Bart Yasso Shares His Thoughts on Triathlons, Charity, and Winter Workouts
New York City has its own special way of bringing diverse people and groups together in support of great causes. Wednesday night was no exception. Bart Yasso, Chief Running Officer for Runner's World Magazine gave up his evening to help an energized team of runners from AOL get closer to their goal of raising $100,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society by running this year's New York City Marathon. Bart, the inventor of the fabled Yasso 800s, is also a five-time Ironman finisher. Before he led the group run, we talked to Bart about running, cancer, and his advice for triathletes planning to focus on running this winter.
Hailey Swartz, the AOL team captain organized the fundraising event with Elizabeth Maiulo, the Team in Training campaign coordinator. Why did AOL employees decide to put their energy into the marathon? "We have a lot of runners at the company," Hailey explained. "After we started training [this year for the marathon], we lost an employee to cancer…he was only 28 years old and had just gotten married." The 20-person AOL team then decided to increase their Team in Training commitments and raise $100,000 on his behalf.
Training for the marathon provided tremendous inspiration for one of the team members, Emily Faherty. Emily began to blog about her experiences for the Huffington Post. Her stories about the ups and downs of preparing for the event began to attract a large audience. Rodale invited her to a Runner's World Experience event. There she met Bart and told him about LLS, Team in Training, AOL, and the $100,000 goal. He immediately offered to help.
"I was actually a coach for Team in Training back in the 1990s," Bart explained. "I took one group to Dublin. "I enjoyed worked with total beginners. It's really fun to look into the eyes of someone who has never run before and then watch them finish a marathon a little while later." Bart was instrumental in establishing the relationship between Runner's World, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Team in Training.
The cause hits close to home for Bart as well. "I lost my brother-in-law to leukemia. He was only 53 years old." His brother also contracted prostrate cancer. "He really represented my father for me. He got me started in running. And I have been hooked ever since."
In between marathons, half-marathons, 10Ks, and other running events, Bart has managed to complete five Ironman races. "Triathlons are more advanced. Running usually comes first," he said. "Swimming for me was the hardest part. Not because of the swimming, but because you had to find a pool and get there. All you need to do is put your shoes on to run."
Bart thinks the winter is a perfect time for serious triathletes to build running strength. "It's a great time to concentrate on running," he said. "I'd focus on the half marathon distance."
"Try to get your leg turnover faster this winter. Shoot for a run in the 1:30, 1:20, or even 1:15 range. It will be really beneficial during next year's season," he advised. "You'll lose only 5-10% of that [new] speed when you start the run."
Both the wife and father of the AOL employee who passed away from cancer this year will run the marathon as well. If you would like to help them reach their goal, go their fundraising website at http://aolmarathon.com.
Margaret Barng, Senior Public Relations Manager for the NYC Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society said that 400 Team in Training members from the NY metro area are expected to complete the marathon this and raise $1.5 million to support the organization's mission.
Paul Tyler is an active triathlete in the New York City area. Through his writing, Paul hopes to help grow the sport and encourage people to adopt more healthy and active lifestyles. He founded Triessential.com that offers an iPhone and iPad app with daily triathlon tips and motivation for an entire year.