Badass Runner Profile: Mari Merchant

11652053_10206378365954784_1607116043_nName: Mari Merchant

Home State: South Dakota

Website / FB page / Etc. where people can keep up with your running:

BAR: When  did you start running?  Why?

MM: In January 2013 I decided I needed to do something about my weight. I was closing in on weighing nearly 400 pounds. I started by walking 20 minutes every day. As the weight came off it got easier and I went farther and faster. I don’t remember exactly when my walk turned into a run but it sure did! Since that time I’ve lost 175 pounds.


BAR: Why do you run now? What motivates you?

MM: I still continue to run to help with weight loss as I’ve got about 20 more pounds I’d like to lose. However, I mostly run because I enjoy it. I almost always run solo as it gives me time to myself to clear my mind. It always makes me feel better and I have so much more energy throughout the day when I run in the morning.

Longest race: Half Marathon

Hardest course: Med City Half Marathon. Rochester, MN. This was not only my first half but the first 9 miles were rolling country hills that had not been in any disclaimers I had read!


Favorite race (location / dates in case people would like to try it): Deadwood-Mickelson Half Marathon. It’s a trail race that runs through absolute beauty! We ran along flowing creeks, over old bridges, through rolling countryside with mountains off in the distance.

BAR: What are your favorite and least favorite distances, and why?

MM: Just for my normal every day morning run I like 5-6 miles. However, for races I prefer the half marathon because it takes some time and effort. It’s not a quick race done in less than 30 minutes but it also doesn’t have me running 5+ hours.

PR: 5k: 27:26 / 10k: 56:12 / half: 2:14:25


BAR: You almost never seem to miss a day of running… do you have any advice / tips / stories about the difficulties of finding and planning around that?  How supportive is your family?

MM: For me, it’s easy. I make my health a priority and running is a part of that. I wake up earlier than the rest of my family and go out in the dark to get a run in. During the frigid South Dakota Winters I hit the treadmill at the gym. I used to make all sorts of excuses for why I couldn’t make time to exercise but one day someone said to me something along the lines of how I can talk about all these different TV shows I watch but couldn’t make time for working out. That comment smacked me awake! I gave up watching TV about 2 years ago and ever since I’ve had no excuses!

My family is very supportive. My husband gets the kids up and ready for school (when it’s in session) and he makes dinner several times per week because I’m usually working out right after work. My family comes to almost all of my races to cheer me on. During training runs my 11 year old son will ride his bike along with me (he has asthma so cannot run) and my teenage daughter has even signed up to training for a half marathon with me this coming September!


BAR: Do you belong to any running groups, other than Team Badass?

MM: I vaguely remember the facebook conversation that started Team Badass. I do believe I was telling Sherri Morgan just how #badass one of her pictures were right around the time we needed team names and somehow Team Badass was born. I don’t think a single one of us really knew each other in person but we all had our passion for running in common. Plus…. we were all #badass!

I joined the Sioux Falls Running Club last year but their runs are so far away from where I live that I never really had a chance to run with the group. This year I didn’t renew my membership because of this. Honestly, I enjoy running solo most of the time anyways!


BAR: What are your bucket-list goals as a runner, this year and beyond?

MM: This year my big goal is to complete Ragnar Great River in August! I also hope to complete the Sioux Falls Half Marathon with my teenage daughter at my side!

I don’t have specific plans for the future but I do know that I want branch out and do more challenging runs as well as trail runs! Spartan looks like a blast and I’ve been eyeing the Yellowstone Half Marathon.

BAR: Do you have a favorite pair of shoes, or brand of shoes?  Why?

MM: I have like 9 pairs of shoes. For outdoor running I switch between my Brooks Glycerin, Saucony Triumph and Asics Gel Nimbus.  On the treadmill I like my Brooks Pureflow and Saucony Kinvara.  I have others but these are my top favs. I still haven’t dug into looking for trail shoes but plan to in the near future as I rather enjoy trail running and recently found an awesome trail just 2 miles from my home!


BAR: Is there any other gear you consider essential?  Do you recommend one over another?  Are there brands / items you’d like to try?

MM: Gotta have headbands! I prefer BondiBands with the 4” width as I have lots of long hair that gets out of control. I also really enjoy the arm band they make to hold my phone when I run with music. Most importantly I wear my RoadID every time I go out!

There are all sorts of gadgets I’d love to try but money doesn’t grow on trees. L

The fancy gear that a runner needs for the harsh Winter months in South Dakota appeals to me every year as I run bored out of my mind on the treadmill. The night vision glasses and LED shoelaces would be pretty cool to try while running in the dark too.

BAR: What apps / GPS equipment do you use.  Are there others you’d like to try?

MM: My current running GPS watch is the Garmin Vivoactive and I love it. It’s not gigantic and it looks kind of like the new apple smartwatch. I wear mine every day into the office as a regular watch too because it looks great, tells time, and the battery lasts forever.  I use the Scosche Rhythm + Optical heart rate monitor during workouts. It has Bluetooth and Ant+ connectivity which is very nice. It’s extremely accurate and I wear it on my forearm instead of the annoying band around my chest!

