You asked, I answered: Running with a cold

By | December 17, 2014 1:56 am | 0 Comments

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Q. I have a cold — should I run or rest? I was always told if it’s in the head, run. If it’s in the chest, rest. — K.C.

I’m almost never sick. But, when I’ve had a mild cold, I’ve always run through it.  In fact, I’ve found that a run in the brisk winter air can really clear things out. I’d suggest that you carry tissues if you’ve not mastered the snot rocket (5 tips on that here), though.

I do not, however, run with a fever/body ache kind of cold/flu. I usually feel so drained and lacking energy that I just don’t think running would do me any good. And, I figure my body is working hard enough to fight off infection without me forcing it to slog through a 5-miler.

More info on running through illness from Runner’s World here.

 

 

Friday question: Halloween treats worth running for

By | October 31, 2014 1:56 am | 0 Comments

7-Spooktacular-Ways-to-Save-On-Halloween-Candy

Happy Halloween!

In honor of all hallow’s eve, I asked area runners: What candy or Halloween treat would you put extra miles in for?  Here’s what they say is worth running off:

Dark chocolate Reese's peanut butter cups! — Jennifer D.
An ice cold bottle of Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale! Or maybe a Kit-Kat bar. Or a Kit-Kat bar washed down with Pumpkin Ale! That's it! —Tom Madura
Sponge candy. They have a Hot Chocolate Run in Phoenix every year. It's chocolate but nothing like the stuff in Erie.​ — Paul Bressen
Romolo's chocolate covered strawberries. — Mary Connerty
Reese's cups. — Megs Shearman
No candy here but a Burger King milkshake!  Not sure what it is about them, but, damn, it's good after a long run! — Ron Church
Reese's peanut butter cups. — Angie Faulhaber
Smarties. — Leslie Cooksey
Kit-Kats. And Snickers. Also Reese Cups. Oh, and Milky Ways. I really like chocolate. — Karen Beebe
Peanut M&Ms — Betsy Haffley 

Snickers! — Stacey Hammer
Southern Tier Warlock, Pumking and Harvest. Sam Adams Oktoberfest. (Oh....Candy....LOL) — Matt Kleck
Reese's cups. — Lisa Meyer
Pumpkin cookies and half a Pumpking !!!! They pair well together and it's totally worth the workout. — Erin Ryan
3 Musketeers. — Jen Kelly
Reese's — Brenda Carr
Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Pumpkin. — LeAnne Morton
Take 5 bars, Nestle's $100,000 bars, Snickers pb squared are my three faves. The sad part is I'm not much if a runner, but I eat them anyway. — Cindy Slivinski
Those witches broom things that always show up at the Endurance Run. I am a sucker for those. — Dennis Albrewcynski
Candy corn pumpkins, Take 5 bars, and donuts. Lots of lots of miles for lots and lots of donuts. — Patt Krott
Reese's cups. — Michelle Gonda
Any Full size candy bars either dipped, stuffed, or layered with chocolate! — Teri Zalewski 

Peanut butter cups! — Jessie Zahner
Butterfinger. Fo sho. I have a serious Butterfinger problem. — Bethany Kelley
Peanut butter snickers. — Jennifer Bach

Panera frosted pumpkin shaped sugar cookies!! — Ginny Sackett
Almond Joy! — Joseph Hunt
Kit-Kats. — Lisa Shade
Milky Ways.  — Amy Cronk
Potato chips. — Jan Vieyra
I <3 candy corn. — Rana Evanoff
Beer!  — Dave Lesher
As for me, I’ll be raiding my kids’ bags for York Peppermints and Junior Mints. I also usually steal a few Kit-Kats, too. And, I get all the dark chocolate they don’t want.
Now that we’ve talked about what’s worth spluring on….here’s what some of your faves are going to cost you in minutes/miles to burn off.

Guest Post: Getting to Know Elliot Spaeder

By | October 17, 2014 3:56 am | 0 Comments

By Larry Kisielewski

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On July 22, 2014, ERC member Elliot Spaeder joined a very exclusive club. Departing from Long Point, Ontario, Canada at 7 a.m., the lean, well-trained, 30-year-old progressed south across Lake Erie to Freeport Beach in North East, PA, arriving 11 hours, 28 minutes, and 5 seconds later to become only the 16th person in the world to swim the 24.3-mile distance.

