Episode 4-304 – Susan Loken

The RunRunLive 4.0 Podcast Episode 4-304 – Susan Loken – You’re never too old if you believe

(Audio: link) [audio:http://www.RunRunLive.com/PodcastEpisodes/epi4304.mp3]

Link epi4304.mp3

Intro Bumper:


Hello my friends.  Here we are creeping up on February.  How has the core of you existence been treating you?  Has it been resonating with the universal master mind?  Have you been doing the dosey-doe with your life purpose?  

Yeah, me neither.  But I’m getting by.  I don’t know what it is about this time of year that just makes me want to sleep!  

It’s all good.  I have the headphones in and I’m listening to some reggae and sipping a local IPA and dredging some creativity from the dregs of my old and atrophied brain for you! My friends.  My running friends.  My endurance sweet hearts.  

Those of you new to our podcast, welcome to episode 4-304.  Codec-wise that’s the fourth version or iteration or generation of the RunRunLive podcast and the 304th episode.  Which is kinda cool.  

And, please, know that you’re among friends.  We don’t want your money, well not all of it, we don’t want your reviews and we don’t have any t-shirts to sell I have no interest in signing you up for a subscription or coaching. 

We just like to deconstruct why running and endurance sports has the ability to drive positive transformation in our lives and why this grand adventure fuels our humanity.  That’s all.  So, you’re among friends.  

And never mind all that drivel I spew about zombies, and yak farming and me being a hit man for the Irish Mafia…That’s all just a little fun I’m having.  That’s just a smoke screen.

Or is it? 

Anyway, here we are again and I have a great show for you.  Our interview today is with Susan Loken who took up running at the age of 36 and within a few years made the Olympic trials and became masters’ marathon champion.  We talk through how it has changed her and what lessons we can learn from deconstructing her success.  It’s a great chat.  

When I recorded this I was still fighting my way out of the chest cold I caught in the Caribbean and you can hear it in my voice.  Battling through adversity to bring you this lovely athlete.

Susan and I were introduced by a friend of mine from the Goon Squad Runners, one of my running clubs, with the motto “No whining, just running.”  Her code name is Cougar and Susan is her coach and she’s one of the runners I respect locally for doing the work and pushing herself.  

In section one, the running tips section I’m going to bring you a piece on treadmill step-up runs, which I’ve probably talked through before, but I thought it was timely with the weather pushing us inside.  

In section two I’m going to revisit another topic that we’ve discussed in the past, “How to get out of a winter funk.” Again, this may not be new information for you folks, but the timing is right and I had to work through it myself again, so I figured I’d share the love. 

How’s my running going?  Fairly well. As you know I’m training for Boston now.  As you also know I’ve got a heart problem that is constraining some of the ways and types of training I’ve done in the past.  Nothing life threatening, just something to work with.  

To net it out, I can’t really do the tempo and speed work and a lot of the effort based heart rate training I’ve done so successfully in the last ½ decade.  Instead I’m working on building a huge base at an aerobic level and building my core strength.  

What does this look like?  This is a build week for me and I’ll run 3 days of 1:45 at zone 2 effort, (conversational effort).  For me that’s like 12 miles a session, so that’s a nice 36 mile volume before I get to my Sunday long run.  Sunday I’ll do another 16 and guess what campers?  That’s 52 miles on a 4 day week.  Pretty good, huh? 

On the other 3 days I’m core training. I’m experimenting with some awesome new core protocols that I think are going to work out.  It’s a totally different approach than I’ve done before and really intriguing.  It’s too early to make a call but I’ll let you know. 

The challenge I’ve had this week is fitting 1:45 of running into a weekday.  I prefer to run in the daylight for these and that’s a big chunk of the work day.  I’ve been able to pull it off by prioritizing, but it’s a challenge.  

The theory here is that I’ll be able to build so much strength I’ll be able to bring my pace up for the big race, maybe.  We’ll see.  For now I’m having fun with it. 

