Tim VanOrden from RunningRaw.com Tonight @ 6 p.m

Dear Beach Runners,

Steve Mackel and Gary Smith will be interviewing a very special athlete this evening. Tim VanOrden started training for the U.S. Olympic team at the age of 38. His secret…raw foods. He claims that by eating only raw has given him the energy to instant success as a highly competitve runner. He is our kind of athlete…spiritual…holistic…conscious…and even videoblogs.

Check out his website at RunningRaw.com

Please send us any questions you have on training and especially raw foods.

Steve and Gary

EVENT: Steve and Gary’s RunCall 9 w/ Tim VanOrden
DATE & TIME: Monday, July 30th at 6:00pm Pacific
FORMAT: Simulcast! (Attend via Phone or Webcast — it’s your choice)

Chi Running Ain’t No Bull!

Keith Making Friends Before the Race

On July 7, 2007, I entered a footrace unlike anything else I have experienced. This footrace would involve thousands of runners on a beautiful summer morning. Oh yea, did I mentioned it also involved “BULLS”. Yes, I was going to run with 1200 pound animals that don’t even have shoes. However, before I tell you about this special race, let me go back and tell you how I got to the starting line.

I look at life as a series of adventures and challenges. One of my challenges has been running. I have been running all my life, which has included 27 marathons and other various races. However, I also have dreamed of other adventures in my life. One was driving a race car which I did. However, I do not have a desire to jump out of an airplane or bungee jump; I would prefer to keep my feet on the ground. Now that I have given you a brief overview of where I have been, let me tell you where I went.

It started about two years ago with a conversation I had with one of my co-workers. He too is a runner and we share many of the same interests. We were talking about many of the races we had completed, including many different marathons all over the world. As we were talking, he shared with me a trip he was planning to Spain. While this was not his first trip to Europe, he was very excited about going to Spain and attending the fiestas of San Fermin which is celebrated in Pamplona every year in July.

Keith is in there some where, maybe climbing over the fence
The festival of San Fermin in the city of Pamplona (Navarre, Basque Country, Spain), is a deeply-rooted celebration held annually from noon July 6, when the opening of the fiesta is marked by setting off the pyrotechnics (a rocket) accompanied by music, to midnight 14 July, with the singing of the Pobre de Mi. While its most famous event is the encierro, the running of the bulls, the week-long celebration involves many other traditional and folkloric events. It is known locally as Sanfermines and is held in honor of Saint Fermin, the patron saint of Pamplona and of Navarre. Its events were central to the plot of The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway, which brought it to the general attention of English-speaking peoples. It has become probably the most internationally renowned fiesta in Spain.

As a child, I remember reading the book for an English assignment and the adventure always was in the back of my mind as something I would like to do someday. When my co-worker returned from his adventure and the tales of the encierro, I thought I need to do this. So we began planning, as a family, to take a vacation which would involve this adventure. However, my wife and daughters never thought I was serious. Fast forward to 2007. After 18 months of planning and saving, we were going to Spain and I was going to run.

On July 5, 2007, we arrived in Pamplona and began to explore the city and get ready for the fiesta. What I was about to learn and experience was unlike anything I had done before in my life. The Encierro involves running in front of bulls down an 825-metre (0.51 mile) stretch of cobbled streets of a section of the old town of Pamplona. I walked the entire section to see what I was about to do. The next day, we celebrated the start of the fiesta which is another story all together. After enjoying all the activities, it was time to get ready to think about the next days run.

On July 7, 2007, I awoke at about 6:00 a.m. for a race which would start at 8:00 a.m. I would spend the next 2 hours on the cobbled stone streets anticipating the start. Everyone is clad in white, with a red handkerchief (the panuelo) tied about their necks, and a red sash (the faja) tied around their waist. The runners are all gathered in an area at the beginning of the route and all along the 825 meters of street. It is so packed you cannot even move to look behind you.

