From the Archives: Mostly the Miles are Just Boring

As a reminder, I am on vacation this week and planning to be ‘mostly offline’ – so I scheduled a few post ‘reruns’ from the very early days of the blog (when I had very few readers)! This one was originally posted here.

Back when I started this blog I was conflicted – I was planning to talk about running and ‘healthy living’, but wasn’t planning a hardcore running or foodie blog. At the time the blogs I most enjoyed were ones written by runners with more to discuss than just running. That caused me to reflect a bit. Here we go!

Run Route 10-19-13

Check out the route I ran on Saturday – it was ~12.25 miles, making it the 2nd longest I have run in nearly a month due to tapering and recovering from the Wineglass Marathon. I was happy with the pace as well, especially since I took a hilly route, and the wind was already blowing and the rain started coming down heavy and I looked like a drowned rat by the time I was done. The wind was crazy – I ran facing every possible direction and yet felt the wind was constantly bashing me around!

I posted my post-run picture on Instagram and had some interest in terms of people ‘liking’ it and sharing some comments either there, Twitter or Facebook. That is really cool – I love sharing stuff and getting feedback, just like I enjoy seeing stuff other people post.

However, I try not to share EVERY run, and never post full running summaries and so on – I even know some people who de-friend others who post too many ‘daily workouts’, along with too many motivational pictures, political or religious rants, and so on. It gets overwhelming pretty quickly – and isn’t very interesting for non-runners.

Here is one of those dirty secrets about running blogs: nobody who reads them is very interested in dry daily run logs. Not even other runners … heck, probably not even the person writing the blog! Some folks feel the need to include them because they think ‘it is a running blog’; others include them with other material or as part of a ‘weekly summary’; some people started doing things that way and probably just do it without thinking.

When I read my favorite running blogs, it is seldom specifically for the running. I mean, I like hearing how they are doing with their running – but always in service of a specific goal. Are they training for their first marathon? I want to hear how they are feeling with increased mileage. A PR (personal record)? Tell me how the speed work is going. An injury? Definitely want to hear about coping skills and be there to drop in a supportive comment (especially with what Lisa is dealing with now).

It is also fun to read about the non-running side of things, how runners with non-running spouses and families deal with things – or more precisely, how other normal people deal with us runners! And just seeing the three-dimensional views of a wide variety of people. We all share a passion for a sport, so it is interesting to see what else we share. As of now I have yet to find fans of Anthony Braxton, John Zorn and Mary Halvorson in my running blog travels!

The reasons WHY nobody cares about that stuff are actually fairly simple: most of the joy and benefit of running is very personal and doesn’t translate well into a daily blog entry. Here is an example:

Last week the weather was pretty uniformly nice and a bit warm. The mornings were clear, and I was happy to get out in the darkness, put my feet one in front of the other, focus on my breathing and strides, see the occasional bunny or squirrel and even a skunk, clear my head and work my muscles, and get home to be greeted at the door by a sleek black cat ready for 2nd breakfast as I head in to wake the kids up to get ready for school.

And that is the week – I ended up with 52 miles, and by the end of the week I had none of the residual tighness in my calf from the marathon, and was starting to think about my upcoming half-marathon. That isn’t too bad to read in bulk, but doesn’t make for an exciting daily read!

So perhaps it isn’t completely true that the miles are boring – because for me they are a continuous source of joy, elation and satisfaction …

Sunday Vacation Day, Award-Worthy and Weekly Summary!

Happy Sunday! Well, actually by the time you read this I will already be on vacation! WooHoo! I will say in advance that my intent is to be ‘mostly unplugged’ all week … so I apologize in advance if I don’t reply to comments, read blogs, or answer emails in a timely fashion. But for me, these unplugged times are really important since I tend to be an ‘always online’ person.

In my absence I haven’t set up any guests to post … instead I have pulled out three of my earliest posts – ones that seem to really resonate even now. I reworked them all a bit and reposted – hopefully you will enjoy!

Award-Worthy

When I did my Very Inspiring Blogger award post I sorta cheesed on nominating others … and it has bugged me since. I mean, it was one thing earlier this year when I had two in a row and had nominated all my faves in the first one … or even when I did the mega-awards post more recently. This time? I just didn’t make an effort – and worse yet, I realized that there are a bunch of new awesome blogs I am reading that deserve attention!

So here is what I am doing – I am just going to list 25 30 great blogs I read regularly, including old faves as well as new discoveries. If they would like to do a ‘Very Inspiring’ post (which is really mostly about listing a bunch of things about yourself) – great. But either way I encourage everyone to check them out!

1. T-Rex Runner
2. Runnah
3. Ann’s Running Commentary
4. Loving on the Run
5. The Lyons’ Share Wellness
6. The Gluten-Free Treadmill
7. She’s Going the Distance
8. SuzLyfe
9. Run Salt Run!
10. Paleo Running Momma
11. Life Between the Miles
12. Darlin’ Rae
13. Fit Fresh & Funny
14. Spiritual Creaminess
15. Carina’s Running Career
16. The Girl Who Ran Everywhere
17. Running Southern
18. Running Sunflower
19. Cowgirl Runs
20. Running Boston & Beyond
21. Carmy
22. Candies & Crunches
23. The Passion of Running
24. Running Out of Wine
25. So Very Slightly Mad
26. To a 5K and Beyond
27. Blonder side of life
28. Snack Therapy
29. Amazing in Motion
30. The Big Man’s World

Wow – I love a lot of blogs 🙂

My Running Summary

Another week without a Sunday or Saturday … and in spite of the heat and humidity I really enjoyed my runs. That said, having the cool dry breezy air of Friday was just amazing! I’ll take 365 days of THAT every year, thanks!

The funny thing was hitting my driveway and the Garmin saying 18.73 after I hit the button … and I really just didn’t care enough to make it 18.75 … oh well!

