Human Vortex Training and Menachem Brodie present The Strong Savvy Cyclist & Triathlete Podcast, where we talk strength training, physiology, psychology, tech, and much more to help you get fitter, faster, and stronger in and out of your sport, giving you expert insights, talking with other leading experts, and now, your host, world-leading strength coach for cyclists and triathletes, Menachem Brodie.
Hey, everybody, and welcome to today’s episode of The Strong Savvy Cyclist & Triathlete Podcast. Today is episode 43, where we turn the microphone around on podcaster Denny Krahe of the Diz Runs Radio podcast. Now, Denny’s been doing podcast for a little over six years now, and it is a fantastic podcast. So if you haven’t heard of it yet, if you’re a coach or an endurance athlete, Denny has some amazing guests, perhaps some that you’ve never heard of, because he interviews not just big coaches or coaches that you may know of, but the average runner, and every single podcast is incredible because you’re going to learn something new, something different, and you’re going to hear another perspective and a new set of obstacles that someone’s come over, around, or through.
Now, the Diz Runs Radio is a fantastic podcast. It’s one of my favorites to listen to throughout the day, and Denny has, coming up, episode number 850. So think about that. Those of you out there who are fellow podcasters understand and feel how hard it is to be consistent with that to produce a great podcast. Now, as you’ll hear, Denny’s first podcast actually didn’t quite go as he would have liked, same with his blog post, same with his running, but through it all, Denny just kept an open mind, talked to other people, and found his stride and found his passion, and that’s what is so apparent in everything that he does.
Now, as you go through this episode, one of the themes that kind of strung out is the title for today, and that is playing the long game, and Denny doesn’t pull any punches. He shares very openly and honestly, as he does on his podcast as well, his own struggles, his own thoughts, and we also hear about how he’s dealing with being in lockdown for corona and how he’s just kind of dialing back or dialing up his expectations based on that day. This is an important podcast because it really has a lot of takeaways for cyclists, triathletes, coaches, those who are new, those who are old. It’s a lot of fun to talk with other podcasters here, and especially Denny.
If you’d like to join a great online group, I strongly recommend heading on over to The Diz Runs Tribe over on Facebook. It’s one of the best-run groups, in my opinion, and as you’ll see and hear, it’s a lot of fun, and Denny keeps it lighthearted and has the attitude of everybody has something to teach as well as something to learn. All of the great coaches across all sports all have this same attitude. There’s always more to learn, and each individual has something that they can teach you and something you can accomplish working together as long as you keep an open mind, do the things that you need to do to stay consistent and do the best you can on that day, at that time, in those circumstances with what you have. Denny not only coaches this and talks about it, but he practices it every single day, as you’ll hear in a couple minutes.
But before we get into today’s episode, just a couple pieces of housekeeping for you. Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been working on a number of new blog posts that’ll help you be able to train better whether you’re at home or finally able to head back out on the road or into the gym. Make sure you’re signing up for the HV Training newsletter at humanvortextraining.com and get notified every Friday when we release new podcasts, new blog posts, as well as our latest weekly social media posts.
Next week, the week of Memorial Day 2020, we’ll be opening up the strength training for cyclist certification for a 48-hour window. Now, this was not a planned opening. However, over the last couple of months, three months to be exact, a number of you have been emailing and asking if I could please open up the certification because you’re stuck at home and you’d really like to make the most out of it. We’re almost done editing and uploading the new content for the certification, helping to make it even better than it was before. On top of that, we’ll also be offering a three-pay, allowing you to break the payment into three parts over three months, making it a lot easier to get started on improving your skills as a coach on the strength side of things for your cyclists and triathletes.
Without much further ado, let’s get into today’s episode 43 with Denny Krahe of Diz Runs Radio. Denny, thank you so much for joining us, man.
Hey, Brodie. Glad to be here. Thanks for inviting me on.
Absolutely, and you have one of my favorite online Facebook group, and you’re coming up on 850 here. So it’s really a joy and a opportunity to have you here to share your experiences and turn the mic around. Do you mind kind of giving the listeners an overview of who you are and how you got into podcasting and building the community online?
Yeah. Like you said, it’s been a minute. It’s coming up on 850 episodes, coming up on six years, which is kind of crazy to think about. My podcast started on July 1st of 2014, and it’s one of those things that seems like it was forever ago, and it also sometimes seems like it was just a couple weeks ago, and here we are, whatever, 800-something, closing in on 850, six years.
But I got started into podcasting in 2014, actually, earlier that year in, I think, February of 2014. I had just kind of started my own personal training business and was working with clients. I was actually meeting them at their houses or at their offices. I wasn’t working out of a gym. I would go. I was mobile, and so most of my appointments were either early in the morning or later in the afternoon, early evening, because, obviously, working around their work schedules and things like that, and so I had all this time during the middle of the day.
I was trying to build a business and network and somehow stumbled upon podcasting, and I had listened to podcasts a while back, like 2006, 2007 back when they were mostly just morning radio shows that would upload their drive-time audio to iTunes and you could download it, and so I would listen to stuff that way and kind of forgot about podcasting, for lack of a better way of saying it, and then somebody that was in a networking group with me here locally mentioned “Hey. You should check out podcasting. It might be something that you might be interested in.”
So I started listening to a few different shows and stumbled upon the idea of “Well, shoot. I’ve got all this time during the middle of most of my days. I could maybe do something in the personal training, health and fitness type of space.” So I put a podcast together and did about 50 episodes of that show, and it was just a solo show. I would just talk about health and fitness types of things and almost kind of started to feel like I was running out of things to talk about, which is kind of ridiculous to think about, but that was kind of where I was at the time.
So I thought about “Well, maybe if I started a running podcast,” because my running stuff was just for fun at that point. It was just something I did and enjoyed doing. I was like “Well, maybe if I did an interview show, it’d be a lot easier, wouldn’t be difficult to just talk to somebody about running and put that up as a different podcast,” and so Diz Runs Radio was born, just started talking to various runners from the elites to people that were fairly new to the sport and kind of anything in between and also found out that it was just as much work to do an interview show as it was to do your own solo show.
