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The Power of the Tongue P2

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“There is no human being that has a more profound influence in the outcomes of your life than you. So with that truth in mind; what are you saying about yourself? What are you consistently telling yourself to do?”  Karen Noe

In Part 1 of our two-part post on the power of the tongue we tried to encourage you to start with the easier half of positive talk, the words you speak to those around you.  You see, we talk considerably more within our hearts and minds than we do to those around us.  Consistently speaking positively to ourselves is quite a challenge.

“Positive affirmations should be a part of your daily routine. Post an inspirational phrase on your mirror and repeat it to yourself every morning and every night. Post your goals on the refrigerator and read them out loud everyday.”  Karen Noe

Our college coach is an incredible motivator.  One of the things I’m most appreciative of is that he not only motivated, but that he took the time to teach us how to motivate ourselves.  Many of us have been around a person or a group that is so motivating that we can’t help but get all pumped up and fiery when we are around them.  But when we workout 5 days a week and we’re only around those persons or groups twice a week, that leaves the majority of our workout time up to ourselves.  Coach used many affirmations.  Two of them that I’ve found most important to learn and realize are below:

“If you can see it, you can believe it.  If you can believe it, you can achieve it.”

“Everyday in every way, getting better and better.”

The first teaches the importance of positive self talk.  If we can begin to see ourselves achieving goals that we’ve set for ourselves then we are able to set in motion the process of truly achieving them.  If we never allow ourselves to “see” ourselves in this positive self-light, we will find it very difficult to ever achieve our goals.

The second is an affirmation that I use quite often.  Trying to focus solely on one huge goal is like thinking Rome was built in a day!  While we should always know what our ultimate goal is, we should also allow ourselves to find intermediate goals that are achievable and help us to continue feeling successful and motivated during the process.

In 1999 I qualified for the US Olympic Marathon Trials.  I raced the trials in 2000 while suffering from Epstein Barr, Chronic Fatigue.  Had I simply run the time I achieved to qualify for the trials, I would have been 11th over-all.  Instead, I ran over 15 min. slower and was 59th.  Over the next four years I took two years completely off in order to recover and get healthy enough to simply be able to run easy mileage without sending myself back into another cycle of chronic fatigue.  To dig out of that circumstance took a lot of prayer but also a lot of positive self talk.  “Everyday in every way…” was one of the affirmations I used on a daily basis during my lunch break in the quiet of a private room with just myself.  I used it again at night in the quiet of my bedroom before going to sleep.

We worked on speaking well to others because truthfully, it’s easier for many of us to be nicer to others than it is to be nice to ourselves.  We’re our own worst critics.  But what if we could become our own best advocate instead?!  What if we could speak as positive to ourselves as we do to those around us?  It’s not acceptable to speak harshly to those around us on a regular basis so why do we think it’s ok to speak to ourselves in this manner?!

“It ain’t over yet!”  We’ve learned to speak kindly to others, we can learn to speak kindly to ourselves.  One note written on a scrap piece of paper inside your wallet or purse.  One affirmation you speak to yourself each morning while you shower.  One 10 sec. sliver of time you take to look yourself in the mirror and remind yourself YOU are good! One routine of lifting your head each and every morning before you officially start your day.  YOU can do this!  We all can.

The Power of the Tongue P1

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Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.
Proverbs 18:21

As we move closer and closer into the Spring season many of us will start to feel a little more pressure.  We’ll pick out our A races, set goals for the season, and find that we can’t just put in easy miles of training if we want to achieve those goals.  We’ll increase our intensity and work harder to get better.  But there’s one muscle that many of us have yet to even consider as one of the most important, our tongue.

Let’s be even more specific.  It’s not just the words you let fly out of your mouth that can hurt or heal, tear down, or build up.  It’s the ones that you allow yourself to listen to inside yourself that are just as important.

Before we touch on, “Speaking Goals into Existence,” let’s do a little Spring cleaning. OK, maybe a lot of Spring cleaning. There are many areas of our lives that we could use our tongues in a more positive manner.  The tongue has power and if you think you’ll argue this point, first think about little children.  Being a father of two young children has made me increasingly aware of so many of my own short comings.  For a decade I worked with children in treatment facilities who’d had plenty of harmful arrows shot at them from their parents’ tongues.  Honestly, I find it quite scary to now have a 6 and 7 year old that I’m helping to raise and encourage.  I’ve seen just how quickly I can change the mood and memory of a child by either speaking grace and hope, or anger and blame.  And I’ve done both if I’m being honest.  Therefore, I think and pray on this thing, the tongue, daily.