Sunday: ‘Rest’ day (Hike the gorge)
Monday: 10.25 miles, 2:32 plank
Tuesday: 11.4 miles, Abs, 2:17 plank
Wednesday: 9.75 miles, Abs, 2:39 plank
Thursday: 10.5, Abs, 2:07 plank
Friday: 18.73 miles, Abs, 2:32 plank
Saturday ‘Rest’ day (getting ready for vacation!)

This was an awesome week with a couple of late nights (Chris went to Fallout Boy/Paramour and got home after 1:30), but somehow I managed a total of just over 60 miles.

Have a great week and I look forward to catching up when I return!

Find Pleasure with The Failures of Others

Here is the thing – I talk about never having sustained a ‘lost time’ running injury … and I am willing to bet money that there is someone who will read this post that wishes I would get hurt, either out of spite or so that I would better understand those who are injured. Not any of my friends, but someone.

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Schadenfreude is defined as “a feeling of enjoyment that comes from seeing or hearing about the troubles of other people.” It comes from the German roots Schaden (meaning damage) + Freude (meaning joy).

What is Schadenfreude in Real Life?

I am pretty sure all of us have had at least one person in our lives who seemed to function best when others were at their worst. Sometimes this can be a good thing – the person who shines in bad situations, for example. But in general it is the person who seems to ‘be there’ for friends when things are down – but suddenly when you are happy they are either gone or finding fault with your happiness.

For us, there are a few things I could relate, but one in particular – the single person key to Lisa and I being together was not even present at our wedding, let alone a bridesmaid! Yeah, while I was fat and jobless and miserable, and Lisa was in Boston and contemplating moving to Albany for grad school and miserable … she fed off that misery and was ‘there for us’. But suddenly when Lisa and I became inseperable and happy and eventually romantically involved … she wasn’t happy for us – quite the opposite.

Why Would Someone Cheer for Others to Fail?

My first answer is ‘I have no idea’ … but the REAL answer is about self esteem. People can feel better about themselves because of the misfortunes of others. In the case of our friend, while Lisa and I were unhappy, the other woman was able to feel good about herself … but once we found happiness she was forced to confront her own misery – which she funneled into negative energy towards us!

Think about it – it seems easy enough to laugh at the poor woman who fell in this video:

But how would you react if you were there? Hopefully you would try to help and not laugh at her from the side of the road. That is also why I am not a big fan of ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos’ – because the focus is very often on people who have unfortunate things happen and perhaps get hurt as a result.

There are places on the internet that seem to thrive on celebrating the misfortune of others or simply laughing at and belittling others. As I have mentioned, I’ve done reviews for a variety of sites for nearly two decades now. I did a video game review a dozen or so years ago, and this one RPG site really picked up on a comment I made about the way the game represented women as being very positive, non-stereotypical and non-misogynist.

This site had linked my reviews in the past, but the place I was doing most reviews for at the time had strict post size policies (i.e. very short) so there wasn’t the depth that would interest an enthusiast site. But suddenly there were DOZENS of posts on the topic … and ALL of them were completely shredding me in every way possible – from my feminism, opinions and possible sexuality to pretty much everything else.

What Does This Have to Do With Running Blogs?

One good thing about a product review versus a blog is that a review is about something other than you. So while the commenters were rather direct and intentionally mean, their barbs left no mark because ultimately they were about a disagreement over gender representation in a computer game. Who. The. Fudge. Cares. (and, no, I did NOT say fudge 🙂 )

But imagine for a moment that while I was posting my Loves or Fears from my ’10 Days of You’ stuff – some deeply personal items in my life – and I got belittling comments on the site (I have never deleted a comment due to content), or on a different site, or perhaps on a forum somewhere.

And to answer the obvious question – YES there are blogs that seem to exist to hate on other blogs, and perhaps some here will realize there are web forums whose main purpose seems to be to shred blogs and bloggers. I will not provide any of them with links. Because they don’t need the help of traffic … and I have seen a couple of my blog friends on those sites (as targets). It is REALLY sad.

Along those same lines – did you know that some people ‘hate read’ blogs, the same way people ‘hate watch’ some TV shows (reality shows in particular)? Again, neither of those is something I ‘get’ – I don’t wish ill on anyone on TV, especially seeing how many marriages and families have been torn apart in the pursuit of money from those shows. It is sad.

It is sadder still to hear that people read blogs – and I mean even ones in our fun little limited audience community of running and healthy living blogs – with bad intent. HOPING they succumb to eating disorders; HOPING they get injured; SPECULATING on infidelity and marital problems … I mean, UGH! Really?!?

And … ?

Seeing enough of this going on really disheartened me – as did some of the dishonesty and misrepresentation I was also seeing (another topic). Life is hard enough, running and staying fit is hard enough, marriage is hard enough, parenting is hard enough … it is ALL hard enough wihout adding all of that negativity to the mix. That contributed to me stepping back, removing some blogs from my feed, and readjusting my expectations of myself and other bloggers. Since coming back I have focused on my friends and new acquaintences. And on providing as much support and positivity – while keeping it real – as I can. If you guys win – we ALL win!

So what do I ask? If you are hate reading a blog? Stop. If you think someone has problems – talk to them. Maybe the issue is no one is calling them on it and they are feeding the negative habits with all of the positive feedback. I don’t know. Be the change – we want everyone we care about to be happy and healthy. Help them – and for those who are looking for help, reach out. One thing I have learned is that the group that comments here and that I see all around the blogosphere are some amazingly awesome people who would step out for a friend – one they have never and might never meet. Who knows … take a chance, these guys (including me) have got your back. Together we can make this an even more positive experience.

So What Do YOU Think About All of This?

Five Ways Things Were Better in the Pre-Smartphone Internet Days

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Happy Friday! First off I wanted to again thank everyone for so many great comments across the entire ’10 Days of You’ series … it was really amazing to read, and the realization of how much of myself I exposed through these seemingly simple lists makes the comments even more meaningful.

