Thursday, June 27, 2013

Be the Boss!

There is an old saying, "If you don't like the way things are, and you are the boss, it's your fault"!  That's kind of how it is with all of us.  We are, each of us, the boss over everything we say and do, period, no discussion.  So how do we feel so out of control sometimes?

I've been on the planet for a long time.  I've spent the most of those years in the company of warriors and athletes.  Men and women who spend a life time learning to be more in control.  They are very moral, honest and kind.  But sometimes even those men and women of war and sport lose sight of the fact that they are masters of their heart, mind and body.  Not because they are afraid to be the boss but because it's gets hard to tell which decisions are right and which are wrong.

We are constantly bombarded with mixed signals.  Especially from the media, corporate advertising and the government.  When I was young my heroes all smoked cigarettes, of course I smoked, it was wholesome and good, it was how the tough guys and gals relaxed.  Now there is nothing more wholesome than a coke, even though, in the back of our mind, we know that a soft drink is a chemical mix that may very well, be killing us slowly.  How about a big bowl of canned, high salt, soup and a grilled cheese made with bread that is bleached white flour and cheese that is processed and contains lots of ugly little secrets. Yep that's wholesome.
We see on the news that what we thought all our lives is wrong is now right and things we thought were right are now wrong.  We see experts on TV telling us exactly opposite points of view.  One political party is telling us the other party is responsible for everything bad and if we will just elect them, before it's to late, they will fix it. Drug companies  tell us that they have a remedy for everything.  There is a supplement for everything your body needs. Want to lose excess body fat, yep, there is a supplement for that.
Now back to those warriors and athletes, with the mixed messages they are getting, it's hard to know what is the right and the wrong thing to do.  There is no black and white, there never has been, that's why we have so much self doubt. So how do we know what decisions are right.  We don't, we just have to have the courage to follow what our hearts tell us is right. Just because we get justification for eating, drinking or taking something from TV advertising doesn't mean we should indulge in it.

Regaining your position as the boss requires being firm in your commitments.  It means making the hard decisions and following through with them.  If you start feeling weak, remember that someone is depending on you to get them through it.  You are that someone that is depending on your own strength of character.  We go to work when sometimes we really don't feel like it, why can't we take that kind of commitment over into everything we do.  When it's time to do your workout and you really don't feel like it, then it's time to be the boss and do it. When any situation comes up don't allow your self to take the easy way out, do the right things instead.     

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Have You Rested Long Enough Yet?

How long has it been since you had an active life?  How long have you been sitting and watching others live?  How long have you been a sports fan and not an athlete?  What is it you are waiting for, haven't you rested long enough yet?  Haven't you been ready to get up for a long time but thought that you couldn't, that the time was past.  Well the time has not passed and you can regain that active life again, even if the last time you were a participant was high school, or maybe not even then.

When was the last time you did something that was hard but you got through it and felt on top of the world.  Just starting back can be hard, but the rewards are health, strength and pride.  People who get up go to work, come home, watch TV and then go to bed don't usually go to bed proud of their day and excited about tomorrow.

Most of you reading this have already made the decision to lead an active life and know exactly what I'm talking about.  There is no comparison, we have an amazing life simply because we did make that decision.  We have learned that health and wellness greatly trump living a life of sickness and inactivity.  We are all of us candles shinning in the darkness, lighting the way back from that kind of self destruction. We can't stop people from ruining their health with a diet of chemicals, fat and sugar mixed together and sold as food.  We can't stop people from smoking, drinking and being obese. What we can do is continue to be examples of a better way.We can show with our determination, to better ourselves, what is possible.
My peer group is made up of men and women that are in their 50's and above, who are in perfect health.  This group is made up of senior athletes that are strong and flexible, we are not on meds for everything from high blood pressure to sleeping aids.  We are learning things about our selves and our capabilities that most people will never know.  We go to bed tired and proud of what we accomplished during the day and we do indeed wake up excited to start our new day.  I have friends that are over 70 and still breaking records.  Think living like that is impossible?  Think again, it just requires the commitment to live life to it's fullest and not just watch life from the sidelines.
Brother and sister adult athletes, I challenge everyone to keep showing the way.  You are the answer and the cure.  Keep spreading the message and please reach out and help someone you care about get up off the couch.  Ask them, have you rested long enough?  Help them find the joy and the pride that you have.  We make up less than one percent of the population, so we are, each and every one of us, elite.

Thanks for reading.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Personal Rewards

One of the strange things about us, the smartest of all living things, on this planet, is how sometimes we can make some of the dumbest decisions.  We adult athletes, with our super healthy lifestyles are no exception to that rule.  How we reward ourselves for being faithful to our healthy life style is a prime example.

We make a good informed decision that something is bad for us so we break the habit of consuming it and take it out of our diet.  Then when we have reached a goal we reward ourselves by having some.  Soft drinks are great examples of this.  However one of the things we discover after being without, for a while, is that the food or drink that we craved, just doesn't taste as good as we expected it to any more.

Rewards should be a step forward just like everything else we strive for in our lives.  Taking a day trip, to somewhere interesting, is going to be a much better reward, for reaching a tough goal, than a huge high fat and high sugar meal.  From the trip we come away with a nice memory but from the unhealthy meal we just feel guilty and bloated.  New clothes are a super gift if your goal was to loose inches and you did.  New shoes for going the distance or new shorts to show off those nice definitions, you are starting to get, in your leg muscles.  A day trip to a real running store to get your stride and foot type analyzed, so you can be fitted for the proper running or walking shoes, should be one of your first rewards.

A good healthy dinner with friends is a great reward if food is what you are craving, let the atmosphere and the company be the reward not the decadence of the food.  A big slab of salmon and steamed veggies are going to make you feel great after and not feeling like you need to take a nap, like a big meal that's high fat or full of sugar would.  If you have been eating healthy for a while, you would also feel guilty that you spent the money on food that really didn't taste very good any more.

Going to a destination race is a great goal to train for and also a wonderful reward in it's self.  New sights and an amazing experience.  Then you have all the good stuff, a reward for your efforts, lots of memories and even a medal to bring home.  Put some effort into planning your rewards, that makes them even more special.  You changed your life style, that means you also should change the way you reward yourself.

Thanks for reading,


Friday, June 21, 2013


In air to air combat a pilot will light the afterburners, to get the maximum performance, out of his fighter plane.  It's the equivalent  of pushing the peddle to the medal in a race car.  Afterburners are maximum all out, short duration, fuel sucking power.  But in that next few minutes only one fighter will win the other will be destroyed.  At 211 degrees water is just that hot water, but when the heat is turned up another degree it turns to steam, one of the most powerful forces in nature.

Our bodies are like that as well, we have a level of performance that is just out of reach, unless we light our own burners and turn up the heat.  That's how we are sometimes capable of amazing things.  We have all heard of those seemingly, impossible feats of strength and courage, fighting off a bear, lifting a car to rescue a child, these things happen because the usual limits were shattered.  Our own afterburners or steam is possible.  How many times have sports records been shattered by athletes?  Is that just luck or is it something else and is that something that you can train?

I believe it is.  We can't all break records but we can get better, stronger and faster.  But to do that, to reach that next level we have to be willing to push beyond our limits.  That is something that sounds easier than it is.  We have to proceed with caution because with increased performance, we have increased chance of injury.  Pushing limits is also not comfortable.  But there are indeed ways to train for increased performance.

Interval training is one way to get stronger and faster.  There are different ways do speed training but this example will give the gist of it.  I use a high school track for my speed work.  An average workout goes like this:  Always warm up good, like at least a slow mile worth of warm up.  As you get warm go just a little faster to get all the muscles warmed up.  Then go fast for a measured distance, go as fast as possible and still be able to stay strong for the full distance.  After the speed interval you need a recovery interval.  For example if your doing 400m speed intervals then you might need a 200m or even a 400m slower recovery interval.  Then you do another speed interval.  Repeat until you've done the planned workout.  Then do a slower mile to cool down.

Interval training can be used in a lot of ways depending on what you want to accomplish.  You can go at a target pace or a target heart rate.  You can do different distances depending on the race your training for and you can even do intervals on hills to build strength.  But for the purpose of doing intervals to push your limits, you need to do them a little differently.  Rather than a predetermined distance for the speed portion go out hard and go hard till you can no longer hold pace, when you feel your legs slowing down, it's time to start your recovery interval.  Each week when you do your intervals try to go a little bit further then the week before.  So each week you have a new target.  If the week before you could go hard for 400m then the next week try to push it another 25m, turn up the heat and reach for it, yes it will be uncomfortable but it will make you stronger and faster.  Then each week push it just a little further.  If you fail to go any further one week shoot for that little bit more the next week.

