Monday, April 30, 2012

Moving Forward

"Step back now believers or the gains will never come", You hear me speak of believing in ourselves, even when no one else does.  You hear me talk of the magic that is all around us if we have the courage to reach out with our minds and believe.  You also hear me preach that there is more to use than we can ever realize unless we seek our limits and learn to control our own thoughts and actions.

Greatness really is within us all, you hear other people say, "It's all in your genes, if you don't have the right genes you can never be a great athlete".  Well genes are 15% of the equation, the other 85% of what it takes is there for us to use.  You hear, "Without a good coach and the best training facility you can't hope to be the best".  We regularly get our butts kicked by endurance athletes form third world countries.  We need to learn to be our own coach and tell ourselves to seek out the hard routes.  We need to learn to push the pace and learn to love the hills.

Most of all we need to learn who we are and what our bodies are capable of.  Everyone can't be the best in their chosen sport but all of us can be much better.  Start out by knowing, right now, that you are a great athlete, you're just not done with your training yet.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Free Lunch

There is an old saying that there is no such thing as a Free Lunch or a Free Puppy.  When I was a kid I wondered how that could be true, but when I became an adult and a father I found out.  When someone offers you a free lunch there is something they want from you.  And of course we all know that raising an animal is an ongoing expense, even if we do love doing it.

I wanted to use the free lunch saying as an example of pretty much the way life is.  There really isn't anything free.  But the true secret to happiness is having the rewards worth the price we pay.  There is also a couple of other old sayings that apply here also, "You get what you pay for"  and "You get out of something what you put into it.  All of these apply to virtually everything we do.  They go double for adult athletes.

When we buy cheap equipment to train with we have problems with it and can even injure ourselves.  Especially shoes.  A good pair of training shoes is the single most important piece of equipment we buy.  Going to a store that specializes in fitting athletes is a must to get at least that first pair and every couple of years it's good to get that expert opinion again.  As we get stronger and leaner our foot shape and our gait can change and a shoe that once worked fine isn't right for us any more.

Another old saying I like is "Sweat Equity", when we have a super race we are spending that sweat equity that we have been building up.  It's pretty hard to have a great race when you haven't paid your dues with the proper training.  I have helped people train for a half marathon and they will say when they finished that it was a breeze, because they put in the training.  I have personally done races that I hadn't been able to train for properly and they became a lesson in survival rather than the celebration of health and fitness that they should be.

If there is a secret to success as an adult recreational athlete it's buying into the entire package and paying what it costs:  Do the training, not as a chore but as a labor of love.  Don't take the easy route, put some hills in that equity bank.  Buy good shoes properly fitted to you and training gear that fits.  Most of all make health and fitness your lifestyle, you have to first want it then practice it.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Empty Cup

Bruce Lee had a theory about training that is as true for race walking as it is was martial arts.  He phrased it; emptying your cup so you could refill it with the new knowledge.  I have been in the process of learning the skills of race walking for the last 6 years and it amazes me that not only am I still learning but that there is still so much more to learn.

I came from a background of running, I started running in the 70s when there wasn't a lot of information out there like there is now.  Now we have the Web and hundreds of good books and videos on just about any and everything we want to learn about.  But in the early seventies you had to pretty much wing it on your own.  I started my running career in the army, we ran in uniform pants, cotton T-Shirts and combat boots.  Sometimes we ran with a rifle and or a full pack.  That wasn't a lot of fun and you just got through it.

When I decided to run on my own and not as part of military training, I put together what I thought was a good running outfit.  Cotton was the exercise fabric of the day so I had cotton pants and shorts as well as shirts to run in.  I wore canvas 'deck shoes', since those were my favorite style and they were cheap.  I ran on my toes since that was how I had always run.  As you can probably imagine a mile of going as hard as I could go for a mile on my toes like a sprinter was pretty tiring.  I couldn't get my mind around how people could actually run distance.

Then I bought a Runner's World magazine.  It happened to be the shoe issue and I learned about shoes and also about running where I landed more on the heel and mid foot area instead of the balls of my feet.  That was the big turning point for me actually becoming a runner and an adult athlete.

Leaning to race walk has been like that also.  I've had to relearn how to move forward.  I'm still learning and have become smart enough to realize that no matter how simple a sport may seem to get good at it you have to keep on learning the moves.  You also have to strengthen the body parts that make that motion happen.  Stretching is also vital to keep everything moving in the proper direction.  Now everyday I try to learn and grasp just a little more about this amazing way of moving forward.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The competitive spirit of our youth.

