The subtle helpful advice from well meaning friends
Now that I run I’m noticing how my friends talk about fitness and diets. It is fascinating how the words we use shape our success. Failure is determined before the task is started.
I get told, “that diet can’t be healthy only really sick people have to eat that way.” Hmmm, if it helps sick people get healthy, does it help healthy people get even better? I like to look at the bright side of life.
“I could never do that diet, I like [sugar, carbs, energy drinks] too much to give them up.” Well, what about starting with just one meal next week? Discrediting an idea because the extreme case seems too difficult is a form of failure.
“People gain 10 pounds per decade.” This is a lot like dog food. The dog food bag says feed 3 cups/day for an 80 pound dog. The problem occurs when an 80 pound dog should be a 70 pound dog. When it eats 3 cups /day it soon becomes a 90 pound dog. The dog should be fed according to its ideal weight.
I made an exercise habit. I committed and executed. Now many of the invisible scripts are obvious to me. Before I ran regularly I was blind to them. It is a tough catch-22 to see the invisible script and do something about it.
Planning for failure
I had many excuses when I started running. Most of them were trivial and avoidable. If I wanted a reason to not run I always had one. I overcame myself with failure plans.
If I forgot my running shoes, I still had to run. If I forgot my towel, I still had to run. If I had a lunch meeting, I still had to run. Anything that could happen needed a backup plan.
It took me a few minutes to list the possible failures. Then it took me another ten minutes to pack my car with backups and plan alternative running times if the lunch hour was booked.
A few days during my 30 Days of Running Challenge I used a backup plan. If I hadn’t planned to fail I would have failed all together. I made failure part of the plan and plotted paths from failure back to success.
My journey from lazy to walking to running has trained me to tackle all areas of my life that can be improved. I started with a simple goal, 10,000 steps/day and have journeyed to running 5 Kilometers consistently.
When I started I wasn’t thinking about running. I was only thinking about walking more. It was a small goal. It was a simple achievable goal. I only had to make a small change to my daily schedule.
Overtime I realized I was meeting my walking goal. I increased my walking goal to 15,000 steps. Another small increment. Little by little my body became stronger. Little by little I was unknowingly preparing myself for running.
When the weather was warm and the runners were out on my walking trail I knew it was my time. I would start running. I had prepared my body for several months before I went for my first jog. Slow and steady. I built my healthy habit brick by brick over a long time.
Now I’m a runner. I run for fun. I run for a challenge. I run to think. I run to relax. I run to push limits. I run to be a better me.
The simple process of slow and steady improvement works. I’m improving 1% every day. I know it works because it worked with running. I do not fear the ‘dip’. I know that on the other side of the Dip is success and a better me. I do not power through the dip. I do not endure the dip. I simply traverse the dip knowing success waits for me on the other side.
I’m still running a month after completing my 30 Days of Running challenge. I don’t run every day like I did during the challenge. I run most days. The days I don’t run I feel the urge to run.
On my off days I move. I do push-ups and sit-ups. I walk extra flights of stairs. I move. My health continues to improve.
I started my 30 Days of Running Challenge to become a healthier 40 year old (I’m in my 30’s). I want to be the fittest dad at my kids’ school. I want to challenge my boys in sports. I want to be the example of a healthy lifestyle. Kids do what you do and not what you say.
I am doing healthy and it feels great.
Snow was falling in big fat flakes. This was winter. There was a cold wind and a thick blanket of snow. It was the perfect day to stay inside reading a good book. Instead, I was out walking with cold, numb toes.
I had made a decision to walk every day. At lunch time I’d dress for the weather and go outside. I set a timer for 15 minutes. I’d walk for 15 minutes then turn around and walk back for a 30 minute walk.
No matter the weather, my work load or my hunger I’d go walking. This small commitment to walking every day turned me into a runner. After months of walking I decided it was time to go to the next level.
I would start running.
I’d set a timer for 10 minutes and run. After 10 minutes I’d turn around and run back. A 10 minute shower and clean-up kept me within my 30 minute goal.
I’m a runner because I decided to walk.
I didn’t sleep last night. One child had a fever and the other had insomnia. Between the two kids waking up my FitBit gave up on recording my sleep.
Before I started running I’d have been wrecked today.
Running has taught me my limits. I’m not tired because I know what tired is. Tired is the last mile of a long run after I forgot breakfast and didn’t sleep.