So I decided I couldn’t keep both of them going at the same time, so pressed pause on the original show and just kind of kept going with Diz Runs Radio starting in July of, like I said, of 2014, and was just a passion project, something for fun to kind of kill some time during the day and to scratch that passion itch of talking to runners, and it’s just kind of grown and taken off and, after a couple of years, started getting runners to coach as virtual coaching for their running endeavors and just slowly and surely shifted the business more from the personal training thing to working online, coaching, podcasting as that continued to grow and wrote a book and just the whole nine yards of things that …
If you’d have asked me 10 years ago, shoot, even six years ago, if I thought that that little idea of a little running podcast would kind of become my full-time gig, I would have laughed you out of the room, and yet here we are. So it’s been a wild ride, and certainly looking forward to continuing on and seeing where it takes me in the next three, four, five, six, 10 years as well.
That’s one of the great parts about your podcast that really shows through. When you listen to the early ones, 20, 25, 30, the enthusiasm has just grown from there. There’s no drop-off. You listen to some podcasts and you’re like “Oh, they’re kind of losing it a little bit.” How do you find these guests? That’s the other thing that I personally like about it is that you don’t just go after the elites and the coaches. You’re not having the recycled kind of guests, and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way at all. You’re finding the average runner and runners who have come through a journey and having them on to tell their story. How do you find them? Do they join you through the coaching? Do they just kind of read your book and reach out to you? How do you find these guests to come on and share their stories and be an inspiration to your listeners?
It’s a little bit of kind of all of the above. It’s a mix and match of different ways. It’s social media. It’s when somebody is on the show after we record and we wrap up, I typically will ask if there’s anybody that you know of, any of your running friends or people you know on social media that you think would be interesting to talk to that have an interesting story. Although, I usually don’t say that, because I think a lot of times people downplay their stories, like “Oh, I don’t have anything exciting to talk about.”
In fact, we all have something interesting. We all have a unique journey that’s gotten us to where we are. I’ve still yet to find somebody that, once we get talking, there wasn’t something interesting, there wasn’t a good nugget in that person’s journey, but it’s just … Yeah. I kind of just put myself out there asking people on social media, firing off tweets, firing off emails, asking other people for recommendations or just people on social media, people that listen to the show “Hey. If you know of anybody that you think would be cool that has something going on that they might want to talk about or that we could just have a conversation about, let me know,” and I think I …
To your point about not having all the elites and the same folks that kind of make the rounds on podcasts … Again, nothing against those folks, and I’ve had several of those folks on over the years, but I do kind of find kind of, I think, where you were going with it too, Brodie, that it’s just kind of … Sometimes for them it almost seems robotic. It seems monotonous. You ask one question, and then they answer it completely differently, and you’re like “Well, how did you get that from that question?” but that was just their talking point. They’re on to sell a book or they’re on to sell their program or whatever.
Finding more of the people that I can relate to, people that work a job, that have a family, that their life doesn’t solely revolve around running, but running’s a big part of it, but it’s not the only part … I feel like I’m able to relate to those folks more, which I think, I hope maybe, helps me be more engaged in the conversation, helps me ask better questions, helps me to kind of be able to empathize with them and put myself in their shoes and also, by extension, maybe put myself in the shoes or in the position of the folks that are listening to the show.
So I’m asking the questions that they wants asked and they want addressed. Admittedly, I swing and miss on that a lot of times, but every once in a while, maybe I come through with a good question where somebody’s like “Gosh. That was exactly what I was going to ask,” but yeah. It’s been something that’s kind of grown, and I kind of have a loose rule that anybody that calls themself a runner is qualified to be on my show. So whether you’ve been calling yourself a runner for a couple of weeks, couple of years, couple of decades, there’s something in there that we can get and we can learn from and we can have a good conversation with. I mean, it’s not like you can just saddle up any old time, but it’s a pretty open door. I’m pretty much down to talk to whoever, whenever, as long as it’s about running. At least that’s where it starts. Sometimes we got off running, but if we can start talking about running, we’re in a good place.
That’s one of the favorite parts of the podcast is you’re not afraid to just “You know what? Let’s see what’s down there.” It’s not that rigid “Well, let’s bring it back to running.” It’s like “Well, let’s explore that,” and you also have a fantastic group, we mentioned, the Facebook group, The Diz Runs Tribes. That’s one of my favorite groups on Facebook, and I really, really mean that. The Proverb del Podcast that you put up, how the community is built. You can really see your influence on it, but you’re not sitting there controlling it. It’s just kind of like it’s there, it’s supportive, it’s positive, open questions, and that’s really hard to do. I know we didn’t kind of plan on going down this route a little bit, but how did you come around? Did the community kind of just go that direction? Or was that something that you put a lot of effort into guiding it that way?
That’s a interesting question that I don’t know I have a concrete answer on. I would love to be able to sit back now and say that, whatever it was, five years, six years ago whenever the group officially got started, I had some master plan to get us to where we are today, but that would certainly not be a genuine statement.
I mean, being in a variety of Facebook groups, running things and otherwise, at least I’ve kind of learned that there’s some things I like about certain groups, some things I don’t like about other groups, and trying to find that mix and trying to make sure, especially in the early days, that there’s conversations happening, that it doesn’t go weeks and months without somebody posting something, because once it does that, then I feel like it’s pretty much kind of dead and buried at that point. So it was a lot of effort at the beginning to try to be posting things every day, a couple times a day, playing with different … “Should I do video? Should I do just audio?” Or I’m sorry. “Should I just do text posts? What’s the right mix? What works for the most people?”
