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August 2008

Open Mic Friday: August Winner! Meet Gregg

Open_mic_friday Our ExtraOrdinary Runner Award for August goes to Gregg (glpaxton).  Gregg shares his story about "Why I Run".   He talks about his victorious battle over weight loss but also how running changed his life.   Read his story today!

And after you read his story, take a few minutes to learn more about the man behind the story!  Gregg is an active member of the Lounge, has a great blog, "Confessions of a Fat Runner", and is the moderator/founder of the Lounge Group - The Fat Runners Society.

In your story, you tell us about your first run - a 5 mile run - with a friend.  What came next for you?  What kept you running?

My best friend Dale, a police officer, kept bugging me to run with him.  I had been riding my bike around 50 miles, or so, a week at that time.  I had no desire to run.  Running was something you did from dogs, the law, and when trying to catch the bus.  Finally, I caved and went out to a local park with him.  I had some running shoes that I used when I rode but they had never been used for running.  Dale set his watch and off we went.  We ran at a modest pace.  At the time, I probably weighed around 220, having lost a ton of weight but had put a few pounds back on.  We made the first loop, then the next, and I lost track of time and distance as we talked and laughed.  I always kid Dale that he's my real soul mate as we are both goof-offs, jokers, and are the only two people that would sit together in a room.  It was a great afternoon that day and as we finished our run, he asked me how far I thought we had gone.  I had no clue--2 miles?  Maybe 3?  He chuckled and said, "How about 5?"  I couldn't believe it.  It felt great.  That began a long and wonderful partnership for us (Dale and I) as we began to run together, faithfully.  Running made me feel strong and I felt fit.  What kept me running was the photo I keep of myself, taken at a school dance.  I weighed over 300 pounds and I look terrible in that picture.  Little did I know it would be running that would get me through some of toughest times in my life.

Gregg_1 What has been the biggest challenge of your running?

My biggest challenge in running is staying motivated.  As I age, I'm getting more and more tired and don't always feel like lacing up my shoes and hitting the road, but I do.  I like to eat, especially pancakes, so I know I need to pay the Piper if I'm going to dance. 

What are some of your favorite nonrunning activities?

My favorite non-running activities include writing, doing some art whenever I can, spending time with my family, and reading The Runner's Lounge.  My goal is to become a full-time writer in the near future.  I'm working on a book about my wife's incredible life story.

Tell us about your job as a middle school teacher?  Highlights?  Lowlights?  :} 

My job as a middle school teacher?  Well, I'm also an administrative assistant which means I fill in for principals when they are off campus and I act as administrator at ballgames.  The highlights are definitely working with the future of our country.  I tell my kids I firmly believe I'm teaching the next doctor, lawyer, teacher, plumber, mayor, President.  And I KNOW I'm teaching the next husband, wife, father, and mother.  If I fail at the latter, the former won't matter much.  The lowlights include discipline and seeing how our state and federal governments are failing our schools.  We get less funding every year and that costs everyone in the form of teachers leaving the profession and our kids not getting the best possible education our affluence can buy.

In your story and profile, you talk about your daughters challenge of diabetes.   TellGregg_2  us how your running supports that cause.

My running only marginally supports the cause of diabetes because I haven't been able to take it to the next level.  I would love to run from Amarillo to Austin, right into the state capitol building to raise awareness for this terrible disease--a disease that claimed my stepfather last year and afflicts my wife, daughter, and sister.

What did you do thi summer?  (Come on, you are a teacher, I had to ask the classic question.)

At the beginning of summer, I taught bilingual pre-kindergarten at my wife's elementary summer school program.  Yes, you heard right.  I'm a middle school art and career education teacher, but I've taught elementary summer school the last three years.  Also, I spent a week in a gifted and talented education training.  Contrary to popular beliefs, most teachers don't enjoy the "luxury" of being off in the summer.  We attend trainings or teach summer school to offset rising gas prices and an ever-increasing cost-of-living.  I got a 3% raise this year. 

What is your running dream?

