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New Sponsors – Run To Succeed

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New Sponsors – Run To Succeed

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MBI WordlwideRun To Succeed would like to welcome two new sponsors to the team.  MBI Worldwide and TJ’s Fine Jewelry have joined multiple other businesses who share our same passion for fitness success.  Both companies are excited about the opportunity to support the Wounded Warrior Project through Run To Succeed’s 4 Mile Run Of Valor.

Midwest Background Investigations or MBI Worldwide was rated a top business in 2013 by and offers professional services in background checks, screening and hiring solutions, and fingerprinting services.  MBI prides themselves on excellent customer service, integrity, quick turn around and accuracy of information, secure online account access, a wide product range and competitive pricing.  MBI offers integration capabilities with existing HR software platforms to streamline the hiring process.

MBI’s offices are located in Herrin, Illinois and Atlanta, Georgia and they may be contacted by calling 1-866-ASK-4-MBI or via email at

TJs-Fine-JewelryTJ Martin, owner of TJ’s Fine Jewelry, has always had a vision of putting customers first, and bringing the best service to the customers as possible.  Martin began his career in the jewelry business in 1994 and decided to open his own store for a number of reasons, but the biggest reason he decided to open his own store was his dedication to customers, and not the books bottom line. 

TJ’s Fine Jewelry is a store that listens to its customers, and offers quality, and service second to none.  They have a jeweler who is on staff, and fixes your jewelry locally. They also offer a lifetime warranty on pieces that is second to none, and unlike the large chain stores who give you the same option, but charge you a large fee for the service, TJ’s offers it at a no fee. The staff of TJ’s Fine Jewelry also have over 80 years of experience in the Jewelry business, and when compared to other stores in the reason that once again gives them an advantage on quality that is second to none.

TJ’s Fine Jewelry is located at 1010 E. Main St. in Carbondale, Illinois and can be reached by calling 618-351-1200 or via email at

Help support RTS’s sponsors.  They are what make this site happen!

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Side Pain When Running – Run To Succeed

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crampsYou are running along at a steady pace when suddenly you are gripped with an intensely sharp stabbing pain in your side. With each breath, the pain under the lower edge of your ribcage becomes more intense and you’re forced to stop or slow down.  Side pain (also called side stitch) or what is referred to scientifically as “exercise related transient abdominal pain” has been experienced by every runner at some point in time, and for me, every time I run.  Regardless of the name you choose for it (enter expletive here), what is it that causes that nagging feeling that makes you want to stop running and fold over in pain.

I recently ran a 5K and as per the normal routine, right around the two mile mark, I found myself trying to minimize that sharp pain in my right side.  I spent the last 1.2 miles trying to focus on something other than the pain.  Thankfully for me, it didn’t last very long and I was able to finish the race pain free.  But, there are some of you who have a much harder time shaking the pain, and are forced to stop running because of it.  What is it that causes side pain and what can we as runners do to prevent it from happening? 

What causes side pain when running?

According to a “While there is still no definitive explanation for the cause of a side stitch, there are several very convincing theories.  The majority of the researchers believe that it has a lot to do with what we eat before we exercise.” 

According to “Another explanation may be that exercising intensely decreases blood flow to the diaphragm, causing it to go into spasm. Also, raising the knees to run contracts the belly muscles, which increases pressure inside the belly and presses on the diaphragm from below.  Additionally, during exercise, air tends to get into the lungs more easily than it gets out, so the lungs fill with air and press on the diaphragm from above. The dual pressure may squeeze the diaphragm and briefly shut off its blood flow, resulting in cramping.”

There are far more less complicated studies that have shown that dehydration is a common cause of side stitch.  One study reported that consuming reconstituted fruit juices and beverages high in carbohydrates, either just before or during exercise will trigger the onset of side stitch. 

What I have learned researching is that experts are not really sure what causes side stitch.  The theory that seems to be the most prevalent is that side stitch is believed to be a cramp in the diaphragm, the large, flat, muscular membrane that separates the chest and abdominal organs and helps force air into and out of the lungs during breathing.  Exactly why the diaphragm spasms, however, remains unclear.


So what do we do to prevent side stich from happening?

