Motivation Monday – 21 Tips to Help You Keep Going

Long Distance Running

Last week I came across a post on Inc.com about ways to motivate yourself. I thought these were excellent, and while they were cast in a business frame, I could easily see them in a running and nutrition content. Here is a great quote:

You’d like to think you are going to be just as motivated and enthusiastic on Day 1,672 of work as you were when you first began.

But sometimes we can all use a bit of help to keep going.

I don’t know how often I remember reading very similar words on blogs during spring marathon training season … and while everyone is super-excited and motivated right now for their fall marathons, how long before we could all use a little push? Yeah, I thought so! 🙂

So I decided to pull out ten and apply them to our lives as runners and people doing the everyday battle of balancing fueling and weight control through their eating.

1. Necessity:

Unlike in business, you aren’t getting paid nor do you have employees – so ‘necessity’ is relative. Actually all you have to do is drive by a hospital and witness someone with an oxygen line taken off so they can smoke to realize how relative ‘necessity’ is.

We don’t NEED to run or race or whatever … or do we? Since many of us use running to feel better both physically and mentally, to be the best version of ourselves. We also talk about how it helps as friends, spouses, parents and employees, so maybe it IS a necessity for some of us!

2. Personal pride:

We all want to be our best, look our best, and feel our best. By eating healthier and exercising we can work at these things – I have said I am the youngest I’ve been in more than 15 years … and while a bit silly, I really mean it.

By correcting the disordered eating habits I relied upon to stay thin and replacing them with ‘eating clean’ (whatever THAT is) and a more robust exercise regime, I am in the best shape of my life, and getting better all the time!

3. Consider the alternative:

For me the alternative is right there in pictures – and I NEVER want to go back … not to the 240 lbs I hit a couple of times over the last 25 years, not to the 275 lbs I weighed in early 2012, and most certainly not to the 375+ lbs I weighed a year out of college in 1989!

The thing you have to ask – what is YOUR alternative?

4. “I’ll show them.”:

Lisa had a difficult time losing the baby weight after our second son – not helped by the very difficult complications, 2 weeks in hospital and 9 months before she was ‘herself’ again. But then she did it – and totally kicked butt! Once she lost weight she had a number of reactions – not all of them positive (and the worst of all were from other women). She once had someone say to her ‘I thought you would have been fat again by now’. Seriously.

So yeah, it seems small and petty – but so are the awful things people say sometimes. And if it motivates you to keep going, that is good enough.

5. Figure out why you are tired:

If your get up and go has got up and went … it is worthwhile to figure out WHY.

Maybe you have been over-doing the cardio workouts, under-resting, not fueling properly, getting dehydrated, not sleeping enough, too much stress, and so on. Figure out your reason and get yourself some rest before pushing it again. If none of those are true and the exhaustion lingers, maybe it is time to see your doctor.

6. Learn from your mistakes:

I always refer back to my utter stupidity leading into my first half marathon, and how trying to diet my way into and through a race was incredibly dangerous. I have become incredibly good at fueling and listening to my body since then.

Then in 2013 I constantly struggled with self-sabotage through WTF syndrome – Way Too Fast (Thanks Cori!). I dealt with that by making my winter half marathon all about even pacing. I feel so much better this year after doing that and have continued working on ‘running by feel’ ever since.

7. Don’t get in your own way:

Several people have written recently about issues caused by being overly Garmin dependent, or by getting in their own heads in any manner of ways.

As the saying goes, running is largely a mental sport, and as such your mind can be your ally or your enemy. Your body can do great things – but your mind can shut it down quickly. I remember the difference when doing planks that helped me jump from 1:15 to almost 2 minutes in a single day – I stopped believing I couldn’t do it. Then I did it.

8. Keep telling yourself the best way to predict the future is to create it:

We all have running goals – endurance, longevity, speed, whatever. Maybe we have a goal race or time or whatever – the main thing is that if we want to reach those goals, make them specific, then make the plans to get them done.

No it isn’t easy – just saying ‘I want to BQ in 2014’ won’t make it easy or possible … but it gives you a goal. Take that goal and make a plan, then take that plan and put it into action – and you will be amazed by the results! Just like none of us started out being able to do a 20 mile weekend run, so too are many of our other goals possible with hard work and patience.