The picture above is my Day 5 collage from Megan’s ‘Ab Challenge’ … and I am pretty pleased with my progress – I am up over a 2 minute plank along with the rest of the ab work and continuing to get in my runs of around 8 – 9 miles every day.

When I took a couple of weeks to ‘step back’ from blogging a few months ago, there were a number of frustrations and other things I needed to sort out … which have ended up in three different draft posts I am finally dealing with. One is on how people treat others, another is on honesty … and this one is about the inefficiency of blogging as a form of communication.

But just saying that by itself doesn’t really mean anything without context, so I wanted to explain WHY I find blogging to be such an inefficient time-soak, and compared to what. As I did that I was thinking about a bunch of other ways technology has become more time-intensive without necessarily delivering more value over the last couple of decades … oh, and before you jump to the comments immediately to tell me how wrong I am, I rebut pretty much every one of my points later in the post!

usenet

1. USENET vs. Forums vs. Blogging

Does anyone reading this remember the days before the web? When I got out of college and wanted to continue to be able to communicate with friends, there was email. Modems were mostly 1200 baud (bits per second … about twice as fast as you can type), and used a phone line. But there was also this thing called USENET.

USENET groups were discussion groups that were handled on a distributed network of servers that replicated the discussions worldwide. You would have a single USENET reader program that would load all of your discussion from your assigned server. Your program would track read and unread, and also discussions you ‘starred’, started or participated in.

So if you were interested in new running shoes, instead of writing on your blog ‘hey guys, what would you recommend for me for running shoes?’ you would post the question to the group rec. running, and a discussion would start … you would supply details, get questions, probably have a side thread or two about certain manufacturers being crap, and so on. Very often the discussions took on a life of their own.

And how would you find groups? Search your server. If you had just listened to music and wanted to see about others who liked that piece, you might go to rec. music.jazz. Or if you had a programming question you could go to comp.lang.c++ and people from all over the world would try to help.

USENET was a very democratic area, where anyone could start a discussion, and once it was out there … it was no longer ‘yours’. But with the rise of the web in the 90s, special interest websites popped up everywhere, gradually killing off USENET participation. An early site I helped out with and participated on was JediKnight.net, which came out after the game Dark Forces as fans waited for the first Jedi Knight game that eventually arrived in 1997. There was news, but mostly it was about the discussions.

What happened with web forums was that the discussions of USENET were decentralized – so you could find a running site which would have all sorts of discussion topics about technique, equipment, and so on. Most also had ‘off topic’ areas where you could talk about music, politics or whatever. Suddenly if you were a video game fan you needed to track a dozen forums to keep up with all of your discussions! But it remained democratic to an extent – all members were pretty much equal, with moderators and site owners having the final word.

Blogs are different – my blog begins and ends with what I want to talk about. If you find my subjects interesting you can comment and follow my posts. But what I found when I started tracking running blogs two years ago was that within the comments were always MORE blogs … and many of them were really cool. So you’d follow another and another and … suddenly you have an out of control subscription list, and this is just as a reader!

But what happens is you have a question you want to ask? Do you search for someone else asking and hope their answers work for you? Do you put your own question in someone else’s comments? No … you make your own blog. And suddenly you realize that there is a lot to blogging:
– Creating content that interests you and hopefully some others
– Reading all of the awesome blogs out there
– Commenting on those blogs
– Responding to comments on YOUR blog!

So suddenly we look back over the last 25 years and realize that we have gone from an in-depth discussion of the harmonic implications of the song ‘Circle’ from Miles Smiles, including several thousand comments in a group with tens of thousands of ‘members’ across dozens of countries … to, well, me introspectively writing a blog article complaining about blogging compared to ‘the good old days’.

HP200LX_1

2. PDAs and Dedicated MP3 Players compared to Smartphones

First – MP3 Players. We all know that distracted driving is incredibly dangerous, yet I cannot begin to count the number of people I see on their phones or ‘looking at their laps’ while driving. I know a number of people who use their smartphones as MP3 players. Here is a quick test – how many actions does it take you to stop the current song, change to a new artist, find a certain song on a certain album and play that? And how much ‘screen look’ time? Without doing the math, let em be blunt – it is MUCH less efficient, and MORE dangerous, than on a click-wheel iPod. Which is why I have one in my car.

How is something that takes more effort and distraction to complete a task more efficient? It isn’t! Smartphones are simply less efficient music players, and a bad choice for the car.

Similarly, our smartphones are amazingly powerful tools and the apps we now have are stunning in their depth and breadth. Yet if I had serious math to do on the go I would choose the 20-year old HP 200LX over any of them … in a heartbeat! With Lotus 1-2-3, a full HP scientific calculator, a hardware keyboard and dedicated numeric keypad … POWER! And that was one reason I held off on ‘smartphones’ until Android – ‘convergence’ devices were always inferior.

Look at the keyboard on the HP Jornada 728 from 2002, and you might realize how well it would have worked as something to carry to every meeting and type up notes, do (offline) email, and so on. Looking at the front you might realize it has dedicated hardware media controls – yes it was my MP3 player for quite a while!

It has taken a long time for these convergence devices to catch up – something like the iPad Mini in a Belkin keyboard case is a great replacement for the 728 in every way. But think about it – how great of an accomplishment is it to ‘finally surpass a 12 year old piece of hardware of similar price’ … and to need add-on accessories to do it?

Paar im Restaurant schaut auf Handys

3. Being ‘In The Moment’ vs. ‘Always On’

There is a joke that we are raising a generation that appears to have an unnatural and humorous fascination with their crotches … that is they think they are ‘sneaking’ cell phone use or somehow being more polite by keeping it under the table – but it doesn’t change the reality of the situation.

Think about it – when was the last time your were out to dinner with friends or family and you DIDN’T have to repeat something because someone’s attention was on their phone? The priority order is skewed – we are more worried about who is on our smartphone than who is across the table.

My point? It has been shown that for all of the ‘social’ aspects, our smartphones have made us much less socially engaged and worse at handling routine interactions. That is NOT progress.