Then I think that, as far as the interaction, it really has been pretty organic. I think, as people see that I’m posting things, that I’m asking questions, I hope at least, that it’s encouraged people to put their own feelings out there or their own questions out there. I mean, I’ve had a few times where people have asked me, sent me a private message or an email or something and saying “Hey. I was wondering if you could maybe ask the group about this situation,” or “Do you have any recommendations on this?” and I’m like “No. You go ask the question. This is our group. It’s not my group.”
So I try to encourage some folks to … Instead of relying on just my knowledge or experience, I hate to say it like “Let’s use the group,” but let’s use the group. There’s a thousand people in there or whatever the number is. I’m not trying to brag about it. I’m just saying. If there’s a thousand people in a group, there’s probably a lot of good ideas besides just my idea simply because my name’s the one on the door. So just trying to really encourage folks to post things and use it as their accountability. If they’re struggling to get out the door, say “Hey. Can y’all message me tomorrow and make sure I got my run in?” and we’ve had that happen, and it’s really kind of taken on, I think, a good life.
Obviously, I’m still posting regularly and trying to steer the ship, but I don’t have to. It polices itself well. It really has turned into a group that I’m proud of, and I’m glad to see that it’s a group that you enjoy as well. That kind of hopefully means to me that we’ve somehow managed to do things right over the last few years.
It’s only an opinion, and everybody has them, but in mine, I think it parlays off of when you look at a lot of the websites for runners or coaches or this or that, people put their titles. I’ve worked with a marketing person. They’re like “Well, you’re the world leader in strength training for cyclists and triathletes,” and I’m like “Okay. Great.” Yours is the most important title is dad and husband, and I think that kind of attitude runs through the group and the stuff you do. It’s just very down to Earth, very open and honest.
Yesterday, not to date the show … Well, we’re going to post in two weeks. So “May the 4th be with you” was your meme and says … Dwight, “False. Star Wars Day is actually May the 25th,” and that’s where you’re like “You know what? Tonight’s topic is Star Wars,” and you said something like “Let’s hear it,” and that kind of attitude, I think, is missing nowadays. It’s fun. This should be fun. Let’s have with it. It doesn’t have to be serious and run splits and times and the training program, and I have to look here, but I think, off the top of my head, that’s kind of where your blog started was you were just blogging about your running, and then one day you were just like, or over some time, you were like “You know what? I’m just going to share stories and connect with people and be honest about stuff,” and that’s when things kind of exploded for you, I guess.
Yeah. That’s definitely true. I started off with just the simple blog, and I guess it would have probably been … Then I started the website in 2010-ish, something like that, and I was going to have the next big running blog, and all of the posts I was doing was like “I went to the track today, and these were my splits, and this was the workout we did, and this was where I ran,” and it was just like “God. This is so boring. I’m getting bored writing the posts. People aren’t going to read this. Who cares about this stuff?”
Of course, there’s always a couple of those folks that are really deep into the details and love to see that kind of stuff, but for the most part, I just kind of felt like if I’m bored writing about it, then my writing is going to be kind of blah, and unless somebody was really deep into the weeds of trying to see what each person’s workouts are … How are they going to find me anyway? But that’s another tangent. It’s not something that people are going to want to read.
So it kind of went on a little bit of a hiatus. I wasn’t posting much because I didn’t have … But I would post every once in a while, and it was trying to be more, I don’t know, an attempt at more fun, an attempt at being slightly entertaining, and it was kind of even before the infotainment word kind of came about where you’re trying to be informative and coaching a little bit and helping a little bit but also doing it in a not so dry and boring way, but try to make it fun while you’re doing it, and it just kind of … You used the word exploded. I don’t know that exploded is quite the right word, but that’s where the slow burn started, where the slow kind of steady trajectory of growth that … Certainly, I guess, maybe I wish it would be a little bit faster sometimes, but it’s a sustainable level of growth. It’s a consistent level of growth, and that’s kind of led into writing more, which led into podcasting more, which led into kind of where we are today.
So yeah. It definitely started out being dry and just kind of very super heavy run focused, and obviously it still is run focused, but to your point to what you said earlier, we can still have a little fun. We can recognize that runners, for the most part, are well rounded creatures, and there’s the nerds among us, and there’s the well read among us, and there’s the musically inclined among us, and there’s this, that, and the other, and we can talk about those things, and we can share family stuff or things about movies we watch or TV shows or whatever, and that doesn’t mean that we’re not less runners or less serious about our running, but to me it just means that we’re hopefully well rounded individuals, and I’d like to think that that’s an okay thing to address in a running setting, whether it’s a podcast, Facebook group, or whatever.
You made an excellent point is that it wasn’t an explosion. It was kind of like the Chinese bamboo tree. I think you have to water it religiously every day for five days, and then it grows 20 feet in like three weeks.
Yeah. Something like that. Yeah.
Kind of like that, where it’s that consistency, and I think that’s a great place for us to kind of dive into our planned topic today, and that is, we’ve had corona going on. Hooray. Corona. Cinco de Mayo. Oh, not that kind.
Your book is titled Be Ready on Race Day, and one of the things that I think is really a undercurrent for all of the stuff that you’re writing is race day is whenever. It can be a random Tuesday in June if you feel good or you just know that you have a friend coming over. There’s no set date, but yet these days, as Dan John calls it, there’s bus stop and bus bench and park bench type of fitness. A bus bench is “On this day at that time, I’m going to have this fitness for this event,” and a lot of us have gotten, and myself included, gotten lost in that, where we’re not enjoying that journey to fitness, and that was one of the things with the book that’s really unique is that it’s just kind of like race day is whenever you want it to be.
So let’s kind of dive down that route a little bit, and what are your thoughts as far as staying in shape right now? We don’t have any races planned, let’s say, through June, at least. So how do we change our mindset to be able to maintain that focus and the motivation to be able to continue improve ourselves as opposed to be chasing a finish line or a medal or something other for our life board.