I was casting about for some company for my Sunday long run today and my buddy Ryan reminded me that this weekend is the Derry 16 miler.  I went to the site and low and behold it hadn’t sold out so I signed up.  Derry is an awesome race with a stupid difficult course that brings rookies to tears.  I’ve run it at least 10 times.  

For those of you who read my book of running stories “The Mid-Packer’s Lament” you’ll recognize the references to Derry.  Back in the day we ran it in snow storms and in below zero Fahrenheit temperatures.  One year we had a guy die in front of us there, no kidding. 


If you like my voice, and by that I don’t mean the digitized sound vibrations of my vocal chords, I mean the unique melody to my prose and the slightly odd way I turn a simile go check out my books of running stories.  You can get them on Amazon or as an e-book from my website or lining bird cages in the seedier parts of town.  

I even read them into audio and you can find those on my website.  If you can’t find them or the website is broken, just shoot me an email. 

That is my gift to you! My voice set free like a rabid Tasmanian devil, or maybe a zombie yak, to terrorize your brain and make your runs that much more interesting. 

On with the show! 

Section one - Running Tips


Voices of reason – the interviews

Susan Loken – Masters Marathon Champion and coach.


Growing up, I was that girl that always skipped gym class because all that exercise and sweat would ruin her fabulous Farah Fawcett hair.

By the age of 36, I had reached a new stage in my life. After the birth of my 3rd son, I was sick of being out-of-shape, short on “me time,” and suffering from lack of good friendships.

I was desperate for change, so desperate that I was willing to sweat. I began running and it actually felt good. My baby weight quickly dropped off and I met my first running friend, who suggested we train for a marathon. Once I was convinced that a 26.2 mile run wouldn’t cripple me, I agreed and we began training.

As I crossed the finished line of my first marathon, huge crocodile tears of joy poured down over a smile so big that it hurt my face, and I didn’t even mind that my hair was sweaty. I knew that I had been changed forever. If I could finish a marathon, I could do anything! I believed in myself and I trained with passion, knowing that success would follow; in doing so, I gained confidence and the understanding that I could become whatever I dreamed!

From that moment forward, I Believed, Trained, and Became a 3-time USA Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier, 4-times USA Masters Marathon Champion, 3-time winner of the More Marathon in NYC, and a girl that loves her icky sweaty hair!

I share my passion for running by coaching others to Believe, Train and Become! If you are a competitive runner, I can help you take minutes off of your personal record. If you are a recreational runner, I can help you improve your fitness and endurance, and reach your personal goals. If you are new to running or a walker, I can introduce you to an improved life of fitness.

Between my 10 years of Elite running experience, 8 years of group coaching, numerous courses in personal training, sports nutrition, and coaching, as well my personal understanding of how to balance training with real life, I will build a training plan based on your current fitness, your goals, and your lifestyle. I will help you BECOME YOUR DREAM!!

Do you want to Believe, Train and Become your dream? Let me help you!

Section two – Life Skills


(2013) http://runrunlive.com/getting-out-of-a-winter-funk


Hey, Hey, Hey, Episode 4-304 has drawn to a close.  

The best thing about this whole podcasty running community thing is the cool people I get to talk to and hang out with.  That’s the cool part.  You guys are the cool part. I meet new people every week. 

I’ll give you a couple stories from our funky online running community for this week.  I’m on FaceBook as Chris Russell and have a RunRunLive group as well.  I guess Facebook must recommend me as a friend to other runners because I get friend requests, like everyone does.  

Usually I click through to make sure they are real people and not robots or spammers.  I can tell by the number of friends we have in common.  If their profile picture is them smiling with a bib number pinned to their chest, they’re in. If their profile picture is them grinding up the side of a mountain, yop, they’re in.  

This week I had a lady send me a friend request.  I clicked through and there were the familiar pictures of a mature, athletic woman in her running stuff.  But, the next series of pictures from her Instagram had me baffled, I’m thinking, what is that? A baby squirrel? And clicking on them I soon realized that these were pictures of the detailed anatomical nature. 

