPod and I wanted to use it more.  Sounds weird, but I'm a self-proclaimed tech-geek.
I was bored.  The sacred cow of teaching is the summer break.  I'm a fan of it, but in all honesty, I get bored/antsy after about 2 weeks of it.  I need to be doing something.

You have a marathon on your training plan for the Fall, following Hal's plan.  What are you most concerned about?  What are you looking forward to?

Sticking to the plan.  It should be pretty easy during the summer, but in the fall, my schedule will significantly fill up.

How did you choose the best marathon in the US?  (Ok, that is a cheesy, set up question since it is in lovely Des Moines IA.) 
I knew that if I was going to do this, a fall marathon was my best option.  I can do the bulk of the training during summer break.  Without significant traveling, I was down to deciding between the Omaha (where I live), Kansas City (love that town), and the Des Moines marathons.  I chose DM because my parents live there and I'd have a familiar place to sleep.  That, and the fact that my beloved Nebraska Cornhuskers are playing Iowa State in Ames the day before.  At least I hope it's during the day.  If it's a night game, I'm hosed.  I've requested pasta for the tailgate party.

What has changed the most for you, due to running, in the last two years?
To quote the great philosopher, Frank Costanza:  "Serenity Now!"  With all of the craziness in my life, running helps me center myself.  There's a big difference in my attitude when I'm running regularly.  Just ask my family and my students.

If you hadn't started running, what do you think you would be doing with all that free time that you weren't running or blogging?
I'd be sleeping in at least an hour longer
I'd be having anxiety attacks all over the placeRazzdoodle
I'd have a lot more time at work to teach, research, etc.

Does your family support your running?
There pretty supportive.  I think it all came together for them during a race this past Memorial Day.  I think they realized how much running means to me and how I'm not the only one into it.  My 4 year old is itching to run in the next kids fun run and my wife really enjoyed the 1 mile walk.  My 1 year old is more concerned about chewing on my Garmin. 

How did you come up with the blogger name "RazZDoodle"?
My students gave me that one.  I have a really long last name and they like to shorten it.  See, there's a progression with me in my classes.  You start off calling me by my proper name.  Then, as you earn your stripes (i.e. - projects, in-class drama, broken equipment, etc.), you can start to call me "Mr. Raz".  More stripes, you can call me "Raz".  One kid took it a step further and called me RazZDoodle.  I wasn't a fan, but it stuck the rest of the year.

Who is your running hero(s)?
Wile E. Coyote.  Actually, it's my boss.  She's in the Nebraska Sports Hall of Fame for Cross Country.  She's a phenomenal runner and she's always willing to give me advice when I ask her.  She was the one that convinced me to run a 10K race after I missed my first 5K (another long story). 

If you could run faster or run longer, which would you choose?
Faster.  I want to be able to outrun a puma if need be.  That, and I want to qualify for Boston.  It's my ultimate goal.

How do you cope with the extreme seasons of the midwest?  

I think you need to find your intrinsic motivation to get out there, thumb your nose at Mother Nature and say, "Hey, you're not going to beat me today!"  That, and we just bought a treadmill, which I detest.  I prefer running in 55-65 degree weather running when the sun is rising.  There's nothing better.

What's the hardest thing about running?
For me, it's getting up at 4:30am.  Once I get over that hurdle (get it?  hurdle?  running?  ha!), and I'm out the door, it gets easier.

What's the best thing about running?
Oh geez, there's a lot of "best things". I'd say the best thing, besides the health benefits would be the fact that I can say, "I ran ___ miles this morning."  There's that sense of accomplishment, whether it's 3 miles or 26.2 miles.

Take It and Run Thursday: 5K and 10K tips

Take_it_and_run_thursday_2 Welcome to Take It and Run Thursday!

It's our way to bring together the knowledge of all of us ordinary runners.  It's the virtual equivalent to putting our virtual heads together.  Even though many of us aren't elite athletes, coaches or authors, it doesn't mean that we haven't earned a well deserved PhD in running.   Whether you are starting out, have 50 years of running under your belt or somewhere in between - all of us have lessons learned that make us wiser and better runners.  

Today's theme is .... Tips for 5K's and 10K's.  There is one on almost every corner of the map every weekend.  Drop off a tip (or two or three or more) of how you train, race, prepare, pick 'em, integrate them into your half/marathon training, hydrate, celebrate - if it is related to a 5K or 10K (or any distance in between) share a tip with the Lounge.   

Just post your name and the title/topic of your post in the first spot and the link to your post in the second spot.    

Next Week's Theme is ... 13 words or less:  "You are a runner...."  Finish the thought in 13 words or less.  When did you know you were a runner?  What did it take, in your head, to label yourself or tell others that you were a runner?  Was it a quick transition or did it take a long time?   If you have hung around in the Lounge for a while, you know my biases about this topic - but I would be interested in hearing your thoughts of what makes someone a runner.

Click here for a list of the great posts with 5K and 10K tips.

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