7 Great Ways to Pay it Forward (in Your Running Shoes)

Post written by Susan Lacke.

There’s an amazing camaraderie among runners that’s unlike what you’ll find almost anywhere else.

Tell someone you’re a runner, and often you’ll get back an excited, “me, too!” If I see someone wearing compression socks at the grocery store, I’ll talk his ear off about the 10-miler I just finished while I escort him to the coconut water.

Does it make me crazy? If I were an outsider, I’d say yes. But I know it just makes me one thing: a proud runner.

Sometimes, though, we get so hung up on our individual goals (PRs, BQs, LTs, and MHRs) that we forget we were once newbies to the sport, asking other runners for help.

Those runners paid it forward. They knew what it really means to be a runner, and it has nothing to do with PRs. It’s about being a role model in health and fitness and a member of this great, supportive community of runners.

So step outside of yourself for a moment and pay it forward — your fellow runners appreciate it, and you’ll build up good running karma. Here are seven great ways to do it:

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5 Ways Cycling Can Make You a Stronger Runner

Post written by Susan Lacke.

#5: The Brick Workout (which actually looks nothing like whatever it is she’s doing)

Admit it — you runners love to poke fun at us cyclists.

We’re dork-ish looking people in our helmets and padded-ass shorts who think it’s fun to spend hours pedaling away through roads and up mountains, pretending we’re in the Tour de France.

But those of us who both run and cycle know a secret: cycling helps make you a better runner.

Many runners turn to cycling after injury- that is, they’re forced into riding a bike to stay sane while rehabilitating a stress fracture or joint pain. However, they soon discover something remarkable when they return to running — cycling actually made them better than ever before!

How cycling can make you a better runner

If you’re a runner, you might want to consider joining the ranks of Lance wannabes. Even if you’re not injured, riding a bike is an excellent cross-training activity, one which can improve your running performance significantly. Here’s why:

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The Only Thing Stopping You is You

The boy who was born without a right hand and wanted to play baseball with his classmates.

He devised a one-armed throw/catch method, and when the other kids didn’t play with him, he practiced by throwing a baseball against a brick wall. Years later, that boy pitched in the Major Leagues and the United States Olympic team.

The musician who epitomized the rock-and-roll lifestyle, complete with frequent drug and alcohol use.

One morning, he put on a pair of running shoes for the first time and covered the miles back to his bike, which he had left at a bar the night before. He became a runner, and never touched alcohol or drugs again.

The junk-food addict who decided long ago her running days would never return. 

Today, she is one of the fastest female marathoners in the world, participating in the US Olympic Trials this month.

What’s your excuse? 

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24 Tasty, Healthy Vegetarian Snack Ideas

If you still haven't tried roasted chickpeas, do it now and thank us later.

Post written by Susan Lacke.

When I was a kid, I always swore that when I grew up my days would be filled with snack time and recess.

Twenty years later, though I still won’t admit to being a grown-up, I will say I’ve managed to make my childhood dream come true: life as a triathlete provides me with plenty of time playing in the water, riding my bike, or running around.

And the best part? The active lifestyle is one which definitely favors lots of snacking.

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A Thanksgiving Transformation: Katie’s Story

Meet Katie!

Last year, Katie Adzima’s Thanksgiving was filled with what so many of us love about the day: friends, family, football, and food.

Lots of food.

That day, before dinner, Katie noshed on chips, dips, and appetizers. When her aunt announced dinner was served, Katie giggled with glee as she ran through three full rooms of food – each room more delicious than the last. She loaded up with two full plates of dinner and then prepared to call it a day.

And then came the pies.

With a weakness for desserts, Katie dug in to eight pieces of pie. That one’s worth repeating: eight pieces of pie. In spite of her stomach ache, when her family rolled out a full Italian meal at 11 p.m., Katie loaded up again.

“I think I blacked out,” says Katie, “or that’s what I tell myself, because the next thing I know, I’m eating pasta.”

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Could You Be at Risk for Protein Deficiency? 6 Simple Rules for Protecting Yourself

Post written by Susan Lacke.

The doctor with the disheveled hair leaned in, inches away from my face:

“To be honest, Susan, I’m not really sure what to make of this.”

In her hand, she held the results of my lab tests. A lot of things were out of whack.

I had been feeling like absolute crap lately, but chalked it up to a heavy load of work, school, and Ironman training. All of a sudden, it looked more serious than that.