Yeah. It can be tricky and difficult for some more than others. I think it is a little bit of a struggle for everybody, at least anybody who’s even remotely motivated by the entire situation that is a race. So yeah. Some people are really motivated by pushing themselves and having an official time. Some people are excited about the environment and the electricity that’s in the air and just running with dozens, hundreds, thousands, depending on the size of the race and what the race is, other runners and just everybody working towards the same goal. But I think that, from the coaching perspective and from the book’s perspective as well, it can be one of those things where good training that works towards a specific goal … The bench at the bus stop metaphor is a beautiful one. Those same solid training principles apply whether you’re training for a specific race or not.
So with where we are right now, and who knows where we will be a month, two months, six months from now, and hopefully there’ll be races back on the calendar and life will be getting back to normal … I don’t know if that a pipe dream or if that’s a realistic dream, but I’m going to go with it as a hopeful dream. The same things that you would do to prepare for, honestly, any type of endurance event, whether it’s cycling, triathlon, running, swimming, whatever … Solid training principles are solid training principles. So you might not be, right now, trying to peak for a race, because there is no race, but the things that you’re doing to build the base, the things that you’re doing to try to mitigate the risk of injuries while still building fitness are solid principles to do any time of the year, any time of race calendar or not race calendar.
So hopefully, even though the book is obviously geared towards peaking towards a race, hence the title of the book, Be Ready on Race Day, those same principles, you can do right now, hopefully, you already are doing, you already are training intelligently and listening to your body and respecting that sometimes you need to adjust the schedule a little bit because you’re stressed or you’re tired or you’re sick or you got a little injury there, maybe not even a injury yet, but a little ache and pain that doesn’t quite go away. You need to take an extra day off. All those things that you would do to try to be ready to go on the day of your race, I think, are the same solid principles that we should be doing right now or any time when you have a break in your race calendar when you don’t have a race for three or four months. Good principles are good principles, I guess, is the short way of saying what I just spent four minutes trying to get out.
Well, the devil’s in the details. I mean, it really is important, and like you had mentioned before, it’s some people just give that bullet-point answer, which can be great, but especially on this podcast, we like … It depends. Let’s get into the nuances, and that’s a really important thing for people to remember right now. That whole background you gave, I think a lot of people are neglecting right now. They’re just like “Oh, I don’t have a race and I don’t have space.” You don’t have space? Did you see the guy in Italy who completed the distance of a marathon on his three-meter … Now, that’s a little eccentric. Let’s not kid ourselves.
Just a little bit, but there’s a lot of other that we can get our fitness in, and it’s just a matter of changing that mindset. So what are some tips that you’ve been using yourself or maybe you found that you’re using with those you coach to help keep that mindset optimistic or positive and building toward something else?
Well, again, obviously everybody’s situation’s going to be a little bit different, but some good ideas, I think, at least some things that seem like they’re working so far is if you have races that are still scheduled for the fall, whatever the distance might be … If you have goals that you’re trying to achieve for those races, it’s probably a good idea to maintain some level of fitness. So as much as things might be difficult right now, as much as things are uncertain and … Who knows what the future’s going to hold? What happens if that race that’s in August, September, October, whenever … If that race still goes off as scheduled, and six weeks out, are you going to get serious about training? No. Probably not. Hopefully not. Hopefully you’re going to be ramping up then, not just kind of getting back into gear then.
So I think that, for those folks that are motivated by races that are still on the calendar for later this year, hopefully that’s a good motivation to keep going and keep at least maintaining a certain level of base that then you can build from in those last six or seven weeks to peak on race day. But other things, I have had some folks that I’ve worked with that have kind of put together their own individual challenges.
So one lady just actually just this past weekend as we’re recording this … She set out for two miles per hour for 13 hours. So basically she ended up running a marathon distance over the course of the day, two miles at a time. So she would run two miles and then kind of rest and recover until the top of the next hour, and then she set out and did it again, and I’ve seen a few different types of that type of challenge, where … I don’t know. I know a lot of folks were doing the Yeti Ultra challenge, which was, I think, five miles every four hours or four miles every five hours, whichever way it shakes out to do a 30K. Or I’m sorry. Not a 30K. A 50K. A 30-miler over the course of a 24-hour period. So you can do those types of challenges where you’re maybe not running a quote-unquote proper race, but you’re pushing yourself to some type of challenges outside of your comfort zone.
Virtual races have been blowing up, at least here in the states. I mean, it seems like a lot of races that were canceled at least offered the opportunity to do a virtual race, and I know that some virtual race companies are just going nuts right now putting out different races all the time that just kind of allow people to scratch that itch. But I think, really, the key is figuring out what motivates you. If you’re motivated by races and there’s not an official race, well, maybe a virtual race will do it for you, or maybe some type of individual challenge.
If you’re just motivated by having the opportunity to get out of your house … I know, for me, I love my wife. I love my daughter. I also am an introvert’s introvert, and having them home all day every day is very much a blessing and very much a struggle, and so getting out for those runs every day is at least a chance to just kind of have some alone time and to recharge a little bit. So maybe just getting out of the house and getting … If you’re in a place where you can safely get out of the house and there’s restrictions and all that stuff, obviously, but where I live, I can run in my neighborhood, and it’s a quiet neighborhood, and there’s not a lot of pedestrian traffic. So I can safely keep distance the handful of times that I see other people that are out exercising. So I can get out of the house and do that. So maybe that’s your motivation. Maybe it’s just to stay fit for what might come, or you have a mileage goal, or whatever it is.
To me, it almost maybe sounds like I’m trying to not give an answer, but I believe pretty strongly in nothing one size fits all. So to just say “This is what you need to do,” I don’t think really works, but it’s finding what your individual motivation is, and you might have to be a little bit creative to find that thing that really scratches your itch and gets you out the door, gets you on the treadmill or gets you doing the activity, but just because races aren’t there doesn’t mean there’s not other motivators that we can find and tap into and utilize until races come back on the schedule.
