Hey, What Was Your Time?

One thing I have always been curious about with running and racing is why people ask what my time was after a race. It’s so typical, whether I do a 5K or a marathon, the most common question is…

“Hey Dave, what was your time?”

I no longer give my time. I tell the person very politely that I crossed the finish line comfortably. This has been my practice for years.

Want to know why? Because here’s what someone will likely say no matter WHAT my time is in the marathon. Are you ready? It goes like this:

“Hey Dave, I see you ran the Chicago Marathon. What was your time?”

If I say 7 hours, they will say “What are you, dead?”

If I say 6 hours, they will say “My great-grandmother could do better than that.”

If I say 5 hours, they will say “My grandmother could do better than that.”

If I say 4 hours, they will say “I ran a marathon twenty years ago and I beat that time.”

If I say 3 hours, they will say “Oh, OK, I have a neighbor that runs one in 2:50.”

If I say 2 hours and by the way I beat all of the Kenyans, they will tell me about their daughter who is trying out for America’s Got Talent.”

So as you can see, it is a no-win situation to give anyone my time. That is why I keep it to myself and run MY race!

Spring Training With Dave!

Spring has sprung across most of the country! It’s early, but even for Mid March we are in the mid 70’s in Maryland, and the weather is GREAT to be outside.

For those of you that have been dormant all winter I am asking you to proceed with caution into your “spring training.”  The most common cause of serious injury is not being ready enough for the task you are about to undertake.

If you decided to start lifting weights, your first lift would not be 400 lbs., nor should your first run of the season be five miles.  As children we had to learn to crawl before we walk, and to walk in order to be able to run.  Running now as an adult is no different.

So here is my best advice to those of you in spring training:

Get a good pair of running shoes.  If you have any questions about how to buy a good running shoe or what you need in a shoe, here is a link to a blog I wrote about a year ago on that very subject.

Then I suggest WALKING a mile a day until that becomes easy. Then walk 2 miles a day until that becomes easy. When walking at least 2 miles becomes easy, then run a mile. Once that is easy run 2 miles.  Then run 3 miles, and so on.

Congratulations! You are NOW ready to run a 5K (3.1 miles). That was easy enough, wasn’t it?

Once you can run a 5K, I suggest training to run a 10K (6.2 miles), and once you successfully run a 10K – congratulations… you are NOW ready to start training for your first half marathon (13.1 miles).

Once again once you can successfully run a half marathon you will be ready to start training for a full marathon (26.2 miles). Here is a link to an earlier blog about training for a marathon!

I overheard someone the other day say that it was nonsense to have to do a 5K first before running their first marathon and WOW I thought that was crazy talk!  Remember, crawl before you walk and walk before you run.  Train, build the skill, and complete your run successfully and uninjured.  Life will be glorious.

Eating to fuel your running machine is also very very important.  Make sure you are eating lots of slow burning carbohydrates like vegetables, beans, lentils, steel cut oatmeal, bananas, yams, broccoli, almonds and whole grains.  Here is a link to a blog I wrote on what and how to eat when running a race.

Lastly, when you are ready for your first race, there are some essentials you will need. A good hydrating system, a good energy gel, sports slick, some plastic sports tape, a good electrolyte replacement, a GPS watch, a good bandana or head wrap, and a dark pair of sunglasses.  Here is a great article I recently wrote on this subject!

Post run there are several other things you will want to have on hand and to be prepared for:

1. A hot bath or shower – for more than the obvious reasons, the hot water will allow your muscles to start processing out the lactic acids that have built up while you ran.

2. If possible, a good full body massage. This will make you feel great. Oftentimes there are massage therapists giving complimentary massages after races. Take them up on their kind offer!

3. You will want to have a pain relieving spray or gel on hand. I like Cryoderm. Your local chiropractor should stock this; it’s in-expensive and totally helpful for your strained and sore muscles. Because it is cryotherapy it will help stop any inflammation. I also love Tiger Balm, available at many natural and Asian grocery stores.

4. A good meal (see above). This is no time to diet! Your body needs to be refueled!

5. Lots of water!

6. Gentle stretching about an hour post run so that your muscles keep moving.  Seriously folks, the worst thing you can do is come home from a run and lay down.