I mean, I have nothing against you sharing liberally, but I couldn’t friend you.  I was having pictures of our relationship ending with me being held for ransom by the Russian mafia and I decided to head that off at the pass…

Today I’m working and a friend request comes through.  I look at this lady’s profile and it seems kosher so I accept.  (don’t worry this story has nothing to do with baby squirrels) A few minutes later I get a message “Always good to meet fellow runners!”  

I figure I’ll play nice and respond, “Nice to meet you, what are you training for?” 

She says, “I’ve run 3 5k’s and am planning for a 10K.” and goes on to tell me how she’s just started and still has to run walk. I tell her it’s the best part of running to be a new runner starting on the adventure. 

She asks me how long I’ve been running.  I say “A few years…” Then send a picture of my medal rack and marathon quilt and tell her about the podcast.  So welcome to my world Chrissy.  Nice to have you on our adventure. 

I know I’ve been saying this for months, but, honestly, my new book on how to qualify for the Boston Marathon in 14 weeks while holding down a full time job and a family is done and edited.  I’m pulling the website together and I really like this one.  

It’s not so much a ‘how to’ as it is my manifesto on racing and training the Boston Marathon.  I did not choose to write it.  It chose to be written.  I really like it.  Patience, I’ll get it up in the next two weeks. 

Finally.  I need your help.  And by help I mean money! For my Team Hoyt campaign for Boston. 

I remember the first time I met Rick and Dick Hoyt.  It was in some 10K or 5 miler somewhere back in the 90’s.  I remember passing them in the race.  Later when I was talking to Dick at a race expo I related that story to him and without missing a beat he said, “Yeah, I remember that race, I had a chest cold or you never would have caught us.”  


And that’s the thing about Dick and Rick.  They didn’t set out to change the world.  They set out to run.  Like we all do.  They did what they could do.  They ran.  They weren’t doing it to put on a big show or to call attention.  They were part of the community up here.  They put in the work.  The qualified for Boston under the original 2:50 standard years ago and the BAA wouldn’t let them run in the race.  But they kept showing up and doing that thing that we as runners do.  They ran.  

This humble man with this simple thing eventually changed the world. 

And I’d like your help to keep Rick and Dick’s legacy going.  I’d like your help to propagate their ripples in our pond.  This is good in our world that we can help.  

Please go to my crowd rise page https://www.crowdrise.com/TeamHoytBoston2015/fundraiser/christopherrussell and help sustain this good in the world.  Twenty bucks folks, that’s a way you can make ripples in our pond. 

And that, my friends is how leadership works.  It’s like radiation.  You radiate as an individual and as a leader.  And what you radiate influences the people who come into contact with you. 

If you cultivate stress and negativity, that’s what you will radiate and that is the pollution you will propagate.  But if you radiate positivity and leadership in your thoughts and actions that will radiate out from you and change the world. 

Let’s change the world. 

And while we’re changing the world, I’ll see you out there. 

Closing comments



Direct download: epi4304.mp3
Category:Running -- posted at: 11:38am EDT

The RunRunLive 4.0 Podcast Episode 4-303 – Bruce Van Horn - Running and Self-esteem

(Audio: link) [audio:http://www.RunRunLive.com/PodcastEpisodes/epi4303.mp3]

Link epi4303.mp3

Intro Bumper:

Hello my friends and welcome to 2015.  Who woulda thunk it? We made it.  I can remember sitting in elementary school and thinking how old I’d be when we got to the year 2000, and here we are 15 years later.  

You have once again found yourself with me, Chris, in your ear buds.  Whether you’re out on your frozen roads or the tropical antipodean outback I’m thrilled and honored to be your running-related mental succubus. 

Well it’s been a quiet week out here in Independence Kansas along the banks of Spring creek.  As I look out onto the frost covered acreage I can see groups of feral yaks cavorting in the sleet.  Except for those sick ones.  They don’t look so good.  They’re in rough shape with fur falling out in bunches and they walk with a strange stiff-legged lurch.  

I called the local animal control officer out and he should be here shortly.  It’s that government neuro toxin research facility.  I know it is.  