You’re listening to The Strong Savvy Cyclist & Triathlete Podcast with Coach Menachem Brodie. Don’t forget to subscribe.
So I think, to kind of sum it up then, we could put it into one or two sentences by a guy you might be familiar with. I believe his name is Ron Swanson, “Don’t start chasing applause and acclaim. That way lies madness.”
Yes. Yes. I might be familiar with Ron Swanson just a little bit.
But that’s the epitome of it is a lot of us get … Especially with Garmin. Do you do this [inaudible 00:30:08] with your runners? Put on your Garmin. Put masking tape over it so you can’t see anything except for the stop clock, or have them just cycle through. Do you do that also? Do you get people to stop … My power numbers. My pace. Just run.
Yeah. I’ve definitely done that. I mean, it’s not across the board, again, but the folks that really struggle with it or the folks that really get too deep into the numbers, which is probably more folks than I would like to admit … Yeah. We’ve done that, or put it in your pack if they’re out running, they’ve got a pocket or something like that. Start your watch so you still have the data at the end, but put it in your pack. Put it in your pocket. Put it in your belt, and don’t look at it again. Put tape over it, whatever you got to. Change the display so it just shows the time of day so you know how long you’ve been out there so you know what time you have to be home by, but yeah. Let’s not look at the numbers, and let’s just run by feel, and some folks, that’s a real struggle, but some folks, boy, it’s a real game-changer. Be like “Wow.” Doesn’t always have to be all about the numbers.
Let’s use that to kind of pivot to you and your story about how you got into running and what you’ve been doing the last couple of years with your training.
Yeah. So I started off as an avid non-runner. As a kid growing up, I wasn’t the most athletic, but I grew up in a small town in Northern Michigan, and every season had its sport, and most of the kids played that sport. So in the fall, it would be football. In the winter, it would be basketball. The spring would be soccer, and the summer was baseball, and you just kind of played every sport, and running was always the … Obviously, running is a component of all those sports, but it wasn’t the main focus, and so the running part of practice or take a lap or whatever was always just the worst part of everything about sports. I hated running, and that never changed, even when I got a little bit older.
In high school, I played ice hockey. So there was no running there, which was great. I mean, obviously there’s still a huge cardiovascular component, but nothing that involved running, and even when you screwed up in hockey, the coach never told you to take off your skates and go take a lap. It was just take a lap around the rink, which … Again, I mean, it’s a lot similar, but it wasn’t running. So it was better. Into college, I wasn’t an athlete in college, but just trying to stay a little bit healthy, keep the proverbial freshman 15 in check, the late-night beer runs, the late-night pizza runs, things like that from taking over my health. So I’d run once in a while. Hated it. Never enjoyed it, but it was just something I would do to try to stay a little bit healthier, and that kind of continued on until I was in grad school.
So that was kind of my relationship with running for, gosh, from high school to grad school was … Or from start of college until I got to grad school was seven or eight years, and I just didn’t enjoy it, but it was something I would do to stay healthy. In grad school, I worked at Middle Tennessee State University with the track and cross country team as their athletic trainer, and so when I would sit at the track for four, five hours a day watching practice, it would get so mind-numbingly boring that I was just like “You know what? I’m falling asleep and I’ve got to be here. I’ll just go take a lap or two to just kind of try to wake up,” and while I didn’t necessarily enjoy those laps the first few times, it became less terrible, I guess, for lack of a better way of saying it, until, over the course of the two years that I was there, it actually became something I kind of enjoyed and kind of got into.
So when I finished up my time there, we moved back to Florida. I decided to sign up for my first half marathon, which I was going to do at Walt Disney World. We lived just 40 miles from Disney World. So I was … “Oh, I’ll do the Disney World half marathon.” Well, I went to sign up for it in what would have been January of 2010, and the race was already sold out, but the full marathon was open, and so I said “Well, shoot. If I don’t do this now, there’s a pretty decent chance that I’ll wait to sign up again next year and it’ll be full again,” and then just kind of kicking the can down the road. So I said “I’ll just do the full marathon. How much more difficult can it be?” and totally naïve, no clue what I was getting myself into.
At that point, I think the longest I’d ever run at once was five or six miles, so no idea what I was getting myself into. Trained for it, not well. I think the longest run I did before the marathon was the week before the marathon, which probably not the best way of doing it, but I only ran 14 miles. So it wasn’t like I was over-trained by any stretch, and I legitimately thought that if I could run 14 miles, then I could run 26 miles the next weekend and it wouldn’t be a problem, it wouldn’t be a struggle at all. I did more than half. I’m halfway there. Whatever. It’s all downhill after that.
I had a very stark reality check the following weekend at the Disney World marathon where I made it through about 16 or 17 miles feeling halfway decent, and that last nine or 10 miles was just a slog, and I walked most of it, and I was … “This is stupid, and running is dumb, and marathons are the worst thing ever, and I’m never going to do this again, and why did I even do this, and I kind of don’t even want to finish, but I also really want to get that stupid medal at the end that’s going to keep me going. So I don’t want to be a quitter.”
So I made it to the finish line, never going to do this again and then of course got talked into doing another one, and that one wasn’t a whole lot better, although I was a little bit pretty prepared, but I was also maybe over-trained and developed a bit of IT band issue for the second marathon. So that one was equally bad, but for different reasons. But at that point, I guess the seed did really start to get planted, and I started kind of get connected with some local runners, or maybe not super connected, but at least enough that we could talk about it, and kind of felt like I was a little bit part of the community and started to get some of that peer pressure of like “Well, come on. You did it the last couple years. Why don’t you do it again?”
So the third year, I did just the half marathon, and that went much better, and then I started setting actual running goals and learning more about biomechanics, and my background’s in athletic training. So I knew a lot of sports medicine stuff, but I was starting to get more into the actual philosophy of training and learning how to train intelligently and not just going hard all the time, which led to, ultimately … I’m kind of connecting some dots and spacing things out a little bit, but finally got into heart-rate training about two and a half years ago in December of 2017.
