Episode 166 Thom Gilligan Marathon Tou

The RunRunLive Podcast Episode 166 – Thom Gilligan Marathon Tours

[audio:http://www.RunRunLive.com/PodcastEpisodes/epi166.mp3|titles=Episode 166 – Thom Gilligan Marathon Tours]


Show intro by:

Dave Cronen



Hello and welcome my friends to the back in the saddle podcast.  I know, I know, I’m just a bad person for making this stuff look so easy, but I put that calf injury in the rearview mirror and have been spinning up the miles these last few weeks before Boston.

Even though I was traveling last week, I did get mostly all of my workouts in.  I had to cut Thursday’s speed workout a little short.  I got up at 4AM to do it around the hotel down in Orlando and just ran out of time before my 6:45 appointment.  But, I got them all in, checked the boxes and had a fruitful week.

Sunday I ran the Eastern State 20 Miler, an old friend of mine, a nice race that runs from Maine, through New Hampshire and finishes in Massachusetts.  The wind was swirling at around 20 mph, but it always is at that race, you just have to manage it.  I was a little beat up in the last few miles but I did fine, quite respectable for the second week back.

A couple vignettes from the race.

First, as we were running our warm up I pulled into the bushes to pee and a cop car pulled up and started yelling at me.  He was really mad and threatened to throw me in jail, but nothing came of it.  I guess you have to remember that the locals have different sensibilities than distance runners.  Like I’m the first person to pee in the bushes in Maine, right?

Then in a more positive moment, well into the race a saw a lady in front of me juggling with her stuff and drop a glove.  She gave it a longing look but did the calculus in her head that it wasn’t worth losing momentum for.  I scooped it up.  It took me a mile or so, but I caught her and gave her glove back.  She was very happy and told me she had trained through four New England winters for Boston with those gloves and loved them.

I posted some video from the race and some pictures on my Youtube feed and Facebook under CYKTRUSSELL.

We’ve got a great show for you today.  I have Thom Gilligan from Marathon Tours on to chat.  If you’ve ever wondered what the deal is with those Antarctica marathons – now you’ll know.

Thanks to Dave Cronen for the intro and to our old friend Charlie White for reading the next of the injury series.

I have a question for you folks, my friends.  What should I do this summer?  Should I do some triathlons?  Some trail running? Maybe some trail ultras?  Should I go back and attack the Wilderness 101 mountain bike race?  Should I run the VT50 ultra again?  Or should I just get up and jog 10k in the woods with my puppy every morning?  Or should I do it all?  What do you think.

And while you’re thinking about that let’s get  On with the show!

Audio clips in this episode:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HH8nQiILe1Q = Nova episode on Marathons

Aerosmith – Back In The Saddle – Live 1977-sample

Gene Autry  Back in the Saddle Again – sample

Skits, commercials and parodies in this episode:

Story time:


Guest Blog Reading

Equipment Check:


Injury series

Read by Charlie White – @cewtwo

The Mastering Injuries Series Part 5 – Mixing it up (don’t wait until you’re injured)

Folks thanks for playing along and welcome to part 5 of the mastering injury series, today we are going to talk about one of the best ways to avoid being fragile, and as a result avoid being injured.

As runners, we love to run.  I have been known to skip stretching, warming up, sleeping and eating to get my run in.  Unfortunately this can be our undoing.  Our specificity, our focus on running makes us fragile (as we talked about in a previous episode).

How do we become less fragile?  We become les fragile by supporting our running with complementary activities, by mixing it up.  I was dragged to this epiphany, kicking and screaming, by…yes you guessed it… and injury.

I’ll tell you the story quickly.  Ironically this particular injury was more of a Newtonian nature than an over-use nature.  Regardless, it forced me to discovery of the power of mixing it up.

It was a warm July afternoon.  I had just rushed through a fast 5 miler, jumped through a quick shower, grabbed my bags and a container of yogurt and was out the door to rush to the airport.

But, When I got into my truck a gang of mosquitoes followed me.

Leaving my driveway and starting out through my neighborhood they were pestering my head and I swat-waved at them distracted.  I looked up just in time to see a telephone pole.

Even though I was probably traveling no more than 25 miles per hour the impact was enough to total my truck.  Even though my airbag deployed and I had my belt on, my knee slammed into the metal dashboard.

I’ll allow you a moment to picture me in my business suit staggering around my busted truck with blood streaming from my nose and the neighbors witnessing the spectacle that is me.  Not my finest moment.

I actually ran on that broken knee for almost a week before the Doctor and the X-rays showed me that my patella tendon was smashed and a piece of the bone had been broken off.  This was one time when the doctor put his foot down and said “You cannot run for at least 3 months”.