Run safe my friends!

David Madow’s book “Impress The World With Your Body now available on Kindle!!! 

Be sure to check out David’s Facebook Page Healthy at 102! Great health tip EVERY DAY!

You? Running a Marathon?

Congratulations on deciding to run a marathon.  If you prepare properly both physically and mentally, it could possibly be one of the coolest things you will ever do in your life!

The marathon is 26.2 miles. That is longer than you can imagine. Get in your car and drive 26 miles. I bet you’ll be tired. Running a marathon is more than twice as difficult as running a half marathon. Although it’s different for everyone, when you approach mile 18 or so, your body generally starts to seriously protest. And at that point, you still have eight miles to go, which most likely is longer than your average run right now. Do not take the marathon lightly or you will get into trouble.

There are three reasons that I will mention right here that I think are cause for not running a marathon right now.

  1. You have never run a half marathon.
  2. You have been running less than a year.
  3. You have an injury or a medical condition that would preclude this.

If you fall in any of the above categories, please do yourself a favor and hold off for now.

I have completed numerous marathons. I try to do one a year at this point but my goal is to always be “marathon ready” these days. I am very slow, generally keeping towards the back of the pack. My goal when I run a marathon is to finish “comfortably” and be ready for the next one.

I often get asked how to prepare for a marathon. I hope the advice that follows helps you in your preparation.  I will keep things as simple as possible here. Here are some of the most common questions I am asked.

Q: I’ve just started running and I would like to enter a marathon. Do you think this is a good idea?

A: Actually I do not think it is a good idea for a beginner to run a marathon. In my opinion, you should have at least a year of running under your belt before even thinking about a marathon. There are too many new things that a beginning runner will face; things such as figuring out proper nutrition, hydration, dealing with chafing and pain, what clothing works best, finding the best shoes, and much more. The marathon is a long, grueling run. If any of the above are not tweaked during shorter runs, the marathon will become a nightmare. My goal is to make sure you actually have fun running a marathon.

Q: OK, so I have been running for a couple of years now. Am I ready for the marathon?

A: Well, I don’t know. Do you think you are? What is the longest distance you have ever covered? If you have never run a half marathon, why don’t you try that first? A half marathon is 13.1 miles – a long run by almost anyone’s standards. Enter a half marathon, train for that and see how you feel. If you complete it with no problems then I think you are on your way to the full marathon.

Q: Some of my friends are registered for a marathon six months from now and even though the longest distance I have ever run is eight miles, I would like to join them. Would this be OK?

A: Again, I am going to stick to my previous answer and say no, you’d be better off running a half. Many marathons these days have an accompanying half marathon so you should check to see if the one your friends entered has that choice available. But either way, I would not enter the full right now. There is plenty of time for you to do this. Marathons are not going away. They are more popular than ever now. Get the proper base before taking the plunge.

Q: I have been running off and on for seven years now. I have my site set on the Chicago Marathon, which is eight months away. I ran a half marathon a couple of years ago and finished slow but comfortably. My average run these days is 3-4 miles. Will I be OK?

A: Yes, you are ready to take the next step to the marathon! Even though your runs are fairly short, you are a seasoned runner who has completed a half.  Eight months of training is a very adequate amount of time. Assuming you are in good health, go ahead and enter Chicago!

Q: I am about 30 pounds overweight and I would love to train for and run a marathon to help me lose weight. Is this a good idea?

A: It is a great idea as long as you have been running for at least a year and have completed a half marathon comfortably. If not, please go ahead and work on those. Running any distance is a great way to lose weight when combined with a good eating program. Running a marathon will not guarantee weight loss. Again, it would be so much better for you to work on the basics first.

Q: I am 42 years old and have occasional chest pain upon exertion. Would running a marathon be safe for me?

A: There is no way I can tell. Please see a sports medicine physician for evaluation.  I have been going to The Cooper Clinic in Dallas, TX for about ten years now for my physicals. The reason is that all of the physicians there understand exercise physiology and how it relates to my body and my health. I am willing to travel for the best care. Wherever you go, make sure your doc understands and believes strongly in exercise. In my opinion, a doc that is a runner himself or herself would be ideal.  Also, please note that I have no association at all with The Cooper Clinic except for the fact that I am a patient there.

