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A Novelist who Runs

If I didn't run, my writing would be very different from what it is. To be a fiction writer, the most important qualities are imaginative ability, intelligence, and focus. To keep these going at a high level, you can't neglect your physical strength. Otherwise, you can't accomplish anything very intricate or demanding. 

Haruki Murakami, novelist

Source: Runner''s Daily Kick in the Butt

From the Idol Stage to the Roads: Ruben Studdard is now a Runner

Studdard (right) with his runner-up, Clay Aiken during the AI Season 2.

A HALF-MILE INTO his run through Alabama Veterans Memorial Park, Ruben Studdard laments, breathlessly, "the first mile is always the worst." That's particularly true on a hot July day in Birmingham, where the air hangs on you like a soggy towel. But the season two American Idol winner pushes on. After all, Studdard has a half-marathon to train for. And it's not just any race–it's one he founded.

This month the Birmingham native will debut the Ruben Studdard Celebration Weekend, a three-day fitness festival from November 18 to 20, featuring a half-marathon and 5-K. [The full marathon and relay originally planned for the weekend have been postponed.] Running the half-marathon (his first) is a milestone in Studdard's own fitness journey–one that began a few years ago.

Nicknamed the Velvet Teddy Bear, Studdard, 33, grew up playing football and went to Alabama A&M University (where he was an offensive tackle) on an athletic scholarship. But after winning Idol he spent years touring, where road food was the norm. By 2006, his weight reached 450 pounds. "I didn't have any health problems," says Studdard. "But I realized if I kept eating this way, I might have some down the road."

After trying a few diets, he switched to vegetarianism and eventually became vegan, giving up most dairy. Then last year, Studdard started running a few miles per week during his tour with fellow Idol alum Clay Aiken. The healthy changes helped him shed 100 pounds.

Studdard discovered that aside from helping him lose weight, running is one of the few ways he can go out without being accosted by adoring fans. "It gives me mental space," he says. "No ringing phones. No one bothers me. I get a chance to think about my plan for the week."

But like many novice runners, Studdard struggled to stick with it. "I got sidetracked around the holidays last year," he says. He was looking to refocus his commitment when a friend suggested he start a race. Not only did he see it as a chance to try something new, but also to promote health in the nation's third most obese state. "I'm not in the best shape," Studdard says, "but I want to prove to myself I can do something that seems insurmountable and inspire others by showing them no matter where they are in their fitness goals, they can do it, too."

Indeed, the things that set Studdard apart from the stereotypical athlete may be what inspire runners of all kinds to follow in his footsteps. "Ruben is Everyman," says his coach Danny Haralson.

"Women love his music. Guys see he used to play football. There's something about him that connects across every line. Now people see him running, and a lot of them are saying, 'If Ruben can do it, so can I.'"

For Studdard, the race is also an opportunity to raise awareness and funds for a cause close to his heart: developing young musical talent. "This is more than about me running a race," says Studdard. "I have a greater goal–to empower young people through music education." Proceeds from the event will go to the Ruben Studdard Foundation, which hosts kids' music camps and supports music education in schools throughout Birmingham. "I went to public school, and it shaped me as a musician," he says. "We could lose the next American Idol or Thelonious Monk because music is being cut. If I can just make a small dent in being able to help, that would make me feel wonderful."

While Studdard hopes the inaugural Celebration Weekend will help his foundation reach those goals, his personal ambitions for race day are much humbler.

"I want to get my butt back in shape," he says. "People are going to come and see if I can do it. But I don't have to beat anybody. I'm racing against me. As long as I come across the finish, I'll be okay."

Singing a New Tune


I never got to see how he won the American Idol title, but I am sure to watch Ruben Studdard as he starts to conquer a new road in his life. I love how Ruben Studdard sings (and I love American Idol, too). I also love how he manages to take charge of his health through running.

Interesting Study about Usain Bolt that Every Runner Should Know

Lately, I've been wondering how Usain Bolt would fare on a run from Paris to Beijing. And thinking about how Bolt is like an ultrarunner. The topic also adds information to the recently much-discussed question of stride rates, and their meaning.

I began thinking about Bolt and Paris-Beijing because I was reading a two-year-old article from the European Journal of Physiology about a guy, Philippe Fuchs, who actually did run from Paris to Beijing. He covered about 5,100 miles in 161 days for a daily average of 32 miles per day. Since Fuchs was tested by a group of physiologists before and after his run, we now know how it affected him, in at least several interesting ways.

First, how is Bolt like an ultrarunner? Easy. Neither cares much about running economy. Bolt consumes oxygen like a fireball. He doesn't even have to breathe during a 100. If he goes deep into oxygen debt, it's no big problem, because he's going to stop in a second or two.

Strangely enough, running economy doesn't matter to ultrarunners either, at least not the Paris to Beijing types. They're mostly concerned by their body's ability to keep absorbing muscular and skeletal punishment day after week after month. After all, Fuchs wasn't even in a race–he wasn't trying to go "fast." He was merely trying to get to Beijing on some sort of self-imposed schedule.

You would think that 161 days of a marathon-plus per day would turn you into a lean, mean running machine. But that doesn't happen, at least not when it comes to running economy. Not even when there are numerous changes in the direction that you might think would improve economy.

For example, Fuchs lost five pounds during the run, and his percent body fat dropped from 21.5% to 16.5%. You'd think this would make him more oxygen efficient. It didn't.

His stride became shorter and "smoother," the word used by the physiologists to describe his decrease in aerial time with each stride.You'd think this would make him more oxygen efficient. It didn't.