BAR: Any advice for runners trying to catch up and keep up?

11143090_10205774909828758_1231978116553501973_nMM: Just do your personal best and don’t worry about others. Even some of the best of us that run every single day still don’t have the fastest or best pace! As long as you’re enjoying the sport and look forward to it, then you’re on the right path!


Badass Runner Profile: Sherri Morgan

11356249_10206908538739012_803843116_nName: Sherri Morgan

Home State: Minnesota


BAR: When  did you start running?  Why?

SM: I started running in 2012. I have always disliked running but starting doing interval training to lose weight. I took a health class spring semester of 2012 and had to do a family health history. I found heart disease running rampant in my family. I also have watched my Grandma, and now my Mom, spend the later part of their life sitting in a chair because of the choices they have made. I knew I didn’t want that for myself, I needed to make a change so I could have a good quality of life when I was their age.


I kept getting faster and faster, being able to run longer and longer. I decided to sign up for a 5K to check it out. I ended up first in my division and have been hooked ever since!

BAR: Why do you run now? What motivates you?

SM: I run now because it really has become a part of who I am. I love the feeling of freedom. I love the feeling of accomplishment. I love pushing myself beyond where I ever thought I could be with running. Motivation comes from seeing what is actually possible, seeing if I can get a new PR and knowing how strong my body is because of running/training.

Longest race: Half Marathon

Hardest course: I don’t really have a hardest course. All my half marathons have had rolling hills, some higher than others. My trail races have had plenty of steep hills. Nothing stands out as the hardest. I did have one trail race that had a “hill” that had a name. It was long and it was steep and I am doing it again on June 13th!


Hardest race for you: The hardest race for me was my 6th half marathon. I had read a lot on the ketogenic and how ultra-runners were switching to this nutrition plan. Many said it gave them almost endless amounts of energy because your body uses more fats then carbs for energy. The body needs time to adapt and while adapting your energy levels can really drop for 4-6 weeks until full adaption. I started it just 2 weeks before the half marathon and it was my slowest half ever! It didn’t help that the humidity was really high that day. There was a discomfort in my chest for 9 of the 13 miles and I had to walk too much. My finishing time was 2:43:16 when I had been hoping I would finally get my sub two hour half marathon. It was very disappointing.

Favorite race (location / dates in case people would like to try it): I’m going to tell you about my top three:

The Hot Chocolate Race that is run in multiple locations around the country is one I have done the last two years. I have run the 15K both times. They are really organized and they give out great gear. Last year they gave us a great ¼ zip hoodie and this year a full zip hoodie. Also, this year they started giving medals to the 15K finishers and it is pretty awesome! Last year the course was pretty hilly and this year they modified it slightly so it wasn’t as much.


My second race is a multisport one. The Esprit de She Duathlon. (They also do 5Ks and triathlons) These are female only events and we are catered too! It was also very well organized and have great gear. I received an awesome cycling tank and they had Mimosa’s for us at the finish! It didn’t even matter that it started raining two minutes before the start, there were 28 mph winds (which had us riding at a slant against the crosswinds) and my ankles were raw and bleeding the whole last running leg!

Last year I did the Looney Challenge at the Twin Cities Marathon weekend. TC Marathon is a great event where people come from all over the world to compete in. The make a whole weekend out of it with a 10K, 5K and family events on Saturday and a 10 miler and marathon on Sunday. It’s the first weekend in October so the run showcases the beautiful fall colors here in Minnesota. The runs on Sunday start in downtown Minneapolis and finish in downtown St. Paul. A couple years ago they started the Looney Challenge where you run the 10K, followed by the 5K on Saturday and then either the 10 miler or the marathon on Sunday. I did the 10 miler. 2 days, 3 races, 4 medals! I am doing it again this year!

Favorite course: My favorite course is the one for the Lost Dutchman in Apache Junction AZ. So many races are run in the downtown areas but that is definitely not the case with the Lost Dutchman. It is run in the desert near Superstition Mountain. It made me wonder why they would have them in the city when they could give us scenery like this! My Mom lived in Apache Junction so I have been there many times and I have always loved Superstition! I did the 10K and we started in Prospector Park and ran an out & back. The half marathon does as well. You run towards Superstition for most of the out. It is a beautiful scenery! The marathon is a point-to-point and starts in Gold Canyon, 6 miles down a gravel road. They have pre-dawn campfires at the start of the marathon, and you get to see a beautiful desert sun rise as you are running! They also have some nice finishing touches at the finish with a little mining camp, old bearded prospector and live mule.


BAR: What are your favorite and least favorite distances, and why?

SM: My favorite distance is probably the 10 miler. It’s just a nice distance for me. I don’t know that I have a least favorite.

PR   5k / 10k / half 

 5K = 26:45

10K = 57:21

10 Miler = 01:36:04

Half = 02:06:29

BAR: You are always out running trails, or new places.  And in crazy cold weather.  What are some tips you could offer on finding cool new places to run, and on making sure you don’t die a frozen popsicle along the way?  What is it about the trails you enjoy?