We have a very unique outlook here in the United States concerning how we approach youth sports.  When we have a youth program we are more concerned with our children's feelings than with enhancing their competitive spirit.  We teach our children that everyone is a winner and of course everyone gets a trophy.  We don't tell them, to kick butt and WIN we tell them to do "Just do your best".  There are several good reasons for this, because it enhances the child's self image and sense of belonging.  No one's gets their feelings stepped on and everyone is a winner.  It enhances pride in Team and the whole working with others thing that is so important later in life.

But does the "There are no losers, only winners" attitude help or hurt our nation's competitive spirit.  Do we lose sight of the fact that it's a tough world when schools out and there really are winners and losers.  Both in athletics and in virtually every other aspect of our lives it takes every thing we have not to fail.  We have a reality now where we are not as competitive with the rest of the world as we once were, not just in athletics but in business, education and economic advancement.

Maybe it's time we told our children again 'To Win"!  Instead of "just do your best".

Comments welcome.

Thanks for Reading.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Magic Within

You see me write and hear me speak of the magic that is all around us, the wonders of our world and the happiness that is there for us if we just have the courage to believe in our selves.  When we can do that, believe in our selves and know that we are worth the effort to continually improve our fitness, knowledge and goodness that the magic becomes part of our lives.

As adult athletes we have the opportunity to harden our bodies and strengthen our determination by the healthy lifestyle and regular exercise that is part of our daily routine.  Healthy living must include healthy thoughts and being positive.  I know all of us have experienced trying to exercise when we are mad about something or at someone.  When we do that the effort is much harder and doesn't give us the feeling of a job well done that our training should.  The time we spend mad is wasted time, we need to learn to become the master and not the slave to our feelings.  I know that sounds easy but it's in our nature to put way to much energy into being mad sometimes.

There are many things that we can have more control over if we start monitoring our feelings more.  Learn to realize when your mad, feeling sorry for yourself, wishing for something that you can't afford, feeling like your worthless and just generally sad.  We often expect more of others and not ourselves.  It's an old saying, "Do your best", but it's very powerful.  Get in the habit of asking yourself, "Is this the best I can do"?  If you can answer truthfully that it is, great, if not then do it better.  Whether it's the work you do to earn a living, your training any of the countless other aspects of your life, doing your best does take a conscious effort.  Although after a while doing your best can become a habit.  Don't get in the mindset, "Is this worth my best effort", if your going to put your energy into doing it then yeah it's worth your best effort.,

When we can truly take responsibility for our actions and thoughts then we can start seeing the world around us differently as well.  It becomes a much better place because we are no longer just wondering lost but in control of our own happiness.  You really do see things in a different light and maybe just maybe you will begin to see yourself differently as well.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Sometimes it appears that it's useless to dream and set goals that are seemingly impossible.  You look at the record books and see that the current records are not seconds faster than you currently are but minutes, many minutes, faster.  It's mind boggling and just beyond comprehension.

You race against competition that you can't believe you can ever catch.  The same people beat you every time you race.  What were you thinking even daring to dream!  How dare you even think that you could ever be that good, or even worse thinking you could be better.

Well, why the hell not?  You already know how fast those others are, but they haven't seen the best of you yet.  They haven't seen you "train insane", they have not seen you crazy.  That record book is ready and waiting for the next person to come along with the desire and the burning need to be the best that ever was.

Don't be afraid to dream, every step, every mile, every workout, go like you are the one that will break records.  Go like you are the chosen, go like you are not to be denied.  Believe that you will get better and better and you will!

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Life in Motion

My mission statement for living is wellness through motion.  Our bodies were designed to move and be strong.  We do ourselves a huge disservice when we don't allow our bodies to get regular exercise.  Not only do we need the motion to keep our body weight down and our energy level up but every one of our biological functions are enhanced by regular exercise.

Our bodies are like engines, fuel and oxygen in, work and then exhaust out.  Each of these functions are made better with regular use.  Just like with any engine, the quality of the air and fuel in the better the work we can do and the less waste we have to expel.

Everyone who exercises regularly knows that we often solve problems and make decisions when we are exercising.  It seems that our brains work better when we are in motion.  Well it does.  When we are breathing good clean air deeply and quickly we are supercharging our whole body, brain included with oxygen.  Think about this:  One person is sitting on the couch, sucking in cigarette smoke in a house that is dark and the only sensory input is the television.  Compare this to the person moving smoothly through a wooded area, the trees breathing out good filtered clean oxygen, surrounded by the beauty and serenity of nature.  Which person's brain do you think will be more efficient?

