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Home » How To Run Faster & Stronger with Tips from Kevin Gregory & Sami Bloecker! Ep83

How To Run Faster & Stronger with Tips from Kevin Gregory & Sami Bloecker! Ep83

#083 – Two inspirational runners and coaches share their stories of overcoming obstacles and pushing their limits. Listen to this LIVE session with Kevin Gregory and Sami Bloecker as they share their expertise in obstacle course racing and running, while navigating their addictive personalities and the healthy lifestyle they promote.

Topics Covered:

  • Learn about better running form for improved road race performance and minimizing injuries
  • Achieve improved grip strength for dominating obstacle course races
  • Recognize the critical role of nutrition and expert coaching in attaining peak fitness levels
  • Implement habits and flexibility solutions designed for maintaining an active lifestyle amidst a hectic schedule

Today’s Guests

Kevin Gregory
Sami Bloecker

Kevin Gregory & Sami Bloecker

Introducing Kevin Gregory and Sami Bloecker, the dynamic duo from Underdog Fitness, here to share their expertise on running and nutrition for improved race performance. 

With over a decade of experience, Kevin specializes in running form and injury prevention, helping runners of all levels achieve their goals. Sami, an accomplished obstacle course racer, focuses on grip strength and pull-up training, essential skills for anyone looking to tackle their first OCR or improve their performance. 

Together, they bring valuable insight and inspiration to beginner runners eager to learn and grow.

Follow Underdog Fitness:


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Listen to Inspire to Run Podcast:

Richard Conner: [00:00:00] Hey, everyone. This is going to be a special episode. As we recently hosted a live session with our friends at underdog fitness, Kevin Gregory and Samy blocker. And if you’re interested in hearing answers to questions around how to improve your performance, whether you’re running road races or obstacle course races.

The role that nutrition plays and your performance in these races and how to fit in fitness in your busy lifestyle. If you’re interested in hearing answers to those questions at these key topics, you know, you’re really going to enjoy this episode. Hope you enjoy.


Richard Conner: Hi everyone. Welcome to another Inspire to Run Live q and a. I’m so excited to have this session again. I’ve partnered here with Underdog Fitness, my crew. We have Kevin Gregory and Sami Blocker, and we’re here to talk a lot about running and obstacle course races and. Answer all of the questions that you might have.

So, super excited to be here tonight and you know, love to hear where all of you are tuning in from. So you know, whether you’re tuning in from Facebook or Instagram, just pop into the chat where you’re calling in from. Love to hear from you. So you know, let’s go ahead and get this conversation started.

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Richard Connor. I am the founder of Inspire to Run and host of Inspire to Run podcast. I started this community about two years ago as a way to not only share my story, but also share the stories of just amazing runners, literally from around the world, through Instagram and Facebook and through the podcast.

[00:02:00] So, you know, excited again to to be here on this. This live session, I don’t have the opportunity to engage with the community in this way. So, you know, typically the podcast is just one way and this allows me to hear from you and hear your questions and comments. So that’s just a little bit about me and what I’ll do is I’ll turn it over to Kevin to introduce himself.

Kevin Gregory: Thanks Richard. Kevin here from Underdog Fitness. Super excited to be on another question, answer session with you guys and, uh, be able to get back to the Inspire virtual. Not in virtual, in person, run community, inspired to run community. Uh, and um, so I’m from Underdog Fitness, uh, 10 plus years in the industry.

Been running obstacle course races since 2011. Uh, built a team of other super awesome athletes and, uh, have other clients that are still building to their skillset to make their name for themselves in the obstacle course racing and just running in general. So, uh, that’s me. Super excited being here.

Thanks. [00:03:00]

Richard Conner: Yeah, for sure. Kevin, excited to have you back here on this live session. And we also have Sami Blocker here today, an underdog fitness trainer. So Sami, why don’t you go ahead and say hi and introduce yourself.

Sami Bloecker: Hi everyone. How’s it going Richard, thank you so much for having me. I love the work you do with your Inspired to Run podcast, so I’m happy to be a part of this.

Um, I did my first Spartan race back in 2018, and I didn’t get into the competitive field until last year was my first full year where I found my coach, Kevin, and I’ve been training with him for over a year now and just loving it, loving the OCR community. Learning to love running. So it’s been a great journey so far.

Richard Conner: Love it. Love it. And you know, for the listeners tuning in tonight on the live, you’re gonna hear a little bit about running, a little bit about obstacle course racing. So no matter where you are in your journey, um, whether you’re just getting started or you’re kind of along your journey, we [00:04:00] have, you know, a really expert crew here to answer your questions.

So, you know, wherever you’re tuning in from, just go ahead and pop your questions in the chat. Uh, let us know where you’re calling in from and, you know, we’re just gonna chat a little bit here, just kind of as the questions come in and, uh, yeah, just to learn a little bit more about Kevin and about Sami.

So, you know, as Kevin and Sami as fitness trainers, I’m sure there’s a lot of. Typical questions that you get right from your, uh, from your clients, from the co folks that you coach. So maybe Kevin, I’ll start with you. Like, what is one of the typical questions that you get from your, uh, clients and what your, your response to?

Kevin Gregory: Uh, one of the first questions I always get is running hurts me. How do I make it not hurt? And what they’re really wanting to know as I’ve taken and learned, and I’ve had multiple running coaches cause I wanna run longer, faster, and. And, uh, 225 pounds. Uh, that’s, I’m not built for that. So, uh, [00:05:00] running form is the answer to their questions and, uh, I guess they’ll elaborate on that.

A couple of quick drills you could do to improve your running form are the, my favorite one is the metronome. So you download an app on your phone. If you know music, then you know what a metronome is. You set it to 180 steps per minute or beats per minute rather. And then you’re gonna match your foot strikes, or you’re playing the drums on the ground with your feet to.