I had an athlete that I was coaching in the fall leading up to that point that was asking about going kind of a high-fat, low-carb style of eating and how that would impact her training and what she could expect if she went down that route, and I just kind of said “Well, I can kind of tell you what I’ve heard, and I know that it works for some folks, but I’ve never tried it.” So I got a book, the Primal Endurance fitness book, which is written by Mark Sisson and Brad Kearns, and kind of read that, and I was expecting to find all about kind of eating that high-fat, low-carb diet and how to train accordingly, and the entire first chapter, which was like 80 pages long, was this massive first chapter, was all about heart-rate training and why heart-rate training is so important.
That was where I was really kind of introduced to Phil Maffetone and some of his research and the things that he’s found with being, I mean, for a while there, kind of the only person in the endurance world talking about slowing down, training by heart rate, eating fewer carbs, and how that can actually, over time, really be a key to building a strong engine, and it was just kind of like I was trying it as a coach so I could relate to my athlete with what she was going through and what she was struggling with and some of her frustrations with how slow the process can develop, and I started to see the progress for myself, and it was like the more I would read and the more I would research and the more I would experiment with myself, I was like “Gosh. This stuff is working,” and it’s not always fun, and it’s not …
Talking about numbers from Garmin earlier and certainly numbers on social media when people are posting stuff, it’s not always this sexy post, because it’s always slow, or at least it’s slow in relation, like “I can run faster than this. I promise, but I’m trying to keep my heart rate in a certain zone,” but boy, after a couple of … I mean, really after a handful of months, but certainly a couple years into it now, I mean, it’s night and day, and I’m a never say never kind of guy. I mean, if there’s serious science that shows that heart-rate training maybe isn’t he best way, I’ll think about it.
But boy, I would struggle to see a reason to go back to kind of more quote-unquote normal style of training where you’re hitting hard maybe a bit too often and showing up over-trained and worn down, because the benefits of heart-rate training … They compound, and I feel like there’s more to gain the longer you do it as opposed to more of a static. It’s more of that exponential growth, and I’m excited at two and a half years how far I’ve come, and I’m starting to get a taste of how much farther I can go, and I’m loving it. So I don’t know if that answers your question, but that’s kind of the evolution of me as a runner over the last 15 years or so.
Well, it sounds like, as a runner, that’s how a lot of us get into it is “How bad could a 10K be? Sure. I’ll do a half marathon. Yeah. Why not?” and then what keeps you motivated is the people you’re with or just crossing that finish line to say that you did it. It sounds like you’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way but learned very quickly from those and have sought out a better way to do things.
Yeah. I think that’s fair, and I think that … I don’t know if it was an advantage at the beginning, but I think it’s an advantage now that having that background in exercise science and sports medicine … Even though it wasn’t focused on running, it’s helped me learn or it’s helped me adapt more quickly and not get set in my ways as much, because kind of knowing what numbers really matter and what numbers are a bit less important and being willing to recognize that there’s other people out there that know a lot and I can learn from them … I think that’s helped a little bit, at least with the benefit of hindsight.
What about the last couple of years, let’s say the last year and a half? I would make the assumption that the last couple of months with being kind of stuck, if you will, in the neighborhood has been a little bit of an obstacle for you. What are currently two or three obstacles that you’ve worked through the last 12 to 18 months, and how did you find the solution to it?
Yeah. I mean, yeah. Obviously, current events are a struggle, and I’m had gotten into a pretty good groove of doing my long runs with a friend in town and kind of training together, and obviously that has been stopped for now, and that’s been a struggle because my long runs … I’ve got the fitness to go 15, 18, 20 miles like no big deal, and I can get those done, but mentally, it’s a bit more of a struggle.
So when I’m running with my friend, she’s able to motivate me a little bit. She’s going and we’re talking and having a good time and kind of that stereotypical kind of “Oh, my gosh. How have we already gone 16 miles? How has it already been three hours?” or whatever the case might be versus when I’m with myself or running by myself, and especially when I’m running just kind of through the same neighborhood, which thankfully my neighborhood’s big enough that I can get five or six miles without running a bunch of laps.
But still, if I’m trying to go 12 or 15 miles, now I’ve got to run a bunch of laps through the neighborhood, which can be a little bit tricky mentally, from the mental side of things, and not having somebody else to lean on, somebody else to push me a little bit, somebody else to keep me going or just the fact that we’re still four miles from being back home, so “Well, gosh. You still got to get those last four miles in,” versus “Oh, I could just cut across this street and I’m right back at home again in a half a mile. I’m just going to take the easy way out,” … So some of that mental stuff has been a struggle, and quite honestly, I mean, the mental side of things has been a struggle for me for a while of just kind of quitting on myself, taking the easy way out. I wish I could say that that wasn’t often the case, but it’s something that I’ve struggled with.
So this situation has kind of forced me to, I don’t know, to kind of confront that a little bit more and just kind of … For me, it’s kind of been not giving myself that out anymore. When I would stop to maybe walk after a couple of miles, and it’s like “Well, why am I stopping to walk now?” When I run during the week and I’m running five or six miles, I don’t even think about stopping to walk, and now I’m doing 15 miles on my long run, and I feel like I need to stop after two miles even though my pace for those two miles was even slower than it is during the week because I know I’m going farther. So it’s like as soon as I had that conversation with myself … Yes, out loud with myself on the road at 5:00 in the morning, I’m berating myself. It’s like “Oh, yeah. I guess I don’t need to stop,” and so that’s been something that I’ve shifted gears on a little bit more mentally, or at least trying. It’s still a work in progress, admittedly, but getting a little bit stronger there.
