Matt Berlin

Matt Berlin

Kenzai Member
Team Great Bear COMPLETE!!! 

We followed David's journey Saturday, and on my ride home Sunday, I got to track live Elodie and Malia crossing their finish lines too! The Great Bear 5 is now officially complete!!! Great work everyone! What a fun 4 months of training this was. Small team, but totally committed to the training and 100% supportive of each other in our journeys to our respective finish lines and goals.

In reflecting back this past week after my final run of the program the previous Friday, I reread my end of week 1 blog to see how I did on my goals/whys list for this program. It was a terrific idea in the lessons for this program to journal our personal goals/whys list at the beginning. 4 months is a long time to train, and what you thought in the beginning can often times change as things play out.

My main goals of completing the program with no injury flare ups, prep for my team race in Kentucky at the end of week 9, and enjoy a full Autumn of ideal running weather all played out beautifully. And so too did my focus on completing the distance and the full training, and not get fixated on a specific time. The adding of the additional distance for a new distance PR on the final run helped in that effort, to focus on the finish line, and not the finishing clock. Overall, I'm very pleased with how I approached these 4 months, and how they played out for me. A perfect fit for this fall's fitness.

Thanks Malia, Patrick, Ward and team Kenzai for adding this program that has been on the request list of many. For all you runners out there, looking to train for your next marathon, or your first ever, find a race and sign up. This program will get you to the finish line!!

Have a wonderful end of the year everyone in the Kenzai world. I'll see you back in January as we kick off the start of our 2020 goals.


9 days early. Since I didn't have a local marathon race, or one that I can travel to for the end of this program, I've been thinking for a few weeks how I wanted to go about finishing the 4 months of training off. I had originally planned to do the final 26.2mi/42.2km the final week of this program. But the calendar of life's events evolved in the last couple of months, and the December 7-8 weekend wasn't going to work anymore. So I began targeting the weekends before or after. As the temps started to drop recently, I figured I better air on the side of caution and not risk waiting until the weekend after.

So Sunday 12/1 became the new target. I adjusted the end of week 14 distance run accordingly, and planned out my running for the week to be ready. Then the weather forecast started to change. Monday and Tuesday were both mild days, with temps in the 50F's. I got back to back lunchtime runs in. Both in shorts. It was that nice out. Wednesday no running, and then Thursday worked perfectly for the planned 5km run as I ran the local Turkey Trot 5k with our 10 year old son. The temps had dropped by Thursday to below freezing for the Trot, and were forecasted to continue to drop thru the weekend, with Sunday being the first snow storm of the year.

So I called an audible, and made the final run for Friday instead. I was going to be running in freezing temps regardless, but 5 degrees warmer (and no snow) does matter. I had mapped out a route that gave me good options to stop at local convenience stores for buying gatorades a few times along the way. It required stopping, but I wasn't running this one for a time anyways. And I also mapped out the course to give me an option around mile 17. Turn right, head home and finish off the full marathon 26.2 miles. Or turn left, and add some more distance, and make the final run a 50km instead. I turned left.

The body was feeling fine. I wasn't pushing the pace fast as I wanted to give myself the option to do the 50km instead. So since I felt fine, and the body had already been out in the freezing temps for 2+ hours and had adjusted, I decided why not. I felt good thru my hydration stop at mile 22, and restarting went fine. Still felt ok at mile 24 (besides normal aches that happen post the 20 mile mark), and decided to slow the pace down coming in just in case. Glad I did. The body was still doing reasonable at mile 26.2, and 27, but then the cramping started building quickly in the last 4 miles. Since I wasn't running for a time, and I had already stopped a few times for buying drinks, I took some extra stops every mile or so those last 4 miles to rub the quads and calves. I wanted the 50km...not the time. It was worth the extra stops.

House was in sight, watch said I was at 31+miles, mission accomplished. No race, no problem. Set myself a different special end goal. Hit a new round number running accomplishment. And made use of 4 months of Kenzai training.

Great Bear #2 Complete. Elodie, David and Malia...Sean and I will be cheering for you this weekend!!!

p.s. the last photo is the snow we got Sunday afternoon and night. Glad I got the run done early.