Well the beat up F150 of Dick the animal control officer just pulled into the field.  I think he’s the manager of the local grange too.  He’s out of the truck now, approaching the yaks…

Oh my god! They’re attacking! They’ve got him down! Heavens to murgatroid! They’re eating his brains! They’re Zombie yaks! 

That’s it.  I’ve had enough of the Midwest.  I’m moving back to New England. 

By the way…”Zombie Yaks” would make an awesome name for a punk rock band…


Yeah – how about that running stuff?  Well I’ve dropped into training for Boston.  I’ve had a small set back with going on vacation for a week and coming down with a vicious head cold.  

I’ve got an interesting challenge this year with my heart acting up.  I can train in Zone 2 all day long but Zone 3 and 4 work is dicey.  I’m going to have to figure out how to train with a missing gear while I get this sorted.  

The issue is that the tempo stuff is where my arrhythmia kicks in.  Instead of going from zone 2 into zone 3 and 4 it flips out and goes from zone 2 to max.  But that’s not really what’s happening.  It reads as max HR but what’s really happening is the heart muscles are out of synch and the blood isn’t getting to where it needs to be to support the effort.  It’s the equivalent of a missing gear or a flat spot where I lose power.  

It doesn’t do me any good to tough it out because I’m not getting the benefit training while my heart is working ineffectively.  I talked to coach and we’re working on training on things I can control and are effective.  

Since I have no problem in Zone 2 we’re just going to continue to build a giant base.  Push those weekday runs up into the 1:30 range and the long runs up too.  

The other issue I have is the HR tends to flip when I’m running up hill.  The increased load going up a hill caused the Arrhythmia to kick in.  Again, it doesn’t do me any good to train in that state so I have to figure out how to get my hill strength for Boston without doing hill work.  

What can I control?  I can control my nutrition, I can control my flexibility and I can control my strength and I can control my sleep.  That leads me to my initial plan for Boston, which is build a huge Zone 2 base, get my weight down to race weight, work my flexibility and work my strength.  I’m pretty excited about this experiment.  It’s a challenge.  It’s like fighting with a hand tied behind my back and it will force me to grow. 

If the cardio doctors manage to fix something then I can add on the fine tuning of racing and tempo later in the cycle.  That’s easy and comes quickly if you have the strength, the flexibility and the base.  

Today I have a chat with Bruce Van Horn who is a life coach and marathoner out of Virginia.  At first I wasn’t super attracted to Bruce when I listened to his stuff because it was basic positive thinking and self-esteem stuff delivered in a bit of a Mr. Rodgers narrative, but I warmed to it and I thought it would be valuable to step back and look at some of the basic approaches to get started on the right path.  

I had to get around my own prejudices.  A couple notes that resonated for me are; first ‘the great mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation’ to quote our friend Henry over in Concord.  Bruce is helping the 95% of the people out there who just don’t know where to start and they think that they are the only ones who feel that way.  I also wanted to highlight, secondly something that all of us take for granted, which is the positive correlation between running and self-esteem and self-worth.  

As an added bonus Buddy the old Wonder Dog chimes in in the background a few times. 

In the first section I present a brief piece on how to start running towards something as opposed to running away.  In the second section I’m going to counter balance all the basic self-improvement messaging with some thought on more advanced ideas for those of you who may be looking for the next level. 

I woke up this morning hemorrhaging snot with a full day of work on my plate and thought I might not get this show out, actually was wondering about surviving the day, but here I am and it’s after 6:pm and I’m still going!  I think I just might make my deadline! 

To hell with the head cold and the cold weather (it was minus 8 F yesterday here) and to hell with the zombie yak attacks! 

On with the Show!

Section one - Running Tips


Voices of reason – the interviews

Interviewee -> Bruce Van Horn – Life Coach

Bruce Van Horn



Hi. My name is Bruce Van Horn. I appreciate you taking the time to visit my site to learn a little about me.

I am, in order of priority, a Dad, a writer, a coach, an entrepreneur, a speaker, a runner, and a lot of other things as life demands!