SM: I am someone who likes variety and I love challenging myself! I want to explore new places, not only for the new scenery but also because you don’t know what you will find. Sometimes that can be a real challenge. I like to all types of races too. 5Ks to half marathons, obstacle and mud runs, doubles & triples in one weekend, chair climbs, mutli-sport and destination races.

Trail running poses a new challenge with rocks, roots, trees, hills, etc. You have to constantly be aware of that is ahead of you, jumping over things, dodging left and right, etc. I don’t even listen to music while trail running so I am fully aware of my surroundings. Running on pavement is more of a time where I can zone out and just get into my music.


I am fortunate to live in a place that really values parks and trails. When I am out driving around I take notice of any trails I see that I didn’t know were there. I also use MapMyRun to look for new trails. I’m am also a member of the UMTR (Upper Midwest Trail Runners) and on their website they have a nice list of dirt/gravel trails. I enjoy both paved and dirt/gravel trails.

As far as the cold–layers! And I guess it depends on what “cold” means. I have run a race when it felt like -17 degrees. That was brutal. I’ve run them at 25 degrees which is ok but I prefer a little warmer. I have run plenty at 45 degrees and find these very enjoyable once we get moving. Waiting for the race is the worst part. You have to just keep moving to stay as warm as possible. You will see many people wearing garbage bags to keep in the body heat and hope the black bag draws in more heat if the sun is shining. But as far as the running, layers are important. If below 32 you definitely want to keep as much skin covered as possible. Wear things that are wind proof if you have them, smart wool socks, etc. I have lined shirts that have a built in face mask I can pull up to my eyes and then I can just drop it back down if I don’t need it. When it’s really cold your eyes water like crazy, some people wear goggles but I have not tried that yet. If it’s not a race and I’m running outside in the cold I try to find a trail that is lined with trees, it’s usually less windy. They wind is worse than the cold! I, myself, would much rather run in 45 degree temps then 85 degrees with the humidity we have here in MN.

BAR: You are always color-coordinating your running gear… this seems to be something you really enjoy.  Any particular brands of outfits, gear, accessories that you prefer?  Any fashion tips?

SM: Well, I really like to look put together! It is something I enjoy and I have received many comments at races about my outfits and especially my socks. I almost always wear my pigtails when I race too! I don’t do any particular brand but it’s a must to start with the shoes.

Obviously, during a race your most important accessories are your shoes. They need to be the right shoe for the distance you are doing, so that is where I always start. Once I know the color of the shoes I am wearing (I have 8 pair to choose from lol) I work my way up, either picking the socks next or the top. I really like to wear the knee high, fun, bright socks. I find socks at a variety of places and when I see knee highs with colors I don’t have I will pick them up, just in case. One thing you really want to make sure is that the knee highs are not cotton, unless you like blisters. Claire’s has come cute ones right now, look like they are lace up and do have a decorative tie at the top. I do have some calf compression sleeves as well that can take the place of the socks. Once the top and socks are picked out I pick out a head band if I am wearing one, which I do like to wear to keep the sweat out of my eyes. I do like Bondi Band head bands, that’s where I got most of mine.

Biggest tip I have is just to make sure what you wear not only looks fashionable and put together but is also comfortable and right for running. You may look good running but if it’s chaffing you anywhere you will have days of recovery waiting for it to heal! Not worth it no matter how cute you are. J


BAR: Do you belong to any running groups, other than Team Badass?  If so, can you tell us a little bit about them?  What other runners, professionals, friends, etc. inspire you and why?

SM: I am a member of Upper Midwest Trail Runners but I just signed up so haven’t had a chance to get involved with them yet.

I am also a member of Twin Cities Running Club. They have group runs on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, you can attend any or all. Saturday is the long run, Tuesday is a leisurely run with a get-together afterword and Thursday’s are for speedwork and take place at a track. When I first signed up, last summer, I attended a Saturday long run. I had my headphones all ready to go and realized no one else had them. I put them away and we all started running together… and talking. I quickly realized that the reason I have always run alone is because I like it that way. I wanted to join a group to get to know other runners mostly. So I would have someone to do races with, etc. I did not enjoy running as a group, just the hanging out afterwards. I think this summer I may attend the speedwork nights though.

BAR: What are your bucket-list goals as a runner, this year and beyond?

SM: Since January of 2014 I have had a goal to run at least 100 miles every month. May brings me to 17 months in a row. Maybe I can make 100 months of 100 miles or more, good long term goal. This year’s goals are to complete 4 half marathons, at last 30 races (including at least one each calendar month) and I want that elusive sub 2 hour half. I also want to do a destination half and am looking at Utah. There is one called Morgan Valley! A half marathon medal and bib with my name on it would be awesome. Jamila (one of our badass runners) really has be thinking about this 24 hour race. I think that may happen in 2016. I really want one epic race for 2016 and I think epic would be an understatement for the Nanny Goat 24 hour race.

BAR: Do you have a favorite pair of shoes, or brand of shoes?  Why?

SM: My favorite brands of shoes are Mizuno and Asics. I have always had good luck with them. I recently bought a pair of Adidas Supernova Glide Boost because I read that the soles do not freeze when running in the cold. Since I hate when my shoes get hard running those winter races I decided I should try them. I used them for my OZ Run half marathon on May 23rd and they felt great. If they truly stay soft in the cold they will be my new winter outdoor runners!