Today is a great day!
Throwing out goals
It has been 168 days since I started running. It has taken me 167 days to discover what elite running coaches have been saying all along.
When I started running I set an arbitrary goal of a fast marathon time. How did I come up with the goal? I read a couple articles that suggested it would be a fast marathon time.
I’ve never run a marathon. Why did I think that I could set a time goal?
Setting a marathon time goal is ridiculous for two reasons. First, I should see if I can run just 5 kilometers. Second, maybe I’m gifted and can run faster than the goal. I wouldn’t be running my best. Oh, and third pushing myself to meet an arbitrary goal is a quick path to injury.
Eventually I came to my senses and I dealt with my ego. I developed my running base. Now I run for myself. I run to be my personal fastest. I run to be in my best health.
I run to be the best me I can be.
Running with beginners
It is easy to forget where I came from. It is easy to forget my struggles. It is easy to assume I’ve always been able to do this.
This weekend I worked with beginners. There were several times where I might have interjected with the correct answer. I kept quiet. Too often an experienced person discourages a beginner by informing how little they know.
I kept quiet and let the beginners explore and learn. Yes, we made mistakes together. Yes, we learned more than we had in awhile. This weekend was a huge success. Everyone was stronger for it. Failure is good.
Everytime I run, I fail. I fail to meet my goal. I fail to run as fast as I want. I fail to run as far as I want. Sometimes I even fail to run at all. Failure is good when it is failing forward.
Each failure teaches me and strengthens me. Running is teaching me to be comfortable enduring failure. I do not like failure. I do not like running in the cold. I learn to endure these things to become a stronger human.
I run to discover my limit. Running is a low risk venue for testing and expanding. There are only a few variables to change, speed and distance. The consequences of failure are low, I run a little slower than I thought I could.
The lessons learned from running are valuable to all pieces of my life. My running limits teach me how to test and expand my reading or coding limits. The process is the same. I push each variable to its limits.
Run further than I ever have.
Run faster than I ever have.
Running gives me the confidence to test and expand my limits. I know that after 2 weeks of running hard I will not see improvement. Improvement happens on week 5 or week 7. I face the dip with confidence that my stalled improvements are just that, stalled. Soon I will improve simply because I continued.
Yesterday I planned to stay at my desk. I planned to not go running.
I went running.
I think it must be habit. In the middle of my day my mind switches and decides it is time to run. The runs are good for me. Running clears my head. Running gives me new inspiration.
I found that running in the middle of a tough problem brings me peace and sometimes a solution. My mind works best when I’m content and relaxed. Running moves me to be content and relaxed.
When I’m relaxed my creative muscles works, my problem solving works. After a good run my mind functions well. After a good run I focus; I solve.
Running to be Better at Everything Else
My running habit is creating positive ripples throughout my life and talents. Running is building my base confidence. I know my body and mind are ready to perform at their best. I know my best is ready to be better.
Running is focusing my person. I’m getting clarity on who I am and who I am not. I’m a runner. I will enure. I will see this task to completion. I will not give up because it is uncomfortable, boring or tedious.
The beautiful thing about running is that I’m learning in a low risk environment. I’m learning how hard I can focus. I’m learning how much I can endure. (More, I can always endure more.)
I’m learning that lack of sleep is not an excuse. The end of a long run is no different than the beginning of a run after a sleepless night. I know I can succeed. I don’t wait for the situation to be right.
I saw two runners today. One was running with powerful steps while sweat dripped off his whole body. He coughed and spat. He had determination. He wanted to be the best.
His whole body was tense. As he came barreling down the path I could taste his tension. He was like an I-beam under too heavy a load. At any moment he might come crashing down.
A few moments later another runner was gliding towards me. His motion was fluid and smooth. His movements were strong and beautiful. His whole being was running. He wore a smile, even as the sweat wicked off him.
As he approached I could feel the lightness of his steps. He was in is element. Running was him and he was running. There was no doubt that he loved the sport of running.
I started running and dieting so that I’d have the strength and stamina to challenge my sons in athletics. I want to be the fittest 40 year old. I am amazed at how quickly I’ve come to enjoy the daily exercises.
The health boost of running is amazing. I can spend an entire day carrying a 40 pound toddler around the zoo, then around the Mall of America and still have energy to play in the backyard when we get home.