I was taught this method of speed work years ago and I think, even though it's low tech, it's still a good way to train.  Now the world class athletes actually get blood drawn and the blood analyzed to see if they are putting out the maximum effort.  Pushing for just a little more each week will make you stronger even if it doesn't involve blood sampling or heart rate monitoring.  A heart rate monitor is used by a lot of athletes as well to see if they are keeping their heart rate in the proper training zone.

Want to get stronger and faster?  Light your own fire and turn up the heat.  Like hot water becoming steam, just a small increase in heat can make all the difference.

Thanks for reading.


Monday, June 17, 2013


There is a term, "The Jail House Lawyer", it means that what you hear from someone who swears they are right might not be accurate.  Especially when that person is telling you something that although they are adamant about it, they are not a professional in that field.  They will tell you how it is, to them, but not necessarily what is true.

Kentucky has a state law that children must get an eye exam before they can register for the next school year.  That is very important because, in those states that don't require it, a child might be labeled a behavior problem when in reality all that is wrong with them is that they can't see well.  "Yeah I've seen that before that child has ADHD", how many children have been labeled that way, when all they really needed was glasses.

People tend to label others and can very well ruin that person's sense of self worth with it.  "She has a speech problem, that means she is not very smart.  So I will listen to her but not respect what she has to say".  "That fellow is from the country so he doesn't understand business so I'll make some money off him on this deal".  Those kind of labels or stereotypes have plagued some of us all our lives.  It's not that people are consciously being evil but it's human nature to want to feel superior, so they look for differences to capitalize on.

Many of us have fought an on going battle, within our selves, to keep positive and believe in ourselves.  Advertising has a field day with that little fact.  I would be a better athlete if I could just buy one of those GPS systems for my wrist, with that and it's heart rate monitor I can be my own coach.  "Fred says he got so fast because he has one and it makes all the difference".  And all those miracle pills and potions for weight loss and magic fat burning abdominal builders, just send in the money and be ready to be amazed.

It's hard to know what's real any more.  Everyone knows someone that is the resident expert on something, or in some cases everything.  What is one to believe?  It has become interesting to me that you can find testimonials for both sides of every issue on the internet.  There is an old saying, 'You should believe only half what you see and even less that your hear.'  That is as true now as it was when it was first said.

How does one deal with this?  To start with, you have to make a decision that you are just as worthy of happiness, as anyone else and nothing about your physical being should reduce that fact. Your own sense of self worth should fuel your desire, to always strive, to be a better person.  You can over come anything that you decide you can.  Your first debt in life, that you must pay, for happiness, is to earn the right to respect your self.  You owe kindness and understanding to your fellow man.  To that person you see when you look in the mirror you owe being a person worthy of their respect.

The choice is yours.  You can be defined by the labels of others or you can be defined by being someone that is above the labels, someone that can say, "This is me and I'm somebody"!

Thanks for reading.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Would You Take a Shot?

Many years ago there was a movie, "Rocky", it was about a nobody amateur boxer being offered, a once in a life time, shot at the title.  Rocky had a shot and some time to train and get ready.  The movie is about how he trained and prepared for his shot.

Now most of us will never have the champion of the world, in any sport, come knocking at the door and offer us a shot at their title.  But what if we decided that we would train as though we were offered our own chance.  We would be the star of our own reality.  How awesome would it be to pull out all the stops and find out how good you could be.

What would motivate you to make the changes you have always wanted in your athlete career.  What do you desire speed, strength, endurance, a defined muscular body?  Think about it.  For many of us it's training for our first race or our next marathon.  Maybe it's a desire to reach a new level of performance.  Qualify for Boston.  Achieve the time standard for the Olympic trials. What ever it is, make a decision to take a shot.

When you decide what your goal will be, then you can start focusing on what it will take.  Look at where you are and visualize where you want to be.  Design a plan to take you there.  It may involve losing weight, strengthening your muscles, getting in more quality miles and most of all learning more about how to do all these steps.

If your dream is to begin exercising then go to the sports specialty store tomorrow, get fitted for shoes and take that first step.  If it's to make the decision to chase down a dream, then set an achievable goal. Remember "the difference between a dream and a goal is a time limit".  Each time you reach a goal, set a new one, a new step in the direction of your dream.  Before long you will be well on your way to making that dream your reality.

Is it possible?  Of course it is.  We can always get better and we don't know how far we can go, till we begin the journey.  Will you take a shot at a dream?  Or will you just dream.

Thanks for reading.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Clean Eating 4 Week Update

My lady and I decided 4 weeks ago today to take the plunge and clean up our eating.  I started it off by going through the kitchen and getting rid of all the processed junk.  My beloved frozen pizzas, the "Healthy", frozen dinners, all the breads, pastas and white rice.  The crackers, the microwave popcorn, all of it went.  Then I went to the market and purchased fresh meats, fruits and veggies.  We have prepared all our meals now for 4 weeks.  We went once to a cafĂ© for salmon, salad and steamed veggies.  I use only salsas for salad dressing and we have used just a little olive oil and real butter for cooking.  We drink only water, green tea and coffee.

Now remember when reading these results that I was already an adult athlete and I have not changed the amount of exercise I'm doing.  The intensity has changed because my endurance has changed and my times are lower, but the amount and my perceived effort have not changed.  I'm eating three meals a day, the last meal is around 4 to 6 o'clock.  My exercise is all in the morning after breakfast.  I have not been hungry at all between meals since I'm eating a lot.  I will often have a frozen juice pop in the evening when I come home from work at 9pm.

To start with my weight when I began eating clean was 182.2, today at the end of 4 weeks I weigh 171.2, that's a drop of 11 pounds.  But to me the most amazing thing is that my waist has dropped.  I was wearing 36 waist pants, they were comfortably snug, when I started and now 32 waist pants are as comfortable as the 36s were.  I didn't take measurements of chest, arms, ect....since this clean eating change wasn't about that but about how Sally and I felt and how my training times were affected.

My times for each distance have dropped during these 4 weeks as well.  My mile went from 11:47 to 10:59, my 7 mile route dropped 3 minutes and my 4 mile route dropped 2 minutes.  The other amazing thing is that before I started eating clean, I needed a nap after my training before going to work.  Now I don't, I come home do some chores and eat a good clean lunch and I'm ready to go.  Last of all, I was a smoker for 35 years and even though I quit almost 12 years ago my resting heart rate was still around 70 bpm, my resting heart rate has dropped to low 60s during the last month.

Now I'm not selling anything with this, no pills, potions or snake oil, just reporting on the changes I've noticed by cleaning up my nutrition.  Sally has had some dramatic improvements as well, the most notable is that her blood pressure has now come into the low average range.  She has struggled with that for years and takes medication for it.  I'm excited for when she sees her doctor again on that.

I will make another report at the end of the next 4 weeks.  I started this to be in better shape for the Cleveland games next month, that next 4 week report will be 2 weeks before the games.

Thanks for reading.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Full Monty

I just watched a movie, on HBO, about some unemployed British steel workers, who decided to become male strippers.  It was a comedy but if you are tuned to life's messages, as I try to be, there is wisdom there.  These were just ordinary guys not in great shape as you would expect male dancers to be.  So in order to get the audience, of the ladies, they took the stripping one step further than the norm and showed it all, the Full Monty. 

What would our own lives be like if we went that one step further in every thing we did.  What if we gave everything full measure.  Giving full measure, what a novel idea, could that be the key to success in everything.  Giving full measure in business means going further than your competition.  It's the edge, the secret ingredient, the ace in the hole, whatever you want to call having the advantage, giving full measure is how you get it.

In weight loss it's going all the way, eating right, not cheating, drinking the water and doing the exercise.  In sports it's training hard and regularly.  I read once that when the San Francisco 49ers showed up for practice that Jerry Rice and Joe Montana were already there working on the passing game.  They were both record breaking Hall of Fame Players.  They gave just a little bit more than everyone else and it showed in their performance.  Maybe it all boils down to having enough faith in ourselves that we have decided we are worth the effort.

Even giving full measure isn't going to take us where we want to go unless we also make a commitment that we are going to give that full effort, every time.  No cheating, keeping it up, staying faithful to your dreams.  If you made the commitment to workout hard 3 days a week then that means every week, not just when you remember or when it's convenient.  If you made the commitment to eat clean, so you can become healthier, that means even when someone brings donuts or cake to work, or you are craving a high fat dish.

Are you worth that step further?  It's your decision, it really is.  You could make a decision to give full measure to your own life and change your life forever.

Thanks for reading.


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Fight or Flight it's How We Roll

We are designed with a wonderful system of survival. Our bodies have a built in reaction to danger, (STRESS), called fight or flight. When we are threatened, (STRESSED), we have a choice to fight back or to run away.  Before we became civilized, there wasn't much that caused stress that wasn't dangerous. To fuel that fight or flight reaction, the body released calories, (Sugar), to our cells so they could take care of business and the required business was physical and we needed the turbo boost of fuel. The stress was generally short lived, we either won the battle or got away.