9. Get some sleep:

Sometimes the right answer is to take a rest day. So what? That doesn’t make you a failure even if it means missing your goal mileage for the week or a ‘key’ training run. The phrase ‘recharge your batteries’ is apt because sometimes it seems like we are a cell phone that is in the ‘red zone’ for power and all we are doing is getting a small charge here and there but never really getting out of the red zone. That only works for so long … eventually you need a total refill.

10. When all else fails… keep putting one foot in front of the other:

I feel like this was what got me through the winter – people would say I was an inspiration, and yet all I did was say ‘crap, here we go again’ and headed out the door even when it was -20F. And they said it was THAT action that made me an inspiration.

But that is always my thought – just get out the door. Generally speaking within a mile you will get your mojo and be glad you did it. And if not … cut it short and take a rest day or two.

Final Thoughts

I get these business motivation articles all the time, and most of them are either too specific or too generic – which is pretty much true about all of the emails I get from Runner’s World and Competitor and so on. But the reality is that for all of us, at least ONCE we can use all of that advice.

Keeping up our motivation isn’t something that is ever a ‘one and done’ thing, so when I saw the article I read it and saw the instant connection to running. We all deal with days when it is a struggle to get out of bed, to lace up and go, to eat right, and to keep it all together.

Articles like the one at Inc are a reminder for all of us – that like everything else, our relationship with running and eating healthy is a long journey, with twists and turns and ups and downs. Like running a marathon you will have moments when you just don’t want to go on, and others when you feel like you are soaring. It is all about building energy to sustain you through the low points.

What do YOU do to keep yourself going during the depths of training season?

Motivation Monday – Six Things to Try to Shake the Late Spring Blahs

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Image source

First off, Happy Memorial Day – and while for most of us it is an excuse for a long weekend, and perhaps watching our kids march in a parade (or in my case, one kid march while the other is home with a broken foot) … it is worth remembering that the heroes who have put their lives on the line for us and our country are the true reason for this day. Take a moment this day to remember them and their service.

It is interesting – just a couple of months ago many of us were lamenting a long, grueling winter and wishing for the joys of real spring weather to get out and run. Yet these past couple of weeks, I have seen more people talking about being burned out or just not knowing what to do.

As we get to the end of May, the first ‘season’ of races is coming to a close, and folks who have been training all winter for their first marathon are suddenly faced with great weather but a lack of direction. Or like me, they might have spent all winter single-minded (for me, it was getting in the runs, but for others it was treadmill work or whatever).

Whatever the reason, I have seen lots of people who have seemed lost … and this week I have fully embraced spring by mixing things up myself, so here are just a few things to do to try to keep running fresh as we get used to this great weather:

1. Find Another Race

This weekend I didn’t run a race, choosing family time as I always do – but definitely felt a twinge over missing the Glassfest 8K on Saturday (which I for some reason thought was Sunday). But anyway, this weekend I had local friends run in no less than a half-dozen races within 30 minutes of my house!

Right now there are loads of races – so if you feel the let-down, get back out and do another race. If you have been training for a goal race, now just do some fun runs – grab friends, and just enjoy!

2. Try Doing ‘Fartleks’

These have always been one of my favorite things to do since I learned about them a couple of years ago. Basically they are ‘speed play’ – you are doing what all kids do “race you to the light post”, or whatever.

I have a few areas I tend to do these – just turn on the speed for a defined distance, really push it. It is an adrenaline rush, but because you are focusing on speed, it can help you push things if you are looking to get faster as well. Thing is – this shouldn’t be your only speed work, if you really want to work on pace, look into tempo runs and other things … and at that point you should be setting up training plans, which is far beyond my knowledge and the scope of this post.

3. Run With Weights

By which I also mean DO NOT run with weights … the problem is that adding artificial weights can really mess with posture and form and other things. So be very, very careful about doing this.

But if you sometimes carry a water bottle, you are basically running with weights – so here is the thought: run with a 1-2lb weight in each hand. As you go along, use them and stretch yourself and do exercises. You will probably see your pace drop, and you WILL feel it in your arms and chest.

And if you do it for a couple of days then run without weights … you will feel like you are flying! Another caution – this is really not something for long runs, and again, be very very careful.