Beats per minute or steps per minute. What that does is it shortens your stride. The reason most people have pain is they’re overstriding, uh, oftentimes landing on our heel. And your heel, if you land on your heel, is like hitting the brakes. So if you’ve ever been in a car with a new driver and they hit the gas and the brakes and the gas and the brakes, and the gas and the brakes, you know that force production that you’re creating, and you know how.

Much, it’s slamming you forward and back with the seatbelt. But when you’re running, you’re doing the same exact thing. And every time you strike the ground, you’re creating force that is roughly four times your [00:06:00] body weight and you don’t take one step. When you run, you take thousands of steps depending on how far you’re running.

So the metronome drill is huge for shortening your stride. Um, if you’re running slow, then it gets short. If you’re running long, you can keep the same cadence. And you just elongate your stride. So then your legs are just stretching out farther behind you, and it’s, uh, synonymous of being on, like, on a skateboard.

You have one foot on the skateboard and you’re kicking off, kicking off, kicking off with the other side. That kicking off leg is never going ahead of your center of gravity or your front foot, because if it does, Uh, you’re gonna fall down and if you don’t believe me, grab a skateboard from a neighborhood kid and practice and see what happens.

Uh, so that’s, that’s the biggest drill I would say, to answer the form question. There’s plenty of other little things. Um, the funny thing is once you learn about what, what good running form is, and I’ve learned a lot from Richard Diaz, so, uh, been to countless clinics. I know Richard has been to one. Uh, Richard Connor, the [00:07:00] one, the Richard here that you guys know of.

Uh, and, um, so a lot of this, the takeaways I have are from Richard. So if you listen to listen to his, um, podcast or follow him, then he teaches very specific drills for that. So if you want more on that, then I would give him a little follow. And he’s opinionated, but he strongly believes in his, uh, his methods and.

He’s kept me relatively healthy, running hundreds of miles a month for the better part of a decade. So I gotta believe in that. Uh, so that’s, that’s my big tip on form. I can ramble on for, for hours, but, Turn it back over to you, Richard.

Richard Conner: No, I I love that. Yeah. No, we have, we have time, so we definitely could talk about this topic.

This is, uh, it’s underrated, right? How important the form is. I don’t think folks really realize, and, you know, especially if you’re just getting started, you, you know, without having somebody right there next to you [00:08:00] coaching you and teaching you, you, you won’t know some of it naturally. So it’s definitely as you progress, right?

If you finish that first couch, the 5K program, and you’re, you’re progressing beyond. That, you know, definitely a, the form is something that you wanna start to pay attention to once you started to build that habit of getting out there, putting on your shoes and starting to walk, run, walk, run, and get up to that 5k.

But yeah, it’s, it’s definitely an important area that not only helps you in terms of, um, avoiding pain, but also helps you in terms of your speed. I mean, Kevin, I, you know, I assume because you have that proper form, you have more better momentum moving forward and that’s gonna help you improve your speed over time too.

All right, so Sammy, let’s turn it over to you for a moment. So, what’s one of the common questions that you get as a trainer and, and what’s your response to it?

Sami Bloecker: I typically get questions on grip strength and pull up strength. This, especially coming from females because pull-ups are super difficult to do and very intimidating. [00:09:00] Um, so my main tip with pull-ups is to just get up there and practice. So with whatever type of pull up are you have, if you can’t do a pull up to start, you start with doing your scapular retractions just to build up that strength.

Or you put a little box or a step next to your pull-up bar, jump up and slow down practice dead hangs just getting used to holding onto the bar. So all of that stuff just to get used to the negative pull-up motion to start before you’re strong enough to pull yourself up at first. Um, so those are my tips, uh, with pull-ups just being consistent and.

Doing drills to work towards that strength, and then also with grip strength training. There’s a lot you can do that I learned from Kevin, and I never realized like all the different grip drills you could do. Um, so there’s things like if you have dumbbells, you can [00:10:00] carry the dumbbells, not by their handles, but.

At the top, that’s the crush grip, so that helps with forearm strength. If you don’t have dumbbells and you’re just using something else to carry his weight, you grab those handles and just squeezing, holding on for as long as you can, walking up and down doing farmer’s walks, that’s another way to just start working on grip strength if you don’t have any bar to hang from.

Um, Even if, if you do have a bar to hang from, get up on that as much as possible. Do knee raises, leg lifts, just anything you can hold on and just go for it and get those reps in. Um, if you don’t have access to a pull-up bar, It’s just like at at home, then go to a park, find a pull a bar, find monkey bars.

Just find a way to get there and practice. And another thing that I learned from bubbles about grip strength is not only do you have [00:11:00] to practice your horizontal grip strength, like when you’re holding a bar, but also vertical grip strength is important, especially when you’re getting into different OCR races where they, they have.

Hanging ropes and all these different grip holds. So a way to practice that if you don’t have something like monkey grips, which is what I use, it’s these mini ropes that I hook onto my pullup bars so I can grab that vertical grip. Um, you can just simply throw a towel over your pullup bar. You can have two and grab both ends of the towel and pull up through that.

Or you grab one hold each side. And that’s just another way to practice a different form of grip.

Richard Conner: Yeah, for sure. Thank you, Sami. And you know, for our, for those tuning in tonight, this is if you’re doing obstacle course races or you’re thinking about doing obstacle course course races, I think Sami and Kevin would agree this is probably the single most important.

Thing for you to do is to build up your grip strength. Uh, you know, [00:12:00] especially, you know, we’ve, we’ve done Spartan Ra, I’ve done Spartan races and I know Kevin and Sammy have done those plus a bunch of others. And that is absolutely key for you to successfully accomplish those obstacles. And you know, for myself, this is.

One of the areas that, one of the reasons why I first came to Kevin, I don’t know Kevin, like four years ago or something. I feel like we’ve known each other for Yeah, yeah. For, for a super long time. 18. It’s,

so that was one of the areas where I was. For sure. Weakness in, uh, among other things. And that’s something I quickly learned was, you know, a lot of those drills and things to do to improve my grip strength. And definitely saw that performance improvement out on the course for obstacle course races. So if you’re, you’re running today and you’re looking to do obstacle course races or you’re looking to improve there, I would say this is the number one tip if you’re not doing this already.

