But Dad … 5 Miles Kinda IS a Long Run …

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Perspective. We don’t have it.

I had included it in a ‘random thoughts’ post this past spring, but I was reminded again today that I completely lack perspective when it comes to running.

The situation? I ran a ‘quick’ 7.5 miles in 88F heat Friday after work, then turned around the next day and ran 23.5 miles including hill repeats. And THEN, instead of resting on Sunday, I headed out for a quick ‘around the block’ which I planned at 5 miles but turned into 7.75 miles. And before I left my kids asked how long I was going, and after I said ‘not long, just a quick 5 miles’, Danny reminded me that just a quick 5 miles … really not a ‘quick little run’.

How does this loss of perspective happen? Well, some of it is just that we get accustomed to running more and more miles so what was once a big deal is now routine, some of it gets back to the great comment and post Harold made, and some of it is tied in with our natural tendency to seek out approval and common viewpoints.

How We Protect Ourselves from Gaining a Different Perspective

Here is the basic thing – in a world so over-flowing with data and information, it has been shown that more and more of us choose to surround ourselves only with like-minded people and ideas. As a result, things that are different are easily attacked or ignored. Which to me as someone who grew up before Cable TV, before cell phones, and before the internet … seems weird.

I think we all see this on Facebook with religion and politics – people who we otherwise like post inflammatory things that we don’t agree with, stated in a way that leaves no space for reasoned discourse … so we block them. Suddenly we are surrounded by people who almost uniformly agree with us … or who are polite enough to never say otherwise.

But I am thinking more about running … think about this community we all read blogs from – we tend to understand what each other are going through, and very often share common experiences at similar times (actually that is uncanny at times!). So here are some thoughts specific to running.

Here is Some Perspective on Running

Just a few thoughts about the non-normalcy we can fall into over time:
– Running more than 20 miles per week is A LOT.
– Running more than 5 days per week is A LOT.
– Running When you are too sick to go to work/school is NOT normal
– Running when school was cancelled for weather reasons … NOT normal.
– When you can’t remember your last rest day – NOT normal
– When all of the ‘rest days’ over the last 3 months include either driving more than 5 hours, walking at least 5 miles, or strenuous hiking or biking … NOT normal (yes, that DOES describe my summer!)
– When you miss important family / friend / child events because of a run it is NOT normal (unless you are a professional).
– Most people will not be able to relate to essentially losing contact with you for three months as you train for a race once or twice a year as a hobbyist runner.
– When you get to the finish line of a marathon (or a 20+ mile run) and you look and feel like you are in really rough shape … people will NOT understant WHY you did it in the first place … nor why you are enthusiastic to do it again.
– Running at least one ‘half marathon+’ every week ‘just because’ … NOT normal.

I always love Danielle’s articles either at her site or her new gig with Women’s Running. Here is a fun quote from a recent one:

Genuinely enjoying a 5 am wake up call: I know that a lot of people only have time to run in the morning. Personally I wake up early most mornings of the week to get a workout in. I totally understand needing to do it, but my goodness, enjoying it? Am I the only person who literally counts down the minutes left before I have to be up and out of bed with running shoes on and starts panicking when I realize how few there are left? I love you, morning people, but I don’t have to like you right now.

I have been a very early riser (before 5AM for more than 25 years, 4AM for the last decade or so), so that one isn’t one that I can relate to. But seriously – it is TRUE! Getting up 3 hours before you have to leave for work so you can get in a hour and a half of running … that is NOT normal!

Those are just a few things … and reading everyone’s marathon training plans reminds me of the ‘new normal’ people thread into their lives in preparation for a race (loving all those posts, by the way).

How do YOU lack perspective?

Sunday Tech Round-Up and Weekly Running Summary

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Happy Sunday! I hope everyone has had a great weekend so far! Just a couple of quick items today – new tech and my weekly running summary.

As for the picture above, that is my two-week old Samsung Galaxy Note 3 with a Perixx folding Bluetooth keyboard. It works really well, weighs next to nothing, is easy to carry, but some of the keys are a bit funky in size due to the folding split.

New Tech Roundup

This week at the IFA show in Berlin, the big focus was on wearable tech. Among all of the usual stuff there were a few fitness related items I wanted to share. If you want more on all of the wearables head here. But I wanted to highlight a few of my favorites that have a fitness angle:

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Yeah, the Galaxy Note 4 really doesn’t bring much new to the fitness front according to this first impressions piece, but the one thing it does do is allow you to track your heart-rate using your finger and a built-in sensor below the camera the same way as the Galaxy S5. Here is how that works:

Also related to Samsung, they already have the Gear Fit ($149.99 at Amazon.com), which is an activity tracker that pairs with your Samsung phone … it has met with mediocre reviews.

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Sony Smartband Talk

Loads of info here, but here are some of my favorite details:
– Fitness centric design, counting steps, also has an altimeter for height
– Completely waterproof
– Curved e-ink desplay
– Microphone and speaker to use as a speakerphone.

At the estimated price of over $200, it isn’t clear this will be much of a hit, but it looks intriguing – especially the waterproof design.

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Wellograph

What I love about the Wellograph (official site) is that it is a great looking device, but it also has a three-LED heart-rate monitor that should be effective at tracking real-time activity. I am very excited and am hoping to get to check this one out for a review (at least that is the current plan).

Here are some more details:

Idle Time:
•Wellograph reminds users to sit less, move more and get active.

Activity:
•Wellograph expresses how much of a user’s day is idle vs. active, in hours and minutes. The device offers a today view to show how many calories users have burned each hour and their total for the day. Additionally, the week view feature displays frequency, intensity and time of their week’s activities.

Heart:
•Wellograph measures the quality and quantity of a user’s activity vs. simply the quantity, as the harder the heart works, the more calories burned. Wellograph encourages users to get their heart rates up via high-intensity physical activity and displays a user’s current pulse in beats per minute, including their high, average and resting heart rate each day. They are also provided with an exercise score based on how much aerobic activity they completed each day. After extended use, Wellograph will rank a user’s cardiovascular fitness and estimate their true fitness age, a feature unique to Wellograph.

Walk/Run:
•Users’ steps information is shown automatically as soon as they start moving and totaled to compare how much they ran or walked today vs. yesterday vs. their set goal. The device also offers users the ability to set a stopwatch, see their current pace and distance covered. After a run, Wellograph offers users summary stats about their run, including top pace, average pace, total calories burned and more.

Unfortunately all of those good looks and functionality don’t come cheap – the Wellograph is pre-ordering for $349 through the main site and also through Amazon.com.

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Garmin Vivosmart

I have already talked about how much I love the Garmin VivoFit I got for Lisa – it is a great activity tracker that is accurate, reliable, and has excellent battery life. Now Garmin has done one better by introducing the Vivosmart, which takes the Vivofit and turns it into a partner for your phone.

Personally I know I have been out running and my phone in my belt chimes and I wonder about stopping to check (only phone calls and texts will stop me usually unless I am expecting something from work). With this, I could look at my wrist and I would get a preview of what just arrived.

You can get a great ‘first hands-on’ from DC Rainmaker (whose reviews you should ALWAYS read on fitness devices), but a few things he noted included:
– Smartphone notifications
– Music control from the watch to your phone
– Vibration alerts

Garmin Touts These Key Features:

– Displays steps, calories, distance and time of day
– Vibration alerts for calls, texts and emails from your smartphone
– Easy operation using touch and swipe
– Inactivity alert reminds you to move
– Auto goal keeps you challenged

You can get more info or pre-order at Garmin or at Best Buy. The MSRP is $169.99.