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4. Punctuality and Reliability

When I had my first job out of college, there were essentially no cell phones and pretty much all computers were desktops (and many people didn’t have external email addresses). If you wanted to have a meeting, you generally had to call someone – and if you needed to alter plans, you again needed to call them.

Just this afternoon I had a meeting to help someone with analyzing some data. At 5 minutes after the meeting was supposed to start at my desk, I got a text asking if they could have 10 more minutes and if we could meet at THEIR desk. I didn’t even think twice about it until I was walking to their office, but that sort of thing would never have happened even 10 years ago.

It all reminds me of this:

“In the US, where punctuality is usually seen as important, mobile phones make us later. We’re more likely to schedule things spontaneously, and then reschedule at the last minute via mobile phone.”

Oh – and THIS video pretty much sums it up.

blackberry-on-the-beach

5. Vacation and Off-Time

I remember going on vacation to Disney in 2001 when Blackberry was a new thing … and I had one of the models like in the picture (but they weren’t in color yet) and for the first day the constant buzzing bothered me and I felt ‘compelled’ to check. But the second morning as we were getting ready, I took one last look, shut it down and locked it in the hotel safe. I didn’t take it out again until we left.

When was the last time you took a cell-phone free vacation? Or brought your phone but actually limited it to taking pictures, keeping up basic communications and that was it? For more and more people it is like the actual number of vacationers has doubled – you have your family … and their phones!

Bonus. The Counter-Points

Of course, for every point I just made there is a counterpoint … and since they seemed obvious to me, I will make them!

The Joy of Blogging – it isn’t SUPPOSED to Replace USENET/Forums – Blogging is all about the celebration of the individual voice and the building of community. We love hearing what our friends have to say – both in posts and in comments. We have something to add and are interested in the reply for the original poster.

It is that celebration of voices and community that makes blogging so great – and worth the challenge of the hard work and time required. I think about the amazing people I have met, the number of folks I genuinely consider friends at this point, and how much faster I have learned so much about them, and shared so much of myself, by blogging and reading blogs. There are people I have talked with on web forums for 20 years regularly I know less about than bloggers I have followed for 3 months. It is amazing.

Also, those discussion I mention STILL happen – in web forums. If you want to talk music theory, head to All About Jazz, where there are incredibly talented people ready to talk – and share annotated links, multimedia files, and other stuff not possible 25 years ago. Same for optimizing virtual instruments in Digital Performer (MOTUForums), and gaming frame rates (numerous forums). Point is – they’re out there.

Also, my USENET example comes from a time when the entire population of the internet was about 100 times SMALLER than the number of people who have viewed the #selfie video. Think about that for a minute … this is even before AOL came along, before ‘text speak’ existed, before most houses had a computer.

Smartphones vs. MP3 and PDAs – When I use my iPhone for music in the car, I am not playing just from when I have remembered to load onto the device, but instead from my entire music library. Last week I wanted to hear ‘Black Radio’ from Robert Glasper (check it out) but on my iPod I only had the ‘Black Radio 2’ album. On my phone that is no problem.

Also, on my phone I have iTunes Radio, Slacker, Spotify, Rdio, Amazon Music, Google Music, and more to play music, Shazam to identify and buy anything I hear while out and about, as well as any number of musical instruments if I hear a tune and want to learn on the go.

Also, I have a full HP-15 calculator on my phone as well as full-featured statistical analysis programs on my iPad. I can go into the lab, grab data, analyze and graph, and report it out all from my tablet quite easily in a way I never could without a full laptop in the past.

Smartphones Require Social Discipline – if you are on a early date and look like the couple above … smartphones are not your biggest issue. Communication requires … well, communication. There are times when you WILL look like that, and sometimes it can be fun – there are times Lisa and I are hearing from the kids, or have posted a picture of us on a date and are getting responses and sharing them together.

It is up to us – technology really CAN add to the social environment … we just need to use discipline and always remember to prioritize the people we are with.

Smartphones Allow Flexibility – I remember getting crappy directions to a place in Cambridge way back in the late 80s, a part of the city I’d never been to, and struggling to find it. I finally found a pay phone, thankfully had change, and called the office to get better directions … which were only somewhat helpful as I had to call once again to notify them I’d be late.

With a smartphone and GPS none of that would have happened. Also, that scenario of the quickly changed meeting worked out fine (although notification BEFORE the start of a meeting would always be better). Social norms still need to apply – we need to be polite and respect other people’s time and feelings … but otherwise rapid communications allows unprecedented flexibility.

Smartphones on Vacation – you know that commercial of the family trip where the daughter seems totally disengaged and into her cell phone, yet at some point produces something documenting everything they have done with ‘best vacation ever’ capturing so many great moments? That is closer to reality … sure our devices tag along – but they also help us grab moments, because as the saying goes the best camera is the one that is always with you and ready to go!

So What Do YOU Think? Do I have any points, Did I negate them all with my counter-points, or is this just my ‘Grumpy Old Man’ showing?!?

Five Things Friday – Airia Shoes, ‘Anthrax Smoothie’ and More!

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Happy Friday! Crazy week we’ve had – how about you? It was one of those weeks where I was constantly off on what day it was, sometimes a day early, sometimes a day late. There were some things on the project at work that caused uncertainty on exactly how we are doing things and what sub-projects are doing which things in which order. I had a half-hour call with our HR about a work/employee situation that I was an observer/witness to … Confuzzling week, I tell you …

It has been so bizarre that we didn’t realize that it was today that the school was off, using up the last extra ‘snow day’ (there are bizarre rules around start and stop dates for school, and fixed test schedules for the state, so they can’t just chop off the end of the year). As a result the boys have a four day weekend – and with all of the AP tests, SAT tests, major projects and so on recently this will be a great catch-up weekend for them … and hopefully they can find some summer work!

As I said, the boys have a four day weekend. I have Monday off, but Lisa only has Sunday off. As a result we don’t have big plans – maybe get some bark mulch and work on the flower beds and gardens a little, plan out the revamping of our deck and some other projects … hopefully the weather will cooperate and we can even have a little bonfire in our fire pit.