And so, departing from our usual GTKY format, here are 20 questions answering the who, where, what, and why of that monumental endeavor:

When did you first get the idea to swim the lake?

I’ve been swimming since I was three months old, so it’s always been in the back of my head. My dad, Tim, first suggested it in 1999, but last September (2013) was when I decided to go for it.

What was your typical training regimen and when did you start?

I started serious training that November, swimming 8,000 yards per day I the Prep pool [where he is swim coach] before starting work. I progressed to 5-7 hour swims with running supplementing my workouts on off days. I basically followed a 16-week marathon program (adapted to swimming) which physically and mentally helped my training.

Any training partners or mentors?

My wife, Molly, would get up at 5:30 or 6 a.m. on weekends and paddle the kayak with GPS and timing once the weather broke and we started workouts in open water at Presque Isle, Edinboro or Findley Lake. Ryan Morrow kayaked for me during the week, Eric Mizuba and Sonya (Pyle) Wittman answered a lot of my questions and (previous lake swimmer) Bob North had me over for dinner, looking over scrapbooks and film. (Two-time lake swimmer and record holder) Josh Heynes was invaluable with his coaching.

What was your longest previous swim?

I’d done a 16-mile training swim and planned an 18-miler on July 4th that was cut short because of bad lake conditions.

You had a one-week window you’d decided on. How did you decide on that day?

Our team of 12 people on stand-by had a 40-foot boat and four single kayaks and one tandem kayak. The long-range forecast didn’t look good, so the Friday before, I went to the Indians/Tigers game with a long workout on Sunday. That night, I got a text from Josh saying Tuesday was a go.

What was it like getting to the starting point?

Lonely. The 40-footer took four hours to go across the lake, so it left the night before. I went across that morning in a motor boat with five other people that took about an hour to get there. I wore a hoodie, with my head down, listening to music through my headphones, alone with my thoughts. The Border Patrol helped with the arrangements, previously contacting the Canadian authorities.

How were the conditions?

Perfect! About 70 degrees, surface like glass, crystal-clear visibility to about a 15-foot depth.

What was it like wading in and taking that first stroke?

I went ashore and prayed. I thought, “I can’t believe I’m finally doing this!” but I wasn’t going to let everybody down. I kissed my wife, waded out, and started swimming.

What did you wear?

Wet suits aren’t allowed. I wore a USA Speedo and a swim cap, goggles, and a heart-rate monitor for a Gannon study. I lubed with a lanolin/Vaseline mix and sunscreen.Two months later, I still have the tan line!

What were breaks like?

Unlimited, but you can’t touch anyone or anything. I took 10 breaks (about one per hour). The longest was two minutes. The rest were about a minute. I’d tread water and a kayaker would toss me a water bottle of high-cal electrolytes called “Hammer Nutrition,” which is basically a strong Gatorade mix we’d decided on in training through trial and error to provide nutrition and prevent cramping. Bathroom breaks were on the fly. I had a kayaker play music during the breaks.

What did you think about? Did you relax and “zone out”?

Music (I-pods or radios) isn’t allowed. I went through a U2 concert in my head, but that didn’t take too long. It was hard to relax with all the yelling (encouragement). I usually swim competitively and breathe on my left side, but for this, I lengthened my stroke and breathed bi-laterally (both sides, one breath every three strokes).

How was your pace?

I started out way too fast. My first mile was 17 minutes. My crew slowed me down then, and I averaged 25 minutes per mile, with 31 minutes my slowest mile.

What was your weight loss, if any?

I lost 15 pounds during training, but on the actual swim, nothing.

Was this a sanctioned swim?

Yes. Josh Heynes is a certified observer for both WOWSA (World Open Water Swim Association) and LEOSA (Lake Erie Open-Water Swim Association).

At what point did you know, “I got it!”?

I’d told the crew that I didn’t want to know for how long or how far I’d been in the water. After awhile, I could see landmarks on shore but they didn’t seem to get closer. I didn’t know for sure I had it until I actually saw shore.

You raised a lot of money with this swim.

Yes, we raised $20,000 for the YMCA. They’ve done a lot for me, and I wanted to give back.

How bad was the recovery?