Other struggles have been just sticking with it, especially with the heart-rate training, because like I said, sometimes it’s hard to feel like you’re making a lot of progress, because I live in Central Florida. So it’s hot and humid down here for most of the year, and anybody who tracks their heart rate knows that when it’s hot and humid, your heart rate’s higher, and so if you’re following heart-rate training principles, it doesn’t matter. That means your heart rate is your heart rate, and my number is 141 beats per minute, and I don’t go above that. So in the three months a year when it’s cool or cool-ish and not so humid, I might be able to run at a nine-minute pace and keep my heart rate not even really getting above 130, 135, and then it starts getting warmer, and it’s like I’m up to 10-minute pace and my heart rate’s right at 140, and so staying the course.
It’s just been believing in the principles, believing in the science, believing that if I do this and continue to build my aerobic engine and improve my running economy and my efficiency that it will continue to trickle down, and now I’m at the point … It’s not the worst of summer yet, obviously, but we’ve had our hot days, and I’ve been able to see that being disciplined for the last year, the last two years, as spring is starting to get here … Our spring is more like summer most of the time. I’ve been in that 9:15, 9:20 range on some of the warmer days, and the cooler days have been right at nine minutes flat or even a little bit under that with my heart rate being in that 135 range. So I’m not even quite right at that 140, 141 yet. So starting to see some of those glimmers of progress is helpful, but it’s a struggle.
It’s a struggle when you see other people posting their training paces and you’re like “Gosh. I bet I could do that.” So it’s kind of been an ego check, I guess, maybe, of just stop looking outside yourself. Look at what I’m doing, what I believe in. Do I believe that this works? Yes. Does that mean I have to stick with it and be consistent with it? Yes, and so you just kind of knuckle down and do it, and that’s been … I think, for everybody who’s ever tried heart-rate training, that’s maybe the hardest thing, and you just got to believe it’s going to work, because it will. The science is pretty strong. I mean, I guess you never say never, but if you’re dedicated and disciplined, it really does work. You just have to see it through, and that patience piece is hard for a lot of folks.
Especially now. You’re talking about going through the neighborhood and having to have those conversations. That’s something a lot of runners don’t recognize is they’re afraid to open up, or it seems to be that they’re afraid to open up, that when they’re out on the road, they’re having these conversations. Yet we all have those conversations, whether it’s a road bike or running or swimming. How do you approach that with your trainees? Do you coach them to have those conversations? Do you discuss the hard conversations when they’re with themselves and being really harsh or battering themselves down? How do you kind of build that mental resiliency to be able to, one, stick to a long-term plan and, two, be able to maintain that positive outlook as you go through and knowing the days when you should really can it and take that half mile home and the days when you should say “Nope. I just need to trust the process and keep going”?
I think that’s one of those things where, certainly because it’s something I struggle with, it’s easy for me to relate to them, and I don’t try to make it a secret. I don’t try to pretend like … Whether it’s the podcast, whether it’s the people I’m working or athletes I coach, whether it’s the Facebook group, whatever, I’m pretty much an open book, and I’m not afraid to say that I struggled with a run today, or I’m not afraid to say that … Hopefully, it doesn’t happen very often, but times when it’s just like I got up and I was planning to get out there, and I just had zero motivation, and after sitting in the kitchen thinking about tying my shoes for 45 minutes, I just said “Screw it. Today is just not my day,” and of course, you can get into a situation where you can let yourself off the hook too many times, and it can be problematic, and that can be a slippery slope.
It’s hard to kind of try to tell people exactly when is it okay to say not today versus when is it that you just have to push through it, but knowing myself and recognizing that “All right. Well, if I’m not going to do it today, I’m not going to do it today,” and be okay with … Maybe not celebrate it, but embrace it and just say “Hey. You know what? Today, my body, today, my mind, today, whatever it was, there was something that was off, and so I’m just not going to go today.” I’m not going to force the issue, because if I force the issue, there’s probably not anything good that’s going to come from it other than I got my miles in. So I guess that’s good, but maybe I feel like I’m getting burned out and I don’t want to run anymore. Maybe I lose the passion for running. Maybe there’s some injury that crops up because I forced the issue when my body was trying to tell me not to go.
So I think, as a coach, being able to communicate with folks and say “Hey. You know what? It’s okay to take a day off. It’s okay to take a few days off once in a while. In fact, sometimes it’s the right thing to do. It’s the best thing you can do,” and not be afraid of it and not worry about the fact that “Oh, my gosh. I’m going to lose all my fitness,” … No you’re not. You might lose some, especially if there’s a situation where you can’t do cross training, you can’t be active. Yeah. You’re probably going to lose some fitness, but guess what. We’ll get it back. We’ll get it back, and being able to come back at it with a fresh body, a fresh mind, whether that’s from one day off, one week off, one month off, whatever it takes depending on the situation, you’re going to help get it back a lot easier than if we try to keep forcing the issue. We’re probably going to proverbially break something, hopefully not literally break something, but there’s going to be … It’s just going to not be working anymore, and then we’re going to be forced to take some time off after we’ve been forcing ourselves to run, which is not a good situation.
So it’s just kind of keeping the big picture in mind, empathizing, saying that “You know what? It’s going to be okay,” reassuring that it’s going to be okay, “We’re going to get you through this,” and then lo and behold, when the mind is right and the body’s cooperating, we do get back in and then continue on making progress forward because we took that one or two days off or one or two weeks off as needed by the situation. So it’s a tough one. It’s a tricky one. As runners, we like to run, but we’re also human, or cyclists. Again, whatever your sport is, those are the things we like to do, but we also recognize that we’re humans.
Right now, there’s stress from the coronavirus situation. There’s stress from family situations. There’s stress from work situations, and all that impacts us, and so to try to be as perfect now as we were a year ago when none of the coronavirus stuff was on anybody’s radar is a unrealistic expectation. So try to remind them of that as well, like “Hey. Life is a little crazy right now. As such, we need to give ourselves a little bit more grace,” and I need to hopefully exemplify that by saying “Hey. You know what?” There was a day a couple weeks ago that I just completely overslept, and I was bummed, but hey. It happened. Apparently, my body needed a little extra rest that day. So it got a little extra rest that day. No harm. No foul, and hopefully that message comes through when I try to hit it from a few different angles along the way.