Now we have stress coming at us from all sides and it can stay with us for a long time. Our bodies can't tell the difference between mental and physical stress. When your boss, spouse, child, bills ect... cause you stress, your wonderful body responds with what it can understand to help you, more calories are released for you to take care of business. Even though you didn't react physically your body now has you craving food to replace what it thinks you used to defeat or run from the attacking beast, that it thinks you just faced.

The fact that there is no physical threat is not relevant to the body, stress requires preparing for action.  So what happens here, with our body thinking we are in danger but our stress is just us having a bad day at work?  We will start craving food to replace the calories our body just released to allow us to deal with the danger. This is why so many people eat as a reaction to stress and can't understand why they are so helpless to resist food when they are upset.

You can be ready with a plan to counter the cravings when they hit. The cravings will come and go quickly, you just have to wait them out. A walk, a trip to the restroom to wash your hands, having some water, or calling a friend can help you, anything that keeps you busy till that craving passes. What you don't want to do is think well I'll just eat a little bit, that isn’t happening, try stopping once you start, you can eat for about 20 minutes before your brain gets the message that your tummy is full.  If the stressful situation is around a meal time go ahead and have your meal and eat it slowly and chew it well, small bites so it will last longer and get you through the cravings without over eating.

Another interesting side affect is what happens to our training when we are stressed.  Being stressed will tire us out. Our body has been in action mode, nothing happened and later when we want to exercise and release some stress we don't have much energy left.  Our body not only wants food it wants rest. We had to fight or flee so we are tired.  That's why when we are going through long periods of stress it seems that we don't have the energy for anything.  We don't, our body has been in battle mode and we have nothing left but the cravings for food and rest.  Does that sound familiar when you are really stressed out?

One of the advantages to doing your workouts in the mornings is you turbo charge your metabolism with vigorous exercise. Since your body is already releasing stored fuel for your increased metabolism it isn’t so effected by normal stress. You are usually more relaxed after working out so you are more relaxed during the day to. If we could get some good exercise when ever we feel stress we would have the best of all situations. We would have a way to work off the stress and the fuel to keep us going strong. That’s why if it’s possible to take a brisk walk when your stress level gets to much you can deal with it better.

Knowledge is power.  By knowing that when you are stressed your body is reacting to it as though you are in physical danger, then you can be ready to deal with it more positively.  Next time you get in a stressful situation, you can be better prepared if you know what to expect.

Thanks for reading.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Learn From It.

Nothing we do is ever a loss if we learn from it.  Injuries, illness, failures and personal victories are all part of living..  But if we learn form them and the events that lead up to them, we can come back smarter and usually stronger.  We are all an experiment of one.  There is no such thing as that elusive "average" person, all of us are unique and different.

We are so different that none of us can be put into a neat little package.  Our bodies don't react the same to exercise, diet or outside influences.  We have unique bodies that are a mix of the three basic types.  Some of us put on muscle easily, others store fat more efficiently and still others have a hard time putting on any kind of weight.  Usually we have bodies that are a challenge for us to work with and we have to keep learning to modify as we go along.

Our victories can teach us as much as our failures but usually the victories come after we have used the lessons those failures taught us.  Most of us learn the hard way through trial and error.  Or we listen to someone else tell us what they do and find out it doesn't quite work the same for us.  Streaking is a prime example of that.  There are those that tell you that if you don't train everyday that you will never reach your full potential.  Well that might work for a gifted few but most of us need to take rest days during the week.

Everyone who makes the decision to train for a sport or just to be healthy needs to keep a log book and keep it current.  It's not long before you will start seeing a pattern if you look back over your own training history.  Had a bad race or no energy during a workout?   Look at the days before and if you have been good with details you can see what lead up to the undesirable effort.  Document how you felt, how much sleep you got, did you warm up properly or did you take the first mile as a warm up.  How many days in a row did you train.  Even keeping track of the different foods you have eaten can be important.  How did you feel at work that day after your workout?

Getting to know yourself is a huge part of wellness.  Learning how your body reacts to what you put it through will help you, not just in your sport but in everything you do.  The more you come to understand yourself the better quality of life you can have.  Getting injured, getting sick or getting stronger and racing better can all be affected by how well we understand our own body.  Having more energy at work, beating those feelings of depression and dealing with stress are all easier when you make educated decisions about your health.

Make a commitment to learn more about that person that looks back at you from mirror.  You will spend the rest of your life with them so you might as well become partners in your health and well being.

Thanks for reading.


Monday, June 3, 2013

Time To Fight

We dream of being better.  We say we want it.  To be thinner, faster, stronger, better.  We imagine ourselves doing it, beating the best, taking the lead, winning.  We can see it, feel it.  Time and again we dream but never do anything different.  We do as we have been doing, week after week, going through the motions, hoping for a break through.  Is it time to make it happen?  Is it time to stop dreaming and fight for it.

Is it time to take a stand and start making those dreams come true?  Is it time to turn that desire into a need, an unfulfilled hunger?  Dreams are earned, they are bought with intensity and determination that you will not be stopped!  Is it true that if you give more you can achieve more?  Have you ever imagined that if you could put it all together; the diet, the exercise the right plan, then the magic would happen.  Isn't it time to find out what you are really made of?

It starts with a decision, not a try or a maybe someday but an, "I will not be denied my dream".  You have to mean it and commit.  You have to make some other decisions first, you have to decide you are worth it.  You have to know that you can be enough. Finally you have to make a decision that there will be no excuses only results.  Everyday will need to be a step forward, either training or resting and recharging your body and mind for the next assault on your dreams.

When we want it bad enough and make our decisions to go after it then we have to start doing everything different than we did before.  Fighting for it means not giving in to temptations.  It means eating what you need and avoiding what you don't.  It means not only training but it means that you give a little more at least once a week.  It means going as hard as you can for as long as you can, then going a little more.  It means doing all the workouts not just the easy ones.  It means stretching and cross training when your body needs a break.

Most of all going after your dreams means that you are willing to risk failure to find out if you can be the athlete you have imagined.  It means that you have to know that you are on a journey to a new place, a place you have never been.  Where that journey will take you is to a better you.  You may never be the best but I swear that you will be thinner, stronger, faster and better.  Those dreams are achievable and waiting for you to decide it's time to fight for them.

Are those dreams possible and attainable if you want them bad enough?  Is it time to find out?  There is an old saying that there are only two things you leave this life with, memories and regrets.  Choose memories.

Thanks for reading.


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Becoming a Warrior of Life

Life is a gift but the quality, of the time we have, is mostly under our control.  We can, with hard work and making good choices, affect how our life will be.  We can choose to be warriors of life and meet our challenges head on, or we can be slaves of fate and learn to roll with the punches.  But what about those things that blindside us, when we least expect them?  What about the unexpected and often tragic events of nature, we can't control them can we?

No we can't control the unexpected or the events of nature.  Just recently there have been acts of violence by those that harm others, just to make a statement.  There have been horrible natural disasters, as well as dangerous situations, when our transportation systems malfunction.  Our world is a dangerous place filled with the unexpected, it's up to each of us to be prepared.  Like a warrior that trains daily, for battles that may come, we must train our selves for the challenges life throws at us.  Those miles that are tough but we do them anyway are preparing us to be survivors.  Our hard earned toughness and stamina might be what not only saves us but others.  No one plans to be a hero, they arise when a hero is needed, because they were prepared.

We are the ones that have control over how well we are equipped to handle those life challenges.  We can train with weights to make us stronger, we can do distance training to prepare us for those times when our endurance may be all that we have to survive.  Our healthy body may be our only defense against a rogue virus or a biological attack.  Our overall fitness is what keeps us, as we age, from being crippled with back problems and joint conditions.

Training for a half or full marathon can mean a lot more than just going the distance and getting the medal.  It can be a stepping stone to becoming a warrior of life.  They might not be the fastest or the strongest but those that train for and go the distance are a heck of a lot more powerful than before they started.  A person that can walk or run for 13 or 26 miles can surely walk to safety if needed, even carrying a child. 

Every morning we need to get up mentally prepared for what ever the day may bring.  We need to have earned the right to say to our selves, "I'm ready, bring it"!

Thanks for reading.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Lifestyle change

As a lot of you, know, my lady and I have decided to clean up our eating.  We've cut out all bread, white rice, pasta and cut way down on white potatoes and sugars.  We had previously eliminated soft drinks, artificial sweeteners and heavily processed food.  We have also now eliminated frozen convenience foods, like frozen dinners and my beloved frozen pizza.  I'm not a nutritionist or a scientist, but I do have a degree in behavioral science, so I'm doing this as a scientific experiment would be conducted.