The encierro begins with the letting off of two rockets at precisely 8:00 a.m. However, on this day, 2 minutes before the start, something spooked the crowd and we started moving. I’m not talking a gentle walk, it was pushing and shoving and panic. It was all I could do to stay on my feet. Then about 90 seconds later we stopped. I looked back to where I had started and I noticed the street was clear, so I began to walk back. It was about this time when I heard the first rocket which announces the release of the bulls from their corral. A few seconds later, a second rocket signaled that the last bull had left the corral. They were on their way. I was about 100 meters from the start and I could not see anything however that soon changed. All of a sudden I noticed a mass of people moving toward me. Before I could even blink, the bulls were here. I started to run, but before I knew it they ran past and I mean they were moving. I was within arms reach of the bulls when they passed. As I started after them, I had to start looking out for all the other runners in my way. This was actually more dangerous and stressful then the bulls. As I approached a particular stretch of the course called Mercaderes, which is also known as “dead mans curve”, I noticed everything had stopped. This is the most notorious portion of the course where most injuries occur. However, as I approached this curve, they closed the fence to prevent the runners from going forward. The main reason is to prevent the bulls from turning around. After about 30-45 seconds, they reopen the street and you can then try to catch up. However, you cannot catch the bulls. The only thing you can do is try to get to the bull ring which is the finish line. So I began to sprint down the street. Forget my posture, forget Chi Running, it is simply a footrace to the finish. As I closed in on the doors to the bull ring, I thought, I can get in, but just then they closed the doors and my race was over, or was it. Just then the doors reopened and I thought I’m in, but wait, something didn’t seem right. Something was missing, but what was it? What I forgot was the “second wave” of calmer and older steers that run the streets in order to collect any stragglers. On this day there were no stragglers, just three 2,000 pound animals running behind me. As they started to enter the bull ring doors, I got within inches of these animals. It was then I decided to get out of their way and let them finish their run as I had just crossed my own finish line.

Once all of the bulls have entered the stadium, a third rocket is released while a fourth firecracker indicates that the bulls are in their bullpens and the run has concluded. The rockets had sounded and the run was complete. I had done it! I had survived a close encounter with a bull and as the legend goes, I was now protected by San Fermin’s cloak.

In closing, I know life is an adventure and you need to enjoy every minute you can. The adventure of San Fermin is something that will stay with me forever and I am glad I could share it with you. Let the celebration begin!

Keith, Beach Runner Mentor

Choose your friends wisely…

A new study finds that when the scale reads “obese” for one individual, the odds that their friends will become obese increase by more than 50 percent.

Study: Obesity is Socially Contagious – Yahoo! News

Unbelievable research study. Basically saying that if one of your friends becomes obese, there is a fifty percent or higher chance that you will become obese also.

In other words, the obesity crisis is a SOCIAL CRISIS. And is spreading like a virus because it is just becoming more and more acceptable to become obese.

Thats why joining a running community like SoCalRunning is so important…

you want your friends to be fit that will motivate you to stay on the road of fitness…

If you haven’t joined our new community please do so here…

SoCalRunning.com Members Website

Finding Your Inner Voice

Last Week, I had the opportunity to speak to one of my idols, the Los Angeles based writer Luis Rodriguez.

Luis Rodriguez is well known for his autobiography Always Running. In this remarkable book, Luis details his life growing up in LA VIDA LOCA, the life of gangs, drugs, and prison. And how, he escaped this destructive web to become a well known poet, writer, and community activist. He now runs a cultural center, Tia Chuchas in the valley, where he offers many workshops to empower people such as dancing, music, poetry, art, etc.

He has written books of poetry, short stories, novels, and many articles for magazines/newspapers. He speaks to troubled youth at schools and prisons. He has made the difference in so many people’s lives through this most ancient and beautiful practice of ….

My dear Aunt Beryl recently passed away. And I lost my uncle Kevin last year. Some of my best friends have lost parents recently. And this has brought the thought of death to me. What is important in this life? What will I be thinking about on my death bed? I know it won’t be my possessions. Jeez, lately I can’t give them away fast enough. (Don’t worry, I’m just trying to walk lighter on this earth.) I mean all these things we collect, just become someone else’s junk when we move on.

I was asked to write poems for both my aunt and uncle. And those poems were read at their funerals in England. Strange. These words of mine. The power that these fingers typing on a keyboard can have to inspire, heal, and touch.

Many of you don’t know this, but I do have a day job. I work as a community college reading instructor. I teach people of all ages to read better…kids…dyslexics…but mainly urban youth with poor reading skills. And to be honest with you, the work is difficult. I’m faced with learning disabilities, language interferences, malnourished minds, products of a failing urban school system, and kids whose only reading practice is the text messages on their phones and MySpace.