Not bad. I knew there would be a crowd on shore so I told myself to be strong. I waded out with steady legs, kissed Molly, and had a beer on shore. The next day, I went to work a half day, swam 500 yards at the Y, and did the Presque Isle Mile lake swim at Discover Presque Isle that Saturday. That Monday, I was back to my routine of running and lifting.

Will you do it again?

No.

Any other challenges?

Maybe an Ironman.

If you did it over, would you do anything differently?

Seeing that I was only 11 minutes off the record, I may have re-thought the strategy of not knowing my time or distance.
Last words: I’m happy I did it and happy it’s over. I’m glad to get back on my running program and looking forward to the Turkey Trot. Thanks to my crew and everyone who supported me!!

Video here & here

** Getting To Know You is reprinted with permission from the October 2014 Erie Runners Club newsletter.

Inspiration: Meet Melissa Tomcho

By | February 26, 2014 8:42 am | 0 Comments

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I met Melissa Tomcho, 46, as we bellied up the race results sheets posted on the side of Gannon University’s Carneval Athletic Pavilion after the Pump-Kin Run in October.

I think she told me I had a nice race and that she had kept me in her sights and paced off me. We struck up a conversation and she told me that she had just set a P.R. of 25:35, but even more impressive, she’d taken the pre-race pump challenge and bench pressed her way into 2nd place among 15 women who did the weight lifting portion of the race!

Melissa is the principal at Union City Middle/High School, where she works out with her “coach,” the school’s physical education teacher, Michael Krause, and other coworkers and colleagues in the early morning hours on most weekday mornings.

I thought some of you might find Melissa’s story inspiring, so I did a little Q&A with her:

Family: Husband, Anthony Tomcho; children, Megan Preston age: 23, Molly Preston, age 21, and Hayden Tomcho age 7

Residence: Corry

Profession:  Principal at Union City Middle/High School

You mentioned that you were once overweight. What motivated you to get fit?  It stemmed from health issues in my family and, also, after we adopted Hayden, I quickly realized I needed to be able to keep up with him!

How did you lose 60 lbs? Losing weight (and keeping it off) is a daily battle. It was a long process. I did not follow a particular diet or exercise routine, but rather just quality, quantity, and exercise. I watch what and how much I eat. I also try to engage in some physical activity at least five days a week. I just started running a little over a year ago.

Have you changed your diet, too? (How so?) I watch what and how much I eat. If I want something in particular I don’t deny myself, I just limit the amount. I know I will only set myself up for failure, if I try to deprive myself.

Did you ever think you’d be a runner, let alone a competitive one?  I never imagined I would be a runner! Coach Krause has tried for years to get me to run and I would never try until last year. At this time, I do not consider myself a competitive runner, but I enjoy the competitive nature of the races. I sign up for a race every few months, just as a goal to maintain my exercise routine.

What appeals to you about running? The sense of power and accomplishment I feel during and after I run.

How often and how far do you run weekly? I usually run five days a week.  It depends if I have a race on the weekends. Lately, I have only been averaging 18-20 miles per week. This winter has been really tough!

Do you have any specific running goals for 2014? Not really. Last year, I did the Liberty 10K on July 4th, so I may do another 10K.  When I hear about a race that sounds interesting to me, I sign up.

Your bench press was impressive! How often/how long do you weight train?  Coach Krause developed a weight lifting routine for me to use. I trained for the Gannon Pump-Kin-Run, so I lifted Monday through Friday. Currently, I complete a circuit routine using the different stations. Coach Krause creates different programs for me to follow.

Does it help with your running?  Weight training definitely helps with my running and weight maintenance. I think having a strong core.

How did/does Mike Krause, phys ed. teacher at U.C.H.S. help/inspire you to get fit? Coach Krause is a constant, positive force or perhaps he’s just a pain. (LOL)

How long have you known Mike? I have known Coach Krause for about 25 years, since I did my student teaching at Union City Middle/High School. I taught in the Social Studies Department.

Why do you think he takes his time (and goes to “work” at 5:30 a.m.) to help others? I believe Coach Krause wants everyone to benefit from living a healthier lifestyle. His firm personal philosophy is that a healthy body is a healthy mind.  He knows the advantages and wants others to have that opportunity.

What keeps you going (besides Mike)? How do you drag yourself to a workout on a cold day, etc? I know how much better I feel after exercising.  I have more energy throughout the day. It is a great stress reliever, my overall health has improved, and I can keep up with my 7-year-old until bedtime!