My personal motto is: “Life is a marathon, so let’s train for it!”

Most of the inspiration for that motto comes from the 12th chapter of the book of Hebrews, in the Bible. I’m in the race of life for the long run, and training for the ups and downs that will come whether or not I’m ready for them–so I’m trying to be ready!

I’ve had many painful experiences and setbacks in my life, but I’ve also received many unexpected and undeserved blessings.

I’ve learned, along the way, that I cannot control many things about my life, but I can control how I respond to everything. I spent a good portion of my adult life simply reacting from day to day, situation to situation. I know how it feels when just getting through the day is a good day. I’ve also learned that living that way was a choice I was making, not something that was being forced upon me.

I’ve learned a lot about myself in my journey to take back control of my life. I’ve learned that, despite circumstances, I can live passionately and intentionally.

While I am good at many things, I operate in my “sweet-spot” when I’m helping people discover their purpose and passion for life. When I’m coaching people to put the “extra” in their ordinary life and turn it into the extraordinary life they want and are capable of living. Most of my writing is on this topic because it is my passion!

If you would like to work with me or reach out to me for any reason, I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to use my Contact Form.

I am also constantly feeding my brain by reading books and blogs, listening to audiobooksand a variety of podcasts.  If you’d like to see what I’ve read recently, visit my Reading List


Section two – Life Skills




Well my friends we made it.  Episide 4-303 out of the box and into the either.  I’ve got plenty of ideas and lots of life lessons to share.  Let’s keep going, shall we? 

Can I talk anyone into doing audio editing for the interviews?  It’s really quite simple and I can train you.  It just saves me an hour of production time and you get to hear the interviews first! Some are awesome and don’t need any editing, some need a bit more work, but I could use some more volunteers. 

What else have I got cooking?  

Well I need to find a marathon to run before Boston so Boston can be my 50th.  I’ve kicked off my fundraising for Team Hoyt and will be dropping a video on you guys to tell you my plans.  If you can spare $2,260 as a donation now’s the time! Or even something smaller! 


I’ve got the MarathonBQ book through the first edit so now I have to figure out how to get that through the birthing canal, sigh…So many good ideas, so little time. 

You know how I got myself sick?  I was going on this vacation over new years and I decided I’d vacation AND keep my other stuff going as well.  This meant I’d stay up until obscene hours celebrating with my family and then get up at 5 to work out and write anyhow. The plan was to nap during the day, because, hey, I was on vacation.  

After 3 days of this I got sick and lost not only all the time I tried to create but also the benefit of a vacation.  Why, because I’m an idiot who can’t relax.  

But I did get one super cool morning run in.  New Year’s Day I rolled out at 5:00AM.  I was staying in the JW Marriott in downtown Miami on Key Biscayne.  I headed out across the causeway and the little drawbridges over to Miami Beach.  

It was super surreal.  The Bay park near the hotel was a scene of carnage.  It was post-apocalyptic with piles of bottles and occasional zombified revelers staggering by.  As I ran down the causeway road towards Miami Beach I’d pass young women leaving houses in party dresses holding their stilettos in their hands, doing the walk of shame – so to speak- and they’d look at me as if I was some sort of alien apparition.  

As I got into South Beach I passed very drunk and very friendly young men who would try to high-five me and miss. I stopped at a park bench to do 5 minutes of breathing meditation and relax my heart.  

I kept going out through to the beach itself which was another zombie-apocalypse scene.  Piles of empty champagne bottles, all kinds of people sleeping in piles on the beach, (and doing other things that weren’t sleeping), and still more people wandering around like zombies in the pre-dawn darkness.  I watched the cruise ships come in to the port all strung with lights. 

The sun rose over my shoulder as I ran back to the hotel, still the first one up.  It was around 10k in each direction.  The kind of surreal vacation adventure that isn’t on any travel company’s itinerary!

So, my Friends, keep doing what you are doing and you will be sure to see me out there. 




Closing comments


Direct download: epi4303.mp3
Category:Running -- posted at: 11:04am EDT





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