Kevin Gregory: Yeah. Uh, especially. I mean, every obstacle, of course race is different. Uh, your backyard, local [00:13:00] town oriented obstacle race, you might not be swinging the monkey bars and rings, but you’re still have to pull yourself up over a wall and it might not be that tall of the wall, but even if it’s a short wall, you gotta use those pull, pull muscles to get your chest and hips up so that way you can swing your leg over.

And, uh, Then as you, uh, progress through the gamut of different obstacle course races, there are some that are very, very grip intensive. , Props. to Sami, she, uh, gotta give her a quick shout out. She did her first Savage Race this past weekend, and, uh, she took first place in her age group, and that’s a, the most, most people do not finish that race with their band.

Um, and so backstory on Savage, you get a wrist band. There it is. And, uh, if you fail an obstacle, that’s okay. You get to try it again. But if you keep trying and keep trying and then you give up, the judge actually physically cuts your band off your wrist. And that means you’re not a official finisher. So Sammy not only completed the course, completed a obstacle, she won her age group.

[00:14:00] So I’m, uh, really, really proud of her and, uh, really excited for that. Thanks. I almost, that’s like almost the second proudest moment, I think, uh, the video of Richard completing. The Spartan rig at the New Jersey Beast last year is by far the best highlight I’ve ever seen, and Bill brings joy and a tear to my eye.

Just watching Richard get through, smack that bell, get down and belt out the loudest, celebrate celebratory animal noise. It was incredible. I, I love that. It’s, that’s what it’s all about. And. I’m sure that if you, whether you’re starting your first, uh, your first 5k or you’re, you’re running, you’ve been running for years and years, we, we all get a similar, some sort of feeling like that as we’re completing a course and whether it’s just a, again, a road race or an obstacle course race.

And I’ve been elated with emotion to the point of tears [00:15:00] crossing multiple finish lines in my, in my running days and. I think of, uh, Richard just finished running the, uh, the Brooklyn half this weekend, and I had another friend who’s never run a, a half and, um, just watching her, her story and her video and then her friend recorded her crossing the finish line.

And I just know that feeling so well because every time you take on something you’ve never done and set the bar, just the, the hair higher, higher, the, the sense of accomplishment crossing the finish line is just second and none. So just wanna take a, take a second to get some shout outs while we’re.

While we’re here. So

Richard Conner: agree. Agree. Yeah. So hit that like button, hit that heart button, you know, whether you’re on Facebook or Instagram for Sammy. Congrats. I I see. That’s why you’re not taking that wristband off, right? I mean, that’s, that’s on for a while now, huh? Yeah, definitely. Yeah. So definitely show some love for, for Sami.

, thanks. And I completely agree with you. Um, Kevin, there’s, you know, it’s, certainly a wonderful feeling to accomplish something that you’ve never [00:16:00] done before. And you know, you, you add that with. Just the crowds and the medal at the end and just all the excitement.

I, I’d say that, you know, crossing that finish line is just a wonderful experience of if someone’s listening in and you haven’t done it before and you don’t know if you could do it, you know, there’s a lot of tips and tricks and plans to get you to that point, but it’s well worth the journey right to, to get there.

So. So Kevin, you know, let’s, um, oh, I love these comments in here. Oh, love you guys. Congrats Sammy. Kevin. Made so much sense. Yes, yes, that’s true. Uh, love these comments. Keep the comments coming in, keep the likes and the hearts, you know, love to see those. And, and of course, ask your questions. We’ve got the experts here to answer your questions, whether it’s about running road races, whether it’s, uh, obstacle course races, nutrition, you know, you, you name it.

We’ll, we’ll, Answer those questions for you. So Kevin, you know, let’s, let’s come back to you. , what’s your next typical question that you get and how, you know from your [00:17:00] clients and how would you respond?

Kevin Gregory: A lot of people ask me gear questions like shoes or anything. Um, shoes are very individualized. I think you need the right shoes for the course, but to take a big step back.

The training is something you can control and you need to put more time in. You could always just buy a pair of shoes like that on Amazon or Zappos or all these running warehouses or whatever, wherever you go, your local running store. But training for the specific terrain is huge. So if you’re running on a road, that’s cool.

If it’s always flat, great. But if you’re doing a trail race, what’s the elevation profile? How much up and down are you doing? Or is it kind of flat and off road? Is there a lot of, depending if you’re in the Northeast or California, California’s trails are so different from the Northeast. They’re very like hard rockish, dusty, maybe, where the Northeast is very rocky.

Rudy, dirt, mud. You’re tripping and falling down a hill and don’t wanna [00:18:00] scare anybody. Let’s uh, back that one out. We can’t edit on the live, but being able to,

Richard Conner: being it out there in the universe, Kevin, everybody heard it, ah,

Kevin Gregory: well we’ve all fallen down even on a road. Um, but getting, getting exposure to the terrain you’re gonna race or, or run on is huge.

And maybe you can’t go to the venue you’re gonna race on, but. If you can run a similar-ish trail in your area, like if we train in the Northeast or Florida and we’re going out to California to race the soil composition’s completely different. So we’re not gonna be able to necessarily get on that. But if we know we’re gonna be on hills, we should probably do some hill running.

As Richard, I know you did a lot of hill running for this last Brooklyn half, which is not a mountain race, but can you talk a little bit about your experience with the hill running? Tell maybe how hard it is, but the payoff you’ve seen outside of just hill running.

Richard Conner: Yeah, for sure. So, you know, this is something that I never had in my workout routine, probably since high school.

Like I just, you know, [00:19:00] I probably avoided hills far more than I should have and I would, you know, talking to Kevin and talking to other runners, this bubbled up to actually one of the top. Workouts that helped their, in their performance, helped improve their performance.

So I’m like, okay, well I can’t avoid the hills anymore. I gotta make it as part of my workout. So, you know, Kevin programmed that in and it’s hard work.