Weekly Running Summary

This was definitely a weird week as I have noted, but I eventually got it together and ended up pretty strong over all. Here is how I did each day:

After coming back from our crazy tour of Providence and Boston, we were all exhausted and all of us felt a bit under the weather during the week, with Chris getting sick for real for most of the week. I took Tuesday off because I was feeling run-down, and then felt pretty good the rest of the week. But for whatever reason, I was still full-on motivated to get out and kill my runs and felt better every day for doing them – but paid in exhaustion at the end of each day! How did I do? Let’s take a look:

Sunday: ‘Rest’ Day – just 10 miles walking and shopping!
Monday: 16.5 miles
Tuesday: 5.25 miles … ugh, awful run!
Wednesday: 10.5 miles
Thursday: 10.5 miles
Friday: 7.5 miles after work
Saturday 23.5 miles with hill repeats

Um … yeah, so much for that ‘lost mojo’ I was worried about! I ended logging 73.75 miles this week. One thing that is clear – I am very much feeling the effects of burning the candle at both ends lately!

What new technology do YOU find compelling? How was YOUR week?

Step (Way) Back Week, Running Thoughts, and August Summary!

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Hi Friends! Well … when I said it had become much easier to disconnect, I wasn’t lying! In fact, I have enjoyed it so much I suddenly find myself very much disconnected on a regular basis … my posts two weeks ago were erratic, and I hadn’t done any since the previous Thursday until just a couple of days ago!

But when I say ‘step back’, I am really just talking about blogging – my running is still on track, as you will see below.

What are my blogging plans?

Well, I don’t know.

Here’s the thing – this was supposed to be posted on Sunday … or Monday … then Tuesday. Wednesday ended up with a different post – which is good because I don’t think this would have made it.

Funny thing – Wednesday’s post eased into one for Thursday and then Friday … and reconnecting through catching up on reading all of your posts and reading comments reminded me how much I love this community.

But at the same time I cannot deny that my relationship with blogging, and writing for the internet in general is evolving … and I really don’t know where it is going. So I will do what I always suggest to others – write when I want to, but never out of obligation.

So here goes!

Running Shoe Lifetimes

This past week seemed to be ‘how long do my shoes last?’ week, as there were great posts by Nicole and one from Cori where she referenced an earlier post about how she determines when to replace her running shoes.

In one comment I noted that my Saturday run of 18.5 miles put my Saucony Virrata 2s up over 1200 miles. They seemed to be doing fine – and I can generally start to feel it on runs or the same day. That tends to be my first indicator. And now that I have been rotating with the much newer Saucony Kinvara 5s (about 300 miles now) I really expected to notice it on my runs – and have been doing about 4:1 Virrata to Kinvara at this point.

But what I noticed was on Sunday. We picked up Danny’s girlfriend at Cornell in the morning and headed to the Destiny USA Mall in Syracuse (apparently it is the 6th largest in the country now) for back to school shopping and some fun. I noticed some tightness while driving in my calves and ankles, but we took Lisa’s car and … well, my 18.5 mile run had concluded after 8:30PM the night before.

We did a ton of walking on Sunday, close to 10 miles according to my S-Health app on my Galaxy Note 3 (yes, still loving this monster!). … and even though I’d walked more in Boston and New York City – I definitely felt it more in my ankles and calves.

My assumption? The Virratas are about done. I am wearing the Kinvaras all week and will rotate the Virratas in on a limited basis next week to see how they feel on shorter runs.

Update: I have worn the Virratas three times since writing this and feel fine. It wasn’t the shoes, apparently … it was me!

How do YOU know when it is ‘time to go’?

Shoe Reviews – Old and Used

Harold had a great post about why he is reviewing ‘last year’s shoes’. His thought:

Just because brands have a newer models to sell, that doesn’t mean the old running shoes, the ones that suddenly become much more affordable are irrelevant to runners?

And it is true – I handed off my Kinvara 4s to my son to use for bang-around shoes once they were ‘done’ as running shoes. But I have looked at them on Amazon and Running Warehouse, and they are now about $60 – but in very limited supply in my size 13.

But the point is, just because the Kinvara 5 arrives doesn’t mean the Kinvara 4 is suddenly of no value. I LOVED the Kinvara 4, and would buy another pair in a second … except that the sales on the Kinvara 5 are starting to ramp up as well.

Shopping for discount shoes often means dealing with older versions, and what you find searching for reviews is stuff that is old and almost always ‘first impressions’. I have talked about my disappointment at how quickly the New Balance Minimus 2 broke down … but have I written a full review? No. What I love that Harold is doing is his 50 mile reviews and longer term looks at shoes. You get not just the first impression, but a solid feel for how things last over time.

I would love to see that become more of a standard practice.

Injured Runner ‘Epidemic’

I mentioned this in a couple of comments, but so many people I know both ‘in real life’ and through blogging and otherwise on the internet have gotten injured that it is astounding. And something that really drove it home over the last week or so is the messages I have gotten from the Wineglass Marathon talking about opening up new entries. I intentionally didn’t sign up this year, but I know THREE people (including Hollie) who have deferred.

Now the Wineglass is a pretty popular marathon, enough that it allows 2000 people for both the full and half marathons, and also a decent size wait-list … and sells out by the spring. So for them to send along this message stunned me:

We have gotten enough Deferrals in that we have been able to open up 100 more slots in the Full Marathon! This is for the Full Marathon only at this time! If you or someone you know would still like to run please go to our web-site and click on Register Now for the Full Marathon! Thank you!

Still want to do the Half? Just opened up 100 Half Marathon entries.

So I was thinking – they already went through a couple of hundred people on wait-lists for each race, THEN they were able to add 100 more. They actually had opened up more slots for the wait list once already right after sign-ups closed.

I didn’t see this either of the last two years I have run the marathon, and it makes me wonder if there actually are more people getting hurt this year, and if so … WHY? What do you think?

Running Thoughts

Hollie had an awesome collection of posts she shared yesterday (she actually has had some great ones of her own this week – check them out if you don’t already follow her). A couple of my faves:

20 Things Every Seasoned Runner Knows (That Every New Runner Learns The Hard Way)
, which included gems such as:
* 12. Even if you’ve been running for years, every once in a while there’s just going to be a run that blows.

Which was my Wednesday theme.

Then there is this one I think many of us can identify with, I know Laura was talking about it this week as she returns from her summer off:

* 13. If you take a few weeks or even a few months off, getting back in the groove of things is going to feel impossible.

And finally something I do very well … but would rather not have to do quite so well – and certainly not so SOON!:

* 14. How to survive running in winter.

Grab a Gal: Why Men Should Run with a Woman
– there were some interesting things there, but one interesting one is about women and pacing:

Women are natural pacers. Studies of marathon runners have revealed that women have even pacing, which is a huge plus in long-distance racing. Biological reasons explain why. Males burn a greater percentage of carbohydrates for fuel, which deplete more quickly, whereas females will use more fat stores that last longer. Men tend to start out fast when the carbs are high and run out of fuel over the long haul. Pairing up with a woman might help even out this tendency, at least mentally.

Which explains why I never reading any blog posts from women about going out too fast! 😉 haha But seriously, the carb vs. fat stores thing is supported in at least one recent study.

But I had to double-check that the author was a woman, because of things like “Women smell better”. I mean, I certainly think that is true as a general rule – but my wife thinks she stinks after we do a long bike ride or whatever … weird.

Either way, I think running with others of either gender is a great thing – and I hope that we can run together if I am ever in your neck of the woods! Speaking of which – I will be in Cary, NC for the week of September 15 – 19 … anyone reading live down there?

August Running Summary

August was a big of a strange month for me. I had a half-marathon I had planned (Catharine Valley) that I decided to skip – and was glad I did because Lisa ended up with the morning off and we had a fantastic time together. The following weekend was a 5k/10k I thought about, but when Lisa’s plans at work shifted, I lost my gusto to get up and do it alone. Oh well – I still kept chugging along with my normal daily runs.

We had a whirlwind Boston college tour weekend, moving Danny’s girlfriend into Cornell, and a busy school shopping weekend. My month at work has been busy, and I ended the month getting into a technical area of exploration that is the deepest research stuff I have been able to do with this project – which is awesome.