I guess I have two "running dreams."  The first would be to someday run the Boston Marathon.  Actually that's more of a fantasy!  Second, and probably more doable, is to run across the U.S. to raise money and awareness for the cause of diabetes.  Diabetes is the least funded of all the major illnesses and one of the fastest-growing in terms of numbers diagnosed each year.

What has been your biggest accomplishment?

My biggest accomplishment, by far, has been raising two daughters that know and love Jesus Christ.  Failure is not an option in that case.  I am extremely proud of my girls.  My family is my life.

Gregg_3 How does your family support your running?  How do you repay their support?

My family supports my running by calling me "Imelda Marcos" in jest of how many running shoes I have at any given time.  To sequester my guilt, we began gathering shoes to send to Zimbabwe.  My good friend Jason, a Lounger and big runner, says that gave me more of an excuse to get more shoes.  Seriously, my wife appreciates how I want to stay healthy to take care of our family.  My girls brag their dad runs every day and that makes me feel good.  I repay their support by continuing to run and by giving them time away from cranky dad.

What are your near term and long term running goals?

I have two running goals for September.  My dear friend and colleague Anne is fighting a battle against breast cancer.  So, I'm planning to run the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in late September here in Amarillo.  I don't get to travel much to races so I pick whatever is close.  We have our Mayor's Half Marathon here in town in about a month that I want to run.  Our budget prohibits me from traveling out of town to run.  My daughter's insulin pump costs a pretty penny so I'm content with running locally and just anonymously hugging the curb each day after school, dreaming of Heartbreak Hill and crossing that finish line in Boston.

What advice would you give to other runners?

The main advice I would pass along to bigger runners is to never quit.  You don't have to look like a Kenyan marathoner to be a "runner."  If you have on your shoes and have made the commitment to get out there on the road or treadmill, no matter what your size, you ARE a runner!  Stay the course, keep your chin up, and keep moving forward.  You can do it!

Take It and Run Thursday

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 ....Run. Rest and Recover.  Repeat.   Outside of oxygen and water, the next most important ingredient for running is rest and recovery.  How do you rest and recover from your runs?  Favorite drinks, fuel, lounging activity?  Have you found the perfect combination of running and recovery - any magic formulas?  Share your tips!

Just fill in your name/title of your post and your URL below.

Next weeks theme is .... Your Favorite Run in Pictures!   If money and time was unlimited, we would have spent the the summer cruising the world and visiting all our running friends in the Lounge.   But both seem to be obstacles we have yet to overcome, so we thought we could do a little show and tell instead.  Bring pics (and a story) of your favorite run this year.  Take us with you on the trail or route you run often.  Show us pics of your race.    Show off your part of your running world.

Rest and Recovery for a Reformed Runner

Funny thing.  If you would have asked me to talk about "rest and recovery" a couple years ago, my response would have been a world of difference compared to my current mindset.  Running_on_empty Not that many years ago, rest/recovery was an evil thing I pretended to squeeze in - but did so half heartedly - more to satisfy my family schedule (by talking a day off) versus thinking about how rest/recovery could benefit my running.  Or I did it when I was finally so darn tired I knew I couldn't physically do whatever it was I needed to do.  I was driven to run to train for races and compete with myself.  And I liked it.  And I am so glad I did it.   

But time, aging, and a few more years of running brings perspective.  In my current space, I see rest and recovery as an important part of my running.  Instead of running and training for the next race, I find myself with a new attitude.   

100_year_old_woman I run.  I rest and recovery.  I repeat.   And I do so in order to make sure I can still run well when I am a half a century old.  And then again when I am 75 and hopefully, God willing, when I hit the big 100.   I am no longer planning my running solely on the basis of upcoming races this year. 

I rest and recover in order to keep running until I am 118.  I will rest and recover to make sure I am capable of running a marathon when my kids find the joy of running that far. That's my plan.