What advice do you have for other people who are just starting to exercise/run? Be a little selfish. You have to take time for yourself before you can do for others and set short term goals and reward yourself.

Read more about Mike Krause in Sunday’s edition of Her Times, in home delivered copies of the Erie Times-News.

29 ways to run faster

By | July 16, 2013 1:48 am | 0 Comments

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Sometimes I have email exchanges with runners that I think would be helpful information to share with others, so in that spirit I share this:

A reader recently contacted me with questions about Couch to Her Times 5K training program and she said:

My first 5k was last October.  Terrible time. Trying to redeem myself :) I’m new at this.  Any tips from a seasoned runner?

Here was my response:

Hi, Nicole. When you say you had a terrible time, do you mean that you were unhappy with how long it took you to complete the race? It’s all sorta relative (my fast is another person’s slow), so…it really does only matter what YOU think. But if you feel like you could do better, then here are some things that helped me:

1. Run with other people. And, most importantly if you want to get faster, run with people slightly faster than you and soon you’ll be a their pace. What is your pace…do you know? If you tell me, I may know of some groups/people you might join. (I extend that offer to all blog readers…I know lots of runners at various paces who live in various areas of the city & county).  Join the Erie Runner Club and like their page on Facebook. Request to join the ERC’s running groups facebook page…that’s where you can learn about various group workouts.

2. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. This is true ONLY for racing…you should not be running training runs like this, but, when racing, learn to accept that it’s hard and it hurts and tell your brain that it can handle it (because your “selfish brain” will keep telling you to slow down).  This article is fascinating and it will give you some insight into what’s happening in your mind/body. (This is written for an ultrarunner audience, but it applies to many of us. Again…it’s all relative…your “ultra” may be my “warm up,” you know?)

3. Start interval training/speedwork. It’s all explained pretty well in this article. Word to the wise: if you can talk any friends into doing speedwork/intervals with you, it’s way more fun with friends (or at least less miserable).

4. (to 29.) Here are 25 more ways to run  faster.

Good luck! You can do it! Let me know your pace and I may have a group for you to meet up with.

~ Heather

Friday Question: You saw what?

By | May 17, 2013 2:02 am | 0 Comments

What is the weirdest/strangest/most shocking thing you ever saw laying in the road/trail on a run?

A fat raccoon ….. the biggest that I’ve ever seen. I was running on the multi-purpose trail on the bay side @ Presque Isle and it was sitting there just off of the trail, and showed absolutely no fear of a human running so close to him. — Ramon Patron, Jr.

You asked, so…. the weirdest/strangest/most shocking thing I saw was a (presumably) used condom. — Mike Lawrence

A raccoon with a helium balloon tied around it’s waist, earlier this week on Norcross Rd. — Patrick Dwyer

At the Cleveland Marathon, I saw a woman just off the side of the road, peeing standing up. It was just weird. — Dan Cass

A giant man o’war swimming along side while running on seven mile bridge in the Keys. We maintained the same pace for more than a mile. — Paul Bressen

Dead red fox next to sidewalk at PI before ranger station pond, looked healthy, told ranger. Never saw one before. — Tom Twohig

A lynx, right in the middle of the trail a couple miles from the house…beautiful animal! — Michael Morris (who lives in Alaska)

I once found 17 pairs of bras and panties spread along RT 97 between Waterford and Pennbriar. They were obviously tossed out by someone trying to make a point as they were pretty evenly spread out. Also, when laying a hash trail one time, we found a dead guy in a car. — Chuck O. (OK, you win with the dead guy, Chuck!)

I’ve seen plenty of disgusting things, but the most interesting thing I’ve ever seen was a porcupine on U.S. Route 62 in Warren. It was dead, so I spent plenty of time looking at it….and then felt really weird about examining roadkill.

 

How much do I have to run to do a 1/2?

By | April 10, 2013 1:36 am | 0 Comments

Q. Now that I’ve run a half, and covered that distance in training runs with other people, or just when the mood strikes me, I know I can do it, which puts me into some sort of lazy disadvantage. I have no “training plan” printed. I keep thinking I’m good because I consistently run because it is part of my life now.