Q: I am training now and when I get seven or eight miles into my run, my feet really hurt. Suggestions?

A: Make sure you have shoes that fit properly. That is key! Go to a running store that has experienced runners as salespeople that can evaluate your gait. There are so many types of shoes out there these days that are made for different types of feet, bodies, running styles, etc. that I bet there is a good pair waiting for you.

And please understand that just because a pair of shoes is expensive does not mean they are the right type for you. Many years ago when I was a beginner runner I went out and bought a real expensive pair of shoes. They really killed my feet and I had to give them away. Turned out that a cheaper pair worked perfectly for me.

If you do all of the above and you cannot find a pair of shoes that work for you, please seek out a good sports medicine podiatrist. You may need orthotics or some other type of corrective device.

Q: I am a diabetic. Can I run a marathon?

A: I am not supposed to be giving actual medical advice here so my first response will be to please check with your doctor. But having said that, I believe that a running program that includes proper training as well as nutrition is a positive thing for diabetics as opposed to a negative. I actually know people that have seen marked improvements and reversal in their diabetes through good exercise programs.

Q: My goal is to run a spring marathon next year. Good idea?

A: Well it’s hard to say, as I am not sure where you live. I have found spring marathons difficult due to the fact that most of the training needs to take place over the winter.  If you are living in a warm climate, this should not be a problem. But if you are in Minnesota, it could be a challenge.

Q: What is your feeling about training on a treadmill as opposed to running outside?

A: There is nothing like running outdoors because it simulates the surface that you will actually be running on for 26.2 miles. Don’t get me wrong, treadmills are great and many people swear by them. I have used them successfully in the past. These days I do not own one.

My feeling is that if you ONLY train on a treadmill and then go out to run the marathon, it is going to feel very different to you and you may have some problems.

Q: How many times a week do I need to run to be able to complete a marathon?

A: Great question. Ask many coaches and you will get many answers on this one. My personal opinion has changed over the years. I believe you can comfortably complete a marathon by running three times per week, and I am not talking about three high mileage runs.

I have found that I just need one long run every two weeks and shorter runs in between to complete the marathon. Please remember that I am not an elite or competitive runner. I will never come close to qualifying for Boston. I run to finish comfortably and am generally much closer to the back of the back as opposed to the front. But I have been running for over 35 years now injury and burnout free. And there is a lot to be said for that!

Q: How long should my longest run be to be adequately trained for a marathon?

A: My answer is 26.2 miles or longer. Because if you complete this distance in your training, we know you should be able to run the marathon. But having said that, there are many successful marathoners that do not believe they need to complete the 26.2 mile distance in their training. I would personally try to get as close to the full distance in training as possible though!

Q: Is it OK to walk part of the marathon and still say I finished?

A: Absolutely! You are a finisher whether you cross the line in 2:15 or 7:15. As a matter of fact, I will say that crossing the line, no matter what your time is, makes you a winner!

I take walk breaks during the marathon and it’s the best thing I have ever done to get me through. Jeff Galloway, an ex-Olympian marathoner swears by them and has actually proven that your time can improve by inserting walk breaks. To know more, I would suggest buying one of Jeff’s books on marathoning. Perhaps one of the best investments you can make!

Q: This all sounds great. I think I am ready. What should I do now?

A: I am glad you are ready and have decided to run a marathon. First of all, I would suggest researching which marathon you would like to enter and run. I happen to love Chicago because it is a great flat course through an incredible city. The energy of the people in every neighborhood helps to carry you across the finish line!

The Baltimore Marathon (in my hometown) is another great fall marathon. Same with the Marine Corps Marathon, in Washington, DC. But I suggest that you take a look at all available marathons and then decide which one you will enter. I believe running a fall marathon is ideal because that will allow you to train all through the spring and summer.

Next, simply decide what your goal is and plan your training accordingly. If your goal is simply “to finish,” your training will be very different from an elite athlete that is competing to win! My personal goal in the marathon is to finish comfortably. As I said, I combine walking and running to take me across the finish line.

If you are curious, look for a future article where I will give you more tips as well as outline my very own training schedule for Chicago in October.

Rock on!