Even when I would be able to run again I would not be able to load the training on like I had been doing.  I needed something else.  I joined the club and began weight lifting and soon after added swimming and biking to get some aerobic effort without loading the knee.

I managed to recover enough and get enough miles in to run Boston with my ever-present knee brace that year but also signed up for the local triathlon and started mult-sport training in earnest.

My epiphany was that even though I was only running 2 or 3 times a week, I was also swimming 2-3 times a week and riding 2-3 times a week and as a result I was very strong.  I was, to put it succinctly – “Non-fragile”.

The combination of activities meant that I didn’t have to worry about over-use injuries in any one discipline.  By becoming less specific, you also become less fragile.

There are degrees of multisport. You don’t have to go full-blown triathlon.  You can ease into it by substituting a bike ride or a swim or a weights workout for one of your easy runs.  In the long run it will make you stronger.

You can also, like I do, vary your multi-sport over time.  Many people will think of the year as two campaign seasons.  This makes sense, I guess, if you divide 52 weeks into two you get a couple 21 week campaigns, for example a spring and fall marathon.

I don’t look at it that way.  I split the year up into 3 campaign seasons.  If you are in decent shape and maintain your engine’s fitness you don’t need 21 weeks to spin up a marathon.

This allows me to target a late summer multi-sport event, because they typically are earlier in the fall, then I can quickly get back into running form for the good marathons in the late fall.  Then If I have a specific speed goal, like a qualifying marathon I can knuckle down and get very specific on my running through the spring.

The physical advantage of this is when I start getting too specific and too fragile in the spring I switch to something that lets my body recover and rebuild without losing base fitness.  This keeps me from getting injured by, a) mixing it up and b) keeping my underlying core endurance fitness in place throughout the year.

Not to be downplayed is the mental advantage of this system as well.  I find that in the spring, just when I’m getting sick and tired of road running I can get excited about some other new adventure.  Then in the fall when I turn back to running I see it with a renewed passion, with new eyes and a refreshed heart.

What are some examples of my summer campaigns since that fateful July night when I terrified the neighbors?

First were a couple years of triathlon.

Then I ran a summer mountain series, which, while still running, was mostly low-impact trails not at all like road racing.

Then I trained for and ran a 50-mile trail ultra, which, again while technically still running, was at a pace and mechanically much different than road racing.

And, finally, the last two years I have trained for and competed in a late-summer 100-mile ultra trail mountain bike race.

Out of each of these campaigns I emerge renewed and happy and most importantly, physically and mentally strong, not fragile.  This allows me, for the most part, to avoid overuse injuries by taking care of my machine.

As humans were born to run, but we were also born to do many other things, so take my advice and mix it up as a way of mastering your injuries.


Featured Interview:

Thom Gilligan, CTC
President and Founder
Thom founded Marathon Tours in 1979 and has been the frontrunner in destination marathon travel ever since. His previous professional experience with British Airways, Air Canada and a tour wholesaler enabled Thom to start a career that combined his knowledge of the travel business with his passions for running and adventure.

Named the top specialist in running-related travel by Condé Nast Traveler magazine for the past eight years, Thom has also been featured in Runner’s World, the front page of The Wall Street Journal and on the cover of Travel Agent magazine.

Thom personally leads groups to marathons in Bermuda, Kenya, Bordeaux as well as Antarctica where he is the race director and expedition leader for the Antarctica Marathon.
A former president of the Greater Boston Track Club, Thom has run 62 marathons around the world with a personal best of 2:30:42. An avid golfer, he holds a 4 handicap and admits that he is hopelessly addicted.

Quick Tip:

My friends, since we are into marathon season let me give you some quick, tactical tips for race day.  Let’s call it Chris’ top ten tactical tips for race day.

  1. Try to get enough sleep and relax.  Don’t pack your schedule so that you have to get up on 3 hours sleep and rush around.
  2. Lay out all the stuff you’ll need the night before.  If you are really worried about it create yourself a check list for the morning.  Pin your bib number on and put all your clothes on – do a getting dressed dry run and then lay it all out in reverse order.
  3. Don’t do anything different in your nutrition routine on race morning.  You’re not going to ‘top off the tank’ you’re going to make yourself sick.  Just eat lightly like you normally would.  Avoid roughage.
  4. Bring the biggest plastic trash bag you can find.  You can cut head and arm holes in it and it becomes a disposable warming garment that you can also sit on in the wet grass.
  5. Spread a small amount of Aquafor or BodyGlide around your toes and the sides of your feet before you put your socks on.  Anywhere that might rub.  This will make the difference between a hot spot and a blister.
  6. Put your race shoes and your dry race socks in a plastic grocery bag.  Wear a disposable pair of shoes and don’t change into the race shoes until you are in the corral or shortly before the race starts.
  7. Go light.  You don’t need all the extra clothing, bottles, tubes, cameras, phones and car keys.  Leave it behind and strip down to the bare essentials.  For me this is one disposable 16-20 oz bottle of half-strength Gatorade in my left hand.
  8. Talk to people.  Use the arm-length rule.  If you can touch someone ask them who they are and where they are from.  Smile a lot.
  9. Conserve your energy.  The morning of a race can be hectic and involve a lot of dashing around.  Don’t get caught up in it.  Find a place to relax and conserve your energy for the race.
  10. Get in the porta-john line 30 minutes before race start whether you have to go or not.