Could I plan on running 3 days (either solo or with a group)–one 3-4 miler, one 5-6 miler, and one 7-9 miler? As the race gets closer I will add in the 10-12 distances more regularly on that long day. I will still have those, plus three group workouts a week where we do strength and intervals. Sometimes I stack a run and an interval workout together so I can have an extra day off. I always take Sundays off, and have found I needed another rest day mid week. My legs and feet get tired and I am tired of running through soreness.

I could care less about time or pace. I just want the t-shirt. Finishing is my prize.

A. Yep, I think you can easily do that if you’re chasing a lofty P.R.  Your plan is about what I do year-round.  I run three to four days a week — a 3-4-mile on Mondays, a 5 to 6-miler on Wedneday nights with a group and a group long run on Saturdays (8 to 12). Sometimes I throw in another 3-miler on Fridays, if I feel like it. Plus, I weight train three days a week. Training this way means I’m ready to do a 1/2 marathon on any given weekend. All you really need (if your goal is simply to finish) is a long run at least twice a month.

Now I am following the 3-run-a-week marathon plan, but I’m not going to be strict about because I have a lot of other things (bay swim, quad events, etc.) and races I want to do. I don’t care if I miss a long run or a speed workout or two. I realize now that it just doesn’t matter all that much.

There’s being committed and there’s being obsessive. It’s a fine line and few runners know it when they’ve crossed it. It usually take a chronic, recurring injury to help them see the light.

I need at least two days off a week — sometimes 3. I don’t feel bad about that. I lead a generally active life. Even my “rest days” would be exhausting for some people and I know you’re the same (with a house and bunch of kiddos to take care of).

Forget those who insist piling on mileage is the “best” way to train. You know what’s best for you and your mind & body.

Recommended reading

By | February 15, 2013 1:32 am | 1 Comment

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When I’m not running or writing (or cleaning or cooking), I’m reading. Always in search of another great read, I asked area runners:  What’s your favorite running book(s) — about running, by a runner, featuring a runner…anything goes!

Here’s what they had to say:

 “Unbroken”…..one hellava good book! — Tom Toale

The Courage to Start: A Guide to Running For Your Life” by John Bingham — Suzy Carstarter

The Runners Guide to the Meaning of Life — Sara Turner

I agree with Tom, “Unbroken” is a great read for runners and for anyone, really, — Amy Cronk

Mile Markers: 26.2 Reasons Women Run” by Kristin Armstrong — Jan Comi

Unbroken‘ is one of the best. — Mike Vieyra

Running & Being: The Total Experience” by Dr. George Sheehan — Greg Wigham

Agreed on “Unbroken” — great book, great man! — Kim

Ultramarathon Man” by Dean Karnazes. And, I’m currently reading “Running with the Kenyans” by Adharanand Finn, and its good so far. — Pat Krott

Daniels’ Running Formula,” “Running with the Buffaloes (sic),” and “Runing The Edge” are my top three. “Running with the Buffaloes” is probably my favorite, though the other two are very informative. Two of those center around Adam Goucher. — Greg Cooper

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen” by Christopher McDougall — Michael Morris

Three months to your first 5k” by Dave Kuehls. This book changed my live. I went from being very over weight and struggling to walk a race that my wife ran in. After reading the book and following the training plan I was able to run and finish my first race.  My times have dropped from around 38 min down to a PR of 25:32. I now am fit healthy and compete about 14 5ks per year.  — Jameel Gavin

Running & Being” by George Sheehan; it’s very inspiring — Peggy Hardesty

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” by Haruki Murakami — Jason Robertson

Couple of fictional favorites: Flanagan’s Run by Tom McNab (heard Quentin Tarantino was creating a Movie based on this book about a fictional stage race across the US. Also “Once a Runner & Again to Carthage (sequel) by John L Parker

I, too, highly recommend “Unbroken” — it’s a nonfiction book by Laura Hillenbrand (author of “Seabiscuit”) that tells the story of Louie Zamperini, a 1930s track star who ran in the Berlin Olympics and ended up in the most brutal POW camps in Japan during WWII after his B-24 crashed into the Pacific (they were afloat in a raft in shark-infested waters for 47 days!)

There were days I could not read another word of “Unbroken” because what he endured was so…..shocking…and, I would lay there, trying to sleep, and think…Louie LIVED this and I can’t even read it!  Anyway…if it all sounds too depressing to read, know that it is ultimately a very triumphant and inspiring story as it’s full title suggests: “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.”