Here are my weekly totals for August, by ‘week ending’ date:
– 8/1 & 2 – 24.5
– 8/9 – 54
– 8/16 – 72.57
– 8/23 – 68.55
– 8/30 – 67.5

And since I didn’t run on the 31st (but walked more than 10 miles!) my total for the month is 287.1 miles! I actually managed more than 300 miles in a month last summer … but this is still pretty nuts considering everything else that has been going on! No wonder I am exhausted!

How Did You Feel About Your August? Do You See More Injured Runners Than Usual This Year?

Things People in the ‘100lb Club’ Wished You Knew

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This month marks two years since I joined the ‘100lb club’ … again. A couple of weeks ago a coworker posted that she has also joined the club. Well, that isn’t what she said, but it was basically the same thing.

Note: my focus on the 100lb club is not intended to diminish what people experience who have lost 10 or 25 or 50 lbs or struggled to gain weight … it is more focused on the physical reality that rather than an ‘adjustment’, a 100lb weight differential represents a true body-morphing.

And further, when Lisa lost about 50 lbs a decade ago many things I talk about below happened to her – it was amazing watching some of the preschool moms change in how they looked at and treated her … all of the ‘catty’ stereotypes were in full force.

What is the 100lb club?

The 100lb ‘Club’ isn’t a club at all, but is quite simply about people who have lost more than 100 lbs. I had read about it as a term used on several forums and fitness groups to identify as a milestone for extreme weight loss. Bottom line – if you have lost 100 lbs or more … you started out significantly obese.

As I said, this month is two years of re-joining the 100lb club. Actually, I am in the ‘110lb club’ – I am approximately 110lbs lighter now than I was in March of 2012. But as I have noted – I was much heavier when I graduated college – in fact, as of my wedding in 1992 I would put myself very close to the 200lb club! The reality is I won’t step on the scale until I feel I am making positive steps, for fear of being so dejected I would quit. So when I weighed myself over 375lbs, I know I started higher. And before my wedding I was down to about 185lbs, which is 190lbs weighed difference.

My colleague posted about her weight loss as part of a Facebook ‘gratitude challenge’. What she said was touching and poignant, so I am stealing it:

I am grateful for my willpower and motivation. It has carried me through this journey to a healthier me. I am also thankful that I have found inspiration through others – their stories, their accomplishments, their pictures (thank you [redacted, but included me]). 112 baby!

She has lost 112 pounds – and it shows in every way. She looks great, feels great – and has the confidence to KNOW she looks great and be happy with that. Honestly it is great seeing that in someone else.

But something happens when you lose that much weight – the world shifts. Sure YOU change as well, but you also become aware of things that perhaps you didn’t notice before. Or maybe people feel more comfortable saying things around you that they wouldn’t have before. Either way, I thought it would be interesting to share some things I have found through the years personally, and have shared with others who have lost large amounts of weight.

We Will ALWAYS Be That Fat Person Inside

It is really weird – I have spent nearly all of the last 25 years within 20lbs of my ‘target’ (I am actually ‘below target’ now), and yet I cannot look in a mirror and see myself for the thin person that I am.

Part of that is self-image. Being so large as a child, my formative years were filled with self-identification (aided by the joys of other kids) as a fat kid. So I will always be that fat kid in my mind.

The other part is physical – losing so much weight changes your body, and unfortunately not everything falls neatly into place. The most recent public example was the case involving Shape magazine I’ve discussed in the past. The reality of ‘loose skin’ is perhaps the biggest disappointment of extreme weight loss – because all of the shows and magazines make you think you will suddenly look like one of the models they show off … or quite frankly, like a normal thin person. But you don’t.

No, Fat Jokes and Making Fun of Fat People are NOT Suddenly Funny

This one honestly shocked me when I first lost weight – because it started with people who knew I had been fat for 23 years and thin for less than a year – and yet I was suddenly supposed to take pleasure in ridiculing people who were heavy or who got out of breath easy?

For people who don’t know me, I had it explained that no one would ever look at me and think I was morbidly obese – I mean, I have a large enough frame that at 6’1″ I was on the offensive and defensive lines in high school football and was a force to reckon with … and now I have a ‘runner’s body’ and that is how people see me.

But that assumption has led people to feel it is ok to berate fat people with me standing there – someone said something last year, and another person in the group said ‘you know Mike was even bigger than that guy just a couple of years ago’. You could have heard a pin drop.

So what that did for me was to show me that that I was NOT imagining the eye-rolls, and looks and snickers and so on … because once I was no longer fat, I heard them used on other people.

We Can Never ‘Take it Easy’

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You see that tiny bag of Peanut Butter M&Ms? It has sat unopened in my work backpack for a couple of weeks now since I got handed a sample in the store.

I will never eat it. Never.

Sure you can tell me it is only 100 calories or so and not a big deal. You can compare it to other things I eat such as the peanut butter chocolate cake recipe I shared.

But it isn’t about the nutritional content – it is an ’emotional trigger’ food. In 2011 and into 2012 I would very often have a bag of Peanut Butter M&Ms in my drawer at work, and one of the ‘WTF moments for me was eating an entire ‘large’ bag across two days. I felt disgusting in many different ways, and haven’t had any Peanut Butter M&Ms since I started back with running.

And for me processed and packaged ‘junk foods’ tend to fall off when I am running, but this time is different in many ways – I simply don’t want to eat them, and I am more careful than ever about what I put into my body.

And I hear about it – regularly.

‘Aw c’mon … you can just run another mile’.
‘You could use some extra calories, you’re too skinny’
‘You can just eat whatever you want’

And so on. Point is – once you have lost this type of weight, you don’t want to gain it back … ever. You want to maintain that great healthy feeling, so you avoid foods that make you feel lousy, and more important you avoid foods that you associate with being fat – and most of all you avoid ‘downfall’ foods. Quite often you no longer want them …

… but sometimes with food for someone who has gone through extreme weight loss, it is like waving a drink in front of an alcoholic.

Our Clothes are About US, Not You

Honestly this is true for pretty much anyone – so I am sure many people can identify with this: that moment when you go from wearing clothes that are 1 – 2 sizes too large to hide your body, to wearing fitted items that show off your body! Last Friday I wore my skinny jeans to work and realized the biggest problem with my new Samsung Galaxy Note 3 was the whole issue of pockets and fitted clothes and huge phones …

I have incredible memories shopping at the Jordan Marsh back in ’89 & ’90, totally transforming my wardrobe, showing off my new looks. I never really cared before … but now suddenly I did.

You Treat Us Differently … and We Notice

When I first lost weight, I was also getting my first job, and my life was changing in many ways. But I also maintained friendships with many people from high school and college and the retail store I worked all during those 8 years … and once we got past the issue of my weight and body transformation.

It is like you are suddenly part of the ‘in crowd’ … and it feels really good, until you pass someone who is NOT … and you realize THAT person was YOU a few months before.

Some of the ways I was treated differently:
– Before Lisa and I were dating, I had a flight delay on a connection, and had a girl sit down next to me, and she ended up inviting me to come to Shakespeare in the Park with her and her family.
– I no longer feel judged based on what I eat.
– Even at 48 I have women (some uncomfortably close to my kids age) who flirt with me.
– People seek me out, remember me, and go out of their way to include me.
– I realized that for more than a couple of people my weight loss suddenly made me ‘an option’ … which seemed flattering until I realized how incredibly insulting it was.

But the biggest one is the most ironic … when I was at my heaviest, when I could literally fill a door way – I was invisible. Now I am noticed.

We Are Not Experts, Spokespeople, or Advocates

It is incredibly awesome to have people come to me looking for ‘my secret’ … sadly many people leave disappointed when I say ‘eat less, eat better, and get some exercise’ as my secret.