Our expected results are pretty simple, feeling better and losing weight.  Sally is hoping for good health and getting rid of some unwanted weight.  I hope to be a better athlete and also lose some weight as well.  Diet can affect a lot of things besides our weight, like energy level, skin tone and really every fiber of our being.  She is over 50 and I'm over 60, there really isn't a lot of research done on older athletes, so in a way we are blazing our own trail.  There is information available and I'm actively learning as I go, then modifying to fit our lifestyle.

I started by going through the kitchen and throwing out all the stuff that we don't eat anymore.  All of it, every bit.  All the bread, the Ritz crackers, the frozen dinners the pizza, the pasta, everything.  Then I went to the market and restocked.  Fresh meats, chicken and fish, that we baked and grilled ourselves and then put into portion packages to take to work for lunches and eating at home.  I bought lots of fresh veggies and fruits and did the same with them.  Organic canned beans come in lots of varieties so they are easy to add to a meal and provide different tastes.  We have a container of good salad already prepared so we can just take some out, for an addition to a meal or as a meal in it's self.  There are always bags of fresh cut fruit or veggies to snack on or as a quick meal before exercise.

We are comparing notes after each meal as to how we feel.  Are we energetic or feeling bloated and needing a nap.  We should be energized by a meal, that means our bodies are processing it well.  If we are feeling lethargic then we know that we aren't getting what we need from what we ate.  By doing this we can fine tune what we eat, individually to each of us. Variety is important to ensure that we are getting all the vitamins and minerals we need.  With all the fresh fruit and veggies, fiber isn't a problem.  We are taking a fish oil supplement because our doctor recommended it.

We are keeping the tastes interesting with different spices, healthy sauces and marinates.  I'm using hot salsa for salad dressing and Sally is using a raspberry vinaigrette dressing for her salads.  We change up the ingredients for our salads and the flavorings for our meats and fish.  Since buying all fresh food we have to go marketing every couple of days, that allows us to change up easily.  We also shop the produce that is in season and at a lower cost.  keeping the meals from tasting bland, I feel, is vital to the success of our lifestyle change.

We started two weeks ago this coming Sunday and the results have been promising.  I have lost almost 7 lbs and Sally has lost some weight as well.  Both of us have more energy and I'm feeling less soreness from hard workouts.  We are just beginning but hope to keep this new lifestyle going.  We realize that we had to give up a lot of things that we normally ate, but most of that was for convenience, it's so easy to pop a frozen dinner, in the microwave.  But by processing the healthy food into serving sizes it's just and easy to eat better food.

I will continue to make periodic reports on how it's going and on lessons we learn along the way.  Because it is a learning process.  Discussion and sharing your own personal experiences are welcome.

Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

No Fear

We all have them, no matter how big, how strong, how rich, no one is immune, we all have fears.  Our fears are as individual as we are, but there are also fears that we all share.  The difference between each of us is not in whether or not we have fears but how we react to them and how much we let them control us.  If we are not careful those fears can push us in directions we really don't want to go.

In this country most of us are afraid we will lose our jobs and then everything we have worked for, all of our lives.  That is a very real fear and if we dwell on it to much it could drive us to eat comfort food.  There are lots of real and serious fears like that, we worry that if gas and food keeps going up how will we make it.  But really those are fears that hard working people have had forever.

As adult athletes we have our own unique fears.  A big fear is nutrition. Are we missing something?  When I was a kid all my movie heroes smoked cigarettes. I couldn't wait till I was sixteen, so I could smoke.  The advertising of the day was telling young fellows, like me, that their brand of cigarettes, would make me like those tough guys.  Now of course we all know that smoking is bad, and we don't even want to be in the same room as someone who lights up.  Now we have the intense advertising for products that promise to give us what we desire.  Faster times, defined abdominal muscles, the endurance of a migrating bird, there are lots of desires and a lot of products that will make them happen, if you will just buy them.  How often have you wondered if you are wearing the right shoes?  We fear that we haven't bought the gear that we really needed.

We worry about a lot of things that are unrealistic as well.  I have a fear of loose dogs, even though I have dogs and like dogs, I still fear unknown dogs.  I have never been attacked but I know people who have been and that makes this a very realistic fear for me.  I know a runner that will not run along a road because he is afraid of road kill, he is afraid that he will be bitten by an animal that isn't really dead.  Sounds silly to most of us but to him it's a very real concern.

There are also a lot of people that are sure that they have the beginnings of a terrible disease or physical condition because something they feel matches a symptom of that condition.  Us athletes are ripe for that because we generally always have something that is acting up.  Joint pain, chest pain when you were sprinting, side's always something.  I used to worry about my heart since I'm a senior athlete until my doctor told me that my training is like giving myself a stress test a couple of times a week, if I had heart disease I wouldn't be doing that.

The best way to handle the stress of those countless fears is to be pro active about them.  If you don't feel good make an appointment with your doctor for a physical.  If you are worried about the economy then cut back and start putting away a little aside each payday, that's a good idea anyway, saving is always a positive step.  If your hurting all the time then you are either working out to hard or not getting enough recovery rest, that physical exam will let you know if you have a medical condition, but you probably don't.  That nutrition thing is something I was stressing about so I decided to clean up my diet and now I don't have to worry about whether or not I'm eating right.

We are always going to have fears but those fears don't need to control us.  Be the Boss of your own life and keep those fears in perspective.  We are athletes of life, not just sport, if we don't control those fears then we are compromising our one chance at that life.

Thanks for reading


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Magic of Sleep

One of the most powerful ways of getting stronger, healing our nagging injuries and keeping our weight under control, is to get the proper amount of sleep.  Athletes need to average 8 hours of sleep.  Most of us get 5 to 6 hours.  That is not a winning equation, it makes everything we do harder and we don't get the full benefit of that magical time.

Yes, just sleeping 8 hours every night could be the magic pill, to take us to the next level.  It could be our best workout.  The reason that we feel so much better after a rest day is that we have 2 nights sleep, the night before and the night after the rest day, without any additional damage to repair.  That's also why doctors sometimes put a person into a medically induced coma, when they are critically injured because the sleep is needed for healing.

 Sleep is when our bodies repair the damage that exercise causes in our muscles. With out this regular healing we get steadily more sore.  We get to the point where we are stiff and sore all the time so we usually cut back on our exercise. When what was really needed was an extra couple of hours of sleep a night.  When you cut back on your training you do start getting over the soreness but you also start losing some of your hard earned strength and speed.

Another problem is eating late at night. Your craving is the strongest late because your body is telling you it wants something. It does want something, sleep and you give it food.  Bad for a lot of reasons. One is we don't need those extra calories, we need sleep and two, the blood that should be channeled into your muscles for healing is instead transferred to the digestion system to process that food.  Guess where that processed food goes?  How about into the fat cells that you worked so hard to empty the day before.

So how do you add extra sleep into your schedule? Start by going to bed 30 min earlier. I bet you wait till a TV program is over and then go to bed, right? Forget that program and use the time for sleep instead. After that becomes a habit, go for making it a full hour earlier.  The other option is to sleep a little later.  I prefer to get up early, that is my time for writing and waking up before I start my day. I choose to cut my night shorter and keep the early rising. But if you feel you have to watch that TV show or need that time to unwind, then can you get up a little later?

Think about it and see if you can find a way to get some more sleep. It's worth the effort because it's during the sleep that the magic happens and you actually become stronger from your workouts.

Thanks for reading.


Monday, May 20, 2013


As the word implies, achieving wellness can be looked at as a healing, of our sick bodies.  When we are "out of shape", there is more wrong with us than just under developed muscles.  Our energy level is low, we tire easily, everything seems like such an effort.  The only time we feel normal is when we are sitting.  We may be easily depressed and nothing really seems very exciting any more.  It's kind of like having a bad case of the flu.

All of us generally do our best, sometimes our best is not as good as it is at other times.  When we lack a good level of fitness our best often isn't what we want it to be.  Forget chasing adventures, just living takes all we have.  It's not till we do achieve a good, workable level of mental and physical wellness that we begin to desire to see and do more than just exist.  There is so much more to life than just going to work, eating, watching TV and sleeping.  There is a whole world out there waiting for us to discover and explore if we just had the energy.

When we are not well we look at food as pleasure and we desire it for the comfort it provides.  Once we are well we still enjoy food but we look at it differently, it's fuel and we seek out food that is as natural as possible.  We tend to shy away from the heavily sugar and salt laden chemical mixes that we once craved.  Not only do we crave that unhealthy food but we are often addicted to tobacco, alcohol and even drugs.  We are reaching for something, some way to escape the prison of our own body.

We don't realize what is happening because it happens so gradually over many years.  When we are young we still have energy and the world is still new and exciting.  But as we get older the damage gets harder to heal and we start slowing down way sooner than we should.  The daily routine is driving us crazy so we go somewhere on vacation, the sights are new and interesting again.  But we go there and sit and watch instead of participate.