BAR: Is there any other gear you consider essential?  Do you recommend one over another?  Are there brands / items you’d like to try?

SM: When running outside in the heat, some kind of hydration system is essential. I recently purchased a hydration belt by Fitletic and I really like it. I have used other things in the past because I didn’t think I would like something around my waist. I have tried hand held bottles, which I find a nuisance. I have tried a camelback, which I really like but only need something like that for really long runs because it holds A LOT. They hydration belt holds two 8 oz bottles and is good for runs up to about 10 miles. Even if I was going longer and there was a store along the way I could just bring some cash to get something to refill the bottles. I think it is important to try on a hydration belt and jump around to see if it bounces or is going to rub you the wrong way. They one I got is really soft and has nothing stiff on it to chaff.

I always run with my RoadID as well. The year I started running I spent 3 months in SoCal, by myself and was thinking if I got injured somehow, and unable to speak for myself, no one would know who I was. I ran a race with the RoadID coupon on the bottom of the bib and checked them out. I have been wearing one ever since.

One dilemma I always had while running is what to do with my phone. Women’s running gear rarely has a useful pocket. There are options but I don’t find them all that convenient. I found a great product that solves this problem. It’s a pocket called Underfuse and simply irons on your running shorts, pants or capri’s and can hold your phone, ID, cash, etc. I have bought 4 so far and will be ordering more, I want them on all my running bottoms!

I like to run with the least amount of stuff as possible. I do not like anything in my hand even if it’s “attached” to my hand like some of the water bottle holders. I do like to wear the little wrist pockets if I need to carry my key or the pockets for your phone that slide up to your upper arm too, but when you are running in heat and humidity those things just make the run that much harder.

BAR: What apps / GPS equipment do you use.  Are there others you’d like to try?

SM: I recently bought the new Garmin Vivoactive GPS watch. I really like it. The only thing I didn’t know and wish it had was a setting for multi-sport. I have the Garmin Forerunner 305 that I can and do use for my duathlons but it would be nice to be able to use the Vivoactive. Hopefully someone is working on an app for that.

I was using MapMyRun app on my phone but it stopped working properly in my neighborhood. It told me I was running zero miles per hour when I was clearly running.

BAR: Any advice for runners trying to catch up and keep up?

SM: I would say to just go your own pace. You do not need to keep up with or compare yourself to anyone else. One big thing that I had to learn was to pace myself. I would always start out a run to fast and then have to walk too soon. Once I learned to pace myself to my own abilities I could go farther.

I was running a race with a friend (it was his first) and we decided we were each going to run our own race. After the first two minutes I realized he was right behind me. I asked him if he wanted to slow down (I would too) so he could run farther. He said, “what’s wrong with this pace?” As I shrugged my shoulders, I said “ok.” At about ¾ of a mile he stopped and said, “my hearts on fire!!” I wanted to show him, rather than tell him, people learn better that way. I ran/walked most to the rest of the race with him and taught him how to run it most effectively. The next time he ran he paced himself and was so happy and proud he was able to run 2 miles straight.

Also, just keep it fun and enjoyable! Set your own goals and don’t let others talk you out of what you know you want to do. Last year I signed up for a full marathon and began training. I was really only doing it because other runners would say things like, “you have to, it’s the only thing you haven’t done.” (Which obviously wasn’t true because there are 25K, 50K+ trail runs, 12 hour, 24 hour, 100 mile runs.) I had no desire to run 26.2 miles straight. I just wanted to get it out of the way. By week 4 I started to feel like running was a chore and I could not think of anything else until I got my training run in for the day. I started to dislike running and the pressure it was putting me under. In week 6 I decided that if I completed a full marathon, but I lost my love for running in the process it would be a great tragedy! I email the race people and had them change my registration to a half marathon. I felt a weight lifted and I immediately started loving running again. I would much rather concentrate my efforts on getting faster at races up to half marathons and get better at trail running then conquer the full marathon. Do what’s right for you and let other runners do what’s right for them.

This is your journey and your race. Cheer others on and hopefully there are others around to cheer for you. And always, no matter what, keep smiling!

Badass Runner Profile: Jamila Williams

Jamila1This is the first of what I hope will be a long, interesting and inspirational string of Runner profiles.  I’m not profiling the guys and gals you’ll see in the Olympics (though it wouldn’t surprise me at all if some of those you’ll find here made it).  This blog is about running.  ‘Badass’ is an attitude, a feeling of exhilaration, pride, and accomplishment.  These are runners who inspire me – and at least for now – all members of the “Badass Running” team, formed of like-minded runners who found one another on Facebook.

For my first profile, I have chosen Jamilia Williams…  Over the past year, I have literally been stunned by the sheer volume of races she’s completed, and the miles she’s covered.  ½ marathons, marathons, 50 mile races, and recently well beyond – Jamila truly epitomizes the ideals this site will try to embody… heck, I want to BE her…  Let’s get to the interview:


Facebook Profile:


Home State : SC

BAR: When did you start running?