I have talked about it before, but I feel that just as my body seems to conspire to gain weight when I do not exercise and watch what I eat – I get into a spiral of unhealthy habits, excessive portions, and lethargy … so too does it conspire to help me when I run. When I run I want healthy foods, I tend to eat less (it has been an effort to properly fuel my running), and so on.

I am a person with a story, who has successfully lost weight – I am not a nutritionist, a fitness coach or personal trainer, or someone who can ‘help your friend/spouse/child lose weight’. Yes I have been asked to talk to someone ‘as a former heavy person’ more than once.

But at the same time, I LOVE being a sounding board, I LOVE sharing my story, what I have been through, and how much running and eating well has transformed my life. But it is hard because I become a magnet for people trying to lose weight … who then avoid me like the plague if they fail.

What This All Means to Me

To repurpose the end of this article“But deep inside, I still am and always will be a fat boy, with a fat boy’s awareness that the world is not nearly as nice as it sometimes seems right now. “

But at the same time I notice something else that I saw elsewhere and copied into a draft months ago “Turns out I was the meanest person to me while at my fattest. There was nothing anyone could’ve said that would have been worse than the constant track running through me head of “You’re a fat piece of shit and deserve nothing”.

That One Person Who Is There For You

I have heard the line countless times on TV and in movies, and I saw it again just the other night “would you love me if I was fat?” Bottom line – someone whose love is conditional upon a pant size or number on a scale doesn’t really love you.

I have talked about my love for Lisa many times, and the great fortune I feel at the life and marriage we share and work to maintain … but beyond anything else she has known me not just at my best and worst, but also my thinnest and fattest. And she loves me regardless … because beyond thin or fat there is ME. And while her weight has also fluctuated through the years, my love for her has never been in question, and neither has hers.

I have always been lucky to have the greatest supporter and teammate in the world.

How Quickly We Question Our Running Mojo!

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Subtitle: what an amazing run I had this morning!

I am always quick to question my Thyroid – after all, it pretty much totally failed on me just 7 years ago. So whenever I am cold, tired, irratable, or whatever … I think ‘uh oh – thyroid’. Lisa has been concerned recently that my meds might need adjusting, and my bloodwork is due, so it has been on our minds.

One key thing about Hypothyroidism – when your meds are out of balance you tend to get lethargic.

Yesterday I had an awful run – perhaps my worst run of 2014. I spent the whole thing ready to cash it in, and I was assuming that indeed my running mojo was shot. Doom and gloom. As Harold said – I was the bug. So naturally I began to question literally EVERYTHING … um, yeah, by now I should know better. But fortunately I got a grip on myself and decided to look back at the previous week of workouts.

Here are the last several days:

Friday: It was in the 40s at 4AM, but I was evergized – rushed to get out the door, and I ran 11.1 miles in long shirt, tights and light gloves. It was a great run and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Saturday: My long run came late in the day after a relaxing morning and a bunch of around-the-house work. I decided to do hill work and distance – had a snack before I left and filled my water bottle with ice and G2 and off I went. My goals were basic – hills and more than 15 miles. I ended up doing 18.4 miles, which was just awesome – I wasn’t totally wasted at the end, but it got cloudy and was already getting dark by 8PM and I wasn’t dressed in reflective gear, so I cut off the extra loops I had planned and got home.

Sunday: ‘Rest Day’ … which translated to 7.4 miles on the S-Health app and an additional 3.2 tracked on my Polar Loop when my phone was charging. This also included about 5 hours of driving, picking up Danny’s girlfriend at Cornell on the way to Syracuse, lugging stuff around, the usual stress associated with spending hundreds of dollars per kid on back-to-school clothes, and so on. Early morning, late night, driving in the rain … exhausted.

Monday: After brunch Lisa had to go to work and the kids wanted some time to just hang out with Danny’s girlfriend, and she also had to go back to her house to grab some things to bring back to Cornell. So that gave me a couple of hours, and I hopped right out and went for my run. The goal was … well, just a generic long run, my usual ‘half marathon ready’ default. But … wow, was it hot and humid! It started very cloudy and breezy, but cleared up as I ran and the sun was just beating on me. I ran 16.5 miles … but it was a ‘slog’ for a large part of it!

Tuesday: As I said before – this was awful! It was 75F with 95% humidity – at 4AM! From the start it was a struggle – I kept waiting for things to ‘click’. They never did … in fact, it just got worse and worse. I wanted to walk, wanted to go home, wanted to cry. It was all I could do to get past 5 miles. I cannot remember the last time a run felt so bad … well, actually I can – it was April 2012, I weighed at least 275lbs and was just restarting my running.

Wednesday: We slept with the windows open and I could feel the nice cool air with low-humidity – it was 60F and dry. I woke up feeling great – but stressed out about my awful run on Tuesday. I laced up and headed out early … and from the first strides it was like magic had returned. I ended up doing about 10.75 miles, and I could easily have continued … I really felt great. My last half mile I sprinted and looked at my Garmin and was SO close to the 6’s … but couldn’t get below 7:05 pace. Which, for me, is still freaking amazing! I finished up by breaking 3 minutes for a plank … first time ever!

What Did I Learn?
Major ‘duh’ moment – I have heard so many times people question their mojo when they’ve had a bad day or week … and I remind them that there is a natural ebb and flow, and that we should never place too much emphasis on a single run. And yet I allowed myself to take the feeling from a couple of runs and have it dictate how I felt overall.

I also allowed concern with my Thyroid to impact how I put those bad days into context. It was like I was carrying the couple of days to an illogical end of not running anymore and being fat. Even if my thyroid meds need to be tweaked, it is a minor thing and there is no reason it should impact my running.

And finally, I need to realize that I don’t take rest days – and sometimes that is just not a good thing. I mean, in theory I DO take rest days – but looking at the ‘rest days’ I have taken over the last month, I have (a) done college tours including 7 hour drives each way (b) gone on ‘advanced’ hikes of two different gorges (c) spent 4 hours kayaking and (d) had a long day of shopping including more than 10 miles of walking. Am I REALLY surprised that I ended up exhausted?

When was the last time YOU felt like you lost your running mojo?

1000 Runs – What Would You Do?

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Do you remember that abysmal Eddie Murphy movie ‘1000 Words’? (ok, to echo so many reviews, WHO thought it was a good idea to have a verbal comedian be silent?!?). Anyway, something Suz said recently made me stop and think … she said (wish I could find the full quote) that she believed her legs only have a certain amount of runs left in them before she is done.

Think about that – you only have a limited number of runs. We all know it is true, but not in the way that the movie suggests – that you will some day go to run and realize, nope .. all out of runs.

So if you had 1000 runs left in your legs, how would you spend them? Here are some thoughts:

1. Budget Them For the Long Haul

Think about it – I have been running for 25 years, and have run approximately 5-6000 times. If I want to be running for another 25 years I need to pace myself – 1000 runs divided by 25 years means an average of 40 runs per year.

Again, think about it – 40 runs per year. That is less than one a week.

And that is just for me, where 25 years puts me at 73. For some of you younger guys, 25 years still has you just around 50, with plenty of years left. Imaging running every other week so you can run for 50 more years!

2. Save them for My Kids … or Grandkids.

I have said that one thing on my bucket list is to run a race – 5k, 10k, whatever – with one of my boys.

With 1000 runs to spend, I would want to have the chance to run with them someday – or their kids if they choose to have kids (and no, we will NOT be putting that type of pressure on either of them!). But here is the thing – I would never want them to run a race FOR me, but rather choose to run a race, and do it WITH me. Make sense?

3. Run Boston – Qualify or Not

The reality is that while I might never run the Boston Marathon, it is something I would love to do. Without a fixed number of runs left, I don’t worry about qualifying – I will gladly just let it fade away and maybe run Baystate or Cape Cod or something and not worry.

But with a fixed amount of runs, I would make doing the Boston Marathon a priority. I would look at qualifying – either now or later – and also at raising charity money. The thought of being a charity runner for Boston is actually pretty motivating and uplifting in its own way.

