Category Archives: Running

The Spartan Season is in full swing… with a race discount!

The Spartan Season is in full swing… with a race discount!

Now is the perfect time to get out and SPARTAN UP!  Yep… it’s me again.  It’s been awhile since I wrote on this blog about the Spartan racing series, but the time is here.  I hear it all the time, “when are you doing another mud run?”.  Well, the truth of the matter is a mud run is a warmup to this type of event, or OCR (obstacle course race).  A mud run is usually put together by people that want to raise money for a charity (which is awesome) or a dirty Saturday run instead of the traditional road race.

Spartan is one of the most demanding and rewarding experiences most people will ever face in their lifetime.. and those that do usually come back for more.  Sure, there are other races out there where you can “experience” obstacles put in front of you to test your ability in cold, wet or ‘electrical’ situations.  Spartan races are geared for you to test YOUR limits and push yourself forward as you have never done before.


That’s me… carrying a log up the ski slopes of Wintergreen resort in Virginia. This was about 2/3 of the way through the Super

I’ve always looked at ways to “get better” at something.  Right now it is Olympic Lifting.  The snatch is my GOAT – it kills me to get my mind around it but I am working at it… including spending a weekend with Coach Mike Burgener to help me see it from another perspective.  Yep, the perspective of a World-Class coach!

I don’t skydive because it’s not something you can get better at… of course, you can accrue jumps and become a master at the drop, but in reality if you make it to the ground in one piece you have won!

Back to Spartan… not only can you experience the race by dipping your foot in the water with a Sprint level race (3-4 miles) but you can go further with the Super (8-10 miles) and then the Beast (13+ miles).  There is something for everyone… even the kids!  My son ran the Spartan Kids race in Atlanta and loved it.  He was under age for the full mile race but chose to ‘scale up’ and run with the older kids.  Again, he decided to push himself past where he thought he could go.

For those that have run a Spartan race there is a sense of accomplishment.  Sure, I could sit in an ice bath or shock myself… but how am I going to get better at something?  How am I going to push myself to the limit to make myself ready for the world?

You make it on your own in this world.  You will never know what you can accomplish until you break yourself down in an unknown environment and push yourself through it.  And just like life, there are penalties… Spartan has them – make it through the best you can to avoid these penalties (30 burpees for each failed obstacle, in case you were wondering).

And if you make it through all three levels in a 12-month period you will become a member of the exclusive Trifecta Tribe!  You get to wear the medal, the shirt and have your name etched in Spartan lore…

Run all three and you can be a part of the Trifecta Tribe

Run all three and you can be a part of the Trifecta Tribe

Spartan is gearing up races all across the US and into parts of Europe and Mexico.  Check out the Spartan Race Finder page to see what is coming up in your area!  And if you are ready to jump in and test the waters… here is a code for 10% off any race (open heat) in the US:  SPARTANBLOGGER

Check through my other posts where I break down the different Spartan races and obstacles…

If you want a little more motivation, either before or after getting dirty in a Spartan race, check out founder Joe De Sena’s book Spartan Up!

And no… I am not a paid endorser of Spartan or any of it’s races.  I believe in it and have written about it on several occasions on this blog and elsewhere!

… now – SPARTAN UP and make it happen!

Ask me questions in the comments section or leave your Spartan race thoughts.

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Posted by on April 27, 2015 in Motivation, Running


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Spartan Race vs Warrior Dash

Spartan Race vs Warrior Dash

Yesterday, my wife and I ran the Warrior Dash in Huntersville, North Carolina. The reason? I needed something to train for and it was a good entry-level race that she could run… it would be her first run of any kind off-road since cross country in high school (she’s likes to run on the road).  We registered and ran the race… had fun doing so… and will definitely do it again in the future.

Now, you may be wondering why I titled this post as I did.

Well, I am a veteran Spartan racer with four races under my belt including the 2013 Trifecta. For the trifecta I ran the Sprint in Atlanta, the Super in Virginia and the Beast in my home state of South Carolina. In total, for non-Spartan fans, I ran around 24+ miles of obstacle courses in three states.