Recently, I burned out. Quite normal for us in the teaching profession.

I’d had enough. I wanted to run away from the classroom, crawl up into the hills, teach yoga, teach chirunning, and just write and meditate. I almost didn’t return from a recent trip to Asia.

But something brought me back. Seeing and speaking to Luis Rodriguez reminded me of what that was.

I’ve used ALWAYS RUNNING for years in my classes. Kids who say they don’t like to read like this book. Once you expose young people to good books they can relate to…surprise…surprise now they say they like reading.

Its like learning to run with ChiRunning. I speak to so many people who say “I don’t like running” or “I’m no good at running”. Then you show them how to run softly, easily, mindfully, spiritually, and injury free and surprise…surprise now they say they like running.

Luis Rodriguez empowered himself from his messed up destructive gang life by reading book after book in the public libraries. Even while he was homeless. And he began writing. Poetry. Snippits of an autobiography. Ideas. Experiences. He just began sharing that rich emotional inner world that we all feel every day. He began turning his memories into this most precious of possessions…Words.

The first chance I had to speak to him came a year ago in San Pedro. I was having a cup of coffee in a coffee shop down the street where he was speaking that evening. I looked over from my computer and there he was. I introduced myself and we spoke for 30 minutes on our love of books and reading. He stressed how important it was for young people to read so that they may get the words and ideas to express themselves. We both shared our intense love of books and words. It was a highlight of my life.

If you haven’t noticed, I love to write. It’s my inner secret desire, to live a life of writing, public speaking, and teaching. This website is giving me an avenue to do this. And Rodriguez has taught me many things which is helping this journey. He taught me to share the images of my life, the beautiful ones and the ugly ones. To share the gritty details of existance, especially some of my pains and secrets. The stuff you don’t share in regular conversation. The language of the heart. That’s what resonates in your readers.

So that’s why you’ll hear me share how I am not an uber/elite athlete. I’m just like all of you. I struggle to stay fit. I’ve been overweight. I used to smoke cigarettes. I love pastries and chocolate. I’ve fought and continue to fight the demons of booze/drugs, sloth, and procrastination.
But I have a clear image in my mind of where I’m going. I spent time every week visualizing the difficult races I want to do in life. I look for every opportunity to workout with others because it is just easier to do that.

The road to fitness for me has been a journey. Filled with mentors, coaches, failures, lessons, distractions…I’m on the road then off the road. But I seem to find a way to keep getting back on quicker and quicker when I detour off. And the more I work at it, the road starts turning into a broad highway, with lots of open lanes for me to travel easily.

The one thing that has been huge for me in the last two years to keep me motivated is this writing/blogging practice. Lots of studies have pointed out the effectiveness of teaching as the best way to learn. That when we teach material, it helps us master the material, that when we teach knowledge, we embody knowledge, so it becomes wisdom. That’s why I didn’t just go to a ChiRunning workshop, I became an instructor. That’s why I didn’t just practice yoga, I went through the instructor training. The more I teach, the more I share, the more I put these experiences into WORDS, the more I learn. The more I stay motivated.

Maybe some of you have hit those health lows. Those moments looking at yourself in the mirror saying “this is not the body I want”. Those moments that force you to change. Those moments that you never want to go back to. Those moments that urge you to put on your shoes, get out of your house, and DO THE WORK.

And the journey to fitness can be lonely. Hours spent on trails by yourself. Hours spent on a treadmill. Hours on a yoga mat. Hours on a bike. Hours walking/running the streets around your neighborhood. I’ve spent so much time by myself on this journey. Hours with just the wind, birds, plants, and God as my company. All time well worth spent. A Beach Runner asked me one day how I can be so happy when out there running…and I didn’t have a good answer for her at the time…but in reflecting back on this I realized that I’m so happy because I have come so far in my fitness…and that I’ve spent so much time entertaining myself on long solitary runs…that to run in the company of fellow Beach Runners is an uplifting inspiring pleasure that I just can’t help but to smile.