Airia Running Shoes1

1. Airia Running Shoes

Have you heard about these funky new shoes? They are from Swedish company Airia Running, and claim to be ‘biomechanically perfect’. I haven’t taken them out for a run, but they are definitely the funkiest thing I have EVER put on my feet!

So wait – WHY haven’t I run with them yet? They ship with a warning sheet – telling you what to expect as you wear them, and how ‘different’ of an experience it would be. Yesterday I didn’t have time to really isolate to study myself, and relax for a mile run – and I wanted it on film and video. So I will check them out this weekend and report back!

Check out their promo video:

2. ‘Anthrax Smoothie’

Last week, Sara at Life Between The Miles had a review of the Vega Sport protein powder. She liked it but found it a bit gritty – I mentioned in a comment I’d never tried it, and she offered to send me a sample packet (so cool!).

It came in the mail the other day, and near as I can tell here is what happened: Sara put the pouch in an envelope to mail, but there was just enough air in the pouch so that when it went through the automated mail handlers it went POOF inside the envelope. Then further ‘careful handling’ means a small tear formed in the envelope, so when I came home there was a nice blue envelope on the kitchen table with some yellow-ish powder around it!

Anthrax Smoothie

As I moved the envelope around more powder spilled out, which everyone thought was hilarious – and we started calling it my Anthrax packed – though that really isn’t funny, it is. I decided to include it in my smoothie after dinner, which also had frozen banana (of course), mixed berries and almond milk.

My thoughts?
– The vanilla tastes artificial, and too sweet. Since I make this smoothie all the time it stood out.
– The grittiness reported by Sara (and also Megan and other recent reviews I’ve seen) is definitely there. I’m not ‘texture sensitive’, but my kids found it had a chalky and gritty texture.
– Holy crap adding 26g of protein made it filling! I managed half the smoothie at night, and had the rest after my morning run.

Would I buy it … tough call. I LOVE the packed proteins, but everything else was ‘meh’.

3. Blog Moms

Not to be confused with ‘Mommy Bloggers’! Bloggers are people, and we all have families – but generally they are a passive part of the story. I write about my family all the time, they read my stuff and talk to me about it, sometimes friends and family comment on Facebook – but generally this is my little corner of the universe. Sometimes blogger families enter into things more passively, through pictures and comments in a post leading to discussion between commenters, as happened with Cori’s mom.

Over at TheLyonsShare, I had had a few discussions with ‘Karen’ before I knew that was Megan’s mom. She was insightful and open to discussion, but clearly older than the other commenters. Most recently we had a discussion in a great post Megan had on Being Grateful.

Suz over at SuzLyfe has this phantom commenter called “Your Mommy, Clare”. It took me a bit of intense detective work but it turns out the person is Suz’s mom, and her name is Clare. True story! The post I link talks about a comment-discussion Clare and I had in a different post. It was flattering to be included, but it highlighted the fun and important point of how great comments can be!

Does any of your family participate in your blog? How do you feel if they do/don’t?

4. ‘What I See’ and Male Eating Disorders

OK, so back to seriousness – I have talked about myself as having ‘disordered thinking’ about food and that regardless of how healthy I eat, whether I get proper calories and nutrition … I will always have a disorder – and that I truly believe that ‘an eating disorder is for life’.

Over at Buzzfeed they had a great post with 28 quotes from Whisper from men with eating disorders. It is heart-wrenching because not only do they bear all of the normal shame and anxiety and self-loathing of an eating disorder … they bear secondary shame for being male and feeling totally alone and weak as a result.

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Over at The Oatmeal he looks at a similar subject – what we see when we look in the mirror. For anyone who has struggled with weight I think this rings true. I know on a rest day I tend to feel fat … and that is stupid.

5. Sleep and Rest

Another great recent post from Megan was on Rest – you know, that thing that separates running around at night and running around in the morning?

With the new Garmin FR-15, I can track sleep movement. I just wear the watch to bed and then enter the sleep and wake times on my Garmin Connect page. For one lousy night sleep this week … THIS is what I got:

Sleep Pattern1

Yeah, about an hour of good sleep. Thing is, most of the week doesn’t look much different. I have written about it before, but since Christopher was born (16.5 years ago) I have slept very lightly and not needed as much sleep. That definitely reflects in my patterns – and one of the boys dropped their phone in our room (a requirement) before bed at 11:30 last night, and I could see it on my graph this morning – I remember it, woke up, then went back to sleep.

It makes me think – I am getting ~5-6 hours of sleep, loads of movement, yet feel well rested. Hmmm … not sure what to make of that.

Bonus: The TRUTH About Running

OK, so over at Competitor they have this ‘fake PSA’ video that is just hilarious … nothing more to say, just check it out!

So what do YOU have going on this long weekend?

Five Things Friday – Can We Be Honest Here?

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Have I ever done a ‘stuff that bugs me’ post? Apparently not … and as I tried to do one I realized WHY – not all that much really bugs me enough to make a worthy post. But as always, I have thoughts … some good and some not so good – so let’s just jump right in!

OK, first the picture – yeah, another selfie … but I always seem to take them in my house or driveway, so today I was different! This one I took at the end of the development across the street where they are trying to squeeze just one more house into an area with poor drainage and water table issues. It is a cool street and doing the loop is nearly a perfect mile, which of course I always think about. Then I thought rather than a shoe/short pic I would try an action shot! It is crap, but I laughed at myself and had fun, so you’re stuck with it! Now back to the post!

1. Pro Tip: Cardio ISN’T a Food Group!

OK – I have many thoughts about eating, health and so on, but here is one thing: runners are a pretty screwed up bunch when it comes to eating. We claim ‘clean eating’ then fill ourselves up with pills and powders out of chem labs; we claim we’re listening to our bodies, yet ignore them when it is inconvenient and end up injured; and we talk about fueling but then restrict ourselves to feel super-lean!