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Eight Essential Items That You Need as a Runner

Right now I am on a plane heading to Chicago. In two days I will be running the Chicago Marathon. All 26.2 miles of it! Crazy distance? I don’t know. This is not my first marathon and hopefully will not be my last.

Whatever your favorite distance is, I’d like to share some essential items with you that could help make your runs outdoors much more enjoyable.

A hip pack and a water bottle. No matter what distance I am running, I generally carry water with me. It’s important to stay hydrated during a run so having a bottle with me reminds me to drink. If the weather is hot and I am going long, I have a hip pack that holds two bottles. Believe it or not, if you fasten the strap fairly tight around your hips, the bottles bouncing up and down will be a non-issue. Find one that is comfortable for you. I use the REI brand.

Energy gel. Energy gel comes in little foil packets and is made up of carbohydrates, amino acids, and electrolytes. When you are on the run, simply pull one out of your pocket or hip pack, rip off the top and squeeze the great tasting gel into your mouth.  Always follow with a swig of water. Mmmm… instant energy. My favorite is Hammer Gel. Be careful because a couple of the flavors contain caffeine. I prefer not to use caffeine during a run (or anytime actually). I consume 1-2 gel packs per hour of running.

Sportslick. Runners chafe and this is a great lubricant to apply to areas that are prone to chafing. It comes in an easy to use tube and is made for athletes. I always apply it to my axillary and inner thigh areas. On very long runs I may also apply some to my heels or potential hotspot areas on my feet. This stuff is a lifesaver!

Plastic first-aid tape. I use this to cover my nipples to prevent chafing. I just use two small pieces. Works like a charm. Women, I cannot personally vouch for how this tape will work for you but I do know there are alternatives for the female anatomy.

Electrolytes. On longer hotter runs, it is not enough to just take energy gel and drink water. You are losing sodium, potassium, magnesium and other electrolytes that MUST be replaced. You can do this with energy drinks or capsules. For many years I was a big energy drink fan. Gatorade is pure junk as far as I am concerned. Too much sugar! Most of them contain sweeteners of some sort and I do not like that. These days, I use Hammer Endurolytes. They are clean and simple. I take two or three every hour and wash them down with water. Done!

GPS watch. Running has really entered the tech age. I use a Garmin watch, which tracks practically any statistic I would need. Besides elapsed time and distance, it tells me my exact pace, split times and so much more. Then when I get home I can upload my run to the web and I can see my exact route, elevation change, times, distance and more. Out of everything I recommend for training and racing, the GPS watch is one of the coolest things ever. It will cost you at least a couple hundred bucks but it is a great investment in the sport! I have been using a Garmin Forerunner 405 for the past few years now and am currently testing a Garmin Forerunner 610.

A bandana. Carried in my hip pack for a runny nose or on my head as a headband, I have a ton of these. The brighter the better! I love tie-dyed bandanas… they definitely attract a lot of attention at a race!

Sunglasses. No matter what the weather is, I practically always wear glasses during a run. They can protect your eyes from sun, wind and rain. My regular prescription glasses are very lightweight and automatically get darker as the sun gets brighter. If it’s a real sunny day, I generally just put on my lightweight polarized sports sunglasses. I use Maui Jim.

Please feel free to experiment with everything discussed above. I have zeroed in on these items during my thirty plus years of running. They all are essential for me. But your needs may vary. Have fun trying different things out.  See you on the road!

You Are a Runner! Here is What to Eat Before, During and After a Race!

“Dave, I am doing my first race in a few days. I am nervous. What should I eat the day before to give me the best chance of getting through the race?”

“And what should I eat after the race?

I have been asked these questions a million times and today I am going to give you some great answers!

So first of all, congratulations! You are a runner and you have decided to take the plunge and enter your first race! Or maybe you have raced before but were never sure if you were eating the right foods. Or you’re thinking about this whole thing but you don’t know exactly how to go about preparing yourself.

The good news is that you are already there. Or almost! What I mean by this is that you are already a runner, so I assume you have been eating something or you wouldn’t be here reading this article! But let’s go ahead and fine-tune things so that you feel your absolute best before, during and after the race!