4. Track Work

This week I did my first bit of track work – not on the full track, but on a smaller school trail/track. Just a couple of laps, but basically I took a few minutes from my normal run and absolutely punished myself.

The thought is that with dedicated running on a track of known distance, you can really focus on improving your speed work. It is intriguing to me, as I consider it a torture device that was a high school football team punishment … but like so many other things, being a runner now changes my perspective on this!

I have read a bunch of people doing track work for the first time – I would love to hear about things you have tried, what works and doesn’t, and so on!

5. Kill Those Hills

OK, so me doing hills isn’t news – I have 400ft incline in my daily runs and actively seek the hills on a regular basis. For me, they are fun – grueling, punishing fun. It is always amusing having people driving up or down the really big inclines I do looking at me like I am crazy … because I am, of course – and I love it!

Hills are painful, draining, and really force you to focus on HOW you run them. You will torture your quads and calves and if you do them wrong might end up with an unplanned rest day – but the burn you get and the sense of exhaustion is just exhilarating. And they also allow you to set new goals all the time – just getting up, running all the way, maintaining heart rate and/or pace, and so on. I always make sure to get in some hills every week.

6. ‘Destination’ Run

Last week I headed on a short drive to a packed gravel trail to take a run for a few miles, and it was just something different. Different sights, sounds, and path. If you are like me and run the same places – I have about 6 different main routes I do on a regular basis, but they all center around my house.

So it seems silly, but sometimes just doing something a little different provides a new challenge, or at least gives your brain something new to contemplate.

There are just a few ways I have found to keep things fresh and interesting for myself. Everyone has different things that motivate them – running with friends, groups, or other things. It is all about getting out there!

My Running Summary

As we get into full-on spring, this week we still had two mornings with frost! Not so fun, and one day as it was 30 with a breeze I even put on my heavier gloves to keep my hands warmer.

Sunday: Family time
Monday: 9.5 miles
Tuesday: 8.5 miles, including some track time
Wednesday: 9.25 miles, 2 x 1 lb weights
Thursday: 9.25 miles, 2 x 2 lb weights
Friday: 9.75 miles
Saturday 14.5 miles, heavy on hills!

Very happy with the week – nearly 61 miles. Feeling like I am hitting my ‘summer stride’ in terms of pushing in the miles – eager to get out the door, reluctant to come home. As you can see, this week I did stuff that is on my list – the week before I felt like I was starting to get into a rut, so I wanted to nip THAT one in the bud!

So how do YOU shake out your running blahs?

Motivation Monday – Stuff to Do In Your 30s, Merrell Preview, and Monday Mixtape

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I can’t believe how exhausting this weekend was – or how fast it went by! Everything went better than we could have expected – and the cold weather and snow even pushed off a day so the kids had mid-40s and sun for the prom pictures! The image at top is both boys at the hair salon – each got a pretty radical cut, and I just love this picture! This week promises to be every bit as much of a blur as last week, so it will be interesting to see how that impacts my blogging schedule!

This past week I was reading ’10 Life Lessons to Excel in Your 30s’, which is a result of a survey conducted by the author was just turning 30 who asked his subscribers aged 37 and older to give advice to their 30-year-old selves. The results – well, to me anyway – are not particularly surprising – ‘save more money now’ is the mantra no matter where you look.

In my estimation you would largely get the same answers if you asked 50 year olds to advise their 40-year old selves, and so on. But that doesn’t make things any less true or interesting. Here are five pieces of advice, with my thoughts:

2. Start Taking Care of Your Health Now, Not Later

“Your mind’s acceptance of age is 10 to 15 years behind your body’s aging. Your health will go faster than you think but it will be very hard to notice, not the least because you don’t want it to happen.” (Tom, 55)

While it is true that it is never too late to get in shape, eat right, start exercising and so on – the longer you wait the more of an impact it will have on your day to day life. There are people in my life who never did that – and you can see the difference between them and their healthier siblings who struggled with the same risk factors but came through their 30s in much better shape.

By making choices to take care of yourself, you are investing in your own future – saving money is great, but if you are unable to enjoy it there is little point. None of us can guarantee our future, but why not set ourselves up for the best possible chance of being able to do the things you want when you finally have the time to do them?

3. Don’t Spend Time with People Who Don’t Treat You Well

OK, I have written about this more than once at this point, but it is such an important point I will continue to drum away.