Websites for reference: Spartan Race Warrior Dash

Now, the comparisons/differences:

Length: about the same. The Warrior Dash was 3.08 miles and the Sprint-level Spartan is 3-4.

Registration: about the same. Warrior is now utilizing iPad checkins and, in the future, will allow you to sign liability waivers on the iPad.

Timing: Spartan is ahead here… you get the timing chip to attach to your shoe. Warrior does not – they have clocks at the start and at various points along the trail (about every mile). The clocks are actual clocks noting the time of day – not elapsed time. Bring a watch (they tell you to do so on their website).

Obstacles: easier on Warrior Dash. For starters, Warrior tells you all of the obstacles in advance (not that you can really train for them). You can view videos and photos of each obstacle so you know what you will encounter in advance. Spartan, on the other hand, does not. After the Spartan pledge and three loud AROOs, you’re off. Literally.

(One note: since Reebok has begun sponsoring the Spartan races, I have noticed there are mile markers on the course. Prior to this the volunteers at water stations couldn’t accurately tell you where you were.)

Level of fitness required for Warrior:  Warrior is entry-level plus (you can get by with a minimal level of fitness – many of the participants were walking from the start). Most of the obstacles were climbing-oriented… walls with boards to assist, inclines with ropes, cargo nets. I didn’t see any real strength obstacles that had to be mastered.  You do need to be able to climb and crawl on your hands and knees, at times.  The course in North Carolina was rolling but there were some places where you had to traverse the wooded areas (with mud).

Level of fitness required for Spartan:  Spartan takes a little more training. In this series you have penalties when you do not complete an obstacle or choose not to attempt one (30 burpees per obstacle). In addition, you may be required to carry objects (atlas stones, logs, sand bags), flip articles (logs, tires), pull objects behind you (concrete blocks on chains), pull objects up (5 gallon bucket of concrete) and climb a 20-30 foot knotted rope.

(side note – on some Spartan Races there is a Biggest Loser heat where anyone of any fitness level can run a shortened version of the race.  No burpee penalties if you decide to skip an obstacle as well).

I will definitely run the Warrior Dash again. We had a blast running the race and actually running a race together! I would like to give you some advice – raise money for St Jude Children’s Research Hospital (information is on the Warrior Dash site)… if you raise the minimum amount you get a hot shower, food, drinks and a separate area to leave your goods during the race! The alternative is the hose… sticking out of a water truck… spraying everyone underneath!

Based on my personality, the Spartan race fits my profile… I really don’t want to know what is next.  I want to know that I have to come up with the ways to make it happen – whether that is me climbing a wall on my own or working with others to build a base for each of us to us as we make the ascent.  I feel Spartan models the challenges we face in life.

OCR – obstacle course racing – is taking off and more and more groups are getting in on the action. I was at Dick’s Sporting Goods and saw where Under Armour is sponsoring Tough Mudder races. I REALLY hope people are not buying new clothes to run these races! There is advice part 2 – where old, comfortable shoes. You get a chance to donate them at the end of the run!

Whatever you do, get out there and get out of your comfort zone! It is no fun being normal.

For those of you that have run OCR, add your thoughts below…

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Posted by on May 19, 2014 in Motivation, Running, Writing


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Boston is WAY too close to home!

As a runner, I was stopped in my tracks today when I heard about the bombing of the Boston Marathon.  I’m not here to speculate on who did it or what the reasoning (or lack of) was.  I am deeply saddened for those injured in the race and on the sidelines.

In the past five weeks I have run two races – including one of the largest 10k races in the US.  The Cooper River Bridge run is one of – if not the – largest 10k race with 45,000 runners taking part.  Prior to the start of that race a lady was talking to her friend and said out loud, “we are a perfect target in this chute.”  Of course, in today’s terror-laden world, we always think about what could be next… a race wasn’t one of THOSE targets.  Until today.

I don’t care what you try to legislate… guns, ammunition, soft drinks, cigarettes or whatever.  You will NEVER legislate or regulate evil.  I am not preaching here – that is not my occupation.  All I can tell you is to do right by people and make sure you can go to bed with a clear conscious every night, whether that is through prayer or good deeds.