For me this means more spontaneous runs and rest/recoveries.  I change my training plan more freely.  I have learned to adapt my plans based on my body is telling me instead of just the chart on the wall.  I have found that learning to listen to my body is a much better barometer than only listening to the I plan laid out months prior.  Sometimes it means I run shorter, or slower, or switch out running for another activity.  Sometimes it means I take a break.  If I listen close enough, my body knows what to do and what it can take.

It took me 13 years of running, but finally all those lessons I learned the hard way are sinking in.

To Improve in Running: Recover Hard

The most valuable lesson I’ve ever learned about how to enjoy running and how to improve is not about training hard.  It’s about recovering hard.

Recovering is not merely the absense of running or training.  It's deliberate, planned, and even wellor poorlyexecuted.

Running author Pete Pfitzinger says, “Improvement for a highly motivated runner is chiefly limited by your ability to recover.”  Which means I can bust my hump on the road or track, but if I'm too stubborn or impatient to recover, I might very well be throwing away the benefit of my training from the last few days or weeks.

I don't own a lot of technical running gear, but I do own a heart rate monitor.  When I bought it, the sales guy took me aside to explain about HRMs.  Nope, he didn’t show me how to operate it; instead he told me when to use it.  He explained how the most important time to use the HRM is on easy runs as most runners tend to run way too fast when they should be running slowly on recovery days.  In other words, the most overlooked run is the easy run, where highly-motivated runners can get lost in their ambition and miss the benefits of recovery.

Run_easy_sign The importance of running slow seems to be misunderstood by many runners.  We  get lost in the land of training hard and often miss the rich benefits of running easy. Instead of running easy, we often pile on too much running at a faster pace than we need to, missing the enjoyment and training benefits of running easy

The World’s Best Running Coach, Dr. Jack Daniels, says running easy gets shortchanged, yet it has the highest importance in even the most competitive runners' training plan.  He refers to running easy as “free from trouble or pain” with substantial benefits and says it’s how runners should spend at least 85 – 90% of our running time.  And he’s even given this training intensity a technical name—Easy Runs!

Run_easy_sidewalk Still, it seems recovering is hard for many runners. We tend to downplay the importance of our easy, short, and slow runs and the benefits they gain.  Instead, we see the gritty fast runs and the long runs as the key to getting better.  Running easy is the bread and butter of our most intense training.  Running easy helps keep us out of the land of overtraining, muscle pulls, and stress fractures. 

So how do I use my HRM?  Not to ratchet up my pace, but instead  I wear it on my shorter easy runs to keep my pace and intensity lower than I would otherwise run.  It reminds me to slow down and reap the full benefits of easy running.  It’s a shame I sometimes need to strap on a device to aid my recovery.  You’d think I’d figure that out with less technology.

Some useful articles on recovery include these by Pete Pfitzinger.

Training and Recovery

Finding Your Optimal Work/Recovery Ratio

Listen To Your Body

During your training may your mantra be: Recover Hard!

Run Easy sign on Flickr by Running Engelhardt

Sidewalk sign on Flickr by Spotmaticfanatic

FREE STUFF! Giveaway: Finish Line Wine

We are really excited about the results of our first FREE STUFF! Giveaway! 

We had almost 60 LoRuntofinishungers contribute to the advice thread and provide over 100 pieces of advice.   We have compiled all the information and the article, Tips For Getting Through a Tough Run  is now posted in the Know How section under the category, Training>Building Endurance.

And our lucky winner of $50 of DryMax socks is RunToFinish.   Congratulations to RunToFinish!  And thank you to DryMax socks.   

And now, onto our next FREE STUFF! Giveaway!

Finish Line Wine is the sponsor of our next giveaway and will provide the winner with a Finish_line_wine_mainimage personalized fine wine they can save as a keepsake or use to celebrate their success with friends and family.   

Finish Line Wine was established by Peter Gower, an avid marathoner and previous wine industry executive and wine lover. After running his first dozen or so marathons and half marathons, and after speaking with many runners, he realized two things: there exists a very unique bond among marathoners and that most are very educated and driven people who like wine. Thus was founded the premise of Finish Line Wine…to offer marathoners a bottle of personalized fine wine that they can save as a keepsake of their first race or PR time or to share with friends and family.