As Sartre said, ‘hell is … other people’. At the same time, I also think heaven is other people – and one of the key things in life is discovering the difference.

One thing worth noting in the comments for my ‘healthy boundary’ post? That older commenters (sorry!) had great confidence in their ability to do this. In your 30s you are in between the point when you are still attached to your parents and siblings from your childhood roots, and then when you seek to appreciate whatever time is left as parents and relatives age and die. So your 30s and 40s are the time to make the most of these relationships – or eliminate them if they are toxic.

4. Be Good to the People You Care About

This is the flip-side of the last one – surround yourself with people who are good to you and build up your strengths. That isn’t to say you should be surrounded by ‘yes men’ – something I see too often in the blogging world where 99% of comments are affirmations rather than critical questions.

Too often I see people become fixated on the one person who doesn’t like them rather than the 9 who do. This is the time to realize that those other 9 people also have other friends, are developing their own lives and interests, and that when you realize you have been wasting your time chasing the one who doesn’t like you … the other 9 are gone.

Realize that friendship is a two way street, that all relationships ebb and flow, and that no matter what you might think, many of the friends from your 20s won’t be there in your 40s … so just enjoy all of your friends and celebrate life.

5. You can’t have everything; Focus On Doing a Few Things Really Well

“Everything in life is a trade-off. You give up one thing to get another and you can’t have it all. Accept that.” (Eldri, 60)

I love this quote. And while it might sound cynical, I eye-roll when I see those ‘you can be anything’ motivational posters.

Sorry to burst your bubble with a truth bomb … but you really do need to make some choices, and once you do it becomes harder – but not impossible – to un-make the choices. It is like the fork in the road – sometimes there are ways to cross between forks, but often you have to go all the way back and then start down the other path.

Oh – and by its very nature you cannot simultaneously be on BOTH forks simultaneously.

But rather than get stressed or down, instead use this time to focus on your passion and skill-set and make the most of things. If you are in a very specialized area it will take more effort. But I have friends who have gone from engineering to health and fitness instructors, real estate, and so on.

7. You Must Continue to Grow and Develop Yourself

When most people are coming to the end of undergraduate school, a division happens – some go on to graduate school, others head for jobs. Those heading to jobs are often ‘done’ with school and are not looking for more classes. By the time they are ready to start seeking more training they might be married, maybe own a house, some pets and possibly kids on the way … it gets hard to find the time and focus.

The same is true with exercise and healthy eating – jobs, family, limited time … all of these end up making it increasingly difficult for you to focus on maintaining and improving yourself. There is always the thought – when I have more time.

Guess what? It doesn’t happen. You will always have things in the way, but need to make continuous education and focus on health a priority or it just won’t happen.

10. Be kind to yourself, respect yourself

Here is the thing – if you don’t look out for yourself, no one else really will. It isn’t that others won’t do nice things for you, but ultimately you need to make sure that not only your needs are met, but that you ensure that you connect with yourself at a very deep level.

For me, running and music and technology provide that connection, and my family makes sure I have the space to explore those things.

So What is the Motivation?

The great thing about this article is that it is both an inspiration and a ‘warning shot’. It is too easy to lose track of time and priorities, especially in your 20s when you feel invincible and immortal.

By the time you are in your 40s chances are you know more than a couple of people who have died of ‘old people diseases’.

The challenge is to look into the future and see the person you want to be 10 or 20 years from now, and start being that person NOW.

I didn’t realize that was exactly what I was doing in my 20s … but it was. I lost more than 175lbs, focused on positive relationships, sought education to broaden my technical focus to include statistics as well we engineering and optical physics, and chose a path that would mean less money but more time with family and closer connection to things I enjoyed working on.

And as I have entered my ‘second running chapter’, I can see the results from that – I look and feel younger than I have in years.

Merrell AllOut Rush Preview

I have been checking out the Merrell AllOut Rush, which are 6mm drop trail running shoes with 5mm lugs that protect you without picking up rocks. This shoe is intended as a protective, dedicated trail running shoe with a very solid feeling rock plate. I recorded a quick preview after taking a 15 mile run in them, and will do a full review when I get more time on the trails. For more info head to Merrell:

Monday MixTape!

