Greater Fort Lauderdale Road Runners Club

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Next Race: January 13, 5K 4 Kids, St. Anthony Catholic Church, 7:30 AM
Home Coaches Corner Blog
Coaches Corner

Barefoot Running:

By now you have read, or a least heard about, running without shoes. There certainly is a growing trend of minimalist running shoes.

Maybe you have seen or even own a pair of five finger (or toe) running shoes. The minimalist approach to running should not be attempted without first having some practical knowledge of how to run with less shoe between your foot and the ground. Going totally barefoot is not as easy as losing the shoes and hitting the road. Your first attempt at barefoot running should be on a soft surface such as golf course grass or packed sand and should not be more than a quarter mile. Your feet will need time to adjust to the sensation of the unfamiliar feel.

Your feet may feel sore from the lack of cushioning and protection offered by a running shoe and you will need to learn to apply natural cushioning by striking on the ball of the foot and avoiding the punishing heel strike that is absorbed by a running shoe.

Over time, you can increase the distance that you run without shoes but I would advise you not to throw away your training or racing shoes.

Barefoot or minimalist running may have some benefits as a training tool to strengthen the feet, but the potential for  injury is a risk one may not wish to take. I have been known to run what I call the Fred Flintstone mile on the infield grass following a track workout but on the road I will be in shoes.

Coach Tom Kasprik


When training for a specific race, it is wise to consult with a coach. Your coach will want to          interview you by asking some questions to determine your fitness level and help you set reasonable and  achievable goals. You will be asked how long have you been running, how many miles per week, how much time you have to commit to training, etc. You may need to supply information such as recent race results. Sorry but your PR in 2006 isn't useful information. To borrow a line from a movie what we are saying is "help me help you.” Don't hide a recent injury or ask for a shortcut training plan, there aren't any.

Don't be afraid to turn it around and interview the coach. You should ask how long have you been coaching? What is your coaching philosophy? Can you tailor a training plan to my individual needs? Ask questions, listen to the answers and then ask more questions. This is how we get to know each other, build a trust and achieve your goals.

Enjoy your training,

Coach Tom Kasprik



Whatever sport you are going to do you should strengthen the muscles that you use for that sport. For running/walking you need to strengthen your runners core ( from the waist to the bottom of your feet). This is not rocket science – this is just plain old common sense. So let’s start strengthening the feet, ankles, calves, knees, quads, hamstrings, abs and the entire waist structure. Do some strengthening of the entire body and improve your flexibility.

Training is not just running and running is definitely not just putting one foot in front of the other. You are an individual and your training should be designed for YOU. What you need to eat, drink, take on as energy supplements, etc. may  be  different than your friend or even your twin. Your mind set, body make up, genes and ability may be very different.  You have to make the decision as to whether you want to be a walker, walk/runner or a runner. You have to make the decision as to HOW MUCH TIME & EFFORT YOU can put into training. How            competitive are you? Do you want to compete in short or long races? Do you just want to be a social runner and stay healthy?

In all training you start very slowly and build up slowly in both distance and pace. You should be learning something about yourself, your ability, your food and drink requirements, your mind set, etc. before, during and after every training session. Keep a log so that you can go back and see what was good and what was bad. Your log will help you to make corrections. In order to walk and/or run injury free you must strengthen your body and learn to walk or run with the proper FORM. As you get stronger and more experienced you can go to a running shoe with less support. Jogging/walking barefoot on a clean, soft surface can strengthen your feet, and you may be able to run in a minimalist shoe, but I do not recommend running on the road barefoot.

I recommend a schedule that calls for running four (4) days a week, two (2) days of cross   training (non impact – strengthening) and one (1) day of rest. Once a month I like to see you do a 5K race on your rest day (after you have built up your ability). One of your running days I   recommend a track workout. I recommend a track workout even for walkers. Come out to a Tuesday evening track workout at FAU in Boca and let me check out your running form and make some recommendations and then I can work up a training schedule for you. One run each week should be a long run. Two (2) miles might be long run when you start, but you have to build up to twenty (20) miles if you plan on doing a marathon. I recommend building up to a full marathon with some shorter distance races and a couple of half marathons.

It is absolutely necessary to make a commitment by signing up to do a half marathon and  sticking to your decision and staying with your training program. Runners are healthier and do live longer. In my opinion, runners are the nicest people and getting involved in the running community adds greatly to your social life.

If you have any questions, on anything about running and/or walking (this includes eating,   hydrating, what is the correct form, etc.) feel free to contact me.

Coach Howard
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Author of “Stepping Forward – A Runner’s Guide To Moving For Life”




Race Etiquette

To promote an enjoyable race experience for everyone, lets follow the advice and counsel of the “Race Etiquette “
These guidelines are available from the Road Runners Club of America. (RRCA)

 Never forget : “Whatever the pace, Wherever the race, Race manners matter” ! The “Race Etiquette” is divided in five sections, we developed in the last forums “At the Starting Line” and “You’re Off !”. This is number 3) “Approaching the Finish Line”

1) At the Starting Line
2) You’re Off !
3) Approaching the Finish Line
4) Rules of the Road
5) Rules of the Track

Approching the Finish Line
a) Follow the instructions of the race officials at the finish. You may be told to stay to the right or to the left.
b) Race officials don’t allow nonregistered friends or relatives to run with you in the race. If a friend is running with you, the last part and hasn’t officially entered the race, tell him/her NOT to cross the finish line.
c) Once you have crossed the finish line, DON”T stop. Keep moving to the end of the chute.
d) Enjoy the post-race refreshments, but remember others want to enjoy the goodies too! Moderation is the key so there will be food for the last people finishing the race. Be fair to runners who have been patiently waiting in line.
e) Don’t forget to turn in the stub on jour race bib if there are random prize drawings. Listen to the announcements and share your race experience. Don’t forget Stretching! Coach Robert, is a National and State Champion. Certified Coach RRCA / USATF / Personal Trainer For coaching services visit or contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  