JW: I started running 5ks in 2011 and first half marathon in DEC 2012 (Dallas MetroPCS) and first marathon (RNR SD June 2013)

BAR: Why do you run now?

JW: I love the feeling of freedom that running provides. It allows me to go into my own little world. My job is very stressful sometimes and it keeps me busy. Running relaxes me.

BAR: What motivates you?

JW: Lots of things motivate me but I love seeing people who don’t look like what a “typical runner” looks like working out and running. I’m especially motivated by people who have lost legs and arms, those who have battled terminal illnesses, lost a lot of weight, etc. I love hearing stories on how people got involved with running.

BAR: What was your longest race

JW: Nanny Goat 24 hour endurance race ….It took me 23 hrs 17 minutes to run 100 miles

BAR: What was your hardest course?

JW: Monument Valley 50k –What an incredibly scenic race but it required running through sand pits, climbing a mountain up to 6,500 ft, and very rocky terrain. I took lots of pictures though. I have Leadville Marathon next month. That has an elevation of over 13,000 ft so I am sure that will be even harder!

What was the hardest race for you?

JW: Bataan Memorial Death March- I ran a 50 miler and 50k the weeks before Bataan but I still decided to enter the heavy division (38 lb rucksack) and I also decided to bring Old Glory with me! I was so close to quitting several times as I realized that I took the wrong rucksack and packed it incorrectly. My shoulders were killing me! But, I received SO MUCH support on the course and even from wounded vets with no legs! I knew that I couldn’t give up!! It was such a sweet feeling coming across the finish line. Yes, I will do Heavy again. And I will be more prepared!

BAR: What was your favorite race (location / dates in case people would like to try it)?

JW: I love the Disney races. I ran the Disney half marathon, Disney marathon (January in Orlando), Wine and Dine twice (November in Orlando), Disneyland half (CA), and Avengers half marathon (November -CA). They give me a chance to enjoy myself and take pictures with characters. My goal is always to take pictures with ALL the characters and not worrying about my time at all

BAR: What is your favorite course?

JW: Tough to pick one. I would say Marine Corps Marathon. I can go on and on about this course! I love the Blue Mile where they honored service members who had passed away. The guy behind me called out all their names and I broke down in tears and got choked up. Several of my friends were also there cheering at different points along the route. Very emotional and beautiful experience for me. Can’t wait to do it again!

BAR: What are your favorite and least favorite distances, and why?

JW: Least – 2 mile APFT (Army Physical Fitness Test) and 5ks because they are more sprinting- oriented events. I consider myself a distance runner so I love running at a much slower pace for a longer time.

Favorite- marathons and 50 milers – I love distance running so the further the better J

BAR: I see a lot of pictures of you with cupcakes. What is it about cupcakes?

JW: They’re delicious! So many different flavors to choose from!

BAR: Do you mind sharing your PRs?

JW: Half PR: 1:58:22   Marathon: 4:13:06  50 miler: 11:27:39 100 miler: 23:17

BAR: You often carry the American Flag with you… you and Old Glory on the road together. How did that start, and what does it mean to you? How far will you carry her?

JW: I started being interested in running with Old Glory after going to several races and seeing people run with her. I love my country, love serving in the Active Duty Army, and have been deployed. I love running with Old Glory. It’s my way of showing support and honoring fellow veterans, those currently fighting in combat, and those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice

BAR: You have a lot of running companions, and some groups. Can you tell us a little bit about them? What other runners, professionals, friends, etc. inspire you and why?

JW: Yes! I belong to several running groups such as Black Girls Run, Half Fanatics, Marathon Maniacs, 50 state half marathon club, 50 state marathon club, Team RWB, Wear Blue Run to Remember, National Black Marathoners Association (NBMA), Team Badass (of course), and  Run it Fast. Each has its own different mission BUT they are all focused on running, working out, and staying fit. Several members in each of the clubs and groups that I belong to inspire me. Some are BQs, 100 miler gurus, and some who believe in “getting their money’s worth” on the course. Others are not even runners but they are positive minded individuals who believe in doing their best and making a difference in this world. My parents also inspire me! They are my biggest fans and I am very appreciative of everything that they have done for me.

BAR: What are your bucket-list goals as a runner, this year and beyond?

JW: I have a four year (when I’m 40) plan to qualify for Boston and run Leadville 100 miler (one of the toughest in the US). If I accomplish these before I’m 40 then I’ll have to find new and more challenging goals J

BAR: Do you have a favorite pair of shoes, or brand of shoes? Why?

JW: I am a die-hard Brooks fan (still am) because their shoes are the most comfortable. I have several pairs of Brooks Dyad shoes.

BAR: Is there any other gear you consider essential? Do you recommend one over another? Are there brands / items you’d like to try?

JW: I like my Orange Mud HydraQuiver Single Barrel for trail runs but I wear my Fitletic belt during races but honestly I don’t like to carry much gear on me ..I don’t like feeling weighed down

BAR: What apps / GPS equipment do you use. Are there others you’d like to try?

JW: Nike Plus, Garmin Forerunner 310XT. I would love to try the Garmin Forerunner 920XT or the new Apple watch though J!!!