This past week as I was changing up my iPod contents I came across a recording I had bought on an Amazon sale last year but really hadn’t listened to – ‘Liquid Spirit’ by Gregory Porter. This is a highly acclaimed recording that won the Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album this year, and upon giving it a solid listen, I can see it deserves all of the accolades. I am a huge jazz fan, but not so much into vocal jazz. But I wanted to highlight a few great jazz vocalists whose stuff I love:

1. Gregory Porter – Liquid Spirit – this is a fantastic recording that mixes soul and jazz and funk and standards. The silky smooth vocals nuance through the lyrics and offer a compelling listen.

2. Esperanza Spalding – Black Gold – the wunderkind who beat Justin Bieber for best new artist took a more commercial turn with her most recent recording, and although I preferred her previous album, solid offerings like Black Gold show off the depth and breadth of her skills.

3. Billie Holiday – Strange Fruit – You really can’t get through the history of female vocalists without Billie Holiday. I chose this one because it is very late in her life, as years of drugs and alcohol and ‘hard living’ have taken their toll but she remains an incredibly gifted interpreter of song.

4. Joni Mitchell – The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines – While Joni isn’t really a jazz singer, her work with jazz composer/bassist Charles Mingus at the end of his life in the mid-70s remains some of her greatest work. She had alreday been exploring innovative harmonic spaces and intervallic leaps, and bringing together a group of young jazz talents produced an incredible set of recordings.

5. Ella Fitzgerald – One note Samba – there are few vocalists who possess the skills of Ella, and this recording of her working her instrument is just incredible to behold. Even much later in her life when I saw her live she was just amazing.

6. Johnny Hartman and John Coltrane – Lush Life – I have had this CD for ages, and it is one of those things like ‘Kind of Blue’ or ‘Time Out’ you can put on and everyone will love it, it can sit in the background or hold up to intensive study. The contrast of Hartman and Coltrane shouldn’t work … but instead it is stunning.

What advice would you give to your younger self? Or, if you are 37 or older, what advice would you give 30-year old you? Also, what is spinning on your iPod today>

Motivation Monday – Break Through the Winter ‘Blahs’, Also My ‘Monday Mixtape’

Motivation Monday

Happy Monday and Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I hope everyone had a great weekend and it didn’t zoom by TOO fast! As I write this I have no idea what will wear to work as I own very little green outside of a couple of tech shirts, and that won’t work! I’m sure I’ll find something!

True confession time – despite coming through a winter of record cold temperatures, we are entering the hardest motivational part of the year for me. I know it might seem counter-intuitive, but someone at work said ‘you must be thrilled’, and while I said ‘yes it is great that it isn’t so cold, that is only half true. While it is great not dealing with such brutal cold, these bitter months have presented challenges – challenges that mostly disappear at ‘normal winter’ temperatures. Here are a few thoughts on why this transition period challenges me:

– Running at -20F is a ‘test of wills’. For internal contests, I win those. It is how I lost almost 200 lbs at 23 and more than 100 lbs in 2012.
– When people learn I regularly run in sub-zero temperatures, they generally think I am nuts, but the conversation (like the comments here) are motivational – they encourage me to get up on the next sub-zero morning.
– No one really wants to hear you whine about running in 20F weather.
– 40F in the afternoon means <20F when I run, and with winds it generally means 10-15F wind chills.
– That means I still am wearing ~80% of what I do at -20F. And it is still cold.
– By now I have run my ‘winter preset’ course pretty much every weekday for several months with only minor variations.

I noticed it last week, and pushed HARD to get through it. The thing that concerns me is, as anyone knows, you can only push for so long. I worry that winning the ‘battle of wills’ all winter has worn me down. What I really need is something to bridge the gap between ‘totally sucks’ and ‘totally awesome’ … which for me seems to be more than 40F at 4AM.

So here are some thoughts I have had about motivation when you are bogged down with the ‘winter blahs’:

1. Change Up Your Route

This weekend I had to wedge my runs into a very busy schedule, so Saturday was a ‘standard’ run … but on Sunday I needed something different. So I ran a route I hadn’t used since the fall. It makes sense WHY I avoid it – it is dark, with uneven areas, and I have seen too many skunks on it.

Until it starts getting light earlier I can’t use that route – but going out late Sunday morning was perfect. I ran faster and more spirited than I had in a while, and although I only ran 10.75 miles, I felt it later on! It was an entirely positive experience – even though it was 21F and 11F with wind chill.