So I share all this language of my heart in honor of Luis Rodriguez. Last Thursday I had the pleasure of seeing him speak to an auditorium of middle school and college students in Santa Monica. The students had the best questions for him. And he spoke like I’m speaking now, holding back no punches. You see the youth of today are desperate for KNOWLEDGE and WISDOM. For thousands of years, the elders have initiated youth through rituals, story telling, mentoring, and work. And this sacred necessary connection is disappearing in our society. The crisis of youth is a crisis of lost connection. And when this guidance is missing, youth will be pulled into the structures that will guide them such as gangs, drug life, and subcultures.

And Luis Rodriguez stood there as testiment to making connections with youth. Of sharing his pain and journey. Sharing what made him strong and continues to empower him. Sharing his journey because ultimately thats what matters in life. His WORDS will be around forever. All that he sees, feels, thinks will be left in books and the memories of youth.

I guess that’s why I write this on this blog. I just might write a word one day that will make a difference in someone’s life. Something that will be around when I move on to tell the world what Gary thought and experienced in this most glorious and spectacular of sacred lives.
If there’s some ACTION STEPS here it would be…

1. Start writing about your marathoning/fitness journey. Start by joining our community running site http://www.socalrunning.com/members then do the following steps…

a. put up a photo
b. write a blog post telling your running story
c. write regularly about your journey/running experiences
I was speaking to ultramarathoner Sandy and she said how much her friends were inspired by reading her race report. I mean doing a tough race is one thing, but to really get the most out of this fitness journey, you should write about it also. WORDS have power to change lives.

2. Find a way to begin sharing your knowledge with the youth of the world. Go speak at a school. Talk to your nieces and nephews. Teach a class. Whatever it takes to get in front of young people and share your experience. They are desperate for the real knowledge of this world. They know that school is not the be all and end of their lives. So we need to quit faking like their academic performance is the key to their whole future. Life is so much more than that.

Hopefully you all can get something out of this long post today. These are all words that have been floating around in my mind for a while and needed to be shared.


Blister Prevention on Steve and Gary’s RunCall 8 w/Manny Escalante


Dear Runners,
Tonight we have a very special guest on our running show.
Manny Escalante is an athletic trainer who specializes in
managing injuries and other athletic problems.
Tonight he will focus on blister prevention and treatment.
EVENT:  Steve and Gary’s RunCall 8 w/ Manny Escalante
DATE & TIME: Monday, July 23rd at 6:00pm Pacific
FORMAT: Simulcast! (Attend via Phone or Webcast — it’s your choice)
Please send us your questions.
See you then,
Steve and Gary

Tim VanOrden Video on 5K Running


The elite Kenyan runners not only walked away with top honors, but they walked away singing, dancing and smiling. Perhaps the dominance of Kenyan athletes in distance running has everything to do with their spirit, playfullness and downright youthful joy they seem to experience while running. I’ve heard so many people say that when they’ve seen Kenyan runners racing that it doesn’t even seem like they are going hard – it seems effortless. Perhaps this is the way to greatness – give up the all too American ideal of “no pain, no gain” and instead adopt a mindset of – this will be fun and effortless. I think I’ll try that one on and see how it fits.

Tim VanOrden’s Running Raw Blog

Next week we have plans to have Tim VanOrden on Steve and Gary’s Running show. Tim is a remarkable runner considering he only just began seriously training a few years ago.

His secret…

Raw Foods.

RunCast 20 Holcomb Valley 33-Mile Trail Run

Run with Steve as he documents his first ultra marathon in a video

Why We Have Such Stupid Feet

Like the Chinese shopkeeper said, most of us in the Western world have stupid feet. We have lost our sense of what truly good posture feels like…or looks like. Our shoes have dumbed down the intelligence of our feet by trying to do too much for us.

ChiRunning :: Library Article

Danny’s new article on what kind of shoes to wear, where you should be landing on your feet, and why its good to walk around with no shoes on.

A must read for ChiRunners.


RunCast 19 – Hill Intervals with Gary

How to do intervals on the street. Watch how I warm up, my mental pre

paration, interval strategy, ChiRunning focuses, and how I got chased by a three legged dog.

First RunCast in a while. Its a long one so grab some popcorn and a drink.

Click here to watch it full screen or if it doesn’t play on your computer. Gary

Steve and Gary’s RunCall 7 @ 6 pm Monday

EVENT: RunCall 7
DATE & TIME: Monday, July 16th at 6:00pm Pacific
FORMAT: Simulcast! (Attend via Phone or Webcast — it’s your choice)

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