What to eat the day before the race. It is best to eat many small healthy meals the day before as opposed to a few large, heavy meals. This will ensure that your metabolism and digestion are even and that there are no real ups and downs with your blood sugar all day long.

Assuming you eat a healthy diet, I suggest that you keep eating what you are already used to. This is not the time to be experimenting with new foods, which would have the potential to wreak havoc with your intestines!

Here are some examples of what I like to eat the day before the race:

Breakfast: two eggs, organic rice cake, Greek yogurt, green tea, small pomegranate juice.

Mid morning snack: banana

Lunch: mixed green salad with some grilled chicken, dried organic fruit such as apricot, green tea or spring water.

Afternoon snack: organic rice cake with almond butter or hummus.

Dinner: Small amount of meat or fish, brown rice, broccoli, small amount of sweet potato (notice the complex carbs!), spring water.

My diet (The Dave Diet) does not include any sugar, caffeine, alcohol, or wheat product (gluten-free). You may substitute as needed.

The morning of the race: I am different than many people as I like to eat a small amount of food an hour or two before a race to make sure my blood sugar is in check. The worst feeling in the world is to feel faint during a race! Something I found perfect is a small rice cake with some hummus on it. Another suggestion would be a half banana and a half bagel (if you eat wheat products). An energy bar works well too but make sure it’s a healthy one. I like Larabar as it is made naturally from fruit. Please remember, do not try ANY new foods at this time. In the morning it is also important to drink several glasses of fresh water to stay hydrated.

During the race: I carry my own water in a hip pack (personal preference) but most races should have water stops. Please always drink water during the race! I DO NOT believe in Gatorade as it is pure sugar! Gatorade has been reported to do crazy things with the stomach and intestines as well. During longer races I do replace my electrolytes with Endurolytes by Hammer (these are capsules) as well as Hammer Gel (1-2 packets every hour). During a 5K race you probably will not need to do this. But again, please make sure you drink water, especially in warmer temperatures!

Immediately following the race: Drink and eat to rehydrate and get nutrients back into your system! Many races these days serve bagels, fruit, energy bars, etc. to the runners. Don’t be shy… please eat and drink plenty. You deserve it!

After the race and into the next day: You burned a lot of calories in completing the race. Congratulations! Make sure you are rehydrating and feeding your muscles. You will probably be hungrier than normal, so please eat. This is not the time to “diet.” Your body is telling you that it needs nutrition. What do I eat after a race? Anything that I can (as long as it is on The Dave Diet)! Yes, Dave pigs out after a race! One thing I love to drink after a race to help replenish electrolytes is pure coconut water by Vita Coco.

What to absolutely avoid before and after a race: Alcohol and caffeine – they are both diuretics and will dehydrate you. Sometimes they serve beer after a race. I would stay away and give your body what it really needs, which would be water and electrolytes (bananas are loaded with potassium).  And beware… those so-called “energy drinks” such as Red Bull are not energy drinks! They are liquid caffeine and sugar. Don’t even think about them!

Oh yeah… one more piece of advice: you will be drinking a lot of water so please make sure you empty your bladder just before the start of the race. There is nothing more uncomfortable than running when you have to “go!”

If you eat healthy and sensibly and follow these simple guidelines, I am confident that you will get through your race comfortably and safely.  Let me know how you do!

Five Reasons Why Running Slower May Be Better

I am certainly no stranger to running. I have been participating in this sport, pastime or
exercise (whatever you wish to call it) for over 34 years! I am 56 years old now and many people say I look at least 10-20 years younger than my age. I know for sure that I feel better and healthier now than when I was thirty!

I attribute much of my excellent health to running! But not just regular running – running slow! That’s right, let me admit right here that I am and always have been a “back of the pack runner.” And I am proud of it!

Perhaps you are a runner who is frustrated because you feel that you are not fast enough. Or maybe you are contemplating getting into running but think that you won’t be able to keep up with everyone else, or you won’t get the health benefits as the speed demons. Please take a look at the reasons below where explain why I honestly believe that we, the snails, are actually better and healthier than those that are competitive “front runners.”