BAR: Any advice for runners trying to catch up and keep up?

JW: Enjoy yourself and find your passion. For me, it started with 5k fun runs. I like running them occasionally because it feels good not worrying about time. Each person’s journey is different. Some are faster than others. Don’t compare yourself either. You’ll never be happy that way. My biggest piece of advice is to stay humble, compete against yourself, and never forget where you came from. Encourage those around you too. We all have our momentsJ


Spartan Race Memorial Discount

Just a quick note … I’m coming off a broken ankle suffered in January ( on the 1st, of course, starting the year off right) and am just getting back out on the road.  I’m sorry the site has languished, but I’m working on fixing that in big ways… we’ll start with this…

The good folks at Reebok SPARTAN RACES are offering a code starting  TODAY… save up to $40 on a race entry using the code.  These are some badass races, folks… we’ll be doing more race entry giveaways later this year.. for now:

2015 Running goals / resolutions. We have them

2014I finished off 2014 with a little over 1180 miles …

I finished my first 1/2 Marathon (and several others)

I ran my first Marathon.

I broke 25 minutes on a 5K on a treadmill and just over 26 in a timed race.

Here are my goals for 2015…

At least 1500 miles, and a steady 100 or more miles per month.  Break 25 minutes in a timed official 5K.  Break 55 minutes on a timed 10k.  Break 2 hours on a 1/2 Marathon.  Run at least two marathons – The Newport News Once City Marathon in March and (hopefully) the NYC Marathon in November (if I can figure out logistics).    I want to keep pushing distances, and work a bit more on speed.  I am going to begin (slowly) to get bck into the old “P.I.G.” workout I did in the US Navy – consisting of a lot of abs and pushups – PIG is for Pain is Good – suitable for #badassrunning I’d say.

I want to meet, and run with, a lot more of the people I’ve met online.  I MAY try an 50K …what the heck, it’s only four more miles, right?  How hard could that be?   What are your goals for 2015?  What did you do in 2014 that you ar proud of?  Hit us up in the comments, and don’t forget to click on our post about the SPARTAN race and leave a comment for the chance to win a race entry.





When you think about running, and you add the word “Badass” to it, you can’t help but think of the Reebok SPARTAN RACE – obstacles, running, pitting yourself against the odds.  Badass-running is happy to provide a news update on these amazing races, and to announce our THIRD Race-entry giveaway.  All you have to do is share this post, and leave a comment to enter.  It’s good for one entry into a Spartan Sprint anywhere.

The new 2015 Spartan season pass has been released with lots of great perks, the 2015 World Championship Spartan Race is moving to Lake Tahoe California, Joe Desena’s “Spartan UP!” the podcast is launching soon and the first ever Spartan Cruise is happening in March.  To see some great photos of past races, and to catch up on all the new information visit: SPARTANRACEMEDIA.COM 


Carbo-Loading – the real deal

I have always read you should eat pasta the night before a race.  I’ve also heard over and over how you need to carbo load, and so, I have done the things that people who vaguely understood it told me to, and thought I was on the right track.  Let me be straight.  I read an article tonight that opened my eyes.  I have run out of gas / fuel on long, long runs and now I sort of know part of why.  You need to carbo-load for 2.5 to three days prior to a race.  Cupcakes? Not carbo-loading (lol) In any case, here is the link to an article on proper carbo-loading.  I plan to use it on my next long run.  See how it works out for you:

The Right Way to Carbo-Loadpasta-openpic[1]

2014 – The Road to 1000 Miles, A Marathon & More

aimhigh2014 has been quite the year for me, as a runner.  Back in January, I was sweating the approach of April, and my first 1/2 Marathon. I was averaging 8-10 miles a week … long runs were in the 6-7 mile range and I was mostly on the treadmill.  In March, I did what has become a traditio for me.  I went out to run the 13.1 to prove to myself it was not beyond my reach.  I ran closer to 18 miles that day.  I got lost.  I learned a lot and got so dehydrated I was a wreck for days.  In April, I ran the Dismal Swamp Stomp (already registered again this year) and ran it in two hours and forty or so minutes.

I have dropped from 235 pounds to 195 and stayed there.

In May, there was the 5K a day in May challenge.  I started strong, and I was kicking major butt through the first 3/4 of the month, but in the last week, I injured my foot (I think it was a stress fracture).  Inestead of resting – I had a 5k race I’d signed up for – I powered through.  That cost me the 5k a day in May, and it cost me what would have been my first 100 mile month.  I was out of commission for nearly three weeks, and had a major paradigm shift in shoes from minimalist Vivobarefoot shoes (which made my feet strong but offered little protection) to zero-drop Altra shoes (which I still love).

In June I got the belt buckle that I wear to this day – 100 miles in one month, and I had to do it (basically) starting on the 13th with almost no miles logged.  I passed the 100 mile mark, and have gone more than 100 miles every month since.  I am still learning to properly take care of my feet, but I work at it, and I will not go through that injury mistake again.  Somewhere along the middle of June I signed up for the Rock ‘n’ Roll 1/2 Marathon in August in Virginia Beach, and continued running.  As often as I could, I stretched the distance,  eight, nine, ten mile runs.  They were hard, but I found my 5K and 10k times getting better.