In the past, I had some major health problems, which contributed to my decision to become vegetarian, quit my unhealthy habits, and start running. As I sat in the doctor’s office that day, I began to question that – had all of my healthy activities been pointless? I considered picking up a pack of Marlboro Lights and a giant jug of wine on my way home to tell my partner, Neil, I was dying.

The doctor ordered more tests and told me to stop being a drama queen – it wasn’t time to jump to conclusions just yet.

The two words every vegetarian dreads

When I went back to the doctor the following week, I got the verdict: I wasn’t dying. But my diagnosis still didn’t give me much cause for celebration.

I had extreme protein deficiency.

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The Scary Truth About Energy Drinks

“Aside from the jet packs and the monkey overlords, one of the things that science fiction promised us in the new millennium was food in convenient pill form. But reality cheated our imaginations on every level. Instead of jet packs, we got Segway scooters. Instead of monkeys, we got the Bush administration. And instead of food pills, we got energy drinks.”
– Jeff Penalty, Swindle Magazine

A boost to beat “that 2:30 feeling.”

A remedy for a poor diet.

Athletic prowess like never before.

Such are the promises of energy drinks. This trend seems to be a natural evolution of our love for (and, in some cases, dependence on) caffeine, starting with coffee and progressing to cola and super-charged sodas such as Mountain Dew. You can even purchase caffeinated soap to get your buzz before your coffee is done brewing!

Let’s face it — we love being wired. But do energy drinks go too far?

What the hell is this?

I first saw an energy drink during a half-marathon a couple years ago, when someone ahead of me chucked an empty Red Bull can over his shoulder, hitting me in the head. In rage, I picked it up to throw it back at him, but the small size of the can piqued my curiosity: What the hell is this?

I thought I had discovered a runner’s secret. I’ve never been much of pop drinker, so I had missed the displays of Red Bull and Monster in the convenience store coolers. It sounded like a miracle tonic: “Red Bull gives you wings.” Wings? Awesome.

My tenure as an energy-drink consumer lasted one day. If by “wings,” Red Bull meant anxiety, shaky hands, nausea, and an eerie resemblance to Philip the Hyper-Hypo after a candy bar, then yes, I had wings.

I stared at the can again, wondering: What the hell is this? Since then, I’ve been trying to figure out the answer, even studying the drinks as part of my dissertation for my doctoral program. As I sifted through the research, I found that under the heavy data and big words, there was one common theme:

Energy drinks promise a lot, sure — but there’s a lot more they aren’t telling us.

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From Couch Potato to Ironman — In 20 Months

Susan Lacke at the finish of Ironman Wisconsin, just 20 months after deciding to run her first 5K.

In 2009, I made a New Year’s Resolution to run my first 5K.

I assumed I’d run the 5K, cross the accomplishment off my bucket list, and go back to being a couch potato. But that didn’t happen.

Instead, that 5K led to something else: 20 months after making that resolution, I completed my first Ironman triathlon, a race which consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run.

Anyone can do an Ironman

After the Ironman, I wrote a post which was titled with the one statement about Ironman I firmly believe: “Anyone Can Do an Ironman.”

If you sit on the sidelines of an Ironman finisher’s chute long enough, you’ll believe this statement, too. There’s such a wide cross-section of Ironman triathletes, from chiseled studs to 80 year-old nuns. After sitting at enough finish chutes, I decided I didn’t want to be a spectator anymore. I wanted to know what it was like to be on the other side.

The next time I saw an Ironman finisher’s chute, I was running down it.

When I made that resolution to run my first 5K, I had no idea I’d complete an Ironman 20 months later. I was a couch potato who was trying to quit smoking (again). Ironman triathlons were something crazy people did, and though I was happy to spectate with a beer in my hand, I never saw myself as one of those people.

Besides, training for a 5K was hard enough. Training to run 3.1 miles was difficult and time-consuming.

Covering 140.6? No freakin’ way.

The 9 things that helped me do it

It was a series of bold choices, hasty mistakes, happy accidents, and – finally – focused planning which took me from couch potato to Ironman in just 20 months.

Everyone has their own way of doing things when it comes to Ironman, and when you train for one, you’ll discover yours. For now, here are what I found to be the nine most important keys in going from zero to Ironman faster than most people think is possible.

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