A great way to start your Spring cleaning is to keep a log just like you would if you were wanting to change your diet.  For two weeks, try to write down and make note of your daily dialogue, with others and with yourself.  Be honest, you can’t change your diet by ignoring those late afternoon cookies and cake and you can’t change your talk if you won’t admit being an asshole to your neighbor whether out loud or inside your mind.  As you start to see a pattern in your talk, identify areas that you can clean up.  First choose the easy ones like not getting so upset about “bad” drivers.  Learn to take a breath before reacting so that you might create a chance to respond positively instead of negatively.  Choose to purposely say something nice to one person each day.  As you peel back those layers you’ll find yourself staring smack dab into the bigger issues of how you talk w/ co-workers, family, friends, and yourself.  You’ll also find yourself beginning to feel more and more positive, powerful, and optimistic.  Just like finishing a major Spring cleaning project in your home.  And once you’re there, affecting others in a positive manner, then you can begin to help yourself become more powerful within yourself as well.

In Part 2 we’ll talk more specifically about positive self talk and speaking goals into existence.  Until then, let’s lay into the task at hand and find others to encourage and raise up.  Speak life to a child,  love to a friend, and hope to a stranger.

 

 

Rest is like Pizza

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They say some things are like pizza, some is better than others but it’s always good.  Rest and recovery falls into that category.  Recently, I was working with a client on adjusting their training plan for coming back from being really sick.  Many times, we want to come back too quickly and find ourselves just able enough to shuffle through a workout.  Even worse, sometimes, we try to start the workout only to find out we don’t have enough energy to even complete it.  Both of those scenarios do nothing to increase our fitness.  Actually, they probably slow down our ability to fully recover.  So we decided to simply have a full day off.  The results were a run that felt great and was much better than we could have hoped.

From time to time I’ve been one to talk about sleep habits.  Our culture is one that continues to push to get more and more done without regard to taking care of our health and well being.  We increase our training volume and intensity by getting up earlier without finding a way to make up for the missed sleep and that is truly a mistake almost every time.  (Unless you already sleep 11 hours a night and now you get 10;)  I wish!  Well planned rest that you use wisely can help you make gains that might not be attainable without the recovery.  Stress + Recover= Progress.  It’s a simple equation that many hide behind the other layers of training like volume, workouts, and cross-training.  However, those all fall within the Stress portion of the equation.

Next week we plan to talk about speaking your goals into existence.  I wanted to first talk about recovery because visualizing when tired or stressed out isn’t the best idea and trying to talk yourself into believing that you can achieve something while not formulating a plan without recovery isn’t either.  Plan those rest days just like you plan your workouts and you’ll soon find that the workouts will go better than you could’ve hoped.  Rest rarely disappoints, just like pizza!

Run for Love

 

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One of my favorite new songs is attached below, “When Love Broke Thru.”  I think I like it so much because it reminds me that if I can act out of love, many things can be overcome.  But if acting out of ignorance, anger, or misunderstanding, many times, those situations only get worse.

Something I love so much about running is that it strips us down to our most simple desires.  I’ve often found myself running with others whom I’d rarely call to hang out with.  However, finding persons to run with at a certain pace for ridiculous distances on cold, dark mornings isn’t the easiest task to accomplish.  Therefore, I’ve had many runs in many different states across the US, over many years, with persons whom I may not be in accordance with concerning political or religious views, their so-called way-of-life, or even their views on morality.  But over and over again I’ve found that running miles of trials with another human being helps us find common ground in a way that few other things can.

Running isn’t easy.  You don’t take time to run, you make time to run.  That means earlier out of bed or later to bed.  It’s a grind.  That sick feeling you get when you wake up early in the dead of winter in the dark… Simple desires.  Run alone or run with someone who helps you feel supported in your endeavors as you support theirs?   Run alone or together?