The people that will read what I've written here, have already made the decision to pursue a lifestyle of wellness that includes eating properly and exercise.  What I want to remind everyone with this writing is that, everyday people make a decision to, "Get in Shape". You see them, the people trying to escape, walking at the park.  You see them next to you on the treadmill at the gym or looking lost in the weight room.  You see them struggling to achieve some of what we enjoy, a wonderful sense of excitement for living, because we are fit and able to do pretty much anything we desire to do.

How we treat those people that have freshly made that decision will go a long way toward helping them succeed.  Encourage them, help them.  Want to change the world, make it a better place, you can do that for someone with your encouragement.  You can literally change their world.  This might not seem like much but we have learned a powerful lesson that has for most of us changed our own world.

Thanks for reading.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Thursday, May 16, 2013

There is no Try!

There is a quote form the Star Wars character, Yoda, "Do or Do not, there is no Try"!  That is very powerful and hints at what, in reality, truly is the secret, to successfully making changes in our lives.  The switch that turns on our personal magic is making the decision that it's time to stop trying and start doing.

 I smoked for many years and for most of those years, at least once a week I would try to quit.  I would do great for a few hours or a day then something trivial would happen and I'd reach for that cigarette, have my fix and vow that I'd try again soon.  Then one day I just stopped and never had the desire again to have a cigarette.  I had years of practice quitting smoking, so what made that day different.  All the other times I hadn't made the decision to quit, I had made the decision to try.  I had empowered myself to fail, since if I gave it a shot and then couldn't resist the desire, then it was ok because I had tried.

It doesn't matter if it's losing weight, quitting smoking, running a marathon, getting fit, going to collage or any of a thousand other goals, if you make a commitment, to yourself, to accomplish something you will do it.  If you decide to try, then you have given yourself a ready made excuse, to fail.  You accomplished just what you committed to do, you tried.  Failure can't be an option, it may take time but if you have made that commitment, to yourself, you will eventually do what you desire to do.  When the commitment is finally made the results will come quickly.

Have you ever listened to a good motivational speaker, or seen an inspiring movie, that really had you fired up to make positive changes in your life?  We need to be our own motivational speaker.  Start every day telling that person in the mirror that you are done trying, you are tired of being over weight, you are tired of being out of shape, you are tired of not having the happiness in your life that you desire.  Let that person know that you are ready to make changes, not to try but to make them.  Then will power is not such a problem.  You are going to do what you need to do, excuses will not be excepted.  You are past that, the time has come and you will not fail.

Is this the day that you make a decision to stop trying and start making the changes you desire?

Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Honest Effort

In a perfect world, sport would be the gold standard, of earning a deserved reward for an honest effort.  We give our all and if it's the best effort, on the field that day, then we are champions. In that perfect world no one would use performance enhancing drugs and there would be no cutting the course short.

The world isn't perfect and one way sport is a gold standard is in making us face your own character.  Honest effort is a personal decision and it's often made in the moment and not planned.  I have done marathons that have an out and back course.  It would be so easy, during a long race, to stop for a minute and tie your shoe or go in the Porta John and come out going the other way, shorting your distance by miles.  I have seen people do that very thing.

The whole idea and indeed the reward, for finishing, is the personal satisfaction, that you were stronger than the distance.  There is no shame when you gave it your all and came up short.  There is no shame is getting on the sweep bus.  Your time on that bus should be spent in getting mentally stronger and making a vow to train better, so you can go after it again.  When you hurt something, again there is no shame, you may be mad but you can still hold your head high.

Someone who cuts the course short, in a race, especially if it's just a fun race and you're not a contender, for an award, is to tarnish, what could be a wonderful personal victory.  If you are a contender and you cheat then you need to reevaluate your sense of honor.  Honor, to this old school athlete and warrior, is self respect.  You might get praise for bringing home an award but you left the best part of you back on the course, your honor.

It's so easy, you're getting tired, the distance seems endless and it would be so nice to be done.  Those are the times that we have to be the strongest.  Those really are the times that define us.  I have finished barely putting one foot in front of the other, race walking technique long since forgotten, those are the races that finishing means the most.  When that finisher's medal is placed around my neck, it is for being strong and not giving in, as well as finishing the race.

It would seem then that you only hurt yourself when you cheat in a race.  But that isn't always the case.  If you have friends and or family there then, even if they didn't see you cheat, if you accept their praise, you have betrayed their trust.  Even if they don't know you do.  Every time you are dishonest then you make it easier to be without honor again.  If your friend knows it puts them in a difficult position, they want to be there for you but they don't agree with what you have done.  I've been put in that position before and it's very uncomfortable.

If you can't finish and have to cut it short then be upfront about it and don't say you finished.  You will be respected for being honest as much as you would be for finishing, maybe even more.  But even better dig deep and find the courage to keep going so you can finish.  Forget the time goals and just do it, you will be stronger for it.  Then when you are asked how you did you can say proudly, "Yeah I went the distance".

Thanks for reading.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Values and Morals

A big part of wellness is knowing ourselves.  That sounds simple but it's not.  Each of us belong to many groups.  I'm an American, I'm a Southerner and live in the country, I'm a retired military man, I'm a father, a worker, a husband and an adult athlete.  All these are groups that can influence not only my thinking but my perception of everything.  I'm going to use myself as an example in this writing but you can apply it to anyone, including yourself, in seeing that what we personally value is what makes us who we are.

I value my health, one of my morals is that that my health is my responsibility.  Since I believe that, I decided that learning the subjects of nutrition, exercise and wellness were just as important to living, by my values as were; reading, writing and arithmetic.  Some of the things I've done go against that, I smoked a pack of cigarettes a day until I turned 50 years old.  In my defense, when I started smoking, the day I turned 16, smoking wasn't considered such a health risk.  When I watched TV, there were lots of cigarette commercials, with the heroes of the day, endorsing the wonders of smoking and relaxation.  How terrible when some of those heroes, like John Wayne, died of lung cancer.  By the time it was common knowledge that smoking was a dangerous health risk, I was well and truly addicted.  I justified my actions, by telling myself, that if I did everything else right that it would counter the danger.  Whether that will end up being a correct assumption is still to be seen.

I believe in personal accountability.  Punctuality, honesty, being faithful, doing a good job of whatever I do, are all my responsibility to myself and to others.  It's up to each of us first to keep on course, but others can be very valuable assets to keep us motivated and to help us recover from set backs.  Training with a group helps, because if we value being faithful to our word then we will show up to train, even if we are really not feeling it that day.  We all know those people that are always late, do you respect that?  Be the kind of person you would like for others to be, if you don't like something you see in others then make sure you are not guilty, of the same thing.

I know a secret, the less you are worried about the better you sleep and the better you sleep the better you can do everything.  Most of our worries are the concerns that we are responsible for creating.  Unsolved problems are major stresses as well.  If your problem is from a lie that is coming back to haunt you then shame on you and you need to learn form it.  If your issues are out of control then it's time to seek help, not just a friend willing to let you vent but from someone who can help with a solution.  Unless we have an illness that is killing us and there is no cure for it, then there is help to cope with any concerns that arise.  Sometimes it's as easy as saying we are sorry for what we did, or forgiving someone what they did to us.  Calling somewhere you owe a bill is often an easy way to resolve a debt, most places are willing to work with us, ignoring a debt will not make it go away.

Being an adult athlete and achieving mental and physical wellness is not an easy path, but it is, I believe, a path worth taking.  It often puts us in a position of having to confront ourselves.  If you want to be better you have to live better, act better and think better.  We have control of only 2 things in life, our own thoughts and actions. Make the most of that control and you can amaze yourself with what you can accomplish.

Thanks for reading.


Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Changing World.

I have followed the running and exercise movement since the late 1970s.  What I see now more than ever are working moms that are not only raising a family, running a household, working a full time job but also making the time to train for and run or walk half and full marathons.  That folks is inspiring to the extreme.  These warrior princesses, yes any lady who trains for and goes the distance deserves that title, are positive role models for all of us.  It's hard for us guys to complain about finding the time to exercise, with so many examples like them, all around us.

We need good role models now, maybe more than ever before and women are showing us the way.  When I go to the park to do my miles I often see a mom or a group of moms pushing jogging strollers and getting their miles in as well.  I've even seem some tiny women pushing double strollers along the kitty litter trails.  Talk about getting a strength training workout!  Those women are living proof that if you want something enough, you can make it happen.  Teen age girls, young adult women and senior ladies are all out there, taking control or their lives and setting the example.

Those women are taking the lead and we need to take notice.  There is an old saying, "Heroes will come when heroes are needed", we need them now and they are coming.  The world is changing, we have to change with it.  At the risk of being to simplistic; the cure for the health care crisis is healthier people, the answer for being more productive is fitness and endurance, the way to stamp out the nation wide problems of drug and alcohol abuse is offer another way to cope with problems that seem overwhelming.