Finish Line Wines offers bottles of 26.2 or 13.1 fine wine personalized with your name and finish time as well as the name and date of your marathon and race organization logo.  These wines will allow you to remember your awesome finish as well as to enjoy with your friends and family. The wines Peter selects are made for runners: balanced, intelligent, and full of life and character.

Tom and I have had the opportunity to toast the Lounge over a glass of the wine and agree with Peter's choice for wines!   It would be hard for a runner to make the decision whether to have the bottle be a keepsake if they know how enjoyable the wine is to drink.

Anyone can become eligible to win

Since Runners’ Lounge is dedicated to sharing useful resources, just contribute advice or a tip to the Giveaway Question. Your advice or tip can be something you have learned along the way, something you have read, a link to a great post (yours or someone else’s), or a link to others’ advice on another running site. 

All Loungers who contribute to the Giveaway Question between August 25 and September 6th will be eligible to win a personalized bottle of fine wine.  Runners’ Lounge will select and announce the winner on September 8th.

This week's Giveaway Question:

How do you celebrate and reward yourself for your running accomplishments?

Go to the Lounge and leave your tip today in the forum to become eligible!

Even if you don’t win this very special keepsake, you will be a winner in the Lounge.  Runners’ Lounge will compile all the responses in a combined article for all Loungers to enjoy.

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Open Mic Friday: Pieces of Me

Open_mic_friday We are quite honored to have Pieces of Me with us today!  We have enjoyed Pieces blog for over a year and feel lucky to have found her with a few minutes to answer some of our questions.   She has been an active member of the Lounge, first starting the Holiday Weight Loss Challenge Lounge Group and now leading the Portland Marathon Lounge Group as she trains for the Portland Marathon.

Why did you start running?
I have only been running for a little over 2 years. When I turned 30, I was overweight and miserable.  I had a little nervous breakdown and realized I had to make a change.  I started to think about food differently and then started to eat differently.  I was losing 2 lbs a week within the first month.  Shortly, I realized I need to kick up my exercise to take it to next level.  I was always a “walker” so I just added in some running in between my walks.  My girlfriend asked me to do a 5k with her. I thought “there is no way I can run 3 miles.”  But slowly I increased my distances and I did it.  After that race, I was hooked. Of course I jumped right to a 10k the next month and a half marathon 3 months later.  That’s when another good friend thought I should train for a marathon. Running started out as a way to lose weight, it’s become so much more though. 

What is your running dream?
I dream that I’m at a race and this tall, dark and handsome runner approaches.  We hit it off and …
Oh wait, that’s not what you meant, is it?

I know you have just recently sworn off talking about men on your blog, but have you found if running and dating mix?
I know this disappointed a few people – reading about dating is probably more fun than running sometimes. And trust me; I would LOVE to spill more details if my picture wasn’t plastered on my blog. I am an open book (or should I say blog) and can’t keep my mouth shut for too long. I’m sure dating bits and pieces will spill into the blog before you know it.   I have never dated a runner and think it would be fun to try.  Maybe I’ll meet someone at my next race. I will blog about it if I do.  One thing I know for sure - my running life is much more consistent than my dating life! 

When you aren't running or working, what are some of your favorite other activities?
I am blessed to live by the beach so just being outside is fun.  BBQs with friends, traveling, fancy schmancy dinners, nights in with DVDs and I’m getting pretty good at Texas Hold’em. 

What's one thing about you we don't know about you that you would like to share with the Lounge?
I’m pretty sure my blog readers know more about me than most of my family and friends. 