Psychology Today says, “Love is a desire, not emotional need.”  Finding ourselves in the midst of all kinds of different persons willing to help us strive for our desire to be better, get stronger, hang on a little farther is breathtaking.  It’s unreal when everyone is happy to see you happy.  That’s how runners are.

Adding love to that desire could be life-changing, not just for us, but for all of those around us.  You see, if we’re willing to love across views and opinions because we’ve learned to desire good for those we run with, then we can learn to use love to desire good for others we don’t run with.  Running is my stress relief, my compass, my reset, and my life’s desire.  Not because I ultimately desire to be faster, but because I ultimately desire to be better.  Better for my wife, my kids, my community, and my running mates.  Love on you all,

20%, 2%

Which is greater?!  I know, it looks like a simple question but it’s not.  My college coach always said, “It’s better to be 20% under-trained than 2% over-trained.  Seems like you’d be leaving a lot on the table if you always showed up at your race 20% under-trained.  However, the alternative isn’t ever a good place to be.

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Coach’s point was that anytime we get over-trained, bad things happen…  we get sick, injured, chronically fatigued or a combination of more than one of these.  When this happens, we then need extended periods of time off to heal up and recover creating a lapse in training that puts us in a place of decreased fitness, the one place we were trying to stay away from.

Training gains are made not from stressing the system alone but by recovering from the stressors.  Your fitness progresses when you can allow adaptations to happen and those can only happen with both stress and recovery.  Over-train and you no longer have the chance to allow adaptation.

Winter time is a great time to work on this principle.  As the training and racing seasons slow down for many of us, it can be a chance to build slowly, enjoy making small changes, and learn to program recovery into the schedule.  Finding patience in the quiet months of winter can help you enjoy a myriad of breakthroughs during the racing season.

Chances are, when we picture ourselves being 20% under-trained, we see ourselves taking a day off here and there or maybe even doing a little more work in our base phase and less in our intervals or thresholds.  Hence, 20% under-trained is closer to perfection than we might think.  Allowing ourselves enough recovery to adapt can put us in a place where we feel good on race day.  And that’s way better than never making it to the start line in the first place!

“No, I like to Party…”

We like to try to offer a little motivation in our blog posts and today is no different.  However, instead of us motivating you, it’s those we try to motivate hopefully motivating others.  Below is a short video from an incredible night of fun competition and community.  Throughout this past year of elections and debate, the media has seemed to increasingly portray us as opposing, ego-centric, agenda-focused dividends without any remaining sense of humanity.

Well, here’s to being a runner, knowing a runner, and hoping to be more like a runner.  Inclusive, encouraging, motivating, and happy.  It’s almost like a high-school keg’r when there were all different types of classmates at one place having a good time together.  “F” you media, we runners like to party!  All kinds of us!

Seeing is Believing–Visualization

 

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In one our more recent posts, we talked about fighting complacency and goal setting.  As I was dragging myself through an early morning run in the dark cold of winter the other day, I was reminded of something I’ve learned through the years.  Most gains are made after you recover from the efforts.  When visualizing yourself succeeding or when trying to see yourself achieving something, I believe it’s just as important to be recovered.

Trying to visualize positive vibes while feeling like a clunky piece of dog crap is about as effective as trying to make ice cream in August in Iowa.  In order to set yourself up for success, try to visualize when you feel good.  Whether that be during a run when you feel fantastic or during a relaxing afternoon nap, being able to see yourself in a positive light is greatly affected by first feeling good in the present.

Why do we think children have such a fervor for life and adventure?!  I wonder if it isn’t because they get more rest and have way less stress than their adult counterparts.  Our coach in college would start and end visualization sessions with the following…  “If you can see it, you can believe it.  If you can believe it, you can achieve it.”  I spent many a thirty minute nap in the dark basement of a Colorado Springs rental house, laying on a futon and listening to a mixed tape in my headphones as I watched and re-watched myself qualify for the US Olympic Marathon Trials.  On the days when my long run was clicking, I’d listen to the same mixed tape for 24 miles in the mountains while seeing the same pictures.

I still visualize.  But I pick the days I feel good.  And on the days that seem like more of a struggle, I look forward to the next day when I’ll feel better because that’s when I’ll visualize the self I see achieving the goals that still lie ahead.