And the first time I did it, I wanted to quit right there. I’ll tell you what it was, it was that hard. But you know, well, like with anything, the more you do it, the more you get better at it and the more your body adapts to it and then, and then subsequently it’s not going to be as hard. So the second time up, the third time, up the fourth time up, yes, it’s hard, but it wasn’t like I’m going to.

You know, pass out right here in the middle of, of doing the hill work. So it’s definitely helped me, you know, my body adjust and helped me with my performance. I think I need, you know, a few more months of it to really see the benefit of that kind of on race day. [00:20:00] But, uh, I’m really looking forward to my training this year and the next race that I have coming up in the fall, so my next half marathon and looking, you know, to see the payoff at that point.


So how do you figure, how do you get exposure to hills or how do you do incline training? Or what are some creative things that you do to get. On the hills that build your engine for climbing. So that way when you go to Palmerton Mountain or Killington or all these other mountains in the Northeaster race or Mammoth Lakes is coming up in California, can’t wait to go to OCR World Championships again.

Um, what are some ways that you incorporate Hill running without having actual hill?

Sami Bloecker: So I actually don’t use [00:21:00] a treadmill at all, so that makes it even more difficult for me to get incline training in. Um, but I try to find like whatever incline possible near me and just use that, even if it’s a short distance.

Like in the races, I could be hiking up and incline for. For minutes upon minutes, but around by me. I only have something that’ll last me like a few seconds. , so there’s some workouts I do where I’ll be hopping up and down on one leg, up and down this little incline that I can find. , I also will incorporate a lot of lunges into workouts because as opposed to squats where you’re working both legs at the same time, lunges kind of focuses more on that one leg working at a time.

, So I try to incorporate more lunges over squats into workouts. I also will use the Long Beach Bridge as my way to [00:22:00] get that incline in and do sprints up and down that. Um, but also a new thing that I’m gonna build probably this weekend. Uh, I have an old tire that I’m gonna drill some holes in, put a plank over it, and get a little post and then put plates on top of that tire, strap my TX straps to it, and hold onto those straps and just lean into it.

And then almost mimic the angle like I’m going uphill. At a race and I’ll be working up and down my street. If you drive down my block, you might see me looking like a crazy person running with a tire. But, uh, that’s the next project on the list for me to do hill training on Long Island.

Kevin Gregory: Nice. It’s, it’s funny that you say someone call you a crazy person.

Cause if you look at the, like the highest performers in different industries, they were called crazy and they were, what are you doing? And everyone was, uh, Yeah, crapping on their, uh, their style in the early days, but now you [00:23:00] see where they landed and it’s like, okay, they only got there cause they were willing to take that step up and outta the, the norm and figure out how to overcome challenges or lack of, uh, lack of resources in certain cases to, to get there.

So. Awesome. That’s, that’s really, uh, thanks for sharing. I love the, the legs strengthening and simulating as best you can. The angles, cause that’s one thing. Um, you can do step up all day, but you’re always stepping up with a flat step, and that does help to a degree. But if you’re not working on the flexion extension of your angles, then you’re not actually simulating what you’re gonna be stuck at for minutes or in some races, uh, more than a half hour.

I don’t wanna scare anyone away with throwing any double digit, uh, or any crazy, crazy long terror or climbs in there, but cool. Very cool. Uh, I’ll, I was just gonna say, um, if, uh, there’s one thing that I’ve been doing also to build my engine. So, um, like [00:24:00] Richard talked about hill training to get better at flat running, and we talked about hill training for hill running, but in order, another way to get better at the hill climbing and, um, just the aerobic engine is cross-training.

And one thing that, uh, One thing you could do, because a lot of people have, we talked about injuries and pain, like getting over impact. Maybe your body’s not ready to take all the impact to run all the mileage you need to, to do well in certain races. So cross training’s huge. And uh, one that I, that I really like is, is the spin bike.

Everyone hates the assault bike. That’s the one with the arms and the fan, and I love that too. But for the spin bike allows you to cuddle and. I, I just like to take spin classes cause then I don’t have to think about what I’m doing. They just yell at you and sing. You mu they put on music and tell you how fast to go.

And they do hills and they simulated it all. And then you just get to have a good time and sweat. And that has been so huge for me. And building up my leg, endurance without any impact. So you’re not sore the next day, even though you put [00:25:00] in maybe 30, 45 minutes or an hour of aerobic training or anaerobic training depending on the class and the intensity.

So, Um, just, uh, another idea. So that’s, that’s a what, 3, 4, 5, 8, 8 different ways to just build your running economy without just running flat on the, on the sidewalk or in circles or we didn’t even talk about treadmill. So yeah, if you love the treadmill, obviously that’s an option as well.

Richard Conner: Well, I, I don’t know if anybody loves the treadmill, but for sure, you know, I think that’s the only option sometimes, right?

I think in, mm-hmm. You know, in my case, I used to run on the treadmill, I would say almost exclusively, except for when I was, um, running a race. But through Covid I learned to love running outdoors and enjoy running outdoors. So now the treadmill is just an option if I need it. Right. If the, if the weather is just at a point where, I’m not gonna run outside cuz it’s a thunderstorm.

I’m gonna run on the treadmill or you know, I found it useful even for some of the speed work, [00:26:00] to also do it on the treadmill. So it’s not comfortable to do that kind of thing on the treadmill cuz you have, you’re in this confined space and you’re running, you know, pretty fast. But, I find it helpful just to see kind of what those speeds feel like and, um, so yeah.

Or you know, if it’s really late at night, you know, most of the time I’ll put on my Noxgear lights. Yeah. And, you know, just kind my safety gear on and I go out there and I, and I’ll run, but if it’s too late at night, you know, there’s a certain point I’m not gonna run outside. So that’s another option. So, yeah, I’m sure some folks out there, they have their.

Their preferences, whether it’s a treadmill or outdoors, but they’re all tools in your toolbox. You know, they each serve their purpose and you use what he needs you to to get the job done.