And let me be even more clear … before I stepped back a bit and did serious ‘spring cleaning’ on my RSS feeds, Bloglovin’, WordPress and email subscriptions, I would estimate I was subscribed to 3-4 blogs where the bloggers had ‘active’ eating disorders.

OK, that is fine – I have talked about my disordered eating as have many others, and I pointed out the whole series T-Rex Runner did on her struggles. Should we be surprised that people are actively struggling?

Of course not – nor should we be surprised that some of those struggling either don’t realize it or aren’t admitting it to themselves.

As fellow bloggers there is only so much we can do – make comments, send emails, mention it to others who might hold more sway … well, that is pretty much it.

My concern is when I see people on other blogs I follow, commenting on these ‘bigger’ blogs and emulating them … and falling into some fairly obviously disordered patterns (what was that book with the meals of baby carrots and plain mustard?).

Do I have a point? I actually do – I have been saying that I don’t like that there is very little frank discussion on blogs, and that all of the comments are super-nice and super-positive – and those that are critical are seldom acknowledged in any real way.

Well, WE control that! It is up to US to be more frank, more honest, more direct. And it is up to us as bloggers to at least LISTEN when someone calls us on out on our own crap.

So that is my pledge – if I think you are disordered, I will say something (gently of course); if you are being a phony, I will call you out. And if you are awesome, I will tell you that as well.

What about YOU – can you join me and try to do this?

2. And … the REST of the Story

Here is something that will shock exactly no one – not a single blogger tells us EVERYTHING about themselves; nor does any running blogger tells us everything about their running life. Sure many of us reveal personal details – and some tell things on their blogs they have never actually said to anyone else before (I know I have done this!). But it is still controlled – by us.

So what does it say when we learn something fairly significant about someone whose blog we follow through a comment they make on a different blog? Something that contradicts what they say on their own blog? Do you call them out on another blog? (personally if someone did that to me I wouldn’t be pleased), email privately? say something on their blog randomly? forget about it?

This is a tough one – because I think it is up to the blogger to control their own story – but at the same time if the thing we learn is potentially harmful (addiction, child-neglect, self-harm) then we owe it as good citizens to do SOMETHING.

What do you think? (and yes, I have specifics, but none of them were at the level mentioned above).

3. The Continuing ‘Shape Magazine’ Saga

The other day I wrote about Brooke, who refused to change the image she submitted to Shape Magazine for the ‘after’ image of a Success Stories feature. She had lost 170lbs and had loads of loose skin.

Her story has blown up on social media and was picked up by Buzzfeed, and there are now thousands of comments in a variety of places about it.

And this week it has been the comments that have intrigued me. And in particular those from other women. Now we don’t have a fair comparison, because I would estimate that the female:male ratio on comments is ~99:1 … but all of the comments from guys I’ve seen have seen have been either ‘throw-aways’ (‘wouldn’t hit it before, still wouldn’t hit it now’ was one that made me sigh and roll my eyes) or supportive.

But comments from other women have been more interesting, and I think speak broadly to how women see other women and themselves.

Some are very supportive – and much more specific than anything from any of the guys (as I would expect). They talked about the struggle and the pride and about really owning yourself – and also about standing up for something you believe in and so on.

But some are absolutely brutal. There are three basic lines they follow:
– You lost weight and that is a source of pride, but your body is disgusting and you should be ashamed of it and keep that stuff covered up.
– The body you have is a symbol of the abuse you have put your body through, nobody wants to see that – it is NOT beautiful.
– I am losing weight, and if THAT is what I have to look forward to … why even bother. I applaud Shape for not showing that disgusting and non-inspirational body.

Wow … just wow. Not only that, but there were a few commenters who took on anyone who challenged their position that Brooke is disgusting and totally wrong. One in particular basically says ‘she should be proud of her accomplishment, but put on a shirt – no one things that looks good’.

And that is the uniting element in the criticisms: ‘no one’ thinks that looks good.

Those commenters claim to speak for everyone, and while thinking on the one hand that we need to see more ‘real’ bodies, that doesn’t include what extreme weight loss looks like.

And I found THOSE people – the well-spoken ones in particular (I can easily dismiss frothing trolls) – disgusting and disturbing. Because these people tell me that the media has won. That while we SAY we want more ‘real bodies’, more ‘real life’ more ‘body acceptanece’ … what we REALLY want is air-brushed bikini bodies of people who have never been more than 10-15 pounds overweight.

And look – being severely overweight is not something that people WANT to do, and it is definitely something self-inflicted in many cases. But the reality is that the ‘obesity epidemic’ is real and a growing problem, and when you set out to celebrate the stories of people who have achieved huge weight loss, why would you NOT want to show the reality of what that looks like? I mean, think about it psychologically – if you have been picking up Shape or Self or More and seeing ‘weight loss success’ stories that are inspirational and make you think you will look like Tom Brady or Giselle at the end of your journey, and you end up looking like Brooke – you will feel like a failure.

And THAT is what I have a problem with. We should celebrate our bodies, celebrate the success of our weight loss, of our friends and family who struggle, and NEVER let ‘body shaming’ of ANY TYPE (including ‘too skinny’ shaming) occur. Speak up, and let us begin to accept people for who they are.

4. What is this HEALTHY thing, anyway?

One of my favorite bloggers, Laura, had three amazing posts to follow-up ANOTHER amazing post. This week it was Healthy Part 1, Healthy Part 2 and The Ugly Parts – and they tell a story of two important things:
– Dealing with weight, eating and food.
– Addressing the judgment that comes along with all of that.

If you have not read these, definitely check them out. It is funny, after reading ‘Unhealthy’ I was dusting off an old draft I had about what healthy eating actually means to me … but I wasn’t getting anywhere that made any sense, then Laura did her posts and I just nodded my head throughout.

Here is a question: which is healthier – Lisa having 2tbsp of fat-free half & half in her coffee, or me having a small bowl of my homemade ‘peanut butter fudge’ (peanut butter, butter to thin, chocolate flakes to mix, and confectionary sugar to sweeten and thicken)?