Good CAN prevail.  Thank someone, hug someone, tell someone you love them.  This can be the biggest buddy system in the world… and you know it – no one is bigger than the buddy system!  Watch each other’s backs and stand in the gap for those that need it.

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Posted by on April 16, 2013 in Just Me, Running, Writing


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The iTunes Running/Walking Workout

I went for a run tonight with no set direction or distance. I wanted to get in a run since I missed my workout due to an extended phone call with a client. Normally I would set my Nike+ iPhone app for a specific distance (e.g. 3 miles, 5k or longer) or I would run for a specified amount of time, say, 30 minutes on a lunch break or over an hour on a training run.

Tonight was different.  So, I used a different strategy for my workout… an iTunes workout.

The workout came to me a year or so ago when I was running on the beach at Isle of Palms, South Carolina.  My usual routes include either a right hand turn out of the beach house toward Breech Inlet or a left hand turn toward Wild Dunes.  These are very good early morning runs, however I needed extra motivation because I had seen the terrain multiple times.

Ergo, the iTunes workout… it’s easy and anyone with an MP3 player full of songs can do it… run to the fast songs and walk to the slow songs.  Simple.  I know.  But very useful and fun!


  1. Walkers:  Play the music… when Metallica’s Fuel comes on the player, walk fast.  When Jack Johnson starts playing, slow down and catch your breath.
  2. Joggers:  Again, play the music… fast songs mean a run and slow songs mean a walk
  3. Runners:  Yep, play the music… hard charge for the fast songs and slow jog for the slower ones.

Ok… this is not going to win you the Ironman Triathlon but it is a fun way to mix up your workout.  Just wait until you run hard for the 4:27 of Buckcherry’s Highway Star only to slow down for 3:12 while Jack Johnson makes Banana Pancakes only to run your tail off for 6:16 of Guns n Roses’ You Could be Mine.

You may wind up with three slow songs back to back to back only to be slapped in the face with multiple fast songs… the key is to play directly from the music library and not by artist or manually-constructed playlist.

Make your running or walking fun… that is the only way you will truly enjoy it!

PS – you get to decide which songs are fast or slow (no in-betweens).  Don’t cheat yourself!


Posted by on January 5, 2013 in Running, Writing


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Success… how bad do you want it?

Yes – I’ve done a lot of things in my life, but I have yet to ACHIEVE success.  Am I setting bar too high?  Am I continuing to put it out of reach?  I’m not sure… I just have not ‘made it’ yet.  I wrote a blog post on being comfortable a while back – that is one of my biggest fears – being comfortable.

Isn’t that what life is about? Finding comfort?  Eh, I don’t think so… those that get comfortable get overtaken by someone that has an extra ounce of drive, an extra boost of strength or an extra success goal dangling in front of them.

I stumbled across Hip Hop Preacher Eric Thomas from a video on the Spartan Race website.  This guy ranks up there with Larry Winget for telling it like it is… Here is a little taste of his wisdom:

There are several parts… you can scan through the listing at the end to find them.  I can’t hand you success!

Follow me on Twitter @scbidcaller and post something about success… make sure to use the hashtag #successneversleeps

Enjoy your kick butt day!


Posted by on October 26, 2012 in Motivation, Running, Writing


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The Spartan Beast – part 1

You’ve asked about it, so I am writing a two-part blog series on the Spartan Race. This post is a little background on the Beast event I ran a few weeks back.

The Finisher's Medal

Spartan Beast Finisher Medal

A little background on the event… the Spartan Race series has three levels: Sprint, Super Spartan and Beast. I’m not even getting into the Death Race format – I’m NOT doing it, so there is no need to cover it. If you want information on it just click the link I added. The Sprint level is 3+ miles, the Super level is 8+ miles and the Beast is 12+ miles (although these are just for conversation purposes…). I ran the Sprint in Charlotte, NC in March 2012 and it wound up near the four mile mark, however the Beast I ran ended up closer to 13.5 miles. Again, the numbers are just to “class” the races.

The Beast was held at Carolina Adventure World, a place I have no idea even existed. Pretty cool area, though, with ATV trails, hiking areas, mud bog areas and a lot of beautiful South Carolina wilderness. I believe I saw the majority of it either ON the trail or at areas where I could look out across the expanse. Winnsboro, SC is the address for the spot and it is approximately 20-30 minutes from Columbia.