So, you know, let’s continue with the conversation. You know, one thing I didn’t ask upfront that I meant to ask both of you is really your why.

You know, I would say, you know, two, two questions. Why did you get into kind of this athletic lifestyle, you know, running an obstacle course, racing and [00:27:00] other sports? And then two, why did you choose to become a trainer? So, you know, maybe Kevin, we’ll start with you.

Kevin Gregory: All right, let’s get really raw here. So, I’m a very addictive personality.

I played contact sports my whole life, but alongside of that was a lot of bad habits with, uh, Consuming a lot of, uh, beverages that could make you, uh, not think straight and then tiptoeing the line of, uh, getting in trouble, put it that way. So, um, I found, obstacle course racing to the athletic, I needed to after lacrosse.

And I started finding, I tried semi-pro football and that was fine, but I just didn’t really like the environment of the team outside of off the field and eventually on the field either. And I also at the same time, found an obstacle of course racing. And I started doing some, and then you get a free beer at the finish line.

And I thought that was so cool initially, but the more I did, the better I wanted to do. [00:28:00] And the more I trained and then the less I wanted that celebratory beverage. And over the years, At 37, I know some people are like, wow, you’re so old. How long are you gonna keep doing this? And I laugh at them because they have no perspective in endurance sports.

The best athletes are in their late thirties, and I’m not even close to like being the best or being the best I can. And um, I look at people in the forties, fifties, and even 60 age groups that are still doing just as much as me and still living a great life and it’s super healthy. So I guess, um, competing in obstacle course racing and running in general has really.

Not only filled the void of not having team sports, but also like satisfied that need to be addicted to something. And at least this is healthy-ish. So, um, yeah, I, I can’t say I’m never gonna drink another day in my life, but my dad was a recovering alcoholic, so the, the writings were on the wall with what was potentially gonna [00:29:00] happen to me and unless I made a conscious effort to avoid that and, um, Running and fitness and everything has really satisfied that.

So I don’t need to have that drink, which turns into way more. And everyone knows one drink’s not gonna kill you, but I know for me, one drink equals as many as I can get in before I end up going to sleep. And that causes a lot of problems. And then why do I get into coaching? Well, I just see a huge need for it around me.

Like everyone’s unhealthy. They’re either. Overweight or high blood pressure, diabetes or injured or whatever the case is. And most people specialize in something other than taking care of themselves and being able to really dial my expertise into wellness. And I say fitness and wellness and that’s what my master’s degree is in.

So like I was, I pursued education in this. Um, but. Being able to be the expert for people. I really saw that I could make a [00:30:00] difference in people’s lives. So whether their goal is to lose five pounds because they think that’s some arbitrary number that’s gonna make them feel better, or their doctor said, listen, if you don’t lose weight, you’re on track to have hypertension, blood pressure, and you’re high risk for hard attack, and you, so you probably see again, And you’re not gonna be around very long.

And being able to take that person, help them, help them establish healthy habits, to change their diet, to be a little bit better, get them moving. Cause most people just sit around and eat crappy food. And that is how America got to be so obese. And there’s not enough advocates for health and wellness.

It’s all fad dieting and, oh, gimme all your money and do this. Juice cleanse and it’s gonna solve all your problems, but it’s not solving any problems. It just gets them to stop eating fast food for a few days, which is good, but it’s not sustainable cause they’re starving and they’re not moving. So there has be holistic least I believe there needs to be a holistic approach and it doesn’t have be running.

Like marathons. Like I just get my mom. I’m like, mom, go for a [00:31:00] walk. She’s like, okay. I walked the dog all like six times this week. I’m like, great. And I go Look in her fridge and there’s like whole foods in there. I’m like, yes, whole Foods not package this, box that and all that. And I bust her chops. But she is, she, she is such a hard worker and I, I love, uh, You know, trying to keep her on track.

Um, but I think the opportunity, like I said, to make a, make a difference in people’s lives is really what’s kept me in this field and, and then just being surrounded by like-minded people in the racing. Space. There’s definitely people that still enjoy some celebratory brews and I’m all for that. That’s fine.

They probably don’t have the family history that I do, so do your thing. I love you. Let’s hang out and have fun. But there’s a lot of people that also are kind of following the path that I’m following where they’re like, no, I train so I can race better and stay healthier and then get better tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow and, and that like whatever.

However, health and wellness fits into each person’s life to [00:32:00] move them forward in. Effective in the rest of the things they do from being a parent to being a professional or you know, name it like you being healthier, you’re gonna think better, you’re gonna perform better, you’re gonna have more stamina, and you’re gonna play your kids better, be a better parent, and you goes on So, Throw it back to you, Richard.

Richard Conner: All right. I love your why, Kevin? And, and, you know, while I wasn’t on the, you know, the same path, I, you know, came to the realization that there’s just certain things that just doesn’t help you, especially in terms of your health and wellness and, and if you’re racing your performance and races. So, I. You know, I kind of have this informal rule that I don’t drink, kind of leading up to a race, and probably not strict about it as it was maybe a few years ago.

But, you know, it’s something that I, I just know like if I do drink, then it’s ju it’s not gonna help me for sure. During my races, and I, I was just out having a business meeting with someone and they’re like, oh, um, you’re not drinking? I’m like, no, I, I have a race [00:33:00] that’s, that’s coming up. So not now. And they’re like, I feel like you always have a race coming up.

I’m like, Yeah, you figured me out. You’re probably do it book the calendar. Yes. So yes I do. So, but I found that balance cuz I think a few years ago I was just like, no, I’m not gonna drink like a month or two months leading up to the race. Like completely I. Just kind of cut it out. And I’ve realized that just kind of like you said, Kevin, it’s just some of those things is not sustainable for everyone.

Like some people absolutely can do it. Others, they’re gonna kind of, yo-yo. So for me, I found, you know, a little bit of balance, so I can definitely understand a little bit about, you know, what you said there, and I love your why. I love how you’re, you are dedicated to helping others around you lead a healthy life.