  1. When you run slower, you are far less likely to get injured. I cannot even count the number of people I have met over the years that were really great runners but they had to quit due to injuries. Shin splints, stress fractures, back trouble, knee problems… you name it. I on the other hand keep going and going, year after year injury free.
  2. When you run slower, you are less likely to get burnt out. Again, I cannot even begin to tell you all of the people I know that were so serious about high mileage training programs, doing too much too soon, then burning out and quitting. I listen to my body and I do what it tells me to do. I never quit.
  3. When you run slower, you can go longer and actually enjoy it. It’s not unusual for me to go out for a nice relaxing slow run of more than an hour at a time! It’s because I am going slow and enjoying myself. Believe it or not, I notice my beautiful surroundings, which oftentimes makes my run meditative!
  4. When you run slower, you burn just as much fat as if you were running fast (maybe even more). Running slow is a great way to lose weight.  I weigh the same now as I did when I was in college.
  5. Running slow takes all of the pressure off of the activity. The idea is that you will go out and enjoy yourself.

I still remember the very first marathon that I entered way back in 1979. On the memo portion of the check, I wrote the letters “LSD” in black ink.  The people who processed my check may have thought that I was some strung out stoner hippie trying to run a marathon. In actuality, I knew the letters stood for “Long Slow Distance!” And that has been my motto ever since.

Do yourself a favor and become a slow runner. It doesn’t matter what your age is or what kind of condition you are in right now. You can do it. Very few of us have the ability to come in first place in races. But most of us can get out there and run slow. Hope to see you on the road real soon!

Dr. David Madow is a well known health and lifestyle expert. He is the author of the book “Impress The World With Your Body in Seven Days.” David’s favorite outdoor activities are backpacking in Grand Canyon, skiing in Colorado and of course running.

More about David Madow:
Website: https://www.davidmadow.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/HealthyAt102
Twitter: http://twitter.com/DavidMadow
Email: rundrdave@gmail.com

The 100th Bay to Breakers 12K Run – San Francisco – 2011

Friends! This was truly an amazing experience. As I have been reporting to you for the past few years, this race starts at The Embarcadero by the San Francisco Bay and takes runners and walkers across the party lined streets of the city all the way to the Pacific Ocean… hence the name “Bay to Breakers!”

I was certainly a little concerned this year as I was coming off an injury but I feel confident to say that my leg feels much better and I am pronouncing my injury “gone!” As a matter of fact, as soon as I finished the race and collected my medal (yes, they gave medals this year for the 100th running), I turned around and walked the entire course backwards to the starting line!

Total miles = 15!

Just as an aside, the coolest part of the race was actually walking back to the start. As you may know, many people wear crazy costumes for this race. And I always thought that was pretty cool. But the SERIOUS craziness does not even start until all the locals come out around midday and take over the race course turning it into the hugest Halloween party you have ever seen in your life.

Bay to Breakers 12K is always the third Sunday in May. This means 50,000 people will be taking to the streets on May 20th, 2012. Actually 50,000 is the official number of registrants. When you factor in all the other people that come out, that number is way over 100,000!

I am throwing an idea out to my followers here. If you want to do something really cool, you should plan to be in San Francisco next year for the race. I plan to be there again and it would be cool to have you there. You can walk or run. There are all types of people in this race and you do not have to be a serious athlete. As a matter of fact, the real serious runners mostly stay away from this one! We could possibly arrange a little meet-up for pictures or something like that afterwards. Trust me, this would be an experience you would never forget. Mark it on your calendar and let me know if you are in.

Rock on!

Going to California

Friends… for the last couple of years I have told you about one of my favorite annual events. It is the Bay to Breakers 12K race in San Francisco, and this weekend is the 100th running! I am heading west to do this race. Let’s call it more of a fun party than a race actually. Sure there are some serious runners, but there are also crazies in costumes, nude… you name it, you’ll see it. It appears as though for the entire day the city of San Francisco just kinds of turns its head and says “anything goes!”

Dave at the starting line 2010!

If you are going to be in the Bay area this weekend, please look for me among the 100,000 runners. I’ll be the one wearing… well… I’m not quite sure yet. But follow my Facebook page and perhaps you will catch up with me there!

Exercise does not have to be difficult and boring. I love having fun as I exercise. I invite you to do something cool to keep your body in shape. Let’s catch up in San Francisco!

Rock on!