I also enjoyed two that were mentioned above: “Born to Run,” “Running the Edge.”

On my “to read” list:

* “Running with the Mind of Meditation: Lessons for Training Body and Mind”

* “Running Ransom Road” by Caleb Daniloff

* “Once a Runner” by John Parker Jr.

* “Running for My Life: One Lost Boy’s Journey from the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games” by Lopez Lomong and Mark Tabb

 

 

If I didn’t run I ___________

By | February 8, 2013 1:45 am | 0 Comments

Finish this sentence: If I didn’t run I _______________

…would gain weight. — Linda Straub

…become a pretty crabby person to be around. — C.V.

…my family would hate me. — Ange Eberlein

…would definitely do some other form of exercise. — Tom Toale

…would not have real girlfriends to run with; it’s just not the same running with a guy. — T2

….would be locked up in some asylum somewhere. — Jennifer Bach

…would walk. LOL! — Jodi

…would never be truly happy. I need to run. — Sandie Sweet

…would be SO stressed out! — Gina Klofft

…would ride the bikes in my garage that have been gathering dust. — Pat Krott

…would lose my mind. — Dennis Albrewczynski

…wouldn’t have met a lot of great people!! — Karen Manganaro

…would just sit on the couch and get fat again. — Theresa Konzel

…would combust. — Eloise Hawking

…get very cranky. — Pat Bruce

…would be committed. — Suzanne Clickett

…wouldn’t be able to dip chocolate in coffee every Saturday and Sunday morning. — Cyndie Zahner (Editor’s Note: Damn Cyndie for teaching me this because now I have to go home & dip chocolate in my Saturday post-long-run coffee. Love it!)

As for me, if I didn’t run I seriously don’t think I would enjoy life as much as I do. It keeps me healthy, it makes me strong, it empowers me, and it keeps me sane.

Also, if I didn’t run I wouldn’t have the awesome network of friends that I have now. Runners are blessed with a welcoming, accepting group of people from every walk of life.  We’re all very different people who share this one trait that makes us all family. That’s pretty cool.

A new use for your foam roller

By | February 6, 2013 1:42 am | 0 Comments

Did you happen to notice that an Erie native was quoted in the January issue of Runner’s World magazine (above)?

Tyler Travis is the executive director of the LECOM Wellness Center and he was quoted on “The Body Shop” page, in which he teaches us a whole new way to use every runner’s best friend — the foam roller.

Known to most runners to be a useful post-run stretching and massaging tool, the foam roller can also be used to build strength, as Tyler showed us in the magazine.

I talked to Tyler to find out more about his career path, his fitness philosophy, and how he ended up in the pages of Runner’s World magazine.

How did you end up the executive director of the LECOM Wellness center?

I was the past Fitness Manager of the Wellness Center. I was bestowed the task of hiring the Center’s fitness specialist and served on our facility management team. I worked with our fitness team to manage and implemented the launch of a New Medical Fitness & Wellness Center. I facilitated and assessed over 700 medical students in the first three months of operations. I helped develop the assessment and training system for incoming member population and was responsible for the development of the center’s safety policy and procedures.

I served in the Fitness Manager role for 2 years. The experience, teamwork and staff support was instrumental in my opportunity to interview for the Director position when it became available.

What does your job entail?

I provide leadership to center team through direct accountability of the development, programming marketing and operations of the Wellness Center. I provide direction and support to the management team concerning center policies and procedures and plan and conduct regularly scheduled management team meetings. I assist managers and the administrative/accounting coordinator in determining HR needs and job responsibilities. I am responsible for managing center operations and goals within the approved operating budget. I present a section on cardiac rehab and exercise physiology to 2nd year medical students annually.

I also facilitate annual preseason movement screenings and communication with coaching staff of NBA-D League Team, the Erie Bayhawks. A large portion of my role is to also help facilitate health fairs and promote community involvement. I also continue to serve with performing member assessments, personal training, and program design.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I really enjoy the interactions and relationships of the people I serve. It is truly humbling to be a part of a team that is driven to empower others to improve health and wellness each day. I still really enjoy applying my education and teaching others how to improve their health and athletic performance through strength and conditioning.

What is your  educational background? And, how does it  help you in your current position?

I have an undergraduate degree in psychology from Penn State Behrend, 2001, and a master’s degree in exercise physiology from Minnesota State University, Mankato, 2003.