It is a fact, that in the big half and full marathons, women athletes usually outnumber the men.  Think about that for a minute, there might be more women now, that have completed a half or full marathon, than there are men.  The weaker sex?  Dream on brothers, they are making us look bad and it's time for us to get into the game and join them.

The world is changing and we need to change with it.  Strength, fitness, endurance, stamina and a mind that can handle stress are our best tools, for moving forward in this changing world.  It appears that women have sensed this and they are showing by example what we need to do.  Let's follow their example, we truly can change a lot of things. 

If you are a veteran runner or walker, talk about it, let people know that you are an athlete and anyone that wants help, getting started themselves, can come to you for advice. If you are a beginner, welcome to the club, you are now on a path that can change your life.  Just starting to think about it, get your sneakers on and go to the park and take a walk,.  You might just find what's been missing in your life.

It has been said by many great philosophers, a truth that has spanned hundreds of years, "If you want change, start with changing yourself".

Thanks for reading.


Friday, May 10, 2013

Learn From The Right Teachers

When I first retired from the Air Force, I took a job at an automotive group as the training manager and the systems coordinator.  One morning I was sitting at my desk when one of the salesmen, an exceptionally over weight fellow, rushed in carrying a big bag of meat, a George Foreman grill and a big smile on his face.  He had just learned while watching a TV commercial about eating low carb: "I can eat all the meat I want as long as I don't eat bread and vegetables".  That probably wasn't exactly what the commercial said but that's what he got from it, he heard what he wanted to hear.  So for lunch that day our hero was treating everyone to his new discovery.  They had steaks, burgers and Italian sausage, but no buns.  Now one of the things I've discovered, over my many years on the planet, is that if you want to lean something talk with someone who is at the top of their game, in the subject you are interested in.

I have learned some interesting and helpful tips while having conversations with successful athletes.  One of the advantages of being in the Air Force and being an athlete, especially a runner was that I often got to meet successful athletes, when they visited the base.  Since I was a runner I also occasionally had the opportunity to go running with them.  They would of course keep it slow and gentle for us mortals. The elite are glad to share their knowledge, they love their sport and know how important it is to help others along.  They are successful for a lot of reasons but the most important is their passion for what they do.  Passion is a non-negotiable part of athletic success, without that passion they couldn't train as hard as they do, day after day after day.

While having lunch with an Olympian, who had just won gold in the decathlon, I learned a tip for putting on my shoes, that I use to this day.  When you put your shoe on, keep the shoe flat on the floor and pull your heel back into the heel cup, then adjust the tongue and laces for the proper tightness.  I have used this method to put my shoes on and never had any problems with blisters, caused by my heels slipping, in my shoes, during long runs or race walks.

A visiting fitness expert and pioneer in the new 'Aerobics Class' craze taught us the exercise called waist vacuuming.  That is where you tighten your stomach muscles as hard as you can and hold it for 10 seconds, release and repeat. You imagine that you are trying to get your abs to touch your back bone.  The great thing about this exercise is you can do it anytime and no one knows, so it can even be done standing in line waiting in line to check out at a store.  Several times a day can work wonders for your abdominal strength.  Much safer than crunches also.

From a world class sprinter I came away with a way to think, while doing the sprint distances.  He said that he blocked out everything but the pumping motion of his legs.  He concentrated on pushing his knee down and pulling his other foot up as fast as he could, he was seeing that motion in his mind and willing his legs to go faster and faster.  I have used that and it has helped me go faster when I did the corporate challenge races, while I was stationed in Vegas.  It also helped to get me going faster in the long jump.

I learned an interesting breath technique form a very good marathoner.  She was the one that taught me about super charging my muscles with oxygen.  When she is waiting the last few minutes before the start, she is breathing deeply and on the exhale tightening her abs in a motion that pushes the last of the used air out of her lungs.  When she is getting ready to put a move on someone ahead of her she also does that same breathing technique, to give her muscles the maximum amount of oxygen, before she starts to pass her competitor.  I have used that during those times and also when I'm starting to get tired while training or racing.  It seems to give me the boost I need to feel stronger.

Several of my, 'Warrior Princess', race walking friends have helped me become a better walker by telling me how to visualize what I was doing.  Things like learning better posture by imagining I had a rope tied around my middle and I was being pulled along by that rope.  Or that I should concentrate on my hip going forward and the counter balance of my opposite arm going back as fast as I could.

These are little things but it's the little things that separate the good from the amazing when it's game on, for the talented athletes.  What they have to say is important and we less talented should never miss an opportunity to hear what the elite athletes have to say.

Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

For Every End Comes a New Beginning

For all things there is a beginning and an end, that's the way of our lives and our world. No matter how good, bad or indifferent all things will end and then something new will begin.  Like a good movie, an interesting trip or an intriguing book, we hate for them to end but we know they will and we are sad.  It's ok to be sad but we should also feel enriched because we had the opportunity to experience them.  This is how it is with all things in life.

When a phase of our lives come to an end we can be sad and grieve for it, but then we must move forward.   We have to make a decision that we will continue the journey, that is our destiny, even though we are now following a new path.  Sometimes the path is away from unpleasant periods, that we have lived through.  We can be moving away from a bad relationship, being over weight, beating an addiction, like smoking, drinking, even drugs or just leaving a life of limited activity and beginning to move toward health and happiness.  These times we can be happy and comforted that we not only lived through those periods but came away stronger.

One of the reasons we get into doing distance events in the first place is to put a positive goal out there in front of us.  A goal to finish a 5K, half marathon or full marathon can be a powerful tool to help us stay focused on moving forward.  Especially for a beginning adult athlete, training for and completing an event can be an amazing rite of passage.  How magical to be recovering from an unpleasant period of life or an addiction and cross the finish line of a distance event. 

Like running away and joining the old 'French Foreign Legion', you go the distance to come to grips with your past life challenges and steel your mind and body to face the next challenges.  Becoming an adult athlete is a positive way to do just that.  A strong body will help us become stronger mentally.  We have our strength and endurance to carry us over the obstacles and to slay our personal demons.

All of us will go through these periods of good and bad and all of them will come to an end.  We grow older, we change jobs, we move, we retire.....the list of changes is endless and also very individual, to each of us.  But if we strive for a life of health, fitness and mental wellness then we can over come whatever life throws at us.

Isn't it time you started thinking about a new challenge?

Thanks for reading


Sunday, May 5, 2013

The "W" Word

I'm a race walker, I have been since 2005, when an injury made that a better option than running.  Up until that time walking for me was unthinkable.  Walking was a lessor sport, one for older or out of shape people, heck it wasn't even a sport.  A walker was someone who got in my way when I ran a race.  A walker an athlete, oh please!  Then I was faced with a choice between giving up running and switching to something else or continue to run in pain.  Every race for me became a personal worst.  Then on Memorial Day of 2005 I ran my last race, or attempted to anyway.  It was a 5K on grass and that uneven surface and my bad Achilles tendon were not a good match.  I couldn't even walk around normally, for a week after, without pain.  I haven't ran a step since then.

I had seen some of the local race walkers at the races and decided to give it a try.  I loved doing the races and not doing them ever again was even more unthinkable than becoming a walker.  From that week after Memorial day, when I could walk again until the middle of July, I walked and tried to learn as much as I could about race walking. Race walking is hard to self learn. I know that even better now than I did then.  I'm still learning now 8 years later.  It's like learning martial arts, you get better with practice and occasionally you have, "Oh Wow", moments when something comes together.  I raced in a walk race that July, a two miler, that was held just before a 5K run race.  About a hundred walkers showed up, and of those, about 10 were race walkers.  It was amazing. Race walking was just like running a race.  The seasoned race walkers beat me easily, but I thought I did well for my first time competing.  I have been race waking since and even completed several half and full marathons.

The point where I wanted to be with this writing is the changes in the attitude about walking in the running community.  When I first started walking I was a sudden outcast on the forums I frequently wrote for.  One of the frequent criticisms was that even if you finished a marathon, unless you ran some of it, you weren't a marathoner!  Marathoner apparently was a term to describe runners only.  Funny though it wasn't the elite of the running world but the novice runners that were the most anti walker.  Maybe that is because we were in the back of the pack together.  When I was a runner I was not great but usually in the top 20% or so in a race, so I was never really around the back half of the races, where walkers were.  Some of the attitude might have been the rivalry between faster walkers and slower runners.

Walkers are often their own worst enemies when it comes to being accepted in the races.  One of the classic bad things beginning walkers do is get some friends together, sign up for a race and then want to walk three or more abreast, making themselves an obstacle to anyone faster trying to pass them.  Then they get mad when faster runners and walkers want to go through them.  Veteran walkers know that walking two abreast is plenty, any more than that hinders the other athletes.  It's as bad as the athlete that does the run/walk intervals in a race and runs till they pass someone and then slows to a walk right in front of them.  But manners are getting better as race participates are getting more educated.