Some experts say stop running and place your hand onto the right side of your abdomen and push up while inhaling and exhaling evenly.  For those of who are running races, this isn’t the answer we are looking for.  Being that there is no real evidence as to what causes side stitch, it is safe to say there are multiple solutions to avoid it from happening.  I suggest experimenting with several suggestions and see what works best for you.  Listed below are options for you to try.

* Drink water or other healthy fluids before running.

* Avoid drinking reconstituted fruit juices and beverages high in carbohydrates before and during your run. 

* Time your pre-race meal to allow it to digest prior to the race.

* Start off slow and then gradually get faster as you run (many of us, including myself, do just the opposite of this).

* While running, try to breathe deeply and slowly from your lower lungs, expanding the belly as well as the upper chest.

* Sometimes, just simple stretching can relieve the pain.  Raise your arm straight up and lean towards the side that isn’t causing you pain.

Let us know what works best for you so we can offer those suggestions to others that are experiencing that same nagging intense stabbing pain that might be discouraging them from running more. 




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Spring Time, Start Running – Run To Succeed

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Spring TimeWith today being the official start of spring, it’s time to start running, walking, and hiking!  Of course, some of you never stopped over the course of the unyielding winter.  But, for those of you who are more of a fair weather runner, now is the time to come out of hibernation and get back into the habit.  Now is the time to start those New Year’s resolutions if you haven’t already.  Now is the time to get out, soak in the the cool spring mornings, allow the bright sun to wash away that deep winter slumber from earlier months and fill you with vigor and energy.  

Whether you are new to running or a season veteran, there are a few things I feel necessary to remind you of before you start cranking up those ear phones and laying down tread.

When is the last time you purchased a new pair of running shoes?

There are a lot of variables that play into this, but your running shoes should be replaced every 500 miles.  Many runners use GPS devices to track their distance and time.  Why not use these same devices to track the mileage on your shoes?  I can not stress the importance of having a quality pair of running shoes.  If you want to stay healthy, fit, and injury free, invest in a good pair of running shoes.  I wrote more on the importance of quality running shoes in a previous post.  Click here to read the article in detail.

Take your time and ease back into running.

I know you will expect to pick up your same pace from where you left off last fall, but unless you are super-human that is probably an unrealistic expectation.  Attempting to do too many miles too early or maintain that per mile pace that you had four months earlier will greatly increase your chances for injury.  It’s not worth the risk involved!  Start off running shorter distances and don’t worry about your time.  You will find that you are back up to speed in no time.  Then, you can worry about building on your success from last year.

Set goals! 

One of the most beneficial things you can do as a runner is set goals.  Working towards and successfully completing your goals is not only an accomplishment in itself, but it helps keep you engaged.  It makes you want to work more and strive to reach new goals.  Your goals should be challenging, but realistic and achievable.  Maybe your goal is to run your first 5K or maybe you have been running multiple 5K’s and now it is time to attempt half-marathons.  This is the time of year where there are multiple 5K’s, 10K’s, Half-Marathons and Marathons to choose from and get involved in.  Maybe you are not interested in running races, but instead running for health and fitness.  Whatever your particular desire, set your goals and stop nothing short of success.  

Of course, It’s not to late to sign up for the Run To Succeed 500 Mile Challenge.  You can lot your mileage as far back as January 1st.

When you reach into your closet this spring, don’t make flip-flops the first thing you grab.  Instead, reach for those running shoes and kick off the spring by logging miles under your feet.


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Are Compression Shorts Necessary? – Run To Succeed

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und_1219786_001Are compression shorts necessary?

I have seen numerous runners at events wearing compression shorts, however, I have seen just as many runners not wearing them.  So, is there a benefit to wearing them or is it just another marketing gimmick?  I recently purchased a pair of #UnderArmour compression shorts to see for myself.


When I was researching material for this article, I was amazed to read how many people have been buying compression gear because they believed they could run longer distances and run faster paces.  I read things like “compression gear focuses your muscles’ energy to generate maximum explosive power, acceleration and long term endurance.”  “Compression gear delivers increased power and stamina.”