Last year this time you were pushing yourself and others to lose those final pounds over the holidays.  What's worked and hasn’t worked for you?
I don’t know how those lbs snuck up on me so quickly. I guess was in a fat and happy mode.  I always say losing weight is the easiest hard thing to do.  Easy in theory, hard in implementation.    In the past, I tried everything to lose weight.   These things DID NOT work – diet pills, fad diets and diet drinks –anything with the word “diet” in it.  What works for me is to go back to the basics.  The basics are eating simple and clean, cutting calories and increasing exercise.Pom

Any favorite gear?
I love my Brooks Elements running shorts. I just went online and bought 3 of the same pair. 

What has been your proudest running accomplishment?
The quick and easy answer would be my first marathon (last October).  But I know my second marathon (this October) will be much better! Honestly though, it’s not necessarily that actual marathon that I am proud of.  It’s the training and the dedication that it took to get me to the marathon.  I went from planning my weekends around dancing and booze to planning them around running and being healthy. What a difference a couple years can make. 

What is the most important thing you have learned about running?
I’ve learned that everyday is different.  Like life in general, some days the challenges are physical, some days they are mental.  But you always make it through and usually feel happy when you’re done.

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Tell us your cross training - what works best for you?
Cross training is my variable.  I go through phases of what I like to do. I used to be really into spinning.  Now I’m obsessed with Bikram Yoga.  I think Bikram is a great cross train because it stretches and strengthens. Plus you get your heart rate pumping in some of the “asanas.”  It’s hard core and relaxing at the same time. 

Take It and Run Thursday: Middle Miles

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 ....Don't Quit Now!  The Middle.  Your not quite to the point of a taper, you are in the toughest part of your training schedule.  Your miles are long or faster or both.  Your near or just past the middle of a run or in your training for your race but you aren't quite close enough to see the end.  What do you do?  How do you recover?  How do you ward off injury?  How do you stay motivated?  How do you deal with the middle miles?

Just fill in your name/title of your post and your URL below.

Next weeks theme is .... Run. Rest and Recover.  Repeat.   Outside of oxygen and water, the next most important ingredient for running is rest and recovery.  How do you rest and recover from your runs?  Favorite drinks, fuel, lounging activity?  Have you found the perfect combination of running and recovery - any magic formulas?  Share your tips!

Click here for a list of all the great posts on Managing the Middle Miles.

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Getting through the Middle Miles

The goal remains far off.  Motivation is waning and race day is still down the road.  Dean Karnazes calls them the “Half-way blahs.”

Long_road Of everything I’ve learned about getting through the tough times, the chief lesson is you can’t always muscle your way through.  I’m not talking about perseverance, which every runner has.  I’m talking about stubborn, heads down, aimless, grimace-and-strain-with-each-step running  It just doesn’t work.

So to get through those middle miles of training, I’ve learned a couple techniques.

  • Return to my original mindset way back when I took up running, experimenting with and finding new joys along the way.  That's how I get back in touch with my motivation.  Passion carries me long after my warrior drive has faded.  I stop running just to be able to run more or run faster.  Instead, I just run for the fulfillment.
  • Run gently and gracefully, not athletically.  I do this imagining I'm running as poetically as if to Chariots of Fire.  Then, when running becomes so demanding and it bursts my daydreaming, I stop, walk a bit, recover and resume.  If that means only running for a half mile or beyond view of my house before walking, so be it.
  • Keep_going_2 Ask other runners about their running.  Sort of the way volunteering makes me appreciate what I have, engaging others to talk about their running helps me re-ignite my motivations, achievements, and next runs.  I can listen to most runners talk about their running with genuine enthusiasm.  I inquire how it’s going, what they’re experimenting with, what's motivating them, what they’ve accomplished, and what aiming for.  Tip: did you know by clicking on the Runners’ Lounge sign board on the home page, then it refreshes to show you a new display of runners and their reasons “Why I run?”
  • Stop training and just run.  I recall the feeling I get after a run—not a training run—just a run.  There’s no substitute for it. I love what running writer John Jerome says in The Elements of Effort.

Running is for now.  Training is for later.  Training is about increase, improvement; it is future oriented, aimed at pushing back.

Running is for the run itself.  It’s only when you run for the running that you can hope to flow.  You can’t train all the time.