I will fast forward now to the half marathon I just finished in Louisville Kentucky.  I race walked it with a brother walker.  We walked the race between 12 and 13 minutes per mile and we were never in the way of anyone running and we were passing as many slower runners as faster ones passed us.  But what I found amazing was that 3 different runners approached us with encouragement and were amazed at how smooth and efficient our motion was.  One even related a tale about another race where they had spent a whole marathon leap frogging with a race walker.  These interactions with runners made me realize how much the attitude has changed over the years and how much more race walkers are accepted now in the racing community.

I was really glad of this because basically, forward motion is forward motion.  There are as many styles of running as there are runners.  Walking, be it race walking or normal brisk walking it's just another way of moving forward.

Thanks for reading.


Saturday, May 4, 2013

Be The Role Model

It wasn't long ago that people thought athletes were mentally challenged. Everyone who grew up in 60s and 70s like I did remember that the "Jocks" were considered muscle heads and not as smart as the rest of the class. The common stereo type was the football player that the coach got into all the easy classes so he could keep his grades up.  Now wait a minute don't most of the good players get drafted after they graduate form college?  We adult athletes have learned ourselves that we often think a lot clearer when we are in motion.

Well now we are beginning to realize that starting to exercise early is as important as doing well in the academic classes. We all know successful people who die young from heart problems or have a compromised lifestyle because of being diabetic, brought on by their weight. To bad it took us so long to realize this.  Maybe those Jocks were on to something back then.  Maybe a strong body is as important as a strong mind after all.

Now we are facing a unique situation where our children are often getting no exercise at all, even Physical Education is now an elective at most high schools. Video games have replaced active play. What kind of future are these kids going to have? A life of sickness, obesity and dependence on medications, followed by dying way to young.  Look around, that is what is happening right now.  It's so important that we adult athletes set the example that it doesn't have to be that way.

I don't see kids running around the neighborhood playing anymore. The only ones I see on a bicycle are adults. What are we doing to our newest generations? Is it any wonder that our nation is growing more over weight every year?  We have a health care crisis alright, one we have caused by our own actions.  Our bodies were designed to move not sit for long periods and be fed on processed chemical mixes that we think are food.

What can we do about this national concern? To start with we can be a positive example of health and fitness instead of being an example of the problem. We can set the example with our own eating habits. It doesn't do much good to talk to kids about avoiding addiction when we are addicted to soda, cigarettes, the Internet, and television.  We need to talk to our children about nutrition just as we would about the other important things.

Our children follow the example set for them, when you complain about everything in your life, like your job, the bills, your looks, and that is a huge one right there!  If we are setting an example of not being pretty enough ourselves then our children are going think that about themselves. Our children learn to complain also. What happened to being glad you have a job that paid the bills? When we set the example for being happy with our own life, that is the example they have to follow.

It's great to put the kids in sports programs but that in it's self isn't enough.  Those one or two days a week that they are in sports are great but you need to go a few steps further.  To start with, make daily activity a lifestyle, not just something you go watch the kids do a couple of times a week.  Do something active as a family every week.  Go hiking, get bikes for everyone in the family, if you have no where to ride around the neighborhood then load them up and head for a park.  But above all we need to be setting the example that activity is part of living.  Remember that children will do as they see us do. So let them see you run, walk, swim, bike and show them that motion is a part of living.

Those of us who don't have children at home anymore can still be a huge influence by being out there getting in our miles.  Once again seeing us out there running and walking shows that exercise is indeed a part of living.  We adult athletes are, by our just doing what we enjoy, helping to save the world.  We are demonstrating a better way, a way that is true freedom to be physically able to do anything we desire to do and not just sit on the side and watch others.

Let's all step up and be the examples of the right way to live.  "Do as I say and not as I do", doesn't work.

Thanks for reading.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Be Surrounded

There is a scene in the mini series Band of Brothers; a soldier in the 101st Air Borne, is walking down the road with his Captain, who is the company commander.  They are at the head of the line of troops moving through enemy controlled territory.  Another comes up to them and says, "You know you are surrounded".  The Captain answered, "We are Paratroopers, we are supposed to be surrounded".

That is good advice for all of us, we need to be surrounded.  We need to surround ourselves with people who make us better.  We need to have good, moral, positive and motivated people around us.  We all have an inborn desire to be part of a group.  We can make that desire work for us and make our lives truly wonderful or we can let it destroy us.  The groups you choose to identify with will have a huge influence on your life.

You can belong to gangs that use you to further the gang, not you.  You can pal around with people who are negative or have poor morals.  You can become addicted to booze, drugs or any of the unhealthy lifestyles, oh you will find others there but I promise they will not make you a better person.  Or you can look for people that are happy and successful.  They don't have to be rich, in the size of their bank accounts, but wealthy in happiness and living like they feel is the right way.

As an adult athlete, one of my long time goals is to be a better athlete.  I want to be stronger, faster and continue to improve every year.  That goal is open ended because I want to always strive to be better.  By choosing my friends and the groups I belong to wisely, I am supported and motivated by the positive role models I look to and respect.  If you want to be a better athlete then look at what the successful ones are doing.

There is a price to pay as well as that choice to make.  If you want to be surrounded by those kind of people that are positive, moral and motivated then also have to make the decision that you are going to be that kind of person yourself.  Happy, life successful people are not going to allow you to be around them, if you are not willing to be that way yourself.  That means you need to clean up your own act.  You have to choose to be happy and be optimistic.  You have to know that the world isn't out to get you.  I hear for example at work, "I need to see if I can get more hours, because I need to make more money", but this person frequently comes in late and usually wants to leave early.  The boss doesn't schedule them many hours now because they are not dependable.

If you are like me and desire to be a better athlete, or just desire to be a better person, then start with acting like that better person.  Once you do that then something truly magic happens.  Those kind of people start letting you into their lives.  Life can be wonderful and fulfilling, but like all things worth having, you have to earn it.

Thanks for reading


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Pump It!

Usually I write for beginning runners, walkers and race walkers.  That is where I feel that I can do the most good, with what I can contribute, to the sports that I love.  There is so much misinformation and so many cold hard facts that it's often hard for a someone new to adult athletics to wade through it.    But today I'm going to write on a different subject and for long time road warriors.

When you live a lifestyle of health and fitness and this lifestyle has gone on for ten years, twenty years, thirty years or in my case over four decades then there are times that you need to be pumped back up.  You hit periods where you don't really feel like training at all any more or you just feel like you are going through the motions.  It seems pointless because your best days are behind you, you are getting older, slower and less limber.  It takes longer and longer to recover from an injury and you get injured so much easier than you did before.

These are the times when we have to dig deeper than ever before.  Deeper than when we need to go hard and go long in a race.  Deeper than when we need to get out on the road when it's hot and humid or below freezing and get our miles in.  Deeper even than when we have to get up at oh dark thirty, on a cold rainy morning and get to the starting line of a race.  You have to dig down to very core of your being to find the spark to relight that flame of desire.  That flame that has been strong before and as it began to fade a part of you began to fade with it.

I have had to rekindle that fire many times over the years and sometimes it would stay cold for a year or more before something would happen that brought back the need.  Yes the need because that lifestyle is something that once you have experienced it, although you may need to step back from it, becomes a part of your being.  When you do it's like coming home to a long lost love.  It's like being lost and then finding your way out of the darkness.

If you are anything like me then you have experienced those cold times yourself, times when it's just hard to find the motivation.  But somehow you did it and found that lost love.  You brought yourself back and it was like you came home and also, very soon, it's like you never left.  I'm speaking now to that adult athlete that is feeling the flame fading and it's threatening to burnout.  How do you get it back when you are really not feeling the love anymore?

When you feel it fading then you have to remember what it felt like when it was good and fine, when you were firing on all cylinders.  When you are training and racing you are, for the few times in your life, living by your own rules, master of your own body and feelings.  You are literally high on living and living free.  You need to remember but you also need to add a new goal.  You must find that which makes it worth it to train hard again.  To live by your own rules again and train again like you once did, you have to want it again.

It's time to change things around, shake it up.  If you train with music then change the songs in your iPod.  If your haven't been training to music then maybe it's time to start.  Get a training partner, plan a future challenge to work toward together.  Decide to do it all and train like the elite train.  Plan an interval day, a tempo day and an LSD day each week.  Cross train, lift, swim, put all the pieces of a training program together.  Or don't do any of that, simply make the decision that you are going to find the love and enjoy being in motion again.

If you are going through a cold spell, make the effort to find the love again, it will be worth it.  Shake off the funk and rediscover your own flame.

Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Getting it

There are several schools of thought about why athletes continually get better.  They continue to get stronger, faster and records continue to be broken regularly.  There is one group that says it's the performance enhancing drugs.  Even the athletes that don't get caught are doing them, they have just been lucky.  They use Lance Armstrong as the poster child for this theory.  According to them if those drugs were to be stopped we may never see a record broken again.  Another theory is that training methods keep improving and we keep learning more about not only how to train a muscle but how to feed it as well.  Still another is that it's a natural progression for each generation to be a little better than the last.