If you are one of the many individuals that bought into that theory when you purchased your compression gear, you are extremely misinformed.  If sliding on a piece of compression garment will yield these types of results, every athlete in the world would be sporting their compression gear to get that extra advantage over their opponent.  I am sure that if I had bought and worn compression shorts much earlier than now, I would have easily qualified for the Boston Marathon (insert sarcasm here). 


Now lets examine the facts about compression gear as tested and proved.  The main benefits of compression sportswear is that it keeps the muscles warm to prevent muscle strain and fatigue, and wick sweat away from the body to prevent chafing and rashes.  Compression garments are also proven to ease muscle stiffness and quicken recovery time.  Along with the relief of pain from muscle stiffness and soreness, compression apparel delivers graduated pressure, meaning there is improved oxygenation to the working muscles.

Studies have shown that runners and other athletes experienced improved blood flow through their muscles when wearing compression gear during workouts.  Therefore, it seems logical that greater blood flow equates to better oxygenation of muscles, thus improved performance.

My experience with compression

Recently, I started having problems with my left knee while running.  There have been a few times where I would run only a mile or two and have to walk the rest of the way because of the pain.  I wasn’t able to pinpoint the problem.  This problem occurred regardless of if I ran on a roadway or treadmill.  After speaking with other runners, who I would consider experts on the matter, I decided to try compression gear.

I bought a pair of Under Armour compression shorts and went on a treadmill run later that day.  Surprisingly, I had no pain in my knee what-so-ever.  Not sure how compression shorts would have an affect on my knees, but I ran pain free so I don’t care!  I also noticed that I felt better afterwards.  My muscle fatigue seemed to be lessened and I had minimal soreness.   

So, to answer the question “are compression shorts necessary?”  For me there was a benefit that justified the money spent.  I did not experience an increase in distance and I certainly did not run at a faster pace, but eliminating the discomfort that I had been previously dealing with made it all worthwhile.

My suggestion would be to buy whatever compression gear you need, give it a try and see if it offers a benefit to you.  If not, then you know not to spend more money on other gear.  If it offers even the slightest improvement in soreness, fatigue, or discomfort, then it was money well spent.


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Importance Of Quality Running Shoes – Run To Succeed

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What is the importance of quality running shoes? 

Running shoes are the most vital piece of equipment that you as a runner will ever own.  There are so many shoe brands and styles on the market, but not every one of them are designed for running.  Just because you own the newest pair of #Nike’s doesn’t mean they were designed for the runner.  Without proper athletic shoes, your running performance can suffer and you may end up with injuries.

#Asics, #Brooks, #Mizuno, #New Balance, #Nike, #Saucony — these are just a few of the companies that sell running shoes.  But how do you know which running shoes are right for you?


Know your running style.

About fourteen years ago, I stopped in at a shoe store, near St. Louis, looking for a new pair of running shoes.  When the employee asked me what style of shoe I was looking for, I simply responded with “a decent pair.”  Five minutes later, my feet were being video taped while I ran on a treadmill.  Afterwards, when the employee told me that I had an underpronated gait, I thought “I have a what.”

After a quick lesson in pronation, I understood how your personal pronation type is crucial to choosing the proper running shoes.  Minutes later, I was being hooked up with a brand new pair of Saucony’s designed for my running style and I have worn their shoe ever since.

So, let’s examine the various styles of gaits.  If you have a normal foot arch, you are likely a normal pronator, meaning you will do best in a stability shoe that offers moderate pronation control.  Runners with flat feet normally overpronate, so they do well in a motion control shoe that controls pronation.  High-arched runners typically underpronate, so they do best in a neutral cushioned shoe that encourages a more natural foot motion. 

According to #Runner’s World, the definition of normal pronation is, The outside part of the heel makes initial contact with the ground. The foot rolls inward about fifteen percent, comes in complete contact with the ground, and can support your body weight without any problem. The rolling in of the foot optimally distributes the forces of impact. This movement is called pronation, and it’s critical to proper shock absorption. At the end of the gait cycle, you push off evenly from the front of the foot.