  • I abandon all things competitive.  I stash away everything associated with training—my schedule and running watch.   I run pure and unburdened. The same would go for other gear if I used it—Garmin, Nike+, I-Pod.  I also stop cluttering my mind with jargon like tempo, intervals, splits, running long, etc.  It’s like a vacation from training.

As I do every week, I am truly looking forward to diving into the wisdom to be shared in tomorrow’s Take It And Run Thursday on the topic of Middle Miles.  Whether it’s about getting through the middle portion of a run or the middle weeks of a training period.  It’s all good.

Down the Road on Flickr by Marc50
Keep Going on Flickr by Deestea

Managing the Middle Miles

There are many things that challenge me about running but in my top 5 list are "middle miles".  By middle miles, I mean the daily challenge of the miles of just over the half way point but not close enough to see the end of a run.   But even a notch above those miles are the weeks in my training schedule that I also call the "middle miles".   These are the weeks of training when I am past the half way mark, deep into the higher or tougher miles and I can't yet see the race day clearly. 

These middle miles are always hard.  They are far enough away from the beginning of my training and all the excitement pushing me along to the event.  But I am also too far from the starting line of the race to feel the event pull me in.  I am being neither pushed or pulled, I am stuck in the middle.

I am in the "middle" right now.  I am training for a few events, but none that seriously.  I Manage_middle_miles am having a hard time staying focused and being disciplined.  Running is fun but honestly the pull to just hang out in the summer evenings and have a cool drink and some barbeque and spend time with my family has been very strong.  Running in these middle miles has started to feel a bit like another chore or to do versus an outlet of enjoyment.

This is a familar to me this time of year.   I have found a few ways to overcome this challenge in my training.  Reaching in to my bag of tricks this year, I pulled out a very easy solution - take the week off.  No running, no guilt, just extra time hanging out with no regard to any "should be", "better not", "get up and squeeze one in", "need to get a run in today".   No running exercise related for a full week. 

So I did it!  And after a week off, I feel refreshed, reenergized about my running.  I am itching to run.  Can't wait!  There is something to the saying that absence makes the heart grow fonder.  I can again feel my passion for running.

In the past, I haven't opted for a week off - it is the most extreme tool in my running toolbox.  In the other 12 years of running, here are my other coping methods for "middle miles":

  • Run for a week, but completely unassociated with my event  - I find that a rigid training schedule with required runs on certain days to get ready for an event will quickly take away my joy for running.  So when I am training, I always leave plenty of wiggle room to put in some spontaneous runs in my favorite places as a treat.
  • Mix up my training  - A slight variation is to simple do all the miles/runs I need to get in to appease my training schedule but do them on different courses, at different times, or with different running friends.
  • Center and refocus - Take time to remind myself when I run.  What I enjoy about running, why I started, why I need to run.  I have done this as a mental exercise and even as a journal/writing exercise.
  • Think about all I have accomplished versus what still lies ahead - When running with one of my running friends, he always reminds me that every step brings me one step closer to the end of run/race.  He always says, "look how far you have come, how much space is behind you."   I try to remind myself how far I have come as I go through training and with each step, I am closer to my goal.
  • Read a great running book, see a good running movie  - Last week, Dean's book came at a great time.  I also reread UltraMarathon Man.  And for movies, I dug out my old VCR tapes of past Ironman races.  If you have seen these and are a fan, you know the ones in 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004 provide some of the best motivation ever.
  • Find inspiration from unlikely sources - And of course, who can pass up the Olympics?  From little 'ole Iowa, we have Shawn Johnson to watch.   Her spirit and determination is energizing.   And then of course Michael Phelps.   And after watching Jamiaica's Bolt glide across the 100m finish tape, I will never utter the words, "I am not built like a runner."  He is a giant compared to most sprinters but outperformed them all.  The human spirit can overcome anything.
  • Read my past race reports - Sometimes I need a reminder of why I enjoy these races.  My own words remind me of an experience that fades quickly with a busy life.