Like whatever that means for them, you know, whether it’s something that they wanna accomplish, something that they’re, Doctor is encouraging them to do based on, you know, their, their status. So, you know, I love the work that you’re doing and, and thank you for being on here to, you know, to share your knowledge [00:34:00] and wisdom with, uh, our community.

So, so Sammy, let you know, let’s turn it over to you. You know, why, uh, what brought you into kind of this, um, sports and athletic arena, and why are you now an underdog fitness trainer?

Sami Bloecker: So I, I played sports my whole life. Uh, always enjoyed it, always loved running around, being active. I can never sit down and watch a movie.

If we were sitting down watching TV as a family, I would be doing a puzzle or playing solitaire, playing cards, just, yeah, d a anything, just doing something. Um, so I always liked being active. And I had no clue what a Spartan race was until my friend was like, oh, let’s go do this race. I’m like, what is that?

And he’s like, just sign up. You’ll like it. I was like, okay. So I did. I listened to him and I’m happy I did because I totally got hooked. Um, and now my wife for competing is because I see how amazing [00:35:00] the Champs are, like Kris Rugloski and Nicole Mericle and like all these amazing girls in the OCR community and I wanna compete and.

Train to get stronger and faster so that I can win some elite deltas and just be on top of some pretty cool podiums like they are. Um, and then my wife for training is the simple answer is because I like to help people. I started training my neighbor. I think like two or three years ago, uh, she’s in high school.

She wanted help working out, losing weight, and I have the, the gym blocker in my garage. So I said, come on over to gym Blocker. I’ll introduce you to weights. I’ll, I’ll get you going with some workouts and teach you everything you need to know. So I started training her. And then after working with Kevin, he gave me the opportunity [00:36:00] to be a trainer through underdog.

And I knew that’s exactly I, the, exactly the thing I needed and wanted to do. So I was very excited to get this offer and it’s just great. Now I have a couple of clients, some doing their first Spartan race, uh, some just working on different types of goals. So it’s great to connect with all different people, see their goals, hear their stories, and just work with them and teach them whatever I can.

Richard Conner: Love it. Love it. So let’s get some likes and hearts there for Kevin and Sammy. You know, r I love your why in, in both cases. And, you know, I think you know something Kevin that you said about the like-minded community. I mean, we’re all here to, to help others, right? And I, and I love that about other runners and OCR r races and folks in this community.

So thank you for sharing that. Looks like we got a couple of questions that came in. So, you know, so we’ll go through these questions and you know, we’ll, we’ll see where we end up [00:37:00] here. So the first question here is, how does nutrition play a role in your performance and how can you dial it in?

Kevin Gregory: I’ll take that one.

All right. Shout out to Fred Stacks with the, uh, with the question. So, uh, great question. Fred Nutrition is, think about it, there’s a lot of ways to look at nutrition and there’s healthy ways and very unhealthy ways to look at it. A simple thing that’s really provided me a un or an unemotional attachment has been thinking about it like fuel.

Obviously you’re taking a lot of enjoyment outta your food by doing this, so it’s not. File means like the end all be all. But as far as sports performance goes, if you put good fuel in, you’re gonna get good performance out. So think about driving your car. If you put water in the gas tank, how far are you gonna go?

Probably not very far. Also, if you take your car and it’s on E, try to drive from New York to California, how far are you gonna go? Not very far, but if you put good gasoline [00:38:00] in and the right amount, that’s going to provide you the capacity to do more work at a higher level. And you’re gonna feel better.

You’re gonna perform better, you’re gonna recover faster, which means you can train harder tomorrow and et cetera. Um, dialing it in. I think the best tip for dialing in your nutrition without knowing anything, but it’s super, super effective, is literally just take a notebook, paper and pen and everything you put in your mouth for a week.

Write it down and then next to it, right at the end of the day, or in a separate section, write down how it made you feel. So if you eat. Bacon and eggs in the morning and you notice you have a little bit of indigestion from the bacon around 10 o’clock or you’re tired, then make a note of that and then the next day maybe scrap the bacon and you just have eggs and, and toast them like, oh wow, I feel better then Great.

Now, you know, take bacon out. I’m not saying that works for everybody, I’m just using it as a complete example, but. [00:39:00] By noting that you’ll notice if you have that two o’clock, three o’clock crash at work and you need a third cup of coffee or whatever. So that’s a, without breaking down someone’s exact specific nutritional needs, that’s like a super, I don’t wanna say easy, cuz it takes a lot of discipline to write it down.

But you’ll notice real quick, you don’t want to eat that bite of cookies because you’re like, ah, then I gotta write in my journal. I don’t wanna do that. Cause you’re holding yourself accountable all of a sudden, and that’s uncomfortable. But that’s one good way to dial it in Another way is to get a nutrition coach.

Everyone’s individual needs are different. Sammy’s gonna eat different amount of food in different breakdown of food than me, same. I’m gonna eat way more food and different breakdown than Richard. And if you like, a sedentary mom who’s starting to to run her diet’s gonna be completely different. So that’s kind of the simple, the simple answer to a very, very, very in-depth question.

Richard Conner: Yeah, and, and I’ll just add in. So, you know, being a client of Kevin’s for many years, I, I’ll tell you [00:40:00] that, you know, definitely tracking is a great way to start just in baseline and know where you’re at. I mean, I think folks just don’t realize. What they’re eating in the day. And I think writing it down, as Kevin mentioned, or other ways of tracking it, you start to, without making any changes, at the very least you have an awareness of what it is that you’re putting into your body.

And that right there is worth its weight in gold. So, you know, number one, I, I would say that, and the other thing I would just comment on what Kevin said is the idea, you know, the getting. A coach, right? Getting a nutritionist or getting someone to help you. So I had been struggling, um, to reach my goals.

