Oh, Hill No!

Running, while hated by my body, is a fantastic outlet for my mind. Since running is such an intense physical activity, I am forced to let my instincts take over and not try to over-think it. Somewhat because I will tend to focus on one things like breathing or stride length and that will start to trip me up, and mostly because I would be like “Oh, God, why am I trying to torture myself in such a slow and impractical fashion!” This mental freedom allows me to think about all the things I forgot to do at work, or figure out my grocery list for the week, or come up with new blog titles such as this one. So if you ever find yourself wondering how I came up a new topic; chances are it happened to click while I was trying to find that line between exhaustion and hyperventilation.

That was definitely a long way to introduce the main idea of this post. As I was running this evening, I started out on my typical path. Approaching the first place where I have to turn, I found myself hesitating and slowing down even though I had just started. Here I was, not even 30 seconds into my run, and I was almost walking. At that moment it clicked – I had already mentally checked out on this run. I knew what was coming just down the street, a hill tends to make you want to stop and walk, and I didn’t have enough confidence in myself that I would be able to make it. I also knew that if I stopped to walk there, it would set the pace for the rest of the run. 30 seconds in and I had already put a wall up between a successful run and myself.

I am sure if you have ever done anything athletic you have been in that type of situation at some point in your life. Where the self-doubt kicks in and you don’t know if you are going to be able to do it. This is why I have had to teach myself to not think, and just run. You see, my body knew it could handle the hill; it was my mind that wasn’t sure. I have run that hill before, more times than I would like; simply for a time like this. I needed to prepare for when my mind was going to tell me that I couldn’t do it and my body was going to have to take over. As a runner of every level, you should find a hill in your area and conquer it. Sprint up it and sprint down it. Make it longer by traversing side to side. There will come a day when you are running and you encounter such a hill and feel like you don’t have enough gas to make it up the hill. Trust in your training and yourself. The more you embrace these obstacles, the more likely you are to say Oh, Hill Yes instead of Hill No!

Next time we will get more in depth into what my training plan is, what are some good ones that I recommend, and things to avoid. For now, I encourage you to find a hill and push yourself. Keep your head down and pump your arms, and in no time you’ll be on your way to the finish line. I hope you will continue to follow me on my journey training for a few races coming up this fall and that you will join me on September 12th, 2015 at the Race 4 Freedom. If you are interested you can sign up at www.race4freedom.com. You can donate to ICT S.O.S. at www.runsignup.com/runningdadbrad or create your own fundraising page when you register. Also please check me out on Twitter for daily posts and tips @runningdadbrad. Tweet me this week with your favorite local hill and I will choose some to run and I’ll tweet at the top.


Taking a few minutes now will save you in the "long run"

Tomorrow starts day 1 of my training for the Race 4 Freedom. With that being the case, I think a good topic to bring up is something essential to your success as a runner, yet most occasional runners never do it – Stretching. Runners can be divided into two main categories, well more like three categories: Those who never stretch, those who only stretch after, and those who stretch before and after a workout.

Let’s talk a little about the first group. Now if you found yourself reading the sentence above and felt like raising your hand or ducking your head as I brought up never stretching; then you are likely not alone. When I was younger, I thought stretching was a waste of time, until a trainer tried to stretch my hamstrings and couldn’t get my leg past 60 degrees (which is pretty sad for an 18 year old). It was only after I started to implement a stretching routine, that I began to realize the importance of stretching and seeing the effect it can have. For those of you who can barely touch your knees bending over, I am not asking you to pick up yoga (although extremely helpful and a great for injury prevention) or expecting you to touch your toes immediately. Through out this blog you will see that success for me comes in a shifting of my mentality. If you find yourself constantly sore for days or limping after a single run or if you want to push yourself to the next level, and you aren’t stretching; well then my suggestion is to find someway to fit those few precious moments into your exercise schedule.

Now for the other two groups there is always plenty of debate about whether or not it is necessary for you to stretch before a work out or if you do more damage to your muscles by stretching them cold. The one thing everyone who stretches agrees on is that you need to stretch after any kind of intense physical activity. Why? Well every time your muscle contracts, it shortens ever so slightly. After an extended period of time those contractions cause the muscle to cut off blood flow to the tissue. Without getting too in depth, stretching increases blood flow to the tissues after the activity and reduces soreness and damage. So stretch to stay healthy and pain free!

My personal opinion on the stretching before or after comes down to the length of time I am about to work out or how I feel. My suggestion for you is to find some place to put stretching into your routine. Whether you need to stretch before and after, or only after to feel better – stretching will help you to stay healthy and active during your entire training program.