2. Force Yourself Back into Challenges

When the temperature dropped, I abandoned a real ‘training routine’ and instead just did one ‘run with purpose’ each week … which was almost always ‘long distance’. Gone were tempo, fartleks or other pacing runs. And for the depths of winter that is great – but now the prospects of running the same route the same way feels like drudgery.

So now it is time to bring back the challenges – to work on my pace and consistency, and really re-establish my feel. I ended last year really strong with my final half-marathon in November … I want another good year! So as the morning temperatures later this week will be in the upper 20s, I will bring back the challenges!

3. Get the Pre-Run Routine Under Control

The thing is, once I am dressing for slightly warmer temperatures, I shouldn’t be limiting myself to the same routes anymore. I should be pushing my mileage a bit, and also getting in some bodyweight exercise more frequently.

Truth is I get into full-on dawdle mode in the late winter, and I don’t want that to dominate as we move towards spring … so I need to pur some discipline around how I conduct my mornings!

4. Rewards, Rewards, Rewards!

This is one that seems great but I can’t visualize now. I really don’t spend much money on myself in any way, so I am thinking this could be a great way to step outside the box and figure out some rewards to work towards. For me it is not about money or material things or junk food, but rather something that would give me incentive to get out and challenge myself. Given how much I am packing into a day … time seems to be a great area to work with.

If anyone has thoughts specific to me – or themselves – I would love to hear them!

5. Find Other Things to Worry About

This weekend I was doing a ‘shoe check’, in which I confirmed that my Saucony Kinvara 4s with more than 1300 miles are in better shape than the 600 mile New Balance Minimus. I started that on Friday and used Saturday and Sunday to confirm. Now I will be rotating them until I really need to get something new … I might be better about buying good shoes now, but I am still not in a rush to spend the money!

Also, as I alluded to before, in February an update to Garmin Connect killed 3rd party uploads … which means I haven’t been able to upload my Magellan Echo data in weeks! So I decided to go back to using the Nike+ site, but need to remember my password, then upload all of my old data, and so on. It will be a bit of a project, so I will also investigate other tracking sites that I can use directly from the Wahoo Fitness app. My thought? Motivation through accountability.

Apparently It Is Not Just Me!

There are apparently plenty of others who deal with the ‘winter blahs’, as evidences by these article on Curing The Winter Blahs, Staying Active to Cure the Winter Blahs, 10 Cool Ways to Beat the Winter Blues, and 5 Intentions To Set This Spring

I love the 5 Intentions To Set This Spring post, as it talks about looking forward and setting yourself up to power into Spring! Here is a snip:

4. Embrace your passion.

Whether it’s a hobby you’ve loved for all of your life, or something new that makes your heart thump a little harder, embrace something that ignites a flame within you. Set aside time — even if it’s just once a week — and, during that time, focus all of your energy on whatever your passion may be. In the craziness of life, it’s not uncommon that we neglect a hobby we love due to other obligations. But passion is what makes us feel alive. Passion is what fills us with positive energy, flowing from one person through to the next. Passion fuels more passion, making this life a happy one to live. All we have to do is set an intention to embrace it.

Monday MixTape!

This week we get the release of ‘Recess’ from Skrillex, currently streaming on iTunes ‘First Play’. You should check it out if you haven’t, especially while you can still stream it free! To celebrate the release of new material from one of my son’t favorite artists, here are five songs that step us through some of the coolest electronic music in my iTunes collection!

1. Skrillex – Scary Monsters & Nice Sprites – this is the most famous Skrillex song, and makes me think of seeing Skrillex Live with my younger son who is a huge fan. I can tell he doesn’t like this new album as much, but that is as much about evolving tastes as anything else.

2. Deadmau5 – Sofi Needs a Ladder – While Skrillex is very ‘song-oriented’, Deadmau5 falls somewhere between the pop side of things and the more experimental world of electronic music.

3. Daft Punk – Harder Better Faster – After nearly a decade of low output, Daft Punk broke out again in 2013. But they have always been about a good jam.

4. Kraftwerk – The Robots – hard to place this in 1978, as it was so ahead of its time. The US version is played at a faster tempo, but the original contains everything you need to know. Kraftwerk were incredible visionaries, and all of electronica owes them a considerable debt.