4. Share the Love

One of my first thoughts gets back to something that came up a couple of times recently – that people find it motivating to see me out there any type of weather, day after day, no matter what. This came up from someone in their 20s, and it made me think – how could I give back?

If I only had a limited amount of runs left, I would want to share the joy of running I have with younger kids – high school, college, young professionals, and maybe even younger kids. I would want to do it NOT with ‘track types’ – though I don’t exclude them – but more with non-runners. I would love to help running change the life of someone just as it has changed my life.

5. Make Them Count

Suddenly the thought of junk miles is much more important, with only 1000 runs remaining. Suddenly the concept of a ‘run with purpose’ takes on new meaning. Group runs? Running with friends? Social running events? All of these would become something to focus more on taking part.

There are a few groups in my area, all are a bit of a drive (I know there are a couple that are local), but there always seems to be something going on in my schedule, and driving 45 minutes or more for a run on a schedule never seems to be a priority. If I only had a limited number of runs, that one run per week could be an important event, and it would suddenly be worth taking the time to make it worth while.

Bonus Use them to Transition to Something Else

Here’s the thing – as I was thinking about running once a week, a thought emerged: not running doesn’t have to mean not being active. I have thoroughly enjoyed recent bike excursions with Lisa and the boys, and I have always loved to spend time in the pool.

It is interesting to me that as I wrote this up, something that came through was that with limited runs left I would want to share my love of running – group runs, volunteering, races, and so on. It wouldn’t just be about me getting up at 4AM to do my daily run … which is why I was also thinking about what I would do for my daily exercise fix – because I know I’d want SOMETHING!

So how would YOU spend your 1000 runs?

Monday Musings and Music and More

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Well, another long weekend of me not being around much … but something Megan said in response to a comment from me really rings true: “Isn’t it amazing that once you start to disconnect, it just seems so much easier to do so?” And the reality is – YES, it is true.

Sure I got runs in on Friday and Saturday, and had a very busy weekend, but normally I would have made sure I got some blogging done on Saturday … but instead I got in my run, and made sure I chatted with my older son about his girlfriend and how both were doing, and brought my younger son to do his DJ gig and then a few hours later had a late lunch with him and Lisa, and so on. What it comes down to is this: I prioritized reading and writing blogs lower than I ever have before. And that is OK.

1. Run for the Memories

I have talked before about how much I love exploring places by running, and for more than 2 years I have run everywhere I have visited. In fact, in a month I will be in North Carolina for a conference, and aside from meeting with some of the best minds in statistics and seeing one of my friends and colleagues speak, I am really looking forward to finding a new place to explore through running!

But this weekend Harold had a great post about when running is about MORE than just the run. He details what I would call a ‘run through the generations’ – his dad, an old coach, places where his siblings lived and grandparents and grat-grandparents lived, old factories long forgotten, and so on.

As I mentioned in the comments for his post, I wonder what that would be like for me. For the house I lived in until the middle of first grade it is impossible, as it and the whole neighborhood are now part of an industrial park. And my parents lived in a different town than their parents, who were half-way across the state from their parents. And for me, no one in my immediate family lives near where we grew up, and most of my extended family is scattered up and down the east coast.

What would a ‘running through your memories’ look like for you?

2. No Race Weekend

I didn’t run the race I was planning on Saturday, for several reasons:
– Friday was very busy with the move-in, and also emotion, and a long day (past midnight)
– Both Lisa and Chris had to work Saturday, and I knew they would be long days.
– The previous year had 700 runners and about 1400 people … and a parking lot that fits about 16 cars (and on the other end of the trail one that fits a dozen.
– I would have had to bike over due to logistics, and when we were sitting up past midnight the night before I thought ‘no … not gonna happen’.

Am I disappointed? A little … Lisa and I were planning to do it together, she would have walked and I would have run and it would have been fun. But ultimately I am more disappointed that we didn’t do it together than about my choosing not to go.

I had decided I would have done the 5k, because I really was interested in that ‘sustained pain’ feeling. I still haven’t run a 10k so it would have been ‘instant-PR’. Oh well … there are always other 5ks – even this coming weekend!

3. College Move-In

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The situation that had us with a fully loaded car last Friday morning is someone else’s story, but it was a fun and rewarding day and I was glad we could help out. The picture above is our son and his girlfriend.

Cornell is a beautiful campus that is really its own community, isolated by a few miles from the heart of Ithaca. It was a very busy day, but we were there to help every step of the way and got to see how much things have changed since Lisa and I had OUR first college move-in days 31 and 30 years ago respectively.

I do love how much has changed to really focus on the successful integration of new students. When I started it was more just a few social events then BAM into classes. Now they have loads of things throughout the calendar to help the kids learn how to navigate the school and their future.

4. New Phone

I posted about this on Instagram, but I got a new phone this weekend. It is a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 – and it is HUGE. The goal? To see if this device can replace both my iPhone and iPad for the majority of things, such as blogging, email, RSS feeds, and so on. Music software remains pathetic on Android so the iPad will remain for that, and I am really not doing much gaming recently, so it will be interesting to see if there is any impact on that front.

While I have had Apple products going back to 1979 and the Apple ][+, I have been an Android phone used from when they first came to Verizon right up until getting iPhone 5. At this point I have regularly been using the iPhone 5, iPad Air, Macbook Air, gaming PC laptop as well as a Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Fire HDX, and Sony Playstation Vita. Yeah, too much stuff. Worse yet – I regularly find myself seeing something on the phone and then grabbing the iPad to type the reply. Makes no sense!

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One immediate thing? The Note 3 deoesn’t fit in my running belt. I see that the SPIBelt ‘large pocket’ fits these things well.

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And in general, I forgot how clunky so many things are in Android, as I work to get devices to pair, apps to link together and so on. I STILL haven’t gotten the Polar Loop to pair up correctly. Here is a good mantra: “With great flaxibility comes many hassles.”

5. Wealth vs. ‘Class’?

I subscribe to Quora because I love all of the discussions and reading great answers to questions. But sometimes the questions are … interesting. This one in particular documents parents who have shown their child a very warped view of the interaction between money and class.

Here is an interesting – and demonstrably true – view of reality from a different post:

in most cases lazy sons of multimillionaires end up better off than hardworking daughters of slum-dwellers

And from the post in question?

•My parents always told me to never leave a tip for waiters/waitresses at restaurants because they are just fishing for tips

Aside from being incorrect (and really just the tip of the iceberg of the article), it engenders an attitude of elitism that is unconscionable. And the wealth-based discrimination is every bit as real as any other type.

But the question I have for myself, and that I think we should all ask ourselves: in what ways do I have similar attitudes about things? I know that as a professionally employed, home-owning white Christian married male in America I have a position of considerable privelege. I just hope that when I can affect change, I do so to the best of my ability.

6. THIS Is America?

I have started and deleted many different things about the ongoing violence and racial tensions … and none of it felt right to me. I have always been a ‘question authority, but support your police & fire’. Because OF COURSE there is racism in police forces – these are people, and people are racist.

But there is also tremendous bravery and kindness and goodness and a desire to help – because these are people, people who choose a dangerous profession hoping to make a difference.

Here is my basic thought: the problem isn’t the police, it is US. Because they are us – and the problems reflected there in terms of race, religion, gender and so on … are problems endemic in our society at large.

My biggest problem comes with the militarization of America. When Reagan invaded Grenada, there was a groundswell of pride, and the decades since have built up the concepts of ‘American exceptionalism’ and ‘might = right’. More scary is how starting in the late 90s we have seen police forces equipped with tanks and so on.

So what we see more and more in the country is exactly what is shown here:

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7. Movies are Easily Diagrammed

You know how most times when you are watching a Rom-Com you can see the formula coming into play? Y’know, how the two people who will eventually end up together have a ‘near miss’ (or are just friends), there is at least one ‘other’ romantic interest, then in a dramatic turn there is the realization that ‘the one’ was always rigt there? Over at Neatorama this is diagrammed out for a number of genres:

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How do you feel about this? Is it accurate?