Have fun out there folks.


Ok That’s it you and I and the rest of the singing cowboys and cow girls have rode that long dusty trail to the end of yet another  RunRunLive Podcast, Episode 166 in the can!

This weekend I’m going to go run some of the Boston course, the hilly bits, in and out with the boys.  I always amazes me how different it looks without all those screaming crowds.  There will be many runners out there and the different clubs will set up water stops, it’s a bit of a party on the weekend days leading up to the race.

Next week I talk to a recovering addict from the Back on my Feet organization in Boston, Stephen about running and addictions.  Some one of you had requested that – so there ya go, wish granted.

I told you folks that I decided to run Chicago for the Diabetes team in honor of Eddie marathon’s Mom who recently passed and that I’ve never done any fund raising whatsoever.  This is all new to me.  I figured I’d start easy by just asking you folks and setting up a few robo-tweets in twitter and see if anyone raised their hand before I got serious.  And, boy oh boy I was surprised.

At first nothing happened and I sighed and forgot about it.  Then when I checked back in my status had jumped up and some folks had contributed.  One person in particular, who I won’t call out I had to send a note to and make sure they weren’t mistakenly thinking they were paying the electric bill or something.  Without further adieu, these are my heroes from this week so far…

Susan, much love, thank you ma’am.

Frank, you’re a rock star.

Michael, you’re the best

Trevor, great to have you on board.

Sergio, Muy Gracias Amigo, me gusto

And Kathy – thank you for thinking of me.

You know what I was thinking on my run today?  I’m going to break tradition and go fully wired at Chicago and record the whole thing, make a show out of it.  And I’m going to dedicate 6 miles to those six heroes.  That leaves 26 miles up for grabs so go to my site www.runrunlive.com , click on the picture of me in the right sidebar and be next week’s hero.

I don’t know if you liked my Japan travel story last week, but let me tell you another story from my travels.  I never flew the president’s helicopter, so it’s the best I can do.

One of my first projects when I was a baby-faced 20-something was in Chihuahua Mexico.  That’s Ciudad Chihuahua en el estato de Chihuahua Just below the west side of Texas.  High desert city.  This was way back before the current problemas con los drugos.

I used to go down for two week stints and then come back for two weeks.  One weekend I went to the local shopping place and bought a basketball.  I went down to the local courts and began shooting around.  Now, I am no basketball player.  I have no leaping ability and very little talent.

I suppose I made for a strange silhouette out there in the sun shooting hoops by myself.

A young guy showed up, from the local college I guess, and he challenged me to a game of one on one.  This was all accomplished through my high school Spanish and a lot of hand gesturing.

I remember he totally kicked my ass.  I might have gotten one basket with my one move.  It was an amicable game, but I was totally outmatched.  He seemed quite satisfied as well.  But, I guess I wonder why would he even want to challenge me to one on one?  We were total strangers and left total strangers.

Like I said, people are people wherever you go.

As you go about your lives, maybe you don’t travel, maybe you don’t find yourself playing basketball in the high desert, but you do interact with people who probably seem as foreign to you as I did to him.

I suggest you bring a positive attitude and a smile to those interactions.  Try to put oyourself in that other person’s shoes, to have some empathy.  Even people who are course and difficult are probably that way because they are afraid and unsure, and you can cross that gap.

And when you do I’ll see you out there.

Music tonight is by Matt Mayes and El Torpedo – a rock and roll number called travellin that you can work on for almost 4 minutes as we close this run out.

Be good to each other people, be kind,



From Podsafe




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Chris Russell lives and trains in suburban Massachusetts with his family and Border collie Buddy.  Chris is the author of “The Mid-Packer’s Lament”, and “The Mid-Packer’s Guide to the Galaxy”, short stories on running, racing, and the human comedy of the mid-pack.  Chris writes the Runnerati Blog at www.runnerati.com.  Chris’ Podcast, RunRunLive is available on iTunes and at www.runrunlive.com. Chris also writes for CoolRunning.com (Active.com) and is a member of the Squannacook River Runners and the Goon Squad.

Email me at cyktrussell at Gmail dot com

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