I was clean at this point

For the full 411, visit the Spartan Race website for upcoming dates, photos, etcetera.

More background on the Spartan Series… think the movie 300, Gladiator TV series on Starz or even the Russell Crowe movie Gladiator. The series is centered around that period in history – all the way down to the Spartan creed, the Spartan mascot and the screams of AROO! AROO! AROO! that replace the starting gun you hear at most races. Many of the racers choose Spartan attire with men in shorts and shoes only and women, many times, in sports bra, shorts and shoes. I chose to cover up a little more with a sleeveless shirt, shorts, soccer socks and trail shoes… I learned a little from my Sprint experience in March! It really doesn’t matter what you wear and you want to trash it when you are done anyhow. SIDE NOTE: the Spartan organizers allow you to dump your shoes at the end and they will clean and donate them to third-world countries. I did not do this at the Sprint but did at the Beast.

So on to the starting line we go for the 9:00 am heat… Myself and about 200 other racers ready to tackle the – at the time – 12-mile course. We hear the Spartan creed, vow to help our fellow Spartans return and shout AROO! as we run through the smoke field. I’ll do my best to remember all of the obstacles, but I can guarantee you they will not be in order. Here is a sampling:

1. Over, under, through – a staple of Spartan races where you go, you guessed it, over, under and through a wall. The wall is approximately 4 feet tall and you either jump over it, crawl under it (a 12-18″ area) or pull yourself through the opening in the center.

2. Under the net – I’m sure there is another name, but this one is a low crawl under a bar with a netting material on one side… we did two of these in succession.

3. Walls – 4, 5, 6 and 8 foot walls. These are spaced throughout the course – many are easy to bound over but some require the use of a partner or two people – which IS allowed to complete the obstacle.

4. Over-the-log – again, this is my name for this obstacle. Logs are placed five feet off the ground and you have to bound – or climb – over five of them in succession.

5. Tractor pull – a concrete stone is attached to a chain and you must drag it down, around and back up a course approximately 100′ in length. I am not sure of the weight of the stone but I would estimate it at 45-50 pounds.

6. Atlas Stones – pick up the stone for your sex (men and women have different weights), carry to one side. Drop the stone, lift again and return to the starting point. I would estimate the men’s stone was 75 pounds. We had this obstacle twice on the course.

7. Tire flip – grab the tire and flip it five times forward and five times back.

8. Cargo net – climb the cargo net and return down the other side.

9. Large cargo net on A frame – climb the cargo net and return down the other side,

10. Rope climb – a knotted rope climb. Two of these on the course.

11. Barbed wire mud low-crawl – the first one was on a semi rise… with a fire hose spraying water on everyone. The second one was on a hill approximately 60-degrees going UP. Yep, with another fire hose spraying the course.

12. Tyrolean traverse – ropes pulled across the lake… you warp your ankles over the rope and pull yourself to the other side. Ropes are about 6′ off the water at the highest point.

13. Sandbag carry – grab a Spartan pancake and carry it up the hill and back down. Length of course is approximately 150-yards total.

14. Concrete pull – a 50-75 pound concrete block is pulled up a rope to a height of approximately 15′ and then slowly lowered back to the ground.

15. Rolling mud – three-part mud pit/hill climb. Cross the mud pit and then scamper up the muddy hill to the next pit. The entire obstacle is around 50′ long. There are two of these obstacles on the course.

16. Band hop – place ankles through a small rubber band – approximately 12″ in diameter. Hop across a set of tires four rows deep, then hop over two logs and return to starting position.

17. Pit jump – either jump the 6′ pit or wade through it… three in a row.

18. Javelin throw – toss a javelin into the straw bale and make it stick

19. Horizontal wall – cross the wall with only your fingertips and edges of shoes on the small pieces of 2×4 boards… the boards are canted at all angles.

20. Mid pit and slippery wall – cross the mud pit – under barb wire – and then grab the rope to pull yourself up the slippery wall. At the top, climb down the ladder wall on opposite side.