7. Do You See a Problem?

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I just started getting Tennis magazine, and two issues arrived at once. Both covers are from the very top playes in the field, one is male and the other female. One has a person playing tennis, the other has a sultry, over-the-shoulder barely clothed shot. Am I overly sensitive thinking WTF? Personally I think Maria Sharapova looks awesome playing tennis, just like Roger Federer.

8. Almost School Time!

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Hard to believe that we’re already at the point of heading back to school. This past week was band camp – a week of 9AM – 8:30PM spent playing and marching and drilling … the kids were lucky that the weather was generally nice. Two years ago we had a heat wave, last year alternated between hot and thunderstorms. There was only one rainy day this year.

If you are looking for my boys, they are the tuba on the left and bass drum on the right. This was as close as they got during the ‘public practice’ on the last night. The final song was rough – but what I love is that we will see an amazing progression from now through the competitions throughout September and October.

9. My Running Summary

For the most part this was a pretty ordinary summer week – out early, do my run, do my abs, get ready for work and go. Here is the summary:

Sunday: Bike trip with Lisa
Monday: 9.75 miles
Tuesday: 9.75 miles
Wednesday: 10.1 miles
Thursday: 9.75 miles
Friday: ‘Rest’ Day (College move-in)
Saturday 14.5 miles, fast & flat

The weekly total was about 54 miles running, plus a great long bike trip with Lisa, and a busy day walking around with heavy boxes at Cornell! I was definitely happy with my runs this week, especially my long run on Saturday – I really pushed the pace throughout, trying to keep my heart rate up at all times. And I continue enjoying trying to get in my ab work and planks every day! I don’t want to let this great habit stop!

10. Music New and Old

We watched a bit of the VMAs last night … and as always I don’t know why. For me, they represent the absolute WORST of music – it isn’t a celebration of artistry, or even of music … it is a self-gratifying celebration of celebrity as personified by those with the most marketing money to spend. I have very little good to say – except that I loved Ed Sheeren thanking and handing the mic to the ‘guy who made the song’. That is important – pop music isn’t made by the people singing them … they are just the new ‘Johhny Bravo’.

Anyway, the most annoying thing for me was Nicki Minaj, whose one-trick schtick of fast-rapping is played out, augmented for the video crowd by booty-shaking. The song she did shows the depths of the current state of pop music – she has made an entire song from a line from a throw-away one-hit gimmick song from the 90s. Here is the original:

And here is the new rip-off:

The distinction? One was a joke when it came out, the other is supposed to be ‘artistry’. Puh-lease.

Finally, Lisa came across a new song she loved this weekend, and we added it to our iTunes and listened on YouTube – ‘Night Like This’ by LP:

Myself? I have mentioned that I’ve been re-stocking my iPod with older music that has sat un-played for too long as I was reviewing more and more albums over the last 5 or so years. One song I had completely lost track of? ‘Night of the Iguanas’ by Joni Mitchell from her 2007 album Shine.

Did you do any races this weekend? Any cool new music? How was YOUR week?

Five Things Friday – For the Love of Twin Peaks

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Happy Friday! Today we are helping Danny’s girlfriend move into Cornell University, so it will be a long and busy day – but fun to get to help and watch someone starting a new chapter in her life. It also means I won’t be reading any blogs, commenting or anything else … another weekend getting behind on my reading – it does get stressful (#fomo)!

1. Sock Mishap

Do you have socks with ‘L’ and ‘R’ on them? I only recently got some like that, but since I did, you can be sure I make sure they are on the wrong feet. Who knows what can happen, right? Well, that exact thing was the topic of a funny Runner’s World post:

Emergency room doctors confirmed Brenda’s suspicion. In a statement to reporters, a hospital spokeswoman said that doctors had concluded Mr. Meyers’ injuries were due to “sudden catastrophic foot failure.” In layman’s terms: Mr. Meyers’ right foot simply could not operate in a sock designed for a left foot, and vice versa. Faced with such a physiological disconnect, the statement said, the feet essentially “short circuit” and then shut down.

Whew … and remember:

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2.

Why Haven’t You Had Kids Yet?

Remember how I talked about ‘stuff people with kids need to stop saying …’? Well, as usual, The Oatmeal has summed it all up perfectly!

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3. Arnold Says “Don’t be afraid to fail”

Yet another great business-related article from LinkedIn this week talks about “What Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 6 Rules of Life Mean For Your Job”.

It is really a very good article, and a reminder of how much Arnold has accomplished – far from a dumb bodybuilder, he was a multimillionaire in his early 20s with a lousy grasp of English, yet came to America and was a huge success – and that was more than 40 years ago!

Here is my favorite quote from the article:

“Anything I ever attempted I was always willing to fail. You can’t always win but don’t be afraid of making decisions. You can’t be paralyzed by fear of failure or you will never push yourself.”

4. Best Simpsons Quote

Speaking of quotes, yesterday Salt reminded me of my favorite line from The Simpsons, from the episode ‘Moaning Lisa’ from 1990. It really needs no introduction:

Well it doesn’t matter how you feel inside, you know? It’s what
shows up on the surface that counts. That’s what my mother
taught me. Take all your bad feelings and push them down, all
the way down, past your knees until you’re almost walking on them.
And then you’ll fit in, and you’ll be invited to parties, and
boys will like you, and happiness will follow.

haha.

5. 5k or 10k? Help Me Decide!

So tomorrow everyone has to work, and Lisa and I had originally planned to do the ‘Time to Sperr’ event. It is a charity event to benefit the park and foundation, and Lisa was going to walk while I ran.

I am still thinking of doing it – but can’t decide – 5k or 10k?

I was initially going for the 10k because it is all the same money, but then I was astounded by how stupid that logic was, and I also want to do a 5k to push myself … I have no idea.

Thoughts?

Bonus. Twin Peaks

Why is this the ‘bonus’ and also the title of the post? Shaddup, it is my list!

Anyway, in my ’22 Years’ anniversary post I talked about watching Twin Peaks by phone with Lisa, and Judith commented about loving it as well. The boys and I enjoyed watching ‘Eraserhead’ recently, and we have Blue Velvet on DVD, and have starting working through Twin Peaks again. It is stunning how well it hold up as groundbreaking TV even today.

You should really check it out if you haven’t watched before … here is a link to Amazon.

And here is perhaps my favorite sequence from any show, ever:

Habits ‘Emotionally Intelligent’ People Use To Maximize Happiness

Diagram of emotional intelligence

My happiness is one of the core items in my life, and something I work hard to maintain. I do it in my marriage, family life, relationships with others, job, and my personal interests such as music, running and healthy eating. And it seems that since my anniversary I have been reflecting on the good fortunes in my life.

Have you ever heard the term ’emotional intelligence’? It refers to the ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions. There was a cool article last week about things successful people will NOT do, and it all ties into emotional intelligence. How do you build your emotional intelligence? Here are four key ways:

1.Perceiving Emotions: For some this is simple, for others a lifelong struggle.
2.Reasoning With Emotions: We all have emotional responses to things, but using those reactions to prioritize our decisions is another thing.
3.Understanding Emotions: just knowing that someone is frustrated isn’t enough, we need to place those feelings into context, to determine WHY someone is feeling that way.
4.Managing Emotions: I have talked about my ‘response tree’ approach before – (a) does it merit an emotional reaction (b) is anger the correct response and (c) is your response in proportion to the action.

So what does this have to do with running and healthy living? Everything and nothing – because it has to do with life, and running is very much a part of our lives. So here we go – I have adapted the list to fit into what I see as its application to running.

Emotionally Intelligent People Won’t Let Anyone Limit Their Joy

When I talked about running this past weekend, it was like a declaration of independence – my joy for running is purely due to my love for the sport; my joy of a mostly Paleo & Vegan diet is based on my enjoyment of those foods.