5. Bill Laswell – Iron Cross – Bill Laswell is a bassist, but has been involved as a producer all the way back to Herbie Hancock’s ‘Rockit‘, and for many years was as likely to release albums of dub, ambient, or other electronic stuff (not to mention being part of the epic ‘Dark Side of the Moog’ series). This album remains my favorite.

So do you get the ‘winter blahs’ ? If so, how do you get past them? Also, what is spinning on your iPod today>

Motivation Monday – Just Do It

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I got a number of great comments on my Sunday post, and loads of kudos on various social media sites about getting out there and running this week. To be honest, I didn’t think I had a very good week – but a good friend at work put it to me simply: you get out there, you are out running in weather that makes people skip trips to the gym … that is an accomplishment.

And I got what they were saying – even though at times all I can think is how much it sucks running in sub-zero temperatures. And to be sure – I long for those mornings when it is just a joy to quickly toss on shorts and a tech shirt and breeze out the door. And this record cold winter has made sure I will appreciate every minute of those runs. But for now – it is all about getting in the runs. So here are a few quick tips that work for me:

1. No Bad Weather, Only Bad Clothes

Yes, I scoffed at this in the Runner’s World article I cited on Saturday, but the reality is that with the right clothes and shoes you can go out in pretty much any weather.

But Sub-Zero running is nothing to joke about. OK – let’s be very, very, very clear … winter running can be DANGEROUS. Cold weather can get you into trouble FAST. So PLEASE make safety your first priority.

Along those lines, things I have said before: plan your route for an easy exit home, monitor yourself constantly to be sure you are OK, hydrate and ensure you have proper coverage.

Once you have that done, work on a layering strategy based on falling temperatures – sub-zero temperatures are NOT something to jump into without knowing how your clothes will perform (OK, so I did that, but I could have been home easily after 1.25 miles if there was a problem). Wicking is key, as are clothes that keep the heat in. I have become a huge fan of Nike Pro Combat and especially Under Armour Extreme Coldgear.

2. If You Have Time to Read This …

One of the biggest complaints/excuses about exercise – I don’t have the time.

One lesson I have worked with my kids on, is that when you take an hour to do a job that should take 15 minutes (between tweets/texts, dawdling, chatting, whatever), you have just used 45 minutes of free time. Obviously this came in response to them talking about not having any free time – and it is a message I am constantly driving home – but the same is true for almost anything.

Think about your routine every day – could you find 30 minutes? I bet you could. And I am not even talking about going outside for a run! On icy days I do something from the BMAX bodyweight exercises. Megan talks about simple ways to integrate exercise in daily routines – stuff like exercise during commercials is a great idea to sneak it in.

Bottom line – make a list of the things that suck time out of your day and leave you ‘no time to exercise’ … and kill some of them!

3. Forget the Plan

For many people, the start of a new year is either ‘Resolution’ time or they start training for a marathon or other event. In my opinion that is about the worst possible idea! I mean, after Christmas we are still in that ‘new winter’ glow where white is beautiful, the chill is acceptable, and we have renewed energy. By February … we are just done.

So if you are thinking “my resolution was to run 5 days a week … I am lucky to do 3” or “I haven’t hit my training plan mileage in 5 weeks” – STOP. Because those thoughts are the path to giving up. Think instead – in THIS weather I AM getting out 3 days a week; I am still training for my race. Switch your negatives to positives … because this winter has been HARD for the majority of the country (and for those where it is NOT true … we’re glaring at you).

So forget the plan, and just do what you can TODAY.

4. Leave The GPS Behind

Funny thing last week – one day I forgot to start my GPS. And two other days I just didn’t bring it at all. And yet, by the time I was running Saturday I realized that I had really been pushing the pace on those very cold days because of how my thighs felt. And every time I check my paces, they are pretty average with my summer paces – even if it feels like a slog.

But even if my times were abysmal … I was out there. When it gets THAT cold, stop worrying about splits and intervals and easy/moderate/hard and tempo and … well, anything but getting in the run.

5. Just Do It

This isn’t meant as a brag, or even a humble brag … but here are the numbers. 61 days in 2014, and I have run 53 of them (yes that means as many rest days last 2 weeks as the previous 7). Of those 53 days, 35 have been sub-zero temperature and/or wind chills, and only 5 days have been above 20F. That leaves 13 days in the 0-20F range … with 9 of the days between 0-10F, and only 4 ‘normal winter’ days with temperatures in the teens.