The fundamental requirements for anyone who wants to enter the health and fitness industry is education. The unique aspect of a medical fitness and wellness center is that we are balancing science with customer service. Our employees must have a passion for people. The health and fitness of one of our members can only be improved when the fitness professional/exercise physiologist knows how to treat the customer well.

My graduate degree in Exercise Physiology has provided me with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to evaluate and develop exercise programming for special population ranging from those with cardiovascular disease to the professional athlete. My psychology degree from Behrend served as the foundation that I needed to understand how to help new exercisers adhere to an exercise program and how our nervous system is crucial in understanding the way we think and move.

Are you a runner?

I run for leisure, but do not compete like when I ran cross country and track in college. I have a lot of fun participating in a variety of conditioning. I play ice hockey throughout the year and strength train on most days of the week. I also enjoy playing in a basketball league from time to time.

Any PR you want to share (any distance)?

My PR’s in college were 16:04 for the 5k and 4:12 for the 1500meter.

How did you end up with a feature in the January issue of Runner’s World magazine?

Nicole Falcone, a writer for Runner’s World, asked me to create a series of exercises using foam rollers. Nicole is a member of our Wellness Center and she approached me last fall and asked if I would like to be a resource for a future article. Nicole happens to be in Erie because her boyfriend is a LECOM Medical Student.

Is that you in the photos?

No. They took photos of me at the Wellness Center performing the exercises. The photos were then sent and duplicated by a model for the magazine.

Most runners are familiar with the foam roller as a way to stretch/massage sort muscles, but you say
it’s also good for building muscles?

Yes, and the foam rolling strength routine is a great way to get runners to do strength training. Most runners own a foam roller. The exercises that I suggest can be done anywhere from the beginning of the runner’s warm-up or at the end of the run. It can be done in the office or simply at the track. The foam roller is very portable.

And why should runners do strength training? Isn’t running enough?

It is well known in the world of strength & conditioning that runners are very asymmetrical. Many runners tend to be desk jockeys (let’s face it, our society as whole is moving less and sitting more.) The typical running pattern is what we call very sagital plane dominant. This plane is the same pattern we are in when we sit – hip flexed, knee flexed, ankle dorsiflexed.

Distance runners especially have weaker core muscles, glutes, tight hamstrings and hips flexors. Many runners unfortunately do not take time to balance their running with strength training.

A strength-training program can help improve areas of weakness commonly found in runners. The hips are the power source for runners. Hips should be strong and mobile. Any compromise in the hips can lead to low back or knee issues.

The next area that should be considered is the core, which supports the spine, and hips. Many runners have tight anterior deltoids/shoulders that need stretched and posterior deltoids/shoulders that need strengthened.

What one thing can a runner do to improve their performance?

Runners should make sure they are moving correctly. Moving repetitively, as a runner does mile after mile, can put their body in a compromised risk for future injuries if the movement is not correct. My recommendation is to be evaluated by having a Functional Movement Screen. The screen identifies the risk factor level for non-impact injuries. Corrective exercises can then be developed to improve movement and asymmetries.

What is your personal workout routine?

It’s much like what I suggested above. I am still guilty of having some of same asymmetries above. I like to strength train on most days of the week. I like to break up my cardiovascular workouts with circuits that utilize the ultra slide board, jumping rope, and kettlebell.

The slide board is a great tool that all runners should use from time to time. It helps open the hips and improve mobility and strength of the adductors and abductors (inside and outside of the legs.) I picked up ice hockey for that reason as well. It is a great high intensity workout that increases hip and glute strength.

What is your diet like (i.e. do you do the “paleo” thing or anything like that)?

I do not adhere to any specific diet and encourage balance. My family and I eat very clean. We focus mostly on plant-based food. The benefits of phytochemicals are tremendous. They help with combating oxidative stress that can be detrimental to the cells of our body. We balance the fruits and vegetables with lean meats such as turkey, chicken and fish. We avoid red meat except with the occasional buffalo burger. We really try to eat as little processed food as possible. Our favorite bread is Ezekiel bread.

Family (wife, kids?): My wife, Beth, is a 3rd grade teacher, and we have a son Matthew Dennis Travis, 8 months. We also have a yellow lab named Sidney who is typically by my side when I take runs or even when I’m simply working in the yard.