If your joy is based on where you place in a race or how you compare to others, you are no longer in control of your own happiness. It is SO important to remember that no matter what others think of you or how they are doing, self-worth ALWAYS comes from within.

Emotionally Intelligent People Won’t Forget

I had what I should view as a pretty decent summer of running last year – I was regularly topping 60 miles per week, hitting doubles at least once a week, came within 2 minutes of a PR in a marathon in the pouring rain where the path turned to mud and there was more than 6000ft of elevation change, then hit a nearly 10 minute PR in my next marathon. I mean, why shouldn’t I be happy?!?

But I wasn’t happy because my pace control was atrocious! So I took my November half-marathon, and dedicated it to maintaining a flat pace – and not only did it work, I STILL got a PR! During 2014 one of my continued goals is pace control – running by feel, running flat, knowing what my easy, moderate and hard paces feel like, and so on.

The context around this in the business article was more about forgiving but not forgetting. It is important that we do that with ourselves – learn from mistakes, but forgive ourselves for making them.

Emotionally Intelligent People Won’t Die in the Fight

‘Live to fight another day’ is the saying, or in our case ‘live to run another day’! How does this apply? Be smart in your runs – don’t push yourself to injury, don’t get dangerously dehydrated or under-fueled.

I have long said that we need to approach all of our running like a marathon: know when to push, and when to back off, when to keep running and when to rest and recover?

One of my biggest ‘do something stupid’ moments was dieting and restricting while heading into my first half marathon … and totally crashing near the end and finishing in rough shape. I made it – and have never forgotten and never made that mistake again! That one race changed my ‘food is fuel’ view forever!

Emotionally Intelligent People Won’t Prioritize Perfection

When you read most race reports, or run summaries, or how people are doing with their eating – you will hear that things are ‘solid’ or ‘really good’ or things like that. Seldom do you hear people talk about ‘perfection’ – because as runners we’ve had enough ups and downs to realize that it doesn’t exist.

Yet when we look at others (back to the first item on the list, right?) we often see a ‘perfect form’ or a perfect runner … WRONG! They are no more perfect than the rest of us! They might be after, have more endurance, be more agile, or whatever … but perfect? No.

Emotionally Intelligent People Won’t Live in the Past

I have mentioned several races where I didn’t meet my expectations – and in each case I set up a way to take the power away from those events so I could remember them fondly. I learned from those mistakes, and they are in the past now.

If you let your past mistakes and failures dictate your reality, you will be limiting what you can do and where you can do in life. Don’t let that happen – leave your mistakes behind.

Emotionally Intelligent People Won’t Dwell on Problems

You only have so much focus and mental energy to go around, so if you are dwelling on the past you have no time for the present or future. Sure we need to learn, but lessons are small and easy to carry through life. Let the past teach us things about how to shape our future, but then leave it behind.

Emotionally Intelligent People Won’t Hang Around Negative People

There is a distinct difference between frustrated but motivated people, and negative people. One set will voice frustrations at people or situations but ultimately want to move on to a more positive place … negative people find solace in the swamp of negativity.

There are negative people everywhere, and they will destroy you – your running, your eating, your life. Sure you want people around you to provide reality checks and keep you grounded, but not a self-serving complainer.

Emotionally Intelligent People Won’t Hold Grudges

Did you know that holding grudges is a stress response, so recalling the grudge actually causes the stress to resurface. That is just not good for you no matter how you look at things.

So what grudges do you have? Relationships are a clear one, but also races, foods that are triggers, other runners who beat you before, touchy subjects with people close to you and so on. While you shouldn’t forget things we learn, it is important to let go of the stress and regain control.

Emotionally Intelligent People Won’t Say Yes Unless They Really Want To

In business and in life, inability to say no leads to stress and burnout – with eating it causes failure to maintain goals, and with running it gets your hurt. I look at the example of the Corning Glassfest 8k run compared to the Catharine Valley Half Marathon – I knew I wouldn’t run either, but didn’t want to give up the 8K. That caused me to be stressed and irritable. With the half-marathon, I decided long before and as a result was totally open to enjoy the day.

So whether it is saying no to a race, saying yes to a rest day, or no to some food you’d rather not eat – be polite, but firm. You will thank yourself!

Emotional Intelligence and Eating Disorders, Running, and Dealing With It All

One of the reasons I decided to post about this was that there has been study in recent years (a couple are here and here) about the relationship between Emotional Intelligence and things like body dissatisfaction show that as dissatisfaction increases, emotional intelligence decreases.

A great article looks at translating Emotional Intelligence back into actions, and the quote: “We don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are.”

As for runners, according to a study from the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport “Findings lend support to the notion that trait emotional intelligence associates with adaptive psychological states, suggesting that it may be a key individual difference that explains why some athletes respond to repeated bouts of hard exercise better than others.”

In other words, the better you can deal with the emotional aspects of your life, the better you can handle the ups and downs of being a runner.

How is YOUR Emotional Intelligence?

Wednesday Wandering Mind – The Usual Nonsense But Mostly Health Stuff!

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Now here is something interesting – I didn’t post on Monday. OK, maybe you noticed that, maybe not … but I sure did. While to an extent I could blame it on my busy anniversary weekend, or the sh!tstorm I knew I was walking into on Monday, or the kids starting band camp, or whatever. But none of it was true – the reality is I have 24 drafts in various states of completion, yet I just came up blank. So I let it go … but given how easily things have flowed lately I found it interesting. Apparently whatever was ‘stuck’ broke free …

1. Food Pyramid for Runners

I really love the food pyramid from Runner’s World, one of those classic ‘what they think, what I think …’ things, but with a twist.

The interesting thing I have talked about in the past is that for many years I was in the “I run so I can eat whatever I want” camp, and while most of my food choices were good, I regularly dipped into the lower part of the pyramid. But as I ramped mileage past 40 miles per week back in 2012 my eating shifted much more into the ‘fuel zone’, and I became very particular about what I put into my face.

So it struck me the other day when a runner friend grabbed ‘one of everything’ from an assembled ‘carb overload’ table that resulted when a few different people had coincidentally brought items the same day. And he said ‘this is why we run, right’? For me, the answer was ‘no’. Homemade stuff? Sure – and I had a great macadamia nut cookie … but not any of the store-bought items. Just me … but the ‘run to splurge’ thing isn’t important to me.

2. Take Time to Celebrate Your Victories!

A while back there was an article at Runner’s World called ‘Bask Now, Analyze Later’, which emphasizes taking time to celebrate what went well – and particularly focuses on one thing: I crossed the finish line.

Then a couple of weeks ago Nicole had a great post called ‘Things I did right during my last race’, which celebrates some of the things she did well – and that is SUCH an important thing to do. And something we rarely do …

Think about your last race or long run – what comes to mind first? Probably how it could have been better. I look at my long run from just over a week ago – I did 18.79 miles. Two thoughts – I didn’t get to 20, and I under-fueled. But … c’mon, I ran almost 19 freaking miles! Can I not celebrate THAT for a second? Sure it is important to visit our mistakes – and I did, which helped me to a properly fueled run over 23 miles this weekend. But I never really took the time to celebrate what I had accomplished.

So that is my challenge to you AND myself: celebrate your accomplishments. And if you leave a comment – tell me something awesome about yourself that you are celebrating today!

3. Drink More Water, Gain Less Weight!

We all know how important hydration is, especially as we burn through the summer months as runners (though as we know, winter hydration is just as important!). An interesting study from a while back that was covered at Runner’s World showed that drinking water – and other non-sugary drinks – led to less weight gain.

After controlling for several factors that could affect weight gain, the researchers found that people who drank water, coffee, tea, and diet beverages gained less weight each four-year period than people who drank sugar-sweetened beverages and fruit juice.