THIS is why my basic goals for winter running are:
– Get out there at least 5 days a week, and put in at least 30 miles.
– Get one ‘run with purpose’ per week. Essentially, that is ONE ‘training run’.
– Rely on my ‘old standard’. The reason you constantly see 6.75 miles on my summaries is because it is a route that is easy and I could run in my sleep and lends itself perfectly to slogging through day to day. There are easy ‘outs’ along the way if I need them, but by the time I get there I have more than two miles in … and am motivated.

In other words – I set myself up to succeed. So even when I feel like I have a crap week (like last week), in reality I am doing OK. This morning is a great example – the temperature was -2 with a -9 wind chill, but all I could think was ‘not bad’. Maybe I made a mental leap since Friday, who knows … but it was so motivating to feel great rather than slogging – now I can’t wait until tomorrow!

So what are YOUR tips for dealing with the ‘winter workout blahs’?

Motivation Monday & Weekly Summary

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Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great weekend! I know ours was crazy – between Chris being sick, Danny having the variety show and Lisa and I trying to juggle it all before she had to do the inventory overnight shift … it was exhausting! Today I wanted to do a ‘motivational Monday’ post, something I don’t ever do … because I found one at Running Shorts that perfectly describes the way I struggled with my feelings as a runner for most of my life.

It took me running a marathon for me to finally call myself a ‘runner’. That marathon I ran in the fall of 2012 … which is more than 23 years after I started running! I can look back now and call it silly, but the reality is I allowed myself to be haunted by the ghosts of being a fat kit and obese young adult, and let that shame me into not accepting myself as the runner I was. While it is easy to ask ‘what if’ about those years, that is fruitless, and now I am a runner and extremely proud of what I have accomplished and where I am at with my health and running.

The quote from Bart Yasso is one he used again when he spoke at the Corning Wineglass marathon event. He was so open, and accepting and humble of all of those who seek to enjoy the sport. I have mentioned before how when I started participating online with running blogs, there were more than a few who sought to define what WAS and WAS NOT a runner, that looked to beat down those who didn’t fit a certain mold of fitness or pace.

But as with any bully, what they are seeking it to find their own validation by putting down others. REAL runners like Bart Yasso seek to broaden the sport, not narrow it. They know that in an age of increasing obesity and decreased fitness, getting people moving is incredibly important.

So if you run … you are a runner. You might be faster or slower than others around you, run long distances or short. But if you run, you are a runner. And all runners are REAL runners.

Here is my week in review:

Monday:– 50F with strong, cool winds – bizarre weather, but I went for a good long 8.5 miles, knowing Tuesday was ‘rest day’.
Tuesday:– -30 wind chills, – this was a planned day off. Smart move!
Wednesday:– -20 wind chills – OK, maybe stupid, but I did 6.75 miles as a real challenge to myself and my cold-weather gear!
Thursday:– 15F with decent winds – again colder than expected, did another 6.75 ‘standard route’ miles.
Friday:– 20s with snow – this was my 6.75 mile ‘joy of fresh snow’ run!
Saturday:– 30s – I had no plans, wanting to spend the day with Lisa since she was off. I woke up early and thought about heading out, deciding that if I was awake in 15 minutes I would run. I woke up 2 hours later and was ready for coffee and chilling on the couch with the family!
Sunday:– 30s – Lisa was working the overnight for inventory, so I ran a quick 8.5 miles (longer distance and shorter time than planned – win!) while she napped and then came home and made dinner. After she left I had a bunch of clean up to do and work to take care of, then I thought … why not! I hadn’t showered yet, so I just threw on another set of running clothes and headed out again! 9 miles this time, very different route.

This morning after Lisa came home and we chatted for a bit she headed off to bed and I headed out for another run – back to my 6.75 mile loop. As this was my third run in just over 12 hours I could feel the fatigue, but it was a good thing. I hadn’t done something like this in a while, so I really enjoyed it!

Hope everyone has a great Monday and an excellent week! And keep us in your thoughts – want Chris healthy for Quebec, and hoping neither Lisa nor Danny are next in line!