We are looking forward to your posts this week for Take It and Run Thursday and how you manage the middle miles.

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Dean Karnazes Endurance 50: More than about running 50 marathons

Runs end.  Running does not end.

Dean_5050 This was one of the major themes that runs through the book, 50/50: Secrets I learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days.

As Amy mentioned, we were privileged to receive advance copies of the book, so the opportunity to read the adventures was enriching and motivating beyond what I expected.  So we both want to share some of the ways the book impacted us the most.

So much humility.  A theme running throughout the book is Dean’s uncertainty about completing the Endurance 50.  While trained, experienced, and confident, he presents the day-to-day demands as real challenges to reaching his goal.  It might be easy to conclude that when you “set up” the logistics, travel itinerary, major sponsor financial support, publicity, etc., then a talented endurance athlete like Dean will unconditionally complete the 50/50/50.  Instead, he shares his occasional skepticism, low points and “what if’s,” showing his mortal nature.  Learning his doubts and concerns reveals a side we don’t typically see in a running legend.

Much more than 50 race reports.  Sure, each race is accounted for—marathon number, date, location, weather, and number of participants.  Yet each summary is not a standard race report.  He doesn’t dwell on his finish times or the highs or lows for each marathon.  Instead he weaves in the stories of each marathon’s unique challenges.  He speaks heroically of other runners’ courage, enthusiasm, and the ways they inspired him.  Can you believe it—the ways ordinary runners inspire Dean Karnazes!

Logistical Frenzy.  The Endurance 50 involved far more than running 50 marathons in 50 days. The logistics involved in executing the Endurance 50 are fascinating. His discussion of the planning—and occasional poor execution and overlooked details—provide a very vivid sense of the constant, every 24 ours, one-after-anotherness.  Dean credits his planners and support team with nothing short of miracles.

Lots of interior thinking.  Dean is a deeply introverted person, which explains why running extreme distances and times are a great match for his private personality.  Dean reflects on his friends, family, fellow runners, and deep meaning he finds in runners. It’s a rare glimpse into the heart and mind of perhaps the world’s most well-known marathoner and ultra-marathoner.

Lots of external focus.  Dean predicted early on that as an introvert, it would be a challenge to run 50 consecutive days with others tagging along. The daily pre-and post-marathon attention from runners, the media, and his support team created a constant buzz about him and around him that he was not accustomed to. Post race he stood in rain, wind, heat, and covered in persperation and sport drink to be on hand for others.  Despite his introversion, Dean went to great lengths to accommodate every runner interested in talking, shaking hands, taking pics, signing autographs, and listening to countless runners’ stories. 

Less about Dean; more about others.  It wasn’t unusual for Dean to shout out during a marathon his concern for others—their struggling condition, were they being provided enough fluids, and to make sure someone was looking out for them. I appreciated Dean’s devotion to others almost as much as his running.  When forced to choose between being interviewed by the press or waiting at the finish to greet and hug marathon finishers, Dean always chose the marathoners.

The entire Endurance 50 was born out of Dean’s ambitions.  And while the book could just as easily focus on his accomplishments, he enriches the experience by sharing a great deal about running.  Between race reports, he interjects useful knowledge about everything from shoes, nutrition, pacing, hydration, sleep, discomfort, recovery, the mental game, overcoming unimaginable odds, running in different climates.  It isn't a running how-to book, but you can't read it and not emerge a more informed runner.

By the end of the Endurance 50, I marvelled at Dean’s unextinguished passion for running.  There was no finish line swearing off such as, “Never again!”  Instead, with more conviction than ever, he contemplates what he learned, balancing running with his life and family, and where running will take him next.  And with more enthusiasm than most of us have at the end of a mid-week recovery run.

Whether you're a fitness runner or competitive runner.  A weekend 5k lover or an experienced marathoner, 50/50 has some wisdom, inspiration, and insight for every runner.  By the book's end, you will understand the theme Dean Karnazes reinforces countless times:

Runs end.  Running does not end.

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