21. Tall ladder over the road – climb up and down the other side of the containers.

22. Fire pit – get a good running start so you don’t burn the hair off your legs!

… and always the last obstacle in the Spartan Race…

23. Gladiator pit – get a good running start and be prepared for a gut punch from the pugile sticks!

I left out the obstacle runs… these are runs through the woods, up trails, on switchbacks, through the river beds, over beaver dams and all kinds of other places the organizers decide to make you run!

After the Spartan Beast

After the Beast

So ends part one of the race updates… In the next post I will talk about the actual running of the race and preparations I did prior to running.

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Posted by on October 24, 2012 in Just Me, Running


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Out of my “Comfort Zone”

Those that truly know me know that I cannot stand being comfortable.

A tough statement, I know.  Of course, on a physical level, I like cool air on a hot day and a warm house on a cold day.  I’m not talking about that kind of comfortable.  I guess I am pointing this toward – stagnation – a failure to progress, develop or advance.  When people get comfortable, they stop DOING.  This can be in a job, with your family or just in life itself.

The Dirt Spot analogy:  Picture a pond.  Water flows into the pond.  Stirring oxygen.  Providing for the living things inside.  Then, for some reason, the water stops flowing into the pond… the oxygen begins to deplete and the water becomes stagnant.  As the water becomes stagnant, life dies.  The water starts to evaporate away and the depth goes away… the pool becomes shallow.  Then, at some terminal point, the pond is gone and all that is left is a dirt spot marking the area that once held vibrant life.

It is a dismal picture and one that happens day in and day out in PEOPLE.  For some reason the water stops flowing in to spur the oxygen and the life is drained from the body.  People get comfortable.  They think the water of life will always flow in to keep the motor running.  And then… nothing.

I cannot stand being comfortable.  Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.”  I call it switching seats on the Titanic – it doesn’t matter where you sit, the ship is still going down.

So, to combat this, I do something every so often to restart the life flow into my body… I’ve changed jobs.  I’ve rappelled upside-down off a waterfall.  I’ve run races of varying lengths – 5k, 10k and three 13.1 mile half marathons.  Stood in front of an audience of 2600 people to raise money for various charities… all to keep life alive within myself!

Sure – the stagnant ones around me all say, “You’re crazy” or “How do you do it all?” or simply, “WHY?”.  The simple answer – God gave me a body and I am going to make use of it.  I feel it is a sin to waste away.

So my latest endeavor?  The Spartan Sprint in Charlotte, NC.  A four-mile obstacle/mud run built to take you completely out of any comfort zone you have ever had…

Just a few of the obstacles… 4′, 6′ and 8′ climbing walls, stone pull, hoist a 5 gallon bucket of concrete up 25′, climb a steep incline with only a rope, traverse the edge of a river for approximately 1/4 mile (in the water), throw a spear, jump a fire pit… all while running on a muddy trail through the ups and downs of the US National Whitewater Center in Charlotte.

Correct… a four mile run WITH obstacles! Exactly what I needed to strip my comfort level back to zero.  Now, of course, you could say this would raise my comfort level.  Sure.  I can see that as a positive result of the experience as well.

Up next… the Spartan Beast in October.  I’ll be comfortable again by then.  Medical condition?  Psychosis?  Mid-life crisis?  Eh, whatever.  Figure out what you need to reenergize your life and GO FOR IT!

Here’s a little something to get you on the right track… enjoy!  (By the way, I turn 40 on April 10th… it’s not a mid-life crisis… I’ve only lived 1/3 of my life!)

The Rocky Balboa Speech to his son:

It was great just watchin’ you, every day was like a privilege. Then the time come for you to be your own man and take on the world, and you did. But somewhere along the line, you changed. You stopped being you. You let people stick a finger in your face and tell you you’re no good. And when things got hard, you started lookin’ for something to blame, like a big shadow.

Let me tell you something you already know.The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!

Now if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth! But you gotta be willing to take the hits. And not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain’t you! You’re better than that!


Posted by on March 27, 2012 in Just Me, Motivation, Running, Travel


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Running updates – January 2, 2012

IOP - New Year's Eve 2011

My running is moving along nicely… I am following a 12-week plan and aiming for a March marathon – still fitting it into my ‘Marathon Before 40’ plan.