Methods Monday, Fight Complacency

They say that completion is the enemy of progress.  That means that the, “off-season,” can be filled with plenty of enemy fire.  You’ve just finished your first marathon or triathlon.  You quit smoking and started working out this Summer.  All of these are good things, but good things can quickly become the past.  Or they can help motivate you to morph these successes into ongoing progress.

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Sure, it’s good to sit back and look at our successes from time to time, but I’m not sure it should become the standard.  From the time I finished my Freshman year of college in 1993 until 2015, I had zero injuries that kept me from endurance training.  In the last two years I’ve been injured twice!  What gives?  Complacent? Me?!  No way… but was I?

Injuries happen and most of us, and if we do this endurance lifestyle long enough, will probably have some injuries to tackle.  However, as I look back, yes, I was progressing my running, but I was simply throwing more logs in the fire.  More mileage, more double days, more lifting of more weight etc.  But I wasn’t learning how to adapt and adjust to these stressors at the young age of 40 or 42 w/ a busy work schedule, two young kids, and the stress that comes with life in general.  What I’m learning is that if I want to continue to strive for progress, I may need to add new tricks to the tool bag.  Instead of just lifting weights, I need to focus on strengthening my core and range of motion to withstand the miles of training.  Instead of just doing more, I need to do more wisely, which I had been, but I wasn’t wisely trying to learn new tricks.

I just read a research paper on stretching that would seem to indicate quite intelligently, that static stretching for endurance athletes may not be advantageous at all, either before or after.  Now I’m not going to stop stretching post-workout all together, (I know that’s what you’re thinking, you wish) but I am going to research the area to see if there’s something more advantageous to injury prevention and performance enhancement.  What about nutrition, fueling, motivation?

All this is to say, are you thinking about progressing this off-season?  Or are you doing the same things you always do.  Taking the Winter off, hibernating, following the same plan you have for the last four year…  Progress is another word for advance.  To advance is to move forward.

Think about your goals for 2017.  Think about your goals for your life!  Are you hoping to progress or just maintain?  If maintaining sounds pretty good, proceed with caution as maintaining while aging is still a fight.  Finding ways to maintain probably means you’ll have to progress.  And progressing means that you’re never done.  Good thing you like to fight!

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Methods Monday, Winter Training Tips

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As we all set in for the long haul of Winter, I feel like I’m torn between the old approach of my younger years when I would simply raise the fist to the cold and go outside anyway.  A stiff chin, no headlamp in the dark, and an old cotton glove carefully placed in the mid-front, and I was on my way through hills and snow.  And the desire to find new ways to keep things interesting and fun without having to wrestle with the cold, icy conditions day in and day out.  I think there’s a happy medium in there where we can find both fun and fitness.  So here are some ideas and some tips…

Winter Gear-  You don’t have to spend a fortune, at least not all at once, to get enough gear to get you through a winter of training.  Finding a jacket that has wind block paneling and some thermal properties to it is probably the one real piece of equipment that’s worth the purchase price.  Using layers of clothing and being sure to keep most of your skin covered from exposure and you may not look the part of an olympian in training, with mismatched colors and styles, but you’ll be warm and safe even in the coldest conditions.  Layering with old race shirts, a pair of tights under some sweat pants and using some thick snow mittens are all acceptable practices to allow you bragging rights with your run mates concerning wind chill and runs completed.

Snowshoeing- an incredible workout that can be done anywhere there’s enough snow.  Getting into the woods to do so is not just a breath-taking step into a winter wonderland, but the trees can help block the wind-chill, while your effort level with snowshoes on your feet, is guaranteed to keep your heart rate up and your body warm.  Regular running shoes work just fine for snowshoeing unless you tend to get cold feet.  Then, try a wool sock blend or think about trying a gore-tex type run shoe.

Skiing and Fat Biking- let’s not pretend that the only way to stay fit is by doing sports that involve strictly running.  Cross-country skiing and Fat Biking are great ways to get into the woods and work up a good sweat while still getting fresh air and some sunshine.