I personally think that it's none of these things.  Sure modern medical tests can find out if you are deficient in a vitamin or mineral and you can take supplements legally for those deficiencies.  There is a wealth of information now about training and fueling your muscles.  We have amazing new training equipment and the research is on going.  As far as the natural progression, who really knows.

If indeed athletic perfection were, drugs, scientific training, state of the art equipment and super fueling, then how do we explain the that endurance sports are dominated by the poorer countries.  The South Africans dominate the distance races, they don't have the resources to tap into the science pot but they are the hands down kings of the long distance races.  The industrialized, "developed", nations do excel in the short, sprint events.  Well they did until Usain Bolt came along form the tourist island of Jamaica.

What is the magic that is at work when a Kenyan runner can beat the runners who have access to the best of everything in performance training?  Is it that they are training harder, or smarter or that they are just genetically superior?  Or is it something else.  I believe that it is something else, something that you can't test in the laboratory.  I think that the spark that makes a good athlete great is that the great athlete has figured it out and they can't even explain it.

The 4 minute mile was an impossible goal, runners for many years tried and failed to achieve that magic performance goal.  Then someone did it and it wasn't long before the 4 min mile was broken regularly.  Now the elite athletes go darn near that pace in the marathon.  Athletes viewed the 4 minute mile as impossible until they were shown it was possible.  It was a change in thinking rather than a change in training that made the 4 minute mile a reachable goal.

When Usain Bolt rewrote the record book on the sprint events do you think he was scientifically enhanced?  Did he have a secret training laboratory where he was exposed to the best training and diet?  No he figured out that "something".  Something clicks and then you are suddenly at a higher level than ever before.  The scientists that study such things say that we use only a small portion of what our brains are capable of.  I believe that the great athletes have learned to use more of that brain power to be better athletes.

One of my race walking friends that regularly brings home gold medals from international competitions says this about race walking, "Once you get it, then it's like a switch has been tripped and suddenly you can fly".  Race walking is a technique sport, like runners most of us are just plodding along wondering how the, "Really speedy ones", do it.  Most of them if they are honest don't know either, they just do it. 

What is this magic, mental super power?  I think it's as simple as believing in yourself and training with the mind set that you will accomplish the goals that you desire.  Will that make you a champion?  Well if you don't believe in yourself and work as hard as you can to reach your goals, then no you won't be a champion.  But if you do believe and can see yourself accomplishing your goals and then are willing to put in the hard work, then yes it's possible.

Thanks for reading.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Random Acts of Kindness Thoughts

Yesterday I suggested that we honor the wounded of Boston as well as peace loving people around the world by doing random acts of kindness this week.  Kindness for a week doesn't change anything, right?  Well maybe if we do start thinking of those acts of kindness, really put some serious thought into them and do those acts often enough they can become habit.

Kindness can start at home, doing kind things for your family is a good place to start the ball rolling.  Kindness doesn't have to end with other people either.  When you do your marketing this week pick up a bag of seed and thank the pretty little birds that give us their songs.  While your at it you could call your local animal shelter and see what kind of things they desperately need.  Showing up with some cat litter, chew bones or even cleaning supplies will make you a hero.

A smile doesn't cost anything but I promise if you smile at people they will smile back.  It is amazing how you can cheer someone up with that simple gesture.  I often do my training through very poor areas of town.  When I pass someone standing on the side of the road, waiting for a bus or just walking along the sidewalk, they get a warm smile.  I will always get a smile back and often a surprised look as well.  It's like I'm the only one who has even acknowledged they existed for a long time.  Elderly people especially seem to appreciate that smile.  We get really good at ignoring the poor and the elderly among us.  Maybe it's time we learned to really see the world around us.

There are so many causes asking for our monetary contributions and many are I'm sure worthy causes.  But I think giving of yourself is equally important and often an even better way.  Volunteering to help out with a race to earn funds for a cause is a better memory than just writing out a check or doing a paypal.  Helping costs nothing and you have the knowledge that it might not have happened if you hadn't given of your time.

Another kindness is also an excellent way to help yourself.  We all have friends and family members we haven't talked to for way to long.  Most of us also have held a grudge about something for way to long.  All of us need to learn to forgive people for trivial things that happened in the past.  Isn't it time to bury those old demons and get on with your life.  A short note to an old friend that you haven't talked to for a long time, to let them know you were thinking about them, can really make their day and just maybe your day as well.

Next time you head out for some long slow distance training, give it some thought and see what you can come up with.  I bet you will think of things that not only help others but make you feel better about yourself.

Thanks for reading.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Random Act of Kindness

We are coming off of a week in which there was a brutal attack against innocent people.   All around the world there is terrorism, brutality and injustice.  There is evil in the world and mans inhumanity to his fellow man is to most of us simply unthinkable.

I have a proposal to make.  Let's make this week a week that everyone of us, each day will do at least one completely random act of kindness.  You have all seen those videos where doing a good deed for someone starts a chain reaction of good deeds.  This week let's do that, let's practice what we believe, good will toward our fellow man is the antidote for evil.

There are way more of us good honest hard working people in this world than there are doers of evil.  Let's make the effort this week to prove that.  Yes the evil touched us all this last week but don't let that evil have it's way, don't let it make us hate and distrust.  Let's show we are better than that.

Thanks for reading.


Friday, April 19, 2013

After Thoughts

Like most Americans I'm trying to make some sense out of the senseless act of terror against the people of Boston, during the marathon.

I'm part of a world wide community of adult athletes, most of you that are reading this are members of that community as well.  We don't all know each other, but our daily lives are so similar that we could all be living by the same book of instructions.  We go to work to keep food on the table for ourselves and our families and a roof over our head.  We prize our time that we can practice our chosen sport.  We are parents, spouses, bread winners, and we are involved with our community.  We really don't have the time to ponder who we currently need to hate.  We are too busy leading our own lives.

 Why would terrorists want to target a marathon?  Because it stands for what they are against, people getting along with each other, regardless of their religion, their nationality or the color of their skin.  Maybe our gathering, to practice our passion, is the biggest threat to their hatred.  The very concept of thousands of people, from the world over, coming together and cheering each other on, goes against the terrorists message of hatred.

What they did does send a message, that we are doing right.  We are examples, of what is good with the world.  Not because we run or walk or lead a lifestyle of health and fitness, but because we have come to understand that our battles should be against our own demons and not our fellow man.  We have learned that we must strive to be stronger in mind and body, to be a better person tomorrow than we were yesterday.  That is the good and wholesome message that we send.


Thursday, April 18, 2013


There is a poem about a woman who finds a poor half frozen snake. She takes it home, gives it milk and honey and wraps it in silk to get it warm. After the snake is warmed up it bites the woman and kills her. Just before she dies she asks the snake, "Why did you bite me, I cared for you". The snake replied, "You knew I was a snake when you brought me in". That poem is a wonderful lesson about the temptations we face in our lives.

Many things we know are bad for us, make us feel so good. Drugs, alcohol, cheating on our significant other all give us a feel good. Even though deep down we know it's destroying us. We crave those feelings. We drink to access because we crave that drunk feeling, knowing that the next day we will pay with a hangover for those feelings. I was a smoker for 35 years and the last 5 years or so I would tell my self this cigarette will be my last, because I knew that I was poisoning myself. But I couldn't stop. That few minutes of need over came my good sense.

That feeling of new and forbidden love is so wonderful like a drug in it's self. But that feeling doesn't last, the freshness and intensity fades over time and then you wonder where the excitement is that you felt for this other person.  Then you usually discover that you destroyed a good relationship by giving in to the temptation of cheating.

We follow a cause or join a group, just to have a sense of belonging. Even though we often know that group is just using us. We like knowing we are part of it. Like a politician who tells you, "if you will just vote for me, all your troubles are over". That politician doesn't give a darn about you, just your vote and you know that but you want that feeling that comes from thinking that maybe this time will be different.

We all have the same temptations and face the same demons. It's how we respond to those temptations that makes us the person we are. I was talking to one of the guys in the gym this morning who had just completed his first triathlon. Was he on a High? Hell yes he was, he was riding the drug of accomplishment. He said this morning that he was as excited as when he was back in college and had just won a big game.

We can get our highs and our 'feel goods' and we can get them the right way, without feeling guilty. We can have the satisfaction of doing something well, accomplishing a difficult task or helping others accomplish their goals. The possibilities are endless, we just have to look for them.  Our challenge is to look for 'feel goods', that keep us moving forward and not sending us into a spin of self destruction.

My crowd has discovered the awesome feeling of finishing distance events like half and full marathons. Whether you walk, run or a combination, that finish line is sweet. But even sweeter is over coming negative temptations and winning your own self respect.

Thanks for reading.