In August, I cut twenty minutes off my 1/2 marathon time.  I ran on, and I continued to up my distance.  I think it wsa in September when I signed up for the Newport News One City Marathon – even signed Crossroad Press (my publishing company) up to sponsor mile #13 (at that time it was as far as I was certain I’d go).

I ran a lot of miles in October, working my way up.  I did a 17 mile run and felt fine at the end.  Went shopping and mowed the lawn.  Still, that thing that always itches at my mind…itched at my mind.  I asked for (and got) a Camelback hydration pack for my birthday in October.  In November, I strapped it on, filled it with water and snacks, and headed out to run a marathon.  Just like the first time…I got lost.  Then I got found and figured out where I was, and I made that course stretch to the 26.2, despite having missed a major turn.  At mile 23 the love of my life brought me a bottle of Power-Ade.  I ran on, and I finished the marathon in 5:32 … so now I know.

Today, I broke my 5K record.  Last January I was hovering around 30 minutes on my best day for a 5K …  Today, I ran one in 25:42.  To cut off five minutes in only 3.1 miles…not as easy as it might seem.  Particularly when you ar 55.  I can see myself trimming it farther in the year to come.  All of my running  goals for this year plus one have been met.  Below is a small photo gallery of the year’s fun… and here are my stats since I started running seriously again a year and a few months ago.  Thanks to all of you who have helped, encourged, laughed, and even those of you who doubted…


1509252_627002177385562_2339177033203130631_n 1560418_666679526751160_3530911555378125794_n 10153147_723186664433779_4494383650738960157_n 10288702_776483342384576_379417839108321102_n 10307388_697833150302464_424842975923841996_n 10371733_648796958539417_379936933376732447_n 10624577_708439112575201_3167275576885964716_n 10629559_705252976227148_8680488976994091742_n 10658897_705283222890790_844512759714725799_o 10659225_699883833430729_9128987897942379913_n 10662178_705283239557455_6222798063712425941_o 2014-11-18 15.23.17 2014-11-15 15.34.41

26.2 Miles – What I Learned from Them

26.24On Monday, 11/10/2014, I set out from home at about 8:30.  I had on my Altra Torin shoes, my Camelbak “Marathoner,” a birthday present from the family, several protein bars and Gu packs, my MP3 player, loaded up with part III of SWANSONG by Robert McCammon, and my game face.  One of the things that has characterized my running is the desire to get past the “I wonder if I can” stage of preparing for a race.  My first marathon was supposed to have been in March – The Newport News One City Marathon, which I’m looking forward too.  Still, that’s a winter away, and winter is the worst running time for me.  Right now I’m coming off hundreds of miles of training over sprint, summer and fall, and I just could not wait for March.

I had a plan (If you’ve read my posts about running long distances on my own before, you know that was futile).  I had a course set that should have brought me home just over 27 miles.  It was a reasonably simple map, and I carried the instructions with me, but there was a point – no road signs – where it just says, left, right. left right, and then turn right.   There were, of course, more options in that stretch than there should have been, and on that crucial final turn, I went…left.  Somehow.   I was supposed to run in to Elizabeth City, NC, and then loop back around toward home on familiar roads. Instead – when I finally poked my head back out onto Highway 17 about halfway into the run (a little over, maybe 14 miles) I was almost in HERTFORD, NC – the exact opposite direction from Elizabeth City.

By this point I had already nearly been blown off the road by a truck, chased by two packs of not-exactly friendly dogs, and gotten directions from people in two very “rural” yards.  One couple informed me I was way off track, but still better off than they were.  Their car woul dnot start, they were stranded, and they could not RUN all the way to the highway…made me smile.

So, anyway, there I was.  What I did was start calculating in my head.  I turned and ran back toward home, and just before hitting 16 miles, I turned left again, crossed back over the highway, and took the route I normally take on my 12 mile track (the one I got lost on LAST time).  26.21 26.22

I figured it like this.  No way I was not running the full 26.2 after all the preparation, and after telling everyone I was going to.  I planned to run half of what was left, turn around, and run back to that same point on the highway, then make it the last couple of miles to home and be well over my 26.2.   Except, what happened was that before I had quite hit that halfway point, I hit the final turn on my 12 mile course…and I took it rather than getting lost (lol)  So… on I traveled.  More dogs … a caterpillar … By this point I was at about 20 miles and speed was no longer an option, but I was still moving.  I stopped for a moment and called home at about 22 miles.  Trish was kind enough to drive out and bring me a bottle of Gatorade at mile 23.  I also gave her my camelback at that point, which helped.

The Gatorade was like magic.  I’d had a lot of water, and I still had water left, but it was no longer really rejuvenating me at all.  Of course, when I gave her the Camelbak, I forgot that my phone was in it – so I was then cut off, and had sent my “” app home.  I kept going.  I had the Garmin watch, and it was going strong.  When I hit the turn to home, I started thinking.  I was going to be short.  Not a lot, but it was going to be – like – 25.78 … no good.  In the hardest running decision of my life, I turned AWAY from home and ran anouther 3/4 of a mile.  That was the defining moment.  After that I swung toward home, and I still felt okay…end in sight.