Week 14 Completed in VT

Wife and I headed up to Burlington Vermont for a long weekend without the kids. It’s a trip we’ve had planned a few times the last couple years but each time a child got sick so we had to cancel. This summer’s canceling was for the puppy (aka 4th child) getting sick. We had a lot of fun. Would have been better to enjoy the outside more in the summer, but Saturday was sunny which made for a great run along Lake Champlain and stroll along the waterfront with the wife after crepes brunch.

I got 11 of the 13 miles of the distance run done Saturday, Thursday’s 6.5K I did Friday on the hotel treadmill as I wasn’t up for freezing rain with 20mph wind for an outside run. Also got Monday’s 5 miler in, but knee was acting up a bit, so passed on the Tempo run Wednesday. Overall a good start to the taper.

We hit a bunch of good restaurants and breweries in VT. Got some great tips from Nate after seeing him and Miranda were just up here a few weeks ago. Great food, beer, craft cocktails, desserts...yeah it’s time to head home and get the diet and liver back on track.


Oh how the day 90's in the Kenzai world have evolved. About 4 years ago next month I completed my first day 90 Kenzai workout. Remember that gentle Body 1 workout, maybe 15-20 minutes in total? Fast forward to yesterday's K-Marathon day 90...yikes...that wasn't gentle at all. A couple hours of straight running in below freezing temps. Oh yeah, and we still have 3 weeks to go...

Overall the run went fine. The temps were going to be cold all day Saturday, and the wind wasn't subsiding at all either, so I got out mid-morning to avoid the procrastination of getting it done in only mildly better temps in the afternoon. Was planning a slower pace to start, but the body was cold and the quicker earlier pace sped up the warming process at least. I choose an out and back route, one I've used for previous 18-20 milers. The head and cross wind chills on the way out...well they just sucked. Thankfully it was sunny out though, and even with the temps, many fellow runners of the cold out there too "enjoying" the morning. Misery loves company.

Despite the wind chills, the body felt reasonable for the first 16 miles or so. The last few miles though, the ankles, foot arches and shins had enough of the temps and were starting to bark. 20 miles was the limit for that day for the body for sure.

Looking forward to some tapering time now. David, great work on your Friday run (seeing your strong effort was helpful motivation Saturday morning, thanks!). Elodie and Malia, hopefully your Sunday runs go well. Great Bears onward!

Wild Swings in Weather

Got back from 4 days in Florida with the extended family on my wife’s side. 3 1/2 days of theme park exhaustion. Kids had a lot of fun. They’re all old enough now that we can go on the same roller coasters which is fun. Although they have more staying power on some of those stomach churning ones then the wife and I do.

Weather was nice in the 70F’s-80F’s for day’s highs. I had scouted out a few running routes to hopefully squeeze a few early morning runs in before hitting the parks. Day 1 had to hit the hotel treadmill since there was lightning around when I was gonna head out. Day 2 and 3 we ended up leaving so early to catch the shuttles to the parks that I wouldn’t have been able to get back in time and I didn’t pack my hour before dawn running lights and reflective gear. So only half of Saturday’s distance run got done and missed Monday’s 10km. But there was a load of way too much walking. 12 hour days traversing the parks put an aching on my feet. I actually had to do Legs up the Wall one night as the feet arches were more sore than they even were after my 18 miler a few weeks ago.

It’s good to be home, although the temps dropped significantly this past week. This morning had a feels like temp of 1F. Hopefully these below normal November temps will be short lived.

Day 90 coming up this weekend teammates...but this one goes to 112!


Saturday's 29km/18mi complete. Once again, perfect Autumn weather. 40F/4C to start off. Took the body a few miles to warm up, but once it did perfect air temp to run in for a few hours. Body felt good again like last weekend. Ended up pushing the pace a bit quicker than my original target. Figured I'd take advantage of the legs and lungs feeling good and make the most of my first 18 miler in a few years. Spent a good 1/2 hour with the legs up the wall afterwards. So needed that.