If you look at fat, calories, and so on the answer would be obvious. But is it so simple? What if one of the ‘healthy’ criteria was how quickly someone ended up in the bathroom? Then things change! As part of the pseudo-Paleo thing we’ve been doing with Lisa, we’ve found that heavy dairy – and particularly stuff sweetened with HFCS like fat free stuff tends to be – has a rapid response in terms of ‘taking the direct top-to-bottom’ route. (TMI, sorry Lisa!)

Also, I tend to go for a peanut butter ‘dessert’ like that when I feel I haven’t been getting enough food in me – I always get plenty of fruits, veggies, and so on – so I go for the fat and protein in those cases.

So again, it isn’t so simple to just label things ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’.

Let me twist it up – would the answer be the same if instead of my dessert I had the same amount of calories, but in the form of a small bag of Peanut Butter M&Ms? Aaah … this is where it gets interesting! Because when I was at my heaviest in 2012 I had taken to having peanut butter M&Ms as a ‘desk snack’ which I didn’t share, and by the end I was eating a ‘large’ (as labeled) bag within two days … and it is a source of shame for me, as it is about 2 days of fat and calories – and I wasn’t active. And also I have found that the processed taste no longer appeals to me.

So while the calories are the same, the mental impact is VERY different. I have fruit (apple or pear) and pistachios as my ‘desk snack’ at this point, and if I ate a bag of peanut butter M&Ms I would be consumed by negative feelings.

That is just a very small example of why we have to be so careful about labeling foods ‘good or bad’, ‘healthy or unhealthy’ – and by extension labeling PEOPLE with those words – bad eating habits, being unhealthy, and so on. It can be emotionally devastating.

And it gets back to something Laura mentioned and Abby has as part of her ‘about’ page – that ‘healthy’ isn’t a number or a weight or pant size … it is a confluence of physical, mental, physiological, and emotional elements that all work together – and we need to understand their particular symbiosis in OUR life to know what ‘healthy’ looks like for us.

5. We Really DO Have a Great Community

Throughout lent and even this past week I have seen loads of people ‘taking an online/blogging break’ or ‘doing spring cleaning’. I myself did a massive clean-up of things I tracked in all areas of interest and took nearly two weeks away and have slowed my blogging pace considerably.

And I am so glad I did – because it allowed me to regain perspective on just WHY I love this community and really want to stay attached to it. The reality I had to acknowledge was that there would always be more cool people than I could possibly follow and still maintain my job/wife/kids/home/pets and so on … so like I do in general I tried to focus on a few great friends rather than a million acquaintances. It is what works for me.

The result is I can focus more on these blogs – ‘good old friends’ like Laura and Megan, Harold, Ann, Danielle, and many more … and of course making new friends like Cori, Lauren, Running Bear, Sara, Carina, and many more!

All of these wonderful people light up my day with their posts, pictures, insights, comments and perspectives. There is no rule – at first when I started out it was one site through a suggestion of a friend (ironically I no longer follow that initial site), then I found a few through comments, and so on and so on.

And even looking at the list (and more new friends like Suze, Abby, Michele, Rachel, Beth and more) there is no common thread in terms of age, marital status, kids, pets, geographic region, or whatever … but there is one VERY important one: they are all REAL, genuine, individual voices. It is great when you read a post and see a subject and know what someone basically thinks, but still relish hearing HOW they will say it.

So yeah, basically I love you guys. You rock.

Bonus: Some honest stuff from me!

1. I will not follow your blog if you cannot buy a drink – yeah, this one sounds weird, but several months ago I had a 17-year old girl follow me and then email me to follow back. I felt like a creepy old dude because that is how old my son is. So, yeah, no. I have seen great blogs by guys and girls in high school and early college years, but in general if it makes me feel uncomfortable in that way … not gonna happen. I DO find it flattering that a few of my kids friends follow me on Instagram and like my running selfies … it is fun because they are kids we actually know and can all joke about it.

2. Lunch is my hardest meal. – ok, from light to heavy … as I have said, for years I would restrict breakfast and lunch and eat plenty at dinner. Since being a ‘real’ runner for the last couple of years I have been more conscious about my eating and eat great at breakfast and dinner and generally also at lunch. But because of how my work stuff is structured I generally eat in meetings, which means a wrap, apple and soda/water. Similar to when I was in Kentucky for work travel so much last year, the structure keeps me ‘in line’.

But if the meetings are canceled, then I will try to eat something, but am not always good about getting enough. I always have fruit and pistachios at my desk, and will head to the small plant cafeteria to see what is available, but often it is not something I am willing to eat, so I end up with yogurt, fruit and pistachios.

And the thing for me is that “something I am willing to eat”. I keep that thought in the forefront of my mind – because it is dangerous.

3. My ‘No Tech in Bed’ Challenge – OK so it was supposed to be for Lent, but I am extending it … and I would rate myself as ‘mediocre’. I have brought the laptop once, but the iPad remains the problem. It is one thing if I am finishing a game for review, but another thing when I then hit up email and web and Feedly RSS and … ugh. So … a work in progress!

4. Where I sit at work right now sucks – every project needs to find some space for seating, and it is best when you can be grouped in close proximity (I have been on projects where everyone is in a different building, and efficiency plummets), but the one I am on now … is technically a great project and important. But we are in the absolutely crappiest location in the facility, too many people in too small space … well, it is just awful. Oh well, that happens – there is no such thing as a perfect project!

5. Diet Cultsthe book is out as of yesterday, and I have it on my Kindle. I planned to have more to say about it … but my brain’s desire to read was outmatched by my eyes’ desire to close!

So what do you think about ANY of this mess? Or … how about your weekend plans?