So my goals were very specific to me, but I had been struggling to reach my goals for many, many years. And it wasn’t until I met Kevin and he guided me on what to do, I think what within seven months. I got to exactly where I wanted to be. Never in my life did I ever think I would ever get there, but I started to see, you know, quick changes over the, you know, the first couple of months and then it slowed down and then it improved, and then I kind of, you know, went [00:41:00] back and forth.

But by this seventh or eighth month, I was exactly where I wanted to be. So, you know, again, just understanding where you are today and what you’re eating today, but also getting that help and support to know what to do next. And what changes you need to make to you to get to where you want to be. Super, super important.

Kevin Gregory: Excellent. I wanna throw a disclaimer in real quick. I’m not a registered dietician, so I just kinda, anybody I work with, I have general knowledge and I give them some strategies. Um, the registered dietician I would recommend is Corinna Coffin Instagram RD athlete. She works with athletes and is a registered dietician.

But, well, Sammy, go ahead back to you.

Sami Bloecker: I think another important thing is to almost simulate what you’re going to eat, any like fuel or anything during a race before race day. So like someone like. Me, I have digestive issues, so I get very nervous like trying something new. I’m like, oh no. How’s my body gonna react to this?

And I, I [00:42:00] won’t wanna like, take a salt tablet or, or take a goo or whatever during the race, because then I’m like, great. Like how, how is my body gonna be affected by it? Because I’m, I’m not like everyone else. I, I can’t. Eat the same things as everyone else. Um, so I think it’s important too to before race day, try out your tablets or GUs, like whatever you wanna take with you and, and make sure you feel good taking them during your workout and then you can bring them into race

Richard Conner: day.

Uh, yeah, that’s a really important point. So, yeah, so just race specific fueling during the race is a whole science on its own, and that’s something that I had learned as well. You know, again, you know, just kind of going from that 5K races that I, that I did in the past and now I. You know, Kevin’s helped me get to now a half marathon.

We just talked about it just completed the Brooklyn half over the weekend, which is a wonderful experience, but, and I wasn’t fueling properly as when I first started doing those [00:43:00] longer distances in my training. So doing that longer distances during your training plus race day fueling is super, super important.

Yes. Not advisable to try something new for the first time on race day. I don’t think anybody here would recommend that. So agree with that. All right, so let’s, no, definitely not. Yeah. So let, let’s move on to the next question there. So really great, input there on the nutrition. So thanks for the question.

The next question is, how do you prepare your knees for the downhills?

Kevin Gregory: Well, there’s a lot of surrounding musculature, and most people are not training their knees properly in the gym. So then when they start running, Downhill. Their knees are getting a lot of impact and they’re not learning how to land softly. One thing is the running mechanics that I talked about earlier, the metronome drills that’ll help you land softer.

Cause you’re noting your heel into the ground every time. So that’s one way to do it. Um, there, there’s a lot of different things and there’s another knee question too. [00:44:00] Uh, so one thing I would do, um, We could do like an hour episode on this, but you really wanna balance out the strength in your legs. A lot of people are quad dominant, so they’re, they don’t use their hamstrings or glutes or anything, so they need to strengthen their glutes and hamstrings.

One exercise of like Nordic curls, you gonna have to look it up cause I could describe it, but it’ll be easier if you visualize it. Um, but there’s also this Instagram account called Knees Over Toes guy, and he, that’s all he does. So definitely worth checking that out. Um, he’s on Instagram, I dunno if he’s on Facebook, but he posts videos all the time.

He has a YouTube page and he teaches all this stuff on strengthening knee joints. And I’ve seen basketball players at the gym working with the trainer, doing exactly the stuff that he teaches. And he, well, he does some running, he kinda looks like a runner, but it’s all the same. It’s the same joint and there’s a lot of impact.

Basketball players are jumping and landing, jumping and landing. Runners are. Essentially single leg jumping and [00:45:00] landing, single leg jumping and landing, and that’s how we run. So, uh, getting healthy knees and noticing if you have a lot of inflammation, then your diet is probably causing a lot of it. So cleaning up your diet and taking out fried foods and access sugar and alcohol.

Those are three main high inflammatory foods. So if you take those out, you’ll start noticing the inflammation your knees goes down, it’s gonna stop hurting as much. Because you wanna be able to move fluidly. And, uh, so strengthening your knees and decreasing inflammation, uh, manual things like a knee, knee sleeve or something could help too.

But, um, and then the easiest and my favorite recovery method for just beat up legs is lay on the floor after your workout and put your legs up the wall, and then your toes will start tingling. Cause all of your lymphatic is draining your lymphatic system’s draining. And then that’ll process it through, and then that’ll decrease your soreness.

Richard Conner: Very [00:46:00] cool. All right, so I think we got time for one more question here. So I’m a dad of a four year old and a rescue dog. I have a full-time job and can’t get a running routine going. What do you recommend,

Kevin Gregory: Renee? I raced Renee in the New York City. I think I’m pretty sure. Ironically, it was in Manhattan.

Um, so I don’t have a kid and, uh, I have a dog, but I’m gonna give this one to you, Richard. I want I want you to start, you’re, you’re a proud parent of multiple children and a high level executive and a. Running advocate. So I want you to start the time management and figuring out how to get a running program together.

Richard Conner: Uh, yeah. It’s hard. I, it’s hard for anybody with kids, pets, you know, commitments. It’s, it’s super hard. So, you know, a couple of things that I do, um, one of the things that I do is I will do my [00:47:00] workouts. Try to do my workouts before anybody gets up. So especially on the weekends, uh, I would just try to get out there and get to the gym or get on the road before anybody gets up.

So, you know, I don’t miss any family time. It’s a little bit harder now as my, you know, training for a half marathon. My training miles are, are longer, so it’s harder to do that cause I’m out on the road a lot longer. But, you know, in the old days trying to train for at least a 5k, that was what I did. Um, the other thing was, You know, we talked about treadmills, you know, you know, some folks like ’em, some folks hate ’em.