Why not? Because running economy isn't crucial to an ultrarunner. You don't require a super cardiovascular system to pad along at 10 to 12 minutes per mile. You need a body that just won't break down. You need to improve your mechanical efficiency, but not necessarily your oxygen efficiency.

That's exactly what Fuchs did on the road to Beijing. (I imagine it was mostly subconscious; after a couple of successive 32-mile days, his body went into preservation mode, and took over.) He reduced his landing force (see table below) and also his loading rate (not shown). But his oxygen efficiency, or running economy, decreased by six percent.

This illustrates one of the conundrums faced by those attempting to run with shorter strides. It may in fact reduce your injury rates. It won't necessarily make you faster. (I'd say this is a pretty good trade-off for someone who's injured or coming back from injury.)

Runner Philippe Fuchs       Stride rate at 10:00/mile       Air time in seconds     Vertical landing force
                                                                                                                             (body wts)
Pre Paris-Beijing                        180                                         .5                            2.7

Post Paris Beijing                      192                                        .35                            2.4

Could Usain Bolt Run from Paris to Beijing?


I think most runners really look at Usain Bolt not only because he's the fastest man on earth. Usain Bolt has a very efficient run and I have never heard him get injured. Well, do you really think he canrun from Paris to Beijing? Let me know.

Latest Route Map for the 16.8K of adidas KOTR

Hear ye, all adidas KOTR 16.8K participants!

Here is the latest route map of adidas King of the Road 16.8K.

Alay Takbo, Alay Dugo Fun Run set on November 12

Our good friends from God's Wind Events (GWE) is organizing another sure successful run in Alabang. Dubbed as "Alay Takbo, Alay Dugo," the fun run is organized for the City of Muntinlupa – Coop month, with the theme “kooperatiba… nagkakaisa… may disiplina“.

It's been a long time since I've seen the people behind GWE. They are also the ones who have established the running club in Alabang Town Center (sorry guys, I'm again finding myself trying hard to get up at 4 AM on a Saturday. But I will try joining you again!).

I am still wishing to run at Filinvest Corporate City. For those who are up for the challenge, sign up for this run! 

Event: Alay Takbo, Alay Dugo Fun Run
Date: November 12, 2011
Venue: Filinvest City Ground
Distances: 3K, 5K

Race Fee: Php400 on both categories (inclusive of singlet)
(Race Week Php450.00)

Registration Venue: The Shoe Shop Alabang Town Center
Customer Service, Festival Mall, Muntinlupa

For more details, please contact:
Alvin – 0927-8982534
Joy – 0915-5585788
Event Secretariat – 861-1128
Email Add:

I Run Because I Can.

I saw this last night as I was putting up my first Facebook page (PeñaRUNzi Facebook page will be out soon!)

Centenarian finishes Toronto Marathon; Kenyan defending champion wins for the fourth time

The centenarian marathoner days before the event.

A 100-year-old man became the first centenarian to complete a marathon when he finished the 42-kilometer event in Toronto on Sunday.

Fauja Singh, a British citizen who was born in India, completed the run just before 6pm local time in eight hours, 11 minutes and 5.9 seconds, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

It was Singh's eighth marathon. He set a record in the 90-plus age category in 2003 -- also in the Toronto marathon -- finishing in five hours, 40 minutes and one second.

However, this year's event was marred by the death of a 27-year-old man who collapsed just 300 metres from the finish line.

The man was taken from the course about 11:15am and transported to a hospital, where he later died.

Police did not confirm if the man was competing in the marathon, half-marathon or five-kilometre run being held Sunday, but the Canadian Press reported that it appeared he suffered a heart attack while running the half-marathon.

About 22,000 people participated in the three races and the marathon was won by Kenneth Mungara of Kenya in a time of two hours, nine minutes and 51 seconds.

Meanwhile, Singh, who was the last runner to complete the course, said he was overjoyed at his achievement.

"Beating his original prediction, he's overjoyed," his coach and translator Harmander Singh said.

"Earlier, just before we came around the (final) corner, he said, 'Achieving this will be like getting married again.'

"He's absolutely overjoyed, he's achieved his life-long wish."

The coach said his runner had been aiming for a time of about nine hours.

While in Toronto, Fauja Singh on Thursday broke world records for runners older than 100 in eight different distances ranging from 100 metres to 5,000 metres.

Singh, who speaks only Punjabi, was born on a farm in India in April 1911 and is 172cm and weighs just 52kg.

He has said previously that part of his secret is that he eats a light vegetarian diet of mainly tea, toast and curry.

Singh took up running about 20 years ago after losing his wife and child in tragic circumstances.

Meanwhile, Kenneth Mungara won the Toronto marathon for the fourth straight year.

The Kenyan finished with a time of 2 hours, 9 minutes and 51 seconds. Ethiopia’s Shami Abdulahi Dawit was second, while Reid Coolsaet narrowly missed the Canadian record en route to finishing third.

The 32-year-old from Hamilton finished in 2:10:55, missing the mark of 2:10.09 set by Jerome Drayton in 1975.

Drayton’s 36-year-old record is the oldest on the Canadian track and field record books.

Both Coolsaet and Gillis qualified for the London Olympic marathon.

100-year-old completes Toronto marathon; Mungara wins fourth straight


Wow! A centenarian got to finish a marathon! such is the human spirit. He is truly an inspiration for us runners. If he can finish a marathon, why can't we? Mungara was an inspiration, too. He has won the Toronto Marathon for the fourth time. These were great news after the weird things that happened in the running world last week.