I hope you will continue to follow me on my journey training for a few races coming up this fall and that you will join me on September 12th, 2015 at the Race 4 Freedom. If you are interested you can sign up at www.race4freedom.com. You can donate to ICT S.O.S. at www.runsignup.com/runningdadbrad or create your own fundraising page when you register. Also please check me out on Twitter for daily posts and tips @runningdadbrad. Tweet me this week with your questions about stretching. I look forward to hearing from you!


Finding the time to fit everything in (except for excuses)

As we approach the hottest part of the summer, it definitely makes sense to start training now for the Race 4 Freedom. Isn’t that what every logical person thinks? Let’s go for a run when it’s 98 degrees outside! That’ll definitely help me to feel motivated and want to run more often! If you struggle with motivation, want to learn some healthy eating habits or just love to support #ICTSOS, then this blog is just for you.

Let me start off this blog by telling you a little bit about myself and who I am and who I definitely am not. First and foremost, I have never been a great runner. I never ran track or cross-country. My first venture into running came from training myself to run a 5K. I did this over the course of three months and definitely felt accomplished when I finally crossed that finish line. That happened my senior year of high school and I didn’t really venture back into the world of running until about 4 years ago when I made the crazy decision that I would train myself to run a marathon. It has, to this day, been one of the few New Years resolutions that I have actually made and kept! Through the 10 months of preparing myself for the Prairie Fire Marathon, I learned a lot about what to do and not to do during training and how to push through the pain and injuries that happen along the way.

So why would someone who has run marathons before struggle with training for a 5K race, you might ask? For me, having a one-year-old son is the excuse that I use daily. When I get home all I want to do is relax and spend time with my son and my wife. Is it a valid excuse for not also trying to exercise? Definitely not. Prior to committing to my first marathon, I never thought I would have time to fit in the training schedule. But when I shifted my priorities, my running fit in seamlessly with my life. What I am hoping to do over these next few weeks is change how I look at the time with my family and spend some time getting healthy together.

I hope you will join me on my journey to training for a few races coming up this fall and that you will join me on September 12th, 2015 at the Race 4 Freedom. If you are interested you can sign up at www.race4freedom.com. You can donate to ICT S.O.S. at www.runsignup.com/runningdadbrad or you can make your own sponsorship page when you register for the race! Also please check me out on Twitter for daily posts and tips @runningdadbrad. Please comment this week with your goals for either the Race 4 Freedom or any other races this fall!


Why do we run?

2014 marks the 3rd annual Race for Freedom 5K. While the race is organized each year by ICT S.O.S. what you may not know is that 100% of the proceeds of this event are given away! Yep, we work really hard all year, put on a fantastic event and then give away the money it raises! Why?

When we started this event in 2012 we wanted it to benefit our community and help an organization that was actively serving victims of human trafficking and/or youth at risk of finding themselves in a trafficking situation. As the race has grown, we've held on to that ideal and this year we're proud to support Youthville's Secure Care Program. Here's some information on what they do and how they are serving young ladies in our community from Program Director, Heather Weaver:

EmberHope, Inc. (formerly Youthville, Inc.) is a private not-for-profit 501(c)(3) faith-based agency established in 1927 to help children and families in Kansas. We have been a partner with the State of Kansas for many years to serve at-risk children. Youthville remains the name of our program division focusing on services to children. The mission of EmberHope is “Sparking Change to Improve Lives.”  Our Youthville division mission is “Giving Children Back Their Childhood”.

Our Youthville Secure Care program in Newton is the only facility for females in Kansas that provides this level of service. Our program serves youth that have been adjudicated by the courts as a Child in Need of Care (CINC) and we serve youth from all areas of the state. The girls in this program have experienced significant trauma from abuse, neglect etc, along with their running behaviors,  this places them at significant risk for being victimized by human traffickers.  The girls’ stay is limited to 180 days. Upon discharge, many of the girls are returned to a community setting unprepared to properly monitor the girls’ activities.  The girls go from a structured lock-down facility with staff and counseling support to a foster family or group home in the community unprepared to understand their trauma, the risks they face, or how to best help them readjust. Discharge planning has been a difficult piece with this population, as unfortunately there are not many resources to serve this population. Secure Care was awarded a grant from the Attorney Generals office to offer “aftercare” services, which is in place to help support the youth when they are discharged into the community. However, we are interested in opening a “step down” facility from Secure Care, to assist in the transition back to a community setting. We have previously submitted information to our referral sources about a step down program. The interest is there, however, the start up costs to open such a program have been a barrier, as well as, coming to an agreement regarding the daily rate for placement in this type of program. Our current goal has been to enhance the programming offered to our girls. While we currently have a large array of services and supports offered, we want to do more. We would like to purchase additional services that can be offered to our girls at the facility, and some of the ideas they have expressed in is yoga, art therapy, “boot camp” (structured exercise routine) etc.


Secure Care Cottage- located in Newton, KS serving girls from all over the state.