Well, that’s something else I had to do. If I had the kids, uh, I would take them to the gym. And the gym that I, I went to have a kids’ care area, so I would put ’em in the kids’ care and I would do my workout, including my running. So, you know, that’s another option. I try not to exercise that too, too much.

But it’s also fun for them, right? They get outta the house and they’re playing with other kids and, you know, they get some time to, to do kids stuff while I do my workout. But you know, that’s, that, that’s really it is try is working through the schedule is when [00:48:00] they’re sleeping, when they’re at school, or bringing them along with you.

And I actually just did an, I did an interview, uh, this episode will drop, I think this week or next, um, which I’m really excited about this conversation. And this was one of the topics that we brought up. And one of the suggestions was to me, was to bring my kids to the track. So this is an opportunity not only for me to get in my workout, but for the kids to get into their workout and make them part of your workout routine.

So they could be walking, they could be running, they could be bringing you water, they could be timing you. So making them part of your workout routine. Uh, it’s a way to kind of, you know, get them engaged in working out and kind of that physical, um, Fitness. So I love that advice That was shared with me on my latest interview and I’m, I’m excited to share that episode with you guys.

I, I think hopefully this week will drop.

Kevin Gregory: Cool. That’s awesome, Richard. I, I love those ideas and I, I wanted to ask you, cuz I have great ideas, but I’ve never been in the position where, so [00:49:00] I’m just a theor theorist. Theoretical coach way. But if, um, I’m trying to build it out and I have other time, um, restrictions, I’m looking at how can I get a couple runs in during the week when it’s busiest and then on weekend when I might have little more time.

Then how do get little bit longer run and three runs a week is gonna get you pretty far, uh, fitness wise. And Renee Stem, uh, corrected me. The la we raced the New York City full marathon together. It was 2016. I can remember he did both. He was probably there both times, but I know Richard does. Uh, next step is the, the full marathon.

So the plug plug, Richard with a little Samuel say the, that you word where it’s five letters and means more than 26 miles. I always like to bus Richards shop, so I’m doing an so.

Richard Conner: That is not in my future, my friend. Not at least not in the near future, but definitely excited about the New York City Marathon, uh, next year.

So I’m looking [00:50:00] forward to, to getting signed up for that. But, you know, just one more thing that I’ll mention about, you know, the family and the kids. I think one important element of all of this, uh, is not specific to having kids, but. Is just is to plan it, is to plan your week, to plan your workouts, because that’s going to make it easier for you to actually go and do it because things happen, right?

If it’s on, if you have it on your calendar for the evening. But something comes up with the kids or some other commitment at work, you can move it to another part of the day or you can move it to another day. But if it’s not on your calendar to begin with, it’s easy to just even forget about it or dismiss, you know, your workout.

So I would say there’s ways to work around things, and I know it’s not easy for everyone, but planning it is probably the first, you know, the first place to start. Hmm.

Sami Bloecker: Yeah, definitely. And you wanna make, you wanna turn that thing, whatever it is, you’re, you’re running your OCR training, you wanna turn it into a habit.

So just like every day you brush your [00:51:00] teeth and you don’t even think about it, the more you do it and. Either get a coach so you have that accountability partner, or have a plan where you set up every single day what you need to do, or however many times a week. Whatever you need to do, keep doing that consistently until it creates a habit.

Uh, one of my managers at work said that it takes 30 days to break a bad habit and 90 days to form a new one. So, Whatever you do to create that new habit, whatever plan you have, make sure you’re sticking with it because it, it doesn’t come easy. It takes a lot of hard work, but if you stay with it, eventually you’ll stop.

Like thinking about it as it’s like something else, like for me, I always love fitness and being active, like I said before, but now it’s just like, My workouts that I have to do is something that’s part of my day, and I don’t even think twice about it. [00:52:00] Like if there’s other things going on in the afternoon and I wanted to do my workout in the afternoon, that day, you’re waking up earlier and you’re getting it in just so you can form that habit until it becomes like second nature.

Richard Conner: Couldn’t agree more that habit, having the right habits is definitely gonna get you, you know, far in life no matter what it is, but especially in fitness. So love, love, love that you brought that up. Love the questions. I, I really enjoyed this conversation, Kevin and Sammy, you know, just kinda as I wrap up my podcast interviews, I’ll do the same thing here.

So one question for each of you. What is the one thing that you would say to our community to inspire them to run? And we’ll start with Kevin.

Kevin Gregory: Start one second. Get outside and go just one step at a time. You know, doesn’t matter what you’ve done. Maybe you are worked out to go on walks, then run to the end of the block and then walk for until you’re feeling okay [00:53:00] again, and then run a little bit.

But biggest thing is just starting. You can think about it until you’re blue in the face, but you’re not gonna start until you start. So take action.

Sami Bloecker: I would agree as well. Take action. Because I used to not like running, and when I heard 90% of my training would be running, because I had a lot of good pulse strength and I loved lifting weights, so I didn’t need to work on that as much for my OCR R races.

I was like, oh boy, this isn’t gonna be fun. But the more I did it, the more I fell in love with it. So just do it, get after it, and. If you fear it, go get out there and chase your fears and, and eventually you’ll end up feeling limitless if you’re conquering all your fears. So, I said, go for

Richard Conner: it. Love it. Love it.

All right. This has been an amazing conversation. Thank you both, Kevin and Sammy, for being here today, sharing your stories and answering questions for our listeners or joining us today through this live. You know, if you’re looking [00:54:00] to take the next step in your fitness journey. Just come to you, inspired to run podcasts on Instagram, or inspired to run on Facebook dms.

Uh, let us know that you’re interested in learning more about working with an underdog fitness trainer. You know, Kevin and Sammy here, and if you’re looking to just get started, you don’t know where to start. We have a kickstart guide. So just, uh, dms on Instagram at inspired to run podcast dms. The word.

Kickstart to get that free guide. So thanks again for everyone tuning in and you know, with that, have a great night. Thanks,

Sami Bloecker: Richard. Thanks guys.