My last physical of the 30s showed everything in great shape, cholesterol way below normal numbers, heart rate and blood pressure well below where they should be for a 39 year old.  My doctor said I am good to go for the run and even for the flight the next day… IF I choose to run the Georgia Marathon in Atlanta and then fly to my teaching engagement at Indiana University the next day.

In addition to the training runs – and daily workouts at Performance QSA – I will run the Greenville News Downtown 5K in January and a few other tuneups to get my mind back in the racing mode I was in a few years ago.  Not that I am looking to hit a specific goal number… but the mindset has to be there to be able to run in a large group of people.  You have to be able to navigate and negotiate others while keeping your mind on the goal you have set for yourself.

Those people that just go out ‘to run a race’ are doing just that – and I think that is great.  However, when you get to the half marathon (13.1 miles) and the marathon (26.2 miles) distance it takes a little more than just going out a plodding along.  Mental focus has to be there to keep your brain off the ‘walls’ that seem to pop up at those distances.

I have run three half marathons and hit the proverbial ‘wall’ around mile 11… I have NO idea where that will happen with the marathon.  THAT is what I am jonsing for – the unknown!

The percentage of Americans to complete a marathon is usually quoted as 1-2%… I look forward to being in that exclusive group!


Posted by on January 3, 2012 in Running


From the gym, road and garage

Ah yes… Still on the road to youth-dom! If that is not a word, it is now! Youthdom is my new goal in life – most of you know I am the youngest 39 year-old most of you know and I will continue to improve as I inch closer to 40 in April.

I am a full fledged member of Performance QSA in Greenville, SC. The folks there have a different mentality when it comes to fitness. Over the years I have been a member at various gyms, clubs and involved with “programs” to get me in shape. None of which actually did anything to motivate me to do better… QSA sends me emails, postcards and gives motivating words during classes. I can’t go wrong.

Well… Maybe I can. Food is still an issue (for another blog post) but Nadine at QSA is retraining my brain. With the help of the LoseIt! app she turned me on to, I am making progress. SCARY to see the caloric content of foods I once loved!

Anyway, back to the training… you schedule your workout and take part in an hourlong kick butt routine that changes daily – nothing is ever the same so to keep your body guessing… and improving! The largest attendance at a session I have attended was six – with two trainers. This is as close to one-on-one as you can get. However, this beats being the only person as you are constantly competing against those in the session with you – males and females. Everyone works to their own level and everyone is put to the test.

Add to this the running I am doing – sporadically – and you get a whale of a workout routine! I say sporadically as I am constantly on the road traveling. Excuses, excuses, excuses. I know.

Well, I am off to conduct an appraisal today… then I will perform the ‘hotel room’ workout QSA provides their members when they travel. Not as kick butt as being in the workout room, but it is still intense enough to keep me at a good sweat level.

And… we’re off! Until our next stop…

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Posted by on November 15, 2011 in Running


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Training updates… Yep, I’m still here!

Whew… What a whirlwind of travel, training and getting lost in the world! Yes, I am still here and on the same countdown to 40 – I just have not had a chance to sit down and type a new post. Actually, I am 50 minutes from starting a tool and equipment auction (Meares Auctions) so, like my running, I am picking up the pace!

Since the last update I have received some awesome news… Steadman Hawkins has released me from shoulder therapy! I still have to be careful with exercises on the outside of my body – meaning, for the next four to six weeks I have to workout with my hands in front of me. Sort of goofy, I know, but it is the final process in eliminating the biceps tendinitis I was experiencing.

So, why is that integral to marathon training? Well, here it is… think about walking and moving your arms in a normal manner – now, do that faster… and for 26.2 miles. Upper body strength is key when you get upward with longer runs. Sure, some of this comes with adding mileage. However, I want to be fully prepared.

In addition, I have joined Team QSA and have been training with the groups for the past two weeks. The classes have a small student to trainer ratio, which gives more one-on-one time to perfect the exercises. I highly recommend this concept if you are like me and need a little more motivation!

Until next time I am still,
The Pirate looking at 40

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Posted by on October 7, 2011 in Running


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