Over pronation is defined as, As with the normal pronation sequence, the outside of the heel makes the initial ground contact. However, the foot rolls inward more than the ideal fifteen percent, which is called overpronation. This means the foot and ankle have problems stabilizing the body, and shock isn’t absorbed as efficiently. At the end of the gait cycle, the front of the foot pushes off the ground using mainly the big toe and second toe, which then must do all the work.

Under pronation (also referred to as supination) is defined as, Again, the outside of the heel makes initial contact with the ground. But the inward movement of the foot occurs at less than fifteen percent (i.e., there is less rolling in than for those with normal or flat feet). Consequently, forces of impact are concentrated on a smaller area of the foot (the outside part), and are not distributed as efficiently. In the push-off phase, most of the work is done by the smaller toes on the outside of the foot.

If possible, find a specialist in the area you live to analyze your gait.  Self-diagnose if you have to.  Bring your old running shoes with you.  A salesman might be able to determine what style of shoe you need by examining the wear on the sole of your shoes.  Take your time trying on and testing shoes.  It is well worth your time to find the right running shoe.  You will notice a difference.

Asics gel Kayano 20

Choosing the right shoe. 

A good number of people today still do not fully realize the importance of investing in a good pair of running shoes.  Worn out or ill fitting shoes are a leading cause of injury to runners.  It is best to go to a specialty running shop (not a big box or department store) where a salesperson can watch you run and help you select a pair of shoes that offer your feet the support they need.

Once you understand your gait, you can choose the right shoe.  If you have normal shaped feet you want a running shoe that offers stability.  A stability shoe has all the necessary components of a good running shoe and they don’t cause the foot to go in a certain direction while running.

If you are an over pronater, you may need a motion controlled running shoe. These shoes are straight and rigid, preventing the over rolling of the front of the foot.  You will prevent injuries to your foot and increase your performance by wearing something that helps control your foot’s natural tendency for over pronation.

Under pronating runners need extra support and slight motion control to help their feet follow through with pronation.  Wearing cushioned running shoes will help absorb shock, as underpronation causes you to hit the ground harder, and will also help steer your foot inward to help prevent injuries from under pronation. 

Don’t keep your shoes any longer than six months or 500 miles.  There is a high risk of injury when running with worn out shoes even if they do not appear to be worn out.

Brooks Ravenna 4

So, what is the importance of quality running shoes?  If you want to stay healthy, fit, and injury free, invest in a good pair of running shoes.  It will be worth the extra expense incurred! 

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Runners Etiquette – Run To Succeed

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runners courtIn the interest of promoting an enjoyable running and racing experience for everyone, I have compiled a short list of common rules to follow on race day to encourage good running etiquette.  Whatever the pace, wherever the race, manners matter.  The list may not be all inclusive, but should give you a good idea of what event managers like to see out of their registered runners.


Pre Race

*  Early registration

Even though most events allow same day registration, it is always nice to pre-register when possible.  This gives event managers a general idea of how many runners will be present.  Event managers need this information for many reasons including: T-shirt orders, number of race bibs and/or timing chips needed, course design, number of finish line chutes needed, water supply, etc…

*  Arrive early on race day 

Why is this important?  It allows you time to pick up your race packet, check for accuracy, and pin your bib onto your shirt or shorts.  Generally, workers in charge of the registration table have other job duties awaiting after the registration process ends.  If you arrive early enough, these workers can move to their next post without being in a rush.

*  Pre race instructions

I can’t stress enough the importance of listening to pre race instructions.  I have seen many occasions where runners are more concerned about dialing in their race day music, or gps tracking device and completing tune out race day instructions.  All runners have a collective responsibility to keep the event safe.  If you are not listening to the race instructions, you will miss important information that you need to know.

Race Time!

*  Starting line

You don’t have to be in the front of the pack.  If the event is chip timed, your time doesn’t start until you cross the mat anyway.  So, what’s the rush?  If the event isn’t chip timed, it generally only takes a few seconds to get everyone across the start line.  Unless, you are trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon, those few seconds probably won’t matter.  The important thing to remember is you are running the race for a charitable cause.  If you are running for your own personal benefit and to see who can beat who then you probably should find a different hobby.  I’m all for awards being handed out for your running excellence, but not at the expense of congested start lines and shoving your way to the front.  On the flip side, if you know you are a slower runner/walker then make sure you start near the back of the pack.  It will make for a much smoother take off.