Took Monday's 10km at a patient easy pace. Trying to get better at those easy runs to treat the body better during long training like this.

Wednesday's Hill run went well. Didn't think it would. Legs felt like lead the first few miles as I was running to the hill near a local dog park I planned to do repeats on. Lungs responded well though on the hill. Did 3 repeats of it (the first being circled and barked at by a dog his owner didn't have on leash...and wasn't listening to recall one bit). Then the 4th hill was the one on the way back home. Overall a good workout.

Took Thursday's run off. Didn't want to push the knees with a back-to-back this week with the 29km on the schedule. Hit Tuesday's AR day, not Friday's. Will likely include Friday's exercises along with Sunday's AR and stretching like last weekend.

Now off to some time out with the wife without kids tonight for our anniversary. She's tolerated me for 16 years so far...and 3 more before the vows. Hops and barley will be on the menu for sure.

On to week 12 Great Bears!


Feels good to have 10 weeks down, and only 6 weeks remaining. 6 more long runs...including the final one of course.

This week went well. After last weekend's race, took Sunday-Tuesday off to give the knees some helpful rest. Went out for Wednesday's Fartlek run not overly motivated for it, but didn't want to push it to later in the week closer to the distance run. So got it done. Those 4 minute surges felt more like a 1000m Interval workout...which are never fun. Although there was only 4 of them, so I had that going for me.

Did Thursday's run in the evening to give myself closer to 36 hours from Wednesday's morning run, and same gap to Saturday's morning run. Alittle more time spacing to help the recovery and prep time. Nice patient pace for the run, although still need to slow down the first two miles sometimes, to take full advantage of the benefits of slow paced runs for the legs.

Saturday's run was why I decided to do this program at this time although I don't have a specific race to train towards. Perfect autumn weather. Chilly to start, but the body warmed up nicely. Sunny clear skies, not too much wind, and plenty of colors all around to enjoy. The legs and lungs felt great from the first 1/2 mile on. Just one of those near perfect runs. Hit a comfortable pace throughout that could have kept going for awhile. The only negative is I wish it was next weekend when we have the 29km/18mi assigned run. Hopefully I can have at least part of the same body energy day next Saturday...we'll see.

Saturday afternoon was leaf raking and dog going nuts in the leaf piles. Then Saturday night was firepit time. Our son wanted s'mores so he was motivated to get the fire set up, start it, and manage it (with dad's overseeing). Crisp chilly evening with the fire blazing. Perfect! There may or may not have been some whiskey in the was no one can tell for sure.

Sunday was a total rainout. Pumpkin carving for the kids. Butternut squash bake for a few days of veggie grams. And then indoor workout time for me while watching the Giants lose again! Combined Tuesday's workout along with Sunday's active recovery workout, and did the full allotment of roller time too. Good way to cap off the week.

Onwards to week 11 marathon-mates!

Running as a Team

Kenzai Note Repost

When I run, I almost always run alone. Not that I don’t enjoy running with others, it’s simply easier to go lace up the sneakers and start a run on my own time when it fits into the available time slots of the family schedule. My pace, my distance, my time.

This past weekend though, my solo running turned into running as part of a team. I joined a college buddy and a group of his local running friends for a team running race in the state of Kentucky in the US. It was a 12-person team, running a relay race over a total of 200 miles (322 kms). 6 teammates per van, taking turns with our assigned running legs, and then hopping back into the van to eat, sleep, and move onto the next stop to pick up our teammate and send our next runner on their way.

This was my first time doing a team running event like this and I was very curious how my running skills would translate into this situation. It was interesting to reflect back on each run leg I had:

Run 1 (7.4 mi / 12 km): Friday 8:00pm. A nice cool 50F (10C) evening with little to no wind. A run where you’re a bit chilly to start, but warm up quickly. Ideal running conditions, aside from the challenge of running in the dark. The run went well, I maintained my targeted pace, and overall felt like a very typical run I do on my own. Although part of a team event, during this first leg, it didn’t feel much different than a solo run.