Join us Saturday September 6th as we Race for Freedom! Online registration is open now and Early Bird pricing is available until July 4, 2014. REGISTER HERE

Guest Post: National Running Day


Here's the latest from our guest blogger, John! Follow the link to read his thoughts on National Running Day and WHY he runs!

John's Blog

Here's a fun fact: John has been our first registered runner for each of our 3 years! Have you registered yet? Early Bird ends July 4th! https://race4freedom.com/registration/

Guest Post: Running With Friends


Do you prefer to run alone or with friends? In this installment of our guest blogger series, John tells us his preferences... and why!

Here's John's blog: http://thompsonville316.wordpress.com/2014/05/18/running-with-friends/

(And for the record- John is an AWESOME running buddy!  ~Jen)


Guest Blog: John's Goals for the 2014 R4F5K


Our 2014 guest blogger, John Thompson, knows a thing or two about setting and achieving goals! Click below to read about his personal goals for this year's race and then click around his blog a bit to see how he's handled other running and fitness goals!

John's Goals



Guest Post- Meet our 2014 Blogger!

Meet John Thompson, our 2014 guest blogger!


John has been an incredible supporter of the race and of ICT S.O.S. since both began. In fact, he was the very first registered runner for both the 2012 and 2013 races!

If you don't know John, he has an incredible story that he loves to share about his fitness journey. From 400 lbs to leaving me in his dust at the 2012 Prairie Fire Half Marathon where we both ran as "Local Joes"- John has done it ALL with a contagious smile and a generous dose of encouragement for everyone around him!


So if you see John out and about with our team promoting the race, hitting the gym or out for a run, stop him and say Hi! I promise he's one of the nicest people you'll have the pleasure of meeting!


Here's John's story in his own words: http://thompsonville316.wordpress.com/2014/03/06/switching-gears-for-the-next-few-posts/




Guest Post- One Week til Race Day!


Hello everyone, hope you’re all having an awesome day and looking forward to a beautiful holiday weekend.  I know I am!  Can you believe the race is just a little over a week away?!? I’m so excited to be there and share in this experience with so many people who also are running for such a great cause! I was very happy to see that the race organizers have people who go out and pray over the course, for every runner’s safety and well being. Very thoughtful of everyone involved.

I really wish I was updating everyone by saying that I’m up to 3 miles now, or super close and preparing to get it all put together for the race on the 7th. Unfortunately, as you know, I hurt my calf a couple weeks ago. I am just now getting back to 100%, and running for any distance was tough and painful. Now, this last week was full of sickness for me and my family.  Sick me, mommy, brother, and now sissy!  Can we catch a break!?!?I know, it sounds like I’m full of excuses, but it’s the truth!  I’m pretty bummed about not being able to run the whole thing, which was my goal from the beginning.

After thinking about it all one EARLY morning, around 3:30 when my sick son and I woke up, I realized that even though I will not be able to run the whole race, I shouldn’t be down about it.  7 months ago, when I was nearly 400 pounds, I couldn’t do anything. Now, I’m running, playing in a rec. basketball league, boot camp workouts 3 times a week, and enjoying EVERY SINGLE MINUTE!!  So yeah, I might not be able to run THIS one all the way, but I’ve laid the foundation to be able to do many more races, or whatever I want to.

Don’t let anyone (especially yourself) tell you that you can’t.  If I can do it, anybody can. I still have a LONG way to go before I am where I want to be, but I’m on my way and I WILL get there!

Have a wonderful and safe holiday weekend!


Guest Post- How do you handle injuries?


Good afternoon everyone!

I wish I had a whole bunch of good stuff to post this week about my training and readiness for the Race for Freedom 5k, but unfortunately, I got hurt…. Again!  I suffered a calf strain while playing basketball last Saturday, after only 2 MINUTES!!!!!  At least let me get a good 1st half in! Of course, my first thought was that I was going to miss the race, but I’m determined to still be there! I’ve been icing, elevating and stretching my calf out like crazy this last week!  Hopefully I’ll be back running in a few days, or at the most, a week.  I’m starting to doubt that my goal of running the whole race will happen, but I’m not going to let that bring me down. I’ll train when I can, and do as best as I can when the race comes!  Any advice from you on something I can do, or something that worked for you would be VERY much appreciated!

I was so excited to be started a boot camp class at the YMCA this week. That is, of course, until I hurt my leg. I finally agreed to do it, after an old co-worker of mine just would not give up trying to get me to go. I have gone this week, but really cannot do much.  The trainer has been more than helpful though, and has me doing some stretches and things to try and work out the calf to get it better. As of today, walking does not hurt, but running, or making a ‘power’ move with my leg still hurts. Here’s to a speedy recovery!

I hope everyone has an awesome, safe, injury-free weekend! I’ll check in with everyone next week!


Follow my training on DailyMile: http://www.dailymile.com/people/leojsomar