*  Respect private property along your route

Do I really need to elaborate any further on this?

*  Passing the runner in front of you

I always try to alert the runner in front of me that I am about to pass them.  A simple “coming around you on the left” is plenty sufficient.  The same in return, if you hear the runner behind you saying they are about to pass, move to the side and allow them to go by.  It’s not showing off, it’s the runner behind you trying to give you a heads up that they’re coming around you.  If they don’t respond by moving over, it may be that they didn’t hear you over the music in their ear phones.  These things happen and move on.  You should never attempt to block another runners effort at passing you!

*  Making a pit stop

Occasionally nature calls.  If you feel the need to vomit, spit, or take care of any other bodily functions, please move to the side of the road or trail that you are one when applicable.  Often times, there are porta-johns along the course you can use and you may even find the occasional friendly neighbor willing to help you out.  Again, remember to always respect other people’s property.  Same thing applies if you need to tie your shoe.  Please move to the side of the road so that you are not blocking the path for other runners. 

*  Never cheat!

I wish I didn’t have to put this on the list, but it’s an unfortunate reality sometimes.  Don’t cut the course to get ahead of other runners.  As previously stated, the race is about charity not your individual ego.

*  Water station

When you come across a water station along your route, move to the side of the path and allow other runners to pass.  Some runners do not find the need to hydrate themselves at each stop.  Once you have completed hydration, throw your cup or bottle to the side of the path.  Other runners do not want to run across your trash scattered across the path.

* Help those in distress

If you see someone on the path that is in distress, stop and help.  Need I say more?  Their health is far more important than when you finish the race.

Finish Line

*  Finish line chute instructions

Follow the instructions from the volunteers working the finish line chutes.  They are there to limit finish line congestion.  Don’t shove someone out of your way in order to finish ahead of them.  If you do this, you need to find another sport.  Make sure your bib is readable as you pass through the shoot.  Move all the way through the chute to the end to allow those that are finishing behind you enough clearance to get through.  If the event is chip timed, be sure to return your chip to a volunteer.  If the event is not chip timed, a volunteer will probably be there collecting pull tabs from your race bib.

*  Encourage others

One thing I always like to do after completing a race is walk the course backwards a short ways and encourage other runners working their way to the finish line.  A simple applause or words of encouragement will go a long way with fellow runners.  If you see someone struggling, and you still have the energy, run along side of them to the finish line offering that same encouragement.  Make sure you do not cross the finish line a second time, however, this will create confusion for the volunteers.

Post Race

*  Award ceremony

Nothing says you have to stick around after the race, but I always find it respectful to do so.  I enjoy applauding those that finished at the top of the pack as they receive their awards.  They deserve the attention.  If you are an award winner, definitely stick around to receive the award.  You deserve it!  Quite often, I hear a name called for an award and that individual isn’t there to receive it.  The event hosts paid for that award so it is courteous to be there to receive it.  Be proud of your accomplishment!  Not to mention, some events offer refreshments during the ceremony.

*  Don’t argue with event hosts

If you feel you deserved an award but your name was not announced, don’t debate the award with the announcer. The announcer usually just reads the information given to them by the race timing officials. Find a race official and discuss the discrepancy with them in a respectful manner.


Remember most events are staffed by volunteers, no event is perfect, and people work hard to make them safe and enjoyable.  If you follow the simple rules of etiquette mentioned here, it will be a positive experience for you and those around you.  Most importantly, enjoy the race experience!

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30 In 30 Challenge – Run To Succeed

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30 in 30 Fitness ChallengeLooking to start off your year with a New Year’s Resolution, but want to keep your goals more short term?

The 30 in 30 Fitness Challenge is an online exercise motivation program. Your fitness goal is already set for you (30 miles in 30 days)!  That’s only a little more than 7 miles per week and 1 mile per day.  Once you get registered and pay the small entry fee, just simply log your miles on our website and, if you achieve the goal, you’ll be entered for a chance to win $30 each month you complete the goal.  The money drawing will be held on the final day of each month.  If you need a fitness challenge to motivate you to exercise more, then sign up for the 30 in 30 Fitness Challenge today!  After all, who couldn’t use an extra $30 each month!