We’ll have to finish up with this one, but what about the other side of the coin? For those who have given too much rest, where maybe they were doing too much training before this came, and it was actually a blessing in disguise, but now that blessing in disguise has kind of turned into this snack door that usually takes a month and a half to empty has now been empty every week, and they’re in the other side of the coin where they’ve let themselves go too much, maybe … Now they’re looking, and they’re like “Man, I really should start,” and it’s just overwhelming to the individual to start. What would be some words of advice or some principles that you have for you athletes or those in that situation?
I think that the big thing in that situation is to not try to stop or not try to make everything perfect again at once, meaning you’re not training as much. Maybe your diet’s a little bit off what it normally would be. Maybe you’re not sleeping quite like you should be or you would like to be or you would be in a normal situation. Trying to address all of those issues and any of the other myriad of issues that might be contributing to kind of that negative spiral that you’re finding yourself in … Trying to address all of them at once is overwhelming, and that’s where you might try it for a day, and you’re just like “No. I just can’t. I can’t do this,” and you keep trending in that direction that you don’t want to be in.
So if you’re finding yourself in that spot, pick one area. Pick one spot to try to make a correction. So maybe it’s getting your miles in. Maybe it’s getting to bed at a certain time. Maybe it’s cleaning up the diet a little bit, whatever it is. Whatever for you might be the lowest hanging fruit, star there, and then once you start making a little bit of a positive direction there, some of that negative spiral stops happening, and then you start to build up some of that positive momentum. So you get your sleep back on track. Well, now it’s easier to get up in the morning to get your miles in, and because you get up and get your miles in or get your time on the bike in, now it’s easier to come back and make good food choices, because your body’s craving, good, healthy, nutritious food because you’re working again. Plus, it’s getting enough sleep.
So it’s like trying to stop that whole negative trend at once is tough, but if you can stop one thing and turn that around, you can start building some of that positive momentum, which then bleeds into other areas, and you really start to feel like you’re getting back on track, and it makes it easier to keep going because you got some of that momentum with you.
So it sounds like consistency, doing the small things to keep that momentum going, kind of don’t break the chain, and being okay with you wake up a day and it doesn’t feel right … It’s okay to call it.
Yeah. Definitely. Perfection is something I think all of us in all aspects of life … At least, I assume most everybody strives for perfection, but I don’t know anybody that gets there. So recognizing that some days you’re going to hit it out of the park and some days you’re going to swing and miss … It’s okay. It’s just part of the journey, part of the process, and keep showing up. Keep putting your miles in. Keep doing the right things, and over the big picture, that’s going to get you where you want to go more often than not.
Nice, and having that goal, and by the way, I love the poster. I can’t remember the name of the journal, but it’s in the background of the offerings of Be Ready on Race Day on your left-hand side. It’s just the chart that every week you can see the Xs. You are at week five or six, I think, in the background there, but planning out like that, does it help to have a visual like that for you? Or do you recommend that for most runners, to have something like that?
It certainly can. If that’s something that works for you, kind of seeing … I think it was Jerry Seinfeld. There was somebody who said “If you want to …” I think it was Jerry Seinfeld said “If you want to be a comedian, you got to write jokes every day,” and so he would put an X on the calendar every day he wrote a joke, just one joke, and he’d X out that day, and then you start to get a streak going, and it’s like keep the chain going.
So it can be the same thing for your running. It can be the same thing for getting to bed on time, whatever it is. If seeing that visual of going “Wow. It’s been 26 days and I haven’t missed a day yet,” … That might motivate you a little bit more to make sure you don’t miss the next day, and so if that …Not everybody responds to those type of visual cues, but it definitely helps me to kind of have some visual reminders of “I’ve made a bunch of progress to here. I don’t want to screw it up today. So maybe I’m only getting one mile today, or maybe I’m only doing one thing to get that X today instead of what I normally would do, but at least I got it in. I showed up,” and kind of keep that streak going. So yeah. I mean, something worth trying. It may not work for you, but if it does, it could be a game-changer, for sure.
Absolutely. Love it. Be consistent. It depends on the day what that thing to be consistent will be, and trust the process, it sounds like.
Yeah. I could say it with a lot more words, but I couldn’t say it better. That’s for sure.
That’s the advantageous of being on the other side of the mic.
Yes. Yes. Indeed.
Well, Denny, you have a fantastic podcast. Can you tell the listeners where they can find you and where they can get more information and learn more from you?
Yeah. Pretty much everything podcast-wise, wherever you listen to podcasts, if you want to hear me yammering on and, more important, hear other people talking about their running stories. That’s, I guess, the highlight there, less me, more them, but Diz Runs Radio is the podcast title. So you just search Diz Runs pretty much anywhere podcasts are found, and it should pop right up, and then everything for me anywhere, social media, website, everything is always just Diz Runs. So it’s D-I-Z, R-U-N-S, dizruns.com, Diz Runs on all things social media. Find me. Connect with me. Say hi, and I’d be happy to talk running with you until you’re sick of it. So would love to connect with anybody who’s interested.
Awesome. Thank you for joining us, man. It was a lot of fun.
Thanks for the opportunity, Brodie. Really appreciate it.
That’s it for this episode of The Strong Savvy Cyclist & Triathlete Podcast with world-leading strength coach for cyclists and triathletes, Menachem Brodie. Don’t miss an episode. Hit that subscribe button and give us a review. For more exclusive content, visit humanvortextraining.com or get the latest expert videos from Coach Brodie on the HVT YouTube channel at HV Training. Until next time, remember to train smarter, not harder, because it is all about you.