I walked / ran / stumbled the last mile … managed to remain upright through a shower … and plopped into my chair.  Then I got UP and drank a root beer, and a pepsi, ate an “Outshine” fruit bar, and got back IN to the chair.  Trish had gone to get Katie from school at this point.  Then I got UP again, ate a baloney sandwich and took the dog for a short walk.  The next time I got into the chair, I stayed until dinner…

So now I know.  I can go the distance, and complete it.  It feels good to be part of the 26.2 club…and today – after one day off – I’ll head out for my recovery run smiling.  25 miles from now, I will post again… that is when I will hit 1000 for the year, and I think I’ll take a look back at it for highlights.  Feelin’ kind of #badass today.

I did this (without planning to) on the USMC birthday.  To all my marine buddies, active and retired… Ooo freakin’ rah.


Barefoot / Minimalist Running – My Experience

When I started out to run again, it wsa partially fueled by a book a friend of mine suggested that I read.  You’ve probably guessed already that it was “Born to Run,” and if so – you guessed right.  I love that book for many reasons.  That friend took it more to heart than I did.  He made his own sandals, and as far as I know, to this day, he runs in nothing but those thin, rubber-soled throwbacks to a different time.

I tried the sandals.  They never worked out for me.  What I did instead was move on to VIVOBAREFOOT shoes, which are about as close to barefoot as you’re going to get (there is tread on their trail shoes).  I found all of the warnings to be true.  My calves killed me for a very long time.  If I didn’t pay attention and avoid heel strikes, my feet hurt.  Rocks became a problem.  I stuck with it.


By May of 2014, I had run several hundred miles, all of them in a variety of Vivobarefoot shoes.  Here is the important takeaway from that period.  My form improved drastically.  I moved to a mid-rolling to toe strike.  Most of the pain in my legs, feet and lower back disappeared.  I still wear Vivobarefoot casual shoes to work and for day-to-day wear.  To my knowledge, this is the only company providing a variety of attractive shoes you can wear to work and still experience a nearly barefoot feel.


At the end of May, however, I had a sort of forced epiphany.  It really isn’t a stretch to figure out that if you are running close to barefoot, your feet are in danger of injury.  Constant pounding on pavement can cause stress fractures.  Rocks and other fobjects in your path are a much bigger dea.  In May, I was flying through the first of several really big challenges.  5K a day in May.  At least 3.1 miles every day.  I was up near the very end.  I had a couple of timed 5K races at that point, and I was determined to do well in them.

Except I stepped on a rock right after the first one.  My foot hurt.  I knew I should have stopped running for a while, but I had a race coming up that Saturday.  I ran it, and actually even got a good time, but I knew before and ABSOLUTELY knew after, that my foot was messed up good.  Pretty sure it was a hefty stress fracture.  I was off running completely until almost halfway through June.

I knew I had to something for my feet, so I went back to the research – as always – reading reviews, studying reports.  I found ALTRA Lone Peak trail running shoes.  These were “Zero dro” – meaning, there is no drop off from the height of your heel to the height at mid-foot or toe.  Just like Barefoot.  There was cushioning in the shoes, and at the time, the more important thing – a metal rod running down the center (a thin one) to protect you from rocks.  I ran in those shoes nearly a month, and was able to get back up into higher mileage, though very slowly.  I noticed recently that during that recovery, my form went ot hell.  The heels on my Lone Peaks are worn half away, and I *never* strike my heels anymore.

2014-06-04 07.54.32

Since then, I have come to understand that it’s the form that matters.  Zero drop shoes promote a natural mid foot to toe-strike stride, but they also provide some protection against pavement pounding.  I now runin a rotation of shoes – the Lone Peaks (though I’m phasing them out due to the heel wear) – Altra Torin running


shoes (very comfortable) Altra Intuition shoes – more of a standard, day to day shoe – not quite as comfortable as the Torin because they don’t have as wide a toe-box, but solid protection.


I’ve just ordered The Paradigm – another Altra model, but one with more cushion (and still Zero drop) for protection on the longer runs I’m going to be needing to prepare for the Newport News One City Marathon next March.


The bottom line is, I think that the barefoot running is a great training tool…  I believe absolutely in keeping your heels off the pavement, and I think flat – zero drop shoes with wide toe boxes so your feet can naturally spread out – are the best bet (for me they are aboslutely the best).  The key is not improving your form at the expense of your feet – learning from the barefoot style and form, while keeping the “common sense” notion of protecting your feet in the forefront of your mind.  There is no one perfect shoe – everyone evolves through a string of them before finding a perfect fit .  My hope is that – from my own experience (over a thousand miles of it now) I’ve cleared up how minimalist running has improved my life, and my fitness, and how I’ve combined that with lessons learned through pain and many miles to conclude that whatever type of shoe you choose, it needs to protect your feet.  If you mess them up – you can’t run.  Sorry Roger – no more sandles for me.


Miles to go before we sleep