Complete your miles using the following modes of exercise:

*  Running / Jogging / Walking / Hiking

*  Complete your exercise outdoors or by using cardio exercise equipment (Elliptical, Treadmill, etc…)

Log your miles and achieve your goal!

Once you’ve completed registration, the rest is simple.  Log in your miles each time you complete them and the Run To Succeed team will do the rest.  You will receive a weekly report on your accomplishments and what pace you are on, therefore, you can make the necessary changes to your exercise routine.  

Don’t have time to log your miles each time you complete them?  No problem!  You may go back as far as you need to during that particular month on the form calendar and log them in.  Be careful not to fall to far behind though! 

When you achieve the 30 miles in 30 days goal, you will be entered for a chance to win $30 courtesy of Run To Succeed.  You must complete the full 30 miles before the end of each month in order to be eligible.

No need to wait… You can start the challenge any day you choose. Start yours today!

Start a challenge today for only $5.00 (USD)

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500 Mile Challenge – Run To Succeed

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500  Mile  Challenge

Looking to start off your year with a New Year’s Resolution?

The 500 Mile Challenge is an online exercise motivation program. Your fitness goal is already set for you (500 miles in 365 days)!  That’s only 42 miles per month or 9.6 miles per week.  Once you get registered and pay the small entry fee, just simply log your miles on our website and, if you achieve the goal, you’ll earn an exclusive 500 Mile Challenge T-shirt guaranteed and be entered for a chance to win $500.  The money drawing will be held on December 31, 2014.  If you need a fitness challenge to motivate you to exercise more, then sign up for the 500 Mile Challenge today!  After all, who couldn’t use $500 after the Christmas season!


Complete your miles using the following modes of exercise:

*  Running / Jogging / Walking / Hiking

*  Complete your exercise outdoors or by using cardio exercise equipment (Elliptical, Treadmill, etc…)


Log your miles and achieve your goal!

Once you’ve completed registration, the rest is simple.  Log in your miles each time you complete them and the Run To Succeed team will do the rest.  You will receive a bi-monthly report on your accomplishments and what pace you are on, therefore, you can make the necessary changes to your exercise routine.  

Don’t have time to log your miles each time you complete them?  No problem!  You may go back as far as you need to on the calendar and log them in.  Be careful not to fall to far behind though! 

When you achieve the 500 mile goal, you will receive an exclusive 500 Mile Challenge club T-shirt and be entered for a chance to win $500.  You must complete the full 500 miles before December 31, 2014 in order to be eligible.


No need to wait… You can start the challenge any day you choose. Start yours today!


Start a challenge today for only $20.00 (USD)

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4 Mile Run Of Valor – Run To Succeed

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RunOfValor2No matter what part of the country you live or visit, everyone knows of a relative or friend that has been or currently is active in the United States military.  Many of these same individuals have been directly affected by tragedies involving these courageous men and women.  In September of 2011, my family was no different as we were informed of the tragedy we were about to face.  I wanted to do something to honor not only our loved one, but every wounded and fallen warrior fighting to protect those things we take for granted on a daily basis.  That is why the 4 Mile Run Of Valor was founded.  All proceeds from the 4 Mile Run Of Valor will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.

The race will be held Saturday, May 17, 2014 at the Murphysboro Lake State Park.  Both runners and walkers will be allowed and prizes will be handed out to those who finish in the top 3 of their respected age category.  Further information can be found on the Run Of Valor Registration form.  The Wounded Warrior Project has approved the event and WWP merchandise will be distributed to our event participants.

Run To Succeed is now accepting sponsorships for the 4 Mile Run Of Valor.  Sponsorships are set up on a tier level and further information can be found by clicking here.  We at RTS encourage all business owners to consider a sponsorship for this race.  Sponsorships can be purchased for as little as $50.00.   

If you’re not interested in running/walking in the event, we encourage you to donate to the Wounded Warrior Project.  

Show your support by signing up for the race or donating now.

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