We the civilized people in our high tech world have the knowledge available to us for good healthy supercharged living.  We have the web and we have the regular exercisers to be examples to follow.  So why do we still die of things that most of the world doesn't, why are the majority of us over weight and why do we eat so poorly?

We have become a world of ease and letting things do our motion for us.  We have gotten better at avoiding motion to give us more television and computer time, we are great at letting those medias be out brains and the center of our universe.

The cure is those many thousands of us that have learned that we feel so much better and our whole body performs better when we have the courage to break away form the couch and the entertainment and get back to the motion.  Motion and the effort that goes with it is setting out bodies and minds loose to be the wonderful engines they were designed to be.  Please each of you reading this, take a moment to realize how amazing you are and how important your example is.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

What it takes

This morning I laced up my new heavy cushion shoes and drove to the park. On the way over there I was going over in my mind the advice that I had received from friends. I had posted some video of me race walking on facebook and asked some friends to evaluate my technique. I value their opinions very much since they are not only some of the best race walkers on the planet but hold down full time jobs and have responsibilities of family as well.

I know a thing or two about fitness myself since I've been involved with health and fitness and helping others get fit and keep their weight down since the 70s. But one of the best things I ever learned is to surround yourself with people who can make you a better person. If someone has over come hardship and recovered with their head held high and on top of their game, they are the one I want to know. Knowing people like that makes you want to be the best you can be yourself so they will approve of you also. Because if you are going to surround yourself with people who are going to make you better, then you darn well better take that to heart and get better.

When I got to the park, I warmed up good and then set off on my training walk. One of my friends said that my left arm was coming to far forward. I worked on keeping my left arm back more and remembered that my right side is much more limber than my left so that was probably why my left arm was going more forward since my right leg was swinging easier and the left arm was counterbalancing it. So from this I'm now determined to get my left side as limber as my right.

Along with this advice I put together some other suggestions I had recieved from the last video, I had posted and set a new personal best time for the route. I have been setting new PRs almost ever week for different routes. But it's not just because I'm training hard but it's also because I listen to those people who's opinion I value.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Earn This.

In the movie, "Saving Private Ryan", a squad of troops all dies to save the sole remaining son of a family after his two brothers are killed in WWII. At the end of the movie as Tom Hanks is dying he tells private Ryan, "Earn This". That phrase is so powerful and so meaningful.

Although this is a christian holiday, no matter what faith you are or are not, it's a good day to remember that life is a gift and should not be wasted. We all have the duty and the opportunity to earn our gift. We can earn it by striving to be the person we wish we were. We can't all be rich and famous but some of the most ordinary people have throughout history changed the world by doing extraordinary things.

Each of us can be extraordinary in our own life simply by living our live as we know we should. We are in control of what we do and we can set the example. Most of my friends are adult athletes and we strive through the opportunity of sport to improve our own minds and bodies and through that hope to better understand ourselves. As we continue on in our journey we can better understand why we are and what our destiny is. But that understanding only comes when it's earned, it can't come from a bottle or a drug. That knowledge is blocked by hatred, bigotry and self doubt. To truly be that positive example we have to be able to clean out the garbage from our minds.

I wear a charm around my neck with the Serenity Prayer ingraved on it. "Grant me the serenity to accept what I can not change, the courage to change what I can and the wisdom to know the difference. That is knowledge I like to keep before me at all times to remind me of the power I have over my own thoughts and actions and the limits that I face.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Training in the fast lane.

Most of us dream of being a better athlete than what we are. There is nothing at all wrong with having goals of being better, whether it's in athletics or any other area of our lives. But dreams and goals get old and sour if we don't do what it takes to achieve them. The bright spot is that it's never to late to go after our dreams. The wonderful thing about age categories is that if we wait till we are masters or seniors to get motivated we can still have success.

What matters is not what we can accomplish with our feet but what we can accomplish with our minds. We can choose to be successful or we can grieve over not being born talented and with the perfect athletic body. We can train hard, eat clean, rest strategically do all the right things and enjoy the resulting improvement or we can feel defeated because doing the right things didn't transform us into a world class athlete.

I know a lot of very good athletes that will never be the fastest or the strongest but they are amazing athletes that are inspiring and wonderful role models. They are there for the love of what they can do and for the unique adventure that each training session or race bring. It's the love of motion, the desire to be better tomorrow and the need to feel the freedom that sport offers.

When we have warmed up properly and get into a good groove, we are truly free and at peace with our world. That is what we must look at as success, being able to achieve that freedom of motion and feel the love of finding what we are capable of. Then when we can push our limits to a new level, it's just amazing.

Thanks for reading.