Five Tips for Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

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Most bloggers read other blogs and get ideas from them, and sometimes use those ideas to jump-start a post of our own. For example, when I did my Five Things Friday this past week, I noted I shamelessly stole the idea from Megan. At the moment I decided I was doing a post similar to what Megan was doing, I had the opportunity to take either the right or wrong path. I believe I did the right thing, but wanted to give some thoughts about how to avoid doing things wrong.

There are few worse things as a professional than having your work stolen. I have had the wonderful experience TWICE of having to battle for control of intellectual property I created – one time successfully and the other time my company decided not to pursue action. And as a writer on the internet I had a review of a game I had written about on a USENET group in the pre-Web days turn up in a print magazine verbatim with a different name on the review. I sent an alert to the editor, but never got it resolved.

I have also been noted and cited in the works of others, and had others contact me about my work based on seeing references to things I had done. That is an incredibly gratifying experience because it shows that others read your work, hold it in high regard, and use it as a basis for further exploration.

The reason I mention these is because had the infringing people come to my company and asked permission things could have been settled easily, with all of us winning.

Here are a few thoughts about how to make sure you are doing the right thing when it comes to ideas and items from other blogs:

0. Link to the Original Source

I almost forgot this one, as it seems so obvious – when you see something that inspires you, link to it! Send that blogger some love! If you take an idea without even providing a link … you are not much better than a scraper site.

1. Encourage Traffic to the Original Source

Going back to my Five Things Friday last week, I encouraged everyone to head to Megan’s site because the way each of us does things is very different. There was basically no overlap in style or substance – each of us focused on very different topics and handled the way we wrote about the links in a distinct manner. In other words, there is nothing in my post that diminishes the value of visiting her site.

That is a HUGELY important thing, and something you should always think about: when I post this, am I enhancing the traffic of the site that gave me the idea, or am I taking away from it.

I think it is easy for those of us with small blogs to think it doesn’t matter … but doing the right thing ALWAYS matters!

Another way to look at it: once someone reads your post, is there any reason to visit the original post? If not, you are essentially plagiarising.

And that final idea? I got it from a site called ‘me and my diy’ last week when I was looking for etiquette tips about addressing my #2 point below. And that is just the beginning – in her article, Debbie Thompson provides loads of examples of how to do things right or wrong, references, and other things … if you are interested in this topic, her article was the best thing I found last week!

(see what I did there?)

2. Don’t Steal Images

If there is an image on your site that isn’t either your creation or public domain, you are potentially stealing someone else’s traffic. One of the best examples I can think of is from the site T-Rex Runner, who took a great picture you have probably seen online at some point of the shirt a guy ahead of her in a race was wearing.

I had discovered her blog through another blog earlier in the year, so when I saw the image on a Facebook group and then on a Buzzfeed post, I contacted Danielle as well as the Buzzfeed author and worked to get proper attribution. If you don’t know the whole story or don’t follow her blog, check out the link … it is a pretty cool place.

Also last week I did the I Am Enough post, and included a graphic from Arianna’s Random Thoughts, because I thought it was beautiful. It took me 3 seconds to create the source link, so others could check out her site. Now I follow her blog, she follows mine, and it is great.

More recently I think about the huge infographic in the Five Things Friday post about nutrition in fruits and vegetables. When I saw that initially I knew I wanted to share it – but the article I found it in lacked a source link. In other words, although the person notes they ‘found it’, they don’t provide a link.

When you use an image – especially one loaded with information – and you don’t provide a link to the source, you are mis-representing the content as your own (even if there is something on the image itself). In the case of the vitamin infographic, Graphs.net actually provided an embed code on their site to make it easy to share correctly.

One thing that is important – most sites want you to provide a LINK, but NOT to directly reference their images (unless they provide an embed code). In other words, if you like one of the crazy pictures of my eye-cicles mid-winter for some bizarre reason, save it and upload to your site, but then link back to me. Make sense?

3. Differentiate … or Re-Blog

If you love something you saw, but cannot figure out how to do your own thing with it in a way that doesn’t raid the traffic from the original blog – just reblog. At a couple of other sites I’ve written for we call it ‘link love’ – you have friends who do something cool, so you just write a quickie post highlighting what they are doing and sending your readers their way. Most bloggers appreciate this and return the favor.

But if you choose to pursue the topic, made it your own! As an example, another one of my favorite blogs is Harold Shaw’s Runnah.com, because of the unique way he communicates in his posts – he comes at a number of running related things much like the rest of us, but then twists it through his view of the gear, the numbers, how it fits with everything else. Then he closes with the perspective that ‘The Reality is that … ‘ and looks at what he has talked about in context – whether it is about what shoes he likes, races he will run, weather conditions, aging or whatever. The topics are the same as many of us, but the style and storytelling is unique.

4. Create Hybrid Ideas

I tried doing ‘Five Things Friday’, but that wasn’t happening regularly enough for me. Then I saw people posting their running playlists – but since I don’t use music when I run that wasn’t for me. But then something occurred to me – I LOVE music and so the idea of doing a ‘Friday Playlist’ that was list-based and focused on a specific musical idea was born!

5. Space Things Out … Or Let them Die

Here is a thought – if you ARE going to use an idea from another site, and your perspective is close enough that no matter what you do there will be overlap with the original author, ask yourself … does this have to be posted NOW? If not, stick it in drafts and then look at it again in another couple of weeks. Maybe it will become a hybrid idea, maybe you will reblog, maybe you will have a fresh perspective … or maybe you should click the ‘Move to Trash’ link.

Conclusions

We all want to gain readers, especially loyal and active ones. We hope for engagement and those trying to make money want raw numbers. And for those bloggers in particular, doing things specifically to increase readership can be a attractive lure. But as bloggers it is our voice that is of value, our ideas and what we bring to our blogs and those we visit and comment on.

We can be positive voices by helping ourselves and others through proper linking and attribution, or we can be a negative force by stealing hits from others. Even if it is unintentional it is not a good thing – so try to be sure you give credit where it is due, make use of ideas but send others to the source, and be a good community member through honest sharing!

What ideas do YOU have on this?!?

Image source