Run 2 (5.3 mi / 8.5 km): Saturday 4:00am. A cold 38F (3C) night run with no wind thankfully. Running after only a couple hours off and on short sleep in a van, my body was tired to start. It was a clear sky, full of stars, and a brightly lit moon along a quiet country road. This was a peaceful run. Until that is the rolling hills started. Most were fine and I managed them reasonably well. But the last one kept going and going and had some really steep gradients at points. This was the first time I thought of this as a team run. I knew our next runner was only a few miles down the road (up the hills) from me, waiting for the pass off for him to continue on. That was motivation to keep those legs moving steadily up those hills. Push thru the challenge for the team!

Run 3 (6.6 mi / 10.5 km): Saturday 2:00pm. Bright sunny afternoon, with the temperature rising to 72F (22C). Typically a reasonable temperature to run in, but in comparison to the cold run just 8 hours earlier, it felt a lot hotter. This was the run that I was most curious about, and dreading a bit. How would my body respond to being on a third run in 18 hours, only getting a few hours of naps in a van, and in the temperature fluctuation. I knew the route had some rolling hills, and then a steady climb on a busy road with no shoulder towards the end. The whole run was a mental challenge. Ironically the distance is about equal to the final 6 miles (10km) of a marathon, that are typically the toughest to push thru. I had several points where I wanted to stop and walk. But I had a team time goal that I was aiming for. My body was simply tired, not being pushed towards injury, just being challenged. That was the toughest run I’ve had in years. And as I told my teammates after I passed the baton to the next runner, if not for the team motivation and support they were providing, I would have come in a lot slower, and would have mentally struggled even more throughout that run.

During all these runs, and especially the last two, I thought a bunch about Kenzai. First, having a healthy and physically fit body that allowed me to participate in such a fun and challenging event. Second, how having teammates really does help boost your performance and help you push thru some temporary challenges. Be it a teammate waiting for you at a running check point, or a Kenzai teammate halfway around the world supporting and cheering you on for the runs, workouts, and diet successes you’re having, teamwork simply works!

If you’ve never had a chance to participate in a team relay event, be it running or any other activity, put it on your fitness to-do list. You’ll see how much your Kenzai experience plays out in race success!

Bourbon Trail Bound

At the airport, heading down to Kentucky today for this weekend’s Bourbon Chase. 12-runner team, covering 200 miles. Each runner takes 3 legs over the 24 hrs +/-. So I’ve got 19-20 miles on deck for me from Friday evening thru Saturday afternoon, in-between distillery tours and sleeping in a van. Kenzai running fitness in action. I’ll see you next week teammates. Have a successful 26km this weekend for our distance run!


The mail today arrived with an awesome gift from biking and fund raiser extraordinarie, Scott H. A wicked cool hat for PMC this year AND a hand written thank you note (yes kids, people take time to write actual cards of thanks that aren’t 20 second emails). I’m gonna be wearing this as my fall hat, and who knows maybe this will get me to finally sign up for next year’s and event. Have wanted to do it for years but not working in a big office anymore limits my fundraising network to hit the few thousand dollar minimum fund raising. Time to improvise some new techniques. Thanks Scott!

Cold, Rainy Cooking

When it’s been raining all day and it feels like 45F (~7C) out, time for some comfort potatoes for dinner to warm the body.

Wednesday Humid Hills

Now when I say humid, it's all relative. It is October 2nd after all, and at least not hot. It's just that the weather has been cool the last few weeks which is great to run in. This morning though was sticky and humid from the rain the last day plus. Made the Hill work 10km morning run that much more of a workout.

I used a local hill that I run now and then. It's about a 600m stretch, with a good steady climb throughout, averaging ~5% overall gradient (per Strava), with some pitches a bit higher here and there. A nice hill for repeats for a hill workout without being so crushing that it kills your legs for 3 days afterwards. I did 3 repeats of it today, each around 3mins. Had a few smaller/shorter typical little hills to and from the house to complete the total for the day. Felt good afterwards, but was happy to end at 10km, and not have a mile or two more to go.

I don't carry my phone with me on my runs (unless traveling away from home), so no photos of it today. I might swing by the spot in the car later today to snag a photo. Otherwise, have a few other spots for future hill workouts in the coming weeks that are more photo friendly. Just need to bring the phone is all.