Coach Robert(67), wins age group by 20 minutes in Chicago Marathon 2010

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon's 26.2-mile circuit, is one of the five World Marathon Majors.
The others are the Berlin Marathon, Boston Marathon, London Marathon and New York Marathon.
This year marks the 33rd anniversary of the event, as it has taken place every year since 1977, and it lived up to its auspicious date of 10-10-10.
A record 38,132 participants start the race and 36,159 runners cross the finish line.
People cheering and music all the way along 
Race day dawned in the low 60’s with a 67 degree F start.
The temperatures peaked in the 80s around noon.
By 11 a.m., race officials had issued a red-flag warning, signifying "potentially dangerous conditions"
Race organizers said 65 runners were taken to hospitals for heat.
No clouds in the sky, sun beating down right on you, after the half, I really started to notice the heat.
Twenty two miles, marks the peak training distance of my pre-race long distance.
I really think I could have performed a lot better if it was cooler.
My shape was very good and I moved ahead of the pacesetters of 3Hrs 10’ at the 10th mile.
The last two miles, after Chinatown, on Michigan Blvd, I started really to feel the heat and hard legs, before a turn toward the finish.
Time : 3 hours, 11 minutes and 31 second , winning my age group 65-69.
 I think I have legs for a 3:10 next time. Why not?

Coach Robert, is a National and State Champion.

Robert Hendrick
Certified Coach RRCA / USATF / Personal Trainer
Ph:954-714-8465  Cell: 954-817-5845



Each person is an individual and you must know your body. Are you a person that doesn’t do any hard work; sits and watches TV; somewhat overweight; etc.? Are you someone that is fairly active and just wants to get into better shape? It is absolutely essential that you strengthen your body before you start running hard. It may take up to three (3) months or much longer to get to where you should be running hard. There is nothing wrong with starting out walking and then begin running when your body is strong enough. Everything should be done SLOWLY. You must strengthen your runner’s core (from your waist to the bottom of your feet). Light weights for your upper body is good. You do not want to be a body builder.

If you have been running or if you are just getting started, you should concentrate on your running FORM.  EVERY TIME YOUR FOOT HITS THE SURFACE YOU ARE SLOWING DOWN.  If you come down on your heel with your toe pointing up your coming down each time with approximately 10 times your body weight. This can be dangerous and can cause serious damage. By the same token coming down on your toes is very stressful on your legs, particularly your calves. Sprinters are the fastest runners.

Sprinters are short distance runners and  in addition to running short distances they have developed strong legs over time. They come down on their toes and almost instantly push off, thereby only having their foot on the surface for a very brief time.

Distance runners must learn to come down mid-foot or on the balls of their feet. At the same time they must learn to do PAWING. That is to swipe their foot on the surface in a manner that allows them to leave the surface as rapidly as possible. A fast runner will hit the surface  approximately 180 times a minute.

Many runners that run at 9 minutes per mile or slower tend to be shufflers. Some shuffle faster than others.  As you increase your strength and speed you should start to consider how your legs are moving and how you are contacting the surface.  If you are trying to get faster  it is better  to slow down and practice the movement of your legs and how you strike the surface. Picture the surface moving towards you. As you  learn  the correct way to move your legs, and strike the surface in a light as a feather way, you can then speed up.

Besides all of this there is nutrition, hydration, training time, training schedules and most of all the psychology of running. Are you a competitive person or are you a person  that is very happy as a social runner?   As you can see running requires more than just putting one foot in front of the other.  Staying healthy requires work. You need determination and commitment. You start slow and build up in time and fortitude. If you are young, and particularly if you want to be healthy and  run for the rest of your life  why not do it correctly?

I love questions and I hope that this article has stimulated you into raising questions.

Coach Howard Elakman  954-295-0226    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
USATF level1 & RRCA Certified  -  COME RUN WITH ME!



How much do you weigh? keep in mind that your body weight is just one of the many factors in your performance. While it is true that the less you weigh the less you have to carry on the run you can also train you body carry the weight. Not every athlete out there is sleek and skinny nor should they be. If you are training for endurance events weight loss usually occurs as a natural benefit of increased training. During this time you should not avoid proper nutrition. Weight loss     occurs when there is a calorie deficit (burning more calories than you take in) but keep in mind that food is the fuel that you need to sustain energy for increased levels of exercise. It is also possible to experience weight gain as a result of muscle density achieved in strength training.

Be more concerned about how you feel than how much you weigh. Follow the nutritional guidelines for your age , gender and level of activity. Don't be a slave to the scale, chances are if you have gained a couple of lbs. but can still button your pants you are on the right track.

Tom Kasprik
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Tom Kasprik
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The key to training is consistency. When doing speed work on a track one must perform their repeats at a fast but manageable rate. You should try to maintain even splits for each repetition at the given distance. So many times I see runners decide to go for it on the last repetition to see what they can do. Resist the urge to race; track work is for training, save the racing for race day. Then and only then you can show them what you’ve got.

Racing should be the culmination of your training. After putting in all the work, running the miles and getting proper rest you should show up on race day feeling ready to go. I have two rules for road racing that I insist upon. Rule #1 NEVER LOOK BEHIND YOU…. This is a sign of weakness and fatigue and the finish line is never behind you. Rule #2 run strong through the aforementioned finish line, do not slow down until you are past the finish line.

Enjoy your training and you will enjoy your race….and remember to breathe!!! (The Zen approach)



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