Of course, we know that diet soda definitely doesn’t help with weight loss – and might even work against it due to how it confuses your body into expecting real sugar and when it doesn’t arrive it causes another hunger cycle to get back the resources it dumped before.

It all comes back to the basics – just like with foods, so too with drinks it is best to stick with things like water, infused water, coffee, tea, wine, and so on.

4. Reminder that ‘All Natural’ is Meaningless

OK, so I have gone on and on about how all of those ‘all natural’ protein powders and supplement pills and so on that people use and say ‘hey, it is all-natural, it must be good’ … is not guarantee. And recently on Buzzfeed there was an article about just how meaningless the ‘natural’ claim really is. From the post:

Can you spot anything actually found in nature in this product?
Ingredients: Citric Acid, Potassium And Sodium Citrate, Aspartame, Magnesium Oxide, Contains Less Than 2% Of Natural Flavor, Lemon Juice Solids, Acesulfame Potassium, Soy Lecithin, Artificial Color, Yellow 5 Lake, BHA (Preserves Freshness).

Though my favorite has to be the ‘all natural’ Cheetos … seriously.

5. Another Cautionary Thought on Anti-Oxidents

Yeah, I already went off on the whole Supplement thing, but it bears noting a more recent article discusses how some of the core thoughts behind the mechanistic workings of antioxidants could be wrong, and how we could be negating benefits of exercise by our ‘couldn’t hurt’ mentality:

“A supplement industry now worth $23 billion yearly in the U.S. took root,” he notes.

Taking antioxidant supplements before exercise actually negates some of the well-documented benefits of physical exertion.

And yet, antioxidant pills have proven to be a bust. In February, a group of independent US medical researchers assessed 10 years of supplement research and found that pills loaded with vitamin E and beta-carotene (the stuff that gives color to carrots and other orange vegetables) pills are at best useless and at worst harmful—that is, they may trigger lung cancer in some people. Just this month, a meta-analysis published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that antioxidant supplements “do not prevent cancer and may accelerate it.”

And a 2009 study found that taking antioxidant supplements before exercise actually negates most of the well-documented benefits of physical exertion: That is, taking an antioxidant pill before a run is little better than doing neither and just sitting on the couch.

Again, I don’t consider this to be remotely conclusive science, but it is interesting – and gets back to what I keep saying: know what you are putting into your body, and when in doubt – don’t.

6. Debunking “Chronic Cardio”

Michele wrote a post asking ‘is running healthy’ which brought up a post from ‘Mark’s Daily Apple’ that claims that, basically, our current methods of exercise are ‘bad for us’. When I read the article, I had a few issues:
– The ‘summary’ block wasn’t a summary but a sales pitch. Anyone using an obvious ‘click bait’ title, then leading with a sales pitch has already hit an 8 on the ‘BS meter’.
– Looking to the end, it is clear that the goal is to make recommendations that align with the primal / Paleo ideals. Which isn’t surprising since the opening was a sales pitch.
– The intro claims that the ‘conventional wisdom’ is “45 minutes to an hour a day of intense aerobic activity” … but that isn’t true at all. The REAL recommendation is “150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise”. In other words – the basic assumption of the article is WRONG – and since finding the CORRECT information took me less than 5 seconds … it is not unreasonable to assume that the article was INTENTIONALLY MISLEADING.

So it is simple enough to discount the entire article, and quite frankly it undermines the credibility of the entire website. But someone took the time to actually debunk the points that were made in the original article:

One of the main reasons that Mark is against running – it decreases fat metabolism – isn’t supported at all. In fact, this study shows that aerobic training like running burns more visceral and liver fat than resistance training.

And this study shows that running is better than strength sessions for weight loss. This isn’t to show that you have to choose between the two – both have an important part in any healthy exercise program – but aerobic running is actually better for general weight loss.

Now one thing that came up with Michele’s post and in the comments was the ease of over-doing things. In other words, if you tend to be an extreme person who refuses to recover and just does extreme exercise all the time … well, maybe you will see negative effects.

Sure – but I have two thoughts: first, you will likely be injured well before any of the stuff in Mark’s article is a major concern … and second it is pretty much like arguing that water is bad for you if you choose to drink 47 liters per day. Um, yeah. Stick with reasonable training and exercise programs, folks.

tl;dr – running isn’t bad for you, anyone who says it is probably is selling something.

7. Could ‘Intermittent Fasting’ be Good For You?

This one is pretty far out there – and the general thought could be a trigger for those already dealing with restriction and with a history of restriction and other food-related issues (i.e. me).

You can see some of the articles here and here and here and here. From one article:

The human metabolism does not grind to a halt if you skip a meal (or three). For it to slow down by even ten percent, one would need to fast for 72 hours straight (don’t worry, no one’s recommending giving up food for three days)[1][2][3][4]. In fact, even 48 hour fasts have been shown to have no negative effect on metabolism, cognitive performance, or fatigue[5][6]. That’s not to say fasting can’t be a little uncomfortable — we’ll get to that later.

But why would anybody want to fast? For starters, IF shares many of the benefits of following a low calorie diet, such as a lower risk of stroke and cardiovascular diseases [7][8][9]. Fasting’s effect on the heart is especially interesting: One study concluded just one day without food per month can potentially halve the risk of developing coronary artery disease[10].

8. Barefoot Running – It isn’t Bad For You, But Some Shoes Aren’t Good For You!

The whole debate over barefoot running has seemed like a he-said/she-said back and forth nasty debate since I got serious about running and shoes a couple of years ago. As I started back, I began with what are described as ‘minimal-ish’ and ‘ultra lightweight’ shoes. And I tried shoes that were lighter and thinner and dropped from 4mm to ‘zero drop’ … and eventually got to the Merrell Vapor Gloves which are zero-drop with 2mm cushion (compared to the 12+mm on most shoes) – and it was just too little shoe for me.

There was a big backlash, and last year loads of reports came out noting that the science for the backlash wasn’t there … and then a few months ago courts found that Vibram had mis-represented their shoes and the potential benefits in order to increase sales.

What is reality? I’m really not sure – there are articles about why barefoot-like shoes are ‘not best for most runners’. And I think that for people starting out, finding something with moderate cushion to start seems wise – and THEN working on different shoe drops and types to see what is optimal for you, consulting with people who can observe your stride and footfall pattern. Gradual, informed changes are always your friend.

9. FDA Closes the Trans-Fat Loophole

Have you heard about the 0.5g *per serving* trans-fat loophole? That loophole has now been ‘closed’ and if the rules go into full effect foods will no longer be allowed to claim ‘no trans fats’ if there are any present at all. Here are more details:

After thirty-odd years of everyone knowing trans fats are bad for us, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proposed measures to ban all trans fats in our food. The move comes after decades of research finding consuming trans fat is strongly linked to heart disease and obesity. The ruling is just preliminary for now, but when (or if) it comes into effect (the timeline is kinda fuzzy), there will be some big changes on supermarket shelves.

It turns out a lot of our favorite treats are laden with the stuff, even though brands often claim otherwise. This is thanks to an egregious loophole that allows a product to be labeled “trans fat-free” if there’s less than 0.5 grams of the stuff per arbitrary “serving.” Right now, the best way to tell if a product contains trans fat is to check the ingredients: If there’s partially hydrogenated oil, there’s trans fat.

10. Psychological Effects of Exercise Deprivation

Pete Larson from Runblogger highlights a study at Science of Running that had athletes take two weeks off … from the article:

“Following the layoff, the athletes saw significant increases in feelings of tension, depression, anger, confusion and total mood disturbance. Additionally, there was a decrease in vigor. These changes in mood aren’t terribly surprising, but it’s pretty profound when you think about it. Just by taking someone outside of their norm of aerobic exercise for 2 short weeks, people’s mood states were significantly impacted.”

I think many of us can relate in some way to taking time off and really feeling like our overall state was altered. For those who have been injured, what is your experience?

What Health Issues Have Been Tweaking You This Week?