Week 6 Marathon

Stuck to the script (almost entirely) for week 6:

-Monday: added alittle more to the run (5mi vs. 6km)
-Tuesday: Active Recovery workout...check
-Wednesday: Fartlek 55min (5x2min) went fine. The longer duration of fartlek surges felt more like interval segments vs. traditional fartlek randomness but maybe I was looking at the time more is all
-Thursday: easy, patient 4mi (tiny more than the planned 5km); knees did well with the back to back...patient pace with short strides I'm sure helped the cause
-Friday: nice sunset AR workout on the back patio
-Saturday: 21km complete before our son's morning baseball game. Luckily his away game was close to a running trail along a river near us. Beautiful cool, breezy, fall morning. Lots of runners, bikers and walkers out. Leaves falling on the path. It's the same path that our local marathon is on that I ran a few years back so it was fun memories running it again for the first time since. Flashbacks to the spot I stopped to get encouragement from the wife and kids before the halfway point. Overall felt good the first 10-11miles. Could have used more water, but unfortunately this out and back route didn't have water fountains and the one small bottle I carried at least was something. First time I've run with a bottle in my hand for a long time...was weird to adjust to again.
-Sunday: knees and feet feel good this morning, so that's a big help after the first 21km I've run in a while. Active Recovery time; baseball afternoon game; family time.

Really liking the energy this small and dedicated team has. Please keep it going helps everyone! And we get a small group of new marathoners starting Monday on their journey, so we'll have to all hit the Follow button on them to add to the group support!

Foundation Stage done

Week 5 complete! Once again, was able to get all the assigned miles/kms for the week completed, just in a modified format to accommodate my weekend away golfing with the guys. Did 8 miles Monday, 10 miles Wednesday, and then a hilly 6 miles Saturday morning before golf. Scenic run in New Hampshire, but almost all up and down the entire loop around the lake. Got it done though, despite the late nights of cards, drinks and laughs and little sleep. This week the plan is to get back to a more consistent routine in preparing for the 21km Saturday run.

That's it for now. Hope the team is feeling good as we enter this Endurance stage of the program!

Photos: NH golf (leaves just starting to turn); Saturday run around the lake; Thursday afternoon lunch stop at Harpoon brewery.

Marathon 1/4 Pole

4 weeks done, 12 to go. Less than a Body 1 program at this point left on our journey...except of course for all those miles/kms ahead of us instead of metronomes and DaVincis.

Checked off all the miles/kms again in week 4, once again over 3 days of running vs the assigned 4. Did 5mi Monday, 6.5mi Wednesday and 7mi Saturday morning. The 3 days a week worked well again to skip the back to back. It also let me mix a Kettlebell 2 workout in on Thursday in place of the run. Those Bells have been sitting too idle in the corner of the workout room...they were just begging to get in the game for at least a day.

Capped off the week with a little zombie blood hot sauce for Sunday's brunch at home. Tasty!

This week will be a little tricky for the distance run as I'm heading out of town for a few days of golf with some buddies. Might have to try and squeeze the 19km in earlier in the week before I leave, or try to get it in late Sunday. Goal is to get all 38.5km for the week completed one way or another.

Have a strong week teammates!!

Final Photo





Kenzai Body
Kenzai Body

Kenzai Run 10k
Kenzai Run 10k

Kenzai Run Half
Kenzai Run Half

Kenzai Body 2
Kenzai Body 2

Kenzai Body 3
Kenzai Body 3

Kenzai Iron
Kenzai Iron

Kenzai Chisel
Kenzai Chisel

Kenzai Kettlebell
Kenzai Kettlebell

Kenzai Kettlebell 2
Kenzai Kettlebell 2

Kenzai Mind
Kenzai Mind


Kenzai Run
Kenzai Run

Kenzai Blast: Beach Ready
Kenzai Blast: Beach Ready

Kenzai Blast: T-shirt Ready
Kenzai Blast: T-shirt Ready

Kenzai Marathon
Kenzai Marathon