Indoor Training- from group fitness classes to indoor tracks, there is a plethora of options for staying fit without getting frostbite.  Fitness Classes, weight training, spin class, lap swimming, water aerobics, treadmills, ellipticals, mall walking, and indoor tracks are some of the common ways to keep the fitness fire burning throughout the winter.  A couple tips while enjoying these indoor means…

*Running on a treadmill w/out any incline can give a false sense of fitness as the movement of the belt may decrease true effort of the runner.  Adding a 1 to 1.5 % incline on so-called, “Flat” treadmill runs will help you re-acclimate to outdoor running when the snow melts.

*Inside/Outside- Anytime that you spend a majority of your training time inside on a machine like a treadmill or elliptical trainer, the impact is decreased compared to running outside on streets or paved trails.  When you begin to go back outside, please consider the 25% rule.  Go back outside for only 25% of your runs for two weeks at a time before adding more outside workouts.  If you run inside 4 days a week, add just 1 run outside and do 3 inside for two weeks.  Then, do 2 outside and 2 inside for two weeks and so on…

*Mall walking or working out in similar conditions means the ground is actually quite hard and unforgiving.  Be careful if you spend more time on hard surfaces like cement floors as you’ll want to acclimate slowly to the pounding to avoid injury and/or over-use issues.

*Indoor Tracks- Most indoor tracks involve tight continuous turning over the course of a distance run.  Most tracks are no less than 8 laps a mile and most are actually more.  Running tight circles for more than 30 min. at a time can really increase your risk of injury.  Tight IT Bands, added pressure on knees, and arch pain are all commonly known concerns from running too much on indoor tracks.  Consider alternating direction.  (Most facilities actually alternate days for direction which makes this impossible.)
And consider not doing more than 30 min. a day on a tight, indoor track.
I firmly believe that treadmills are much more forgiving for most people than running multiple loops on an indoor track.

There’s no “one way” to get and stay fit throughout an “off-season” cycle.  Even taking a season without any running at all wouldn’t be a horrible thing if you can continue to workout and stay healthy and active by enjoying the options you choose.  If you plan to focus on running during your “in-season” then doing at least 50% of your training volume within your sport focus is probably a good rule of thumb.  Whatever you choose to do, we hope that you continue to look far enough into the future to ensure that you find fuel to fan the flames of your health and fitness desires year-round.

Happy Winter!

Which Would You Prefer?

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I ran with a couple friends on my morning run today.  One of them, Cesar,  has a grandfather in Mexico who just ran a 51 min. 10K.  He’s 76 years old!!!  That’s like an 8:20 per/mile pace!  So I text Cesar today and started a line of questions, Does your grandfather strength train?  Does he use a GPS watch?  Does he do interval workouts?

It’s always very interesting to me to see those who continue to, or begin to make fitness gains later in life.  It makes me wonder what’s more important… is it the training plan, the consistency, the gear, the equipment???  So we’ll wait on Cesar to answer my long line of questions before we make any true assessments or assumptions here but until then…

Let’s think about this,
Would you rather garner impressive, over-all PRs during your racing career, OR, would you rather find an extended career of endurance and fitness regardless of PRs, OR, BOTH?!

In April of 2015, The Atlantic ran an article on “Running into Old Age,” that stated,

“Research has shown that exercise can help maintain physical fitness that may otherwise be lost over time. “A lot of the deterioration we see with aging can be attributed to a more sedentary lifestyle instead of aging itself,” a 2014 review article on aging and exercise, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, concludes. “The prevalence of age-related chronic diseases and physical dysfunction is substantially reduced or even absent in older adults who continue to train and compete in athletic competitions.”

“Aging merely lowers the ceiling of physical ability,” Tanaka says. “Older adults, even those over 90 years of age, respond well to exercise training and regain much of what they lost with aging.”

Walking for a Better Brain

But the authors of the 2014 study emphasize that athletic feats like marathons aren’t the only way to enjoy the benefits of exercise in old age. According to their data, any regular vigorous exercise may reduce the decline in aerobic capacity—the ability of the heart and lungs to deliver oxygen to muscles, a main component in overall age-related physical decline—by as much as 50 percent.”

So, what’s the plan Stan?!  How are you planning to spend your years ahead?  Were you simply planning to hang your hat on the escapades of yesteryear, as you struggle to stand up out of that soft sofa you watch t.v. from?  Or were you planning to resist aging by realizing that hanging your hat just shouldn’t happen?!

Run in or Drop us a line!