I look forward to my interval training and my long runs. I know the stress strengthens my body and toughens my mind. I’m glad I started my running habit. I’m more excited about where my running feet will take me.
I love hearing the steady beat of my foot falls. I find comfort in the rhythm. I celebrate each step. Each step brings me closer to my day’s goal.
When I run 5 kilometers I make around 4,400 steps. If I look at a single step it would seem meaningless. Once I make four thousand steps in a row I have a 5K.
The old saying is “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” I admit I used to brush this off as obvious. Now that I run I am beginning to understand the significance.
The journey begins with a single step and ends with a commitment to make four thousand more steps just like the first one.
Running to know what it takes. There is this myth that we can be good at anything.
Well, not true.
The myth is that I just need to spend 10,000 hours in good practice then I will be good at it. The issue is that hardly anyone is capable of committing to do the practice. I used to tell myself that I could have a flat stomach and defined ab muscles, but I’m just not doing that now.
The truth is committing to practice is the simplest and most difficult step in becoming good. Running is teaching me that commitment to practice is tough. I love running. I still need to find motivation to go running when I’m tired or the conditions aren’t right.
Running is training my mental toughness. I’m learning what it takes to develop the skills to become 10,000 hours good at something.
Running to find the calm.
I find a calm void in running. Today I was exhausted and overwhelmed. My sleep was fitful and interrupted. My allergies were flaring. My toddler was asking so many questions. I wanted a break, an escape, just for a few minutes.
In the past I would have sought a nap, or comfy chair to doze off in. Today, my first thought was to go for a run. Put my toddler in the stroller and go running together. Running, even when I’m tired and weak, gives me mental strength.
Yesterday I found myself lacing up my running shoes and wondering absently how I got there.
My habit is now developed. Around lunchtime I notice a break in my work day and head to the locker room to dress for a run.
Amazing what can happen in 30 Days.
A good run is only good if it is followed by another good run tomorrow.
Running is the goal. Fitness and health are excellent byproducts of running. Running by itself is what I seek. Running helps me achieve stillness in my mind.
As my health and fitness improve, so does my running. I can run smoother. I can run longer. I can run with more intensity. When my mind is busy churning thoughts, I can run in pace with my thoughts.
I feel best running intervals on an intense thought. A complex and nuanced thought sustains me through long runs. My thoughts lead my running and my running resolves my thoughts.
A good run brings peace to my day. Tomorrow I will face new challenges and I will run again.
Running is simple.
I should have started a running habit 10 years ago, or 8 years ago or even 3 years ago.
Each time I talked myself out of starting by focusing on the overwhelming details. I obsessed over not having good shoes, the right shorts, a proper running path nearby, enough time, it was too cold/hot, or it just wasn’t a good day to start.
Running is simple.
Put on shoes.
I couldn’t pick the right training plan. Which plan is the best?
It doesn’t matter.
Just go running.
Do I rest every other day? Go for long runs on the weekends? Should I stretch? What about interval training???
It doesn’t matter.
Just go run.
I used the details as an excuse. Go running and you’ll be a runner. The rest are inconsequential details. Before the details matter I need to have a solid base. Before the details matter I need to be able to run a 5K without feeling like I’m dying. Ignore the details and run.
Put on shoes.
Running is the best way to calm my overactive mind. Running brings focus when my thoughts are scattered. It brings calm when my thoughts are angry or worried.
The beauty of a wooded trail and the rhythm of my steps help my mind to relax. The combination of measured a beat and diverse scenery are perfect for inspiring me.
When I’m distracted at work or have a tough challenge to tackle I go for a run. I let my mind work on the problem while my body focuses on the movement. Sometimes I’m have breakthrough moments. Other times I realize I just need to buckle down and do the work.
A runner is committed to the journey, not a goal. Running is a lifestyle not a destination.
Running has seasons. A season of training, a season of maintaining and a season of exploring. A runner’s style will flow and change. In one season a runner will prepare for a quicker 5K, in another season a marathon or in another season explore obstacle course running.
Running is about living a fuller and healthier life. Small goals along the journey keep things interesting, but they are not the end. Running makes life better, happier. A day with running is a better day.
Getting outdoors and running brings joy to a runner.
The best way to wakeup is to go for a short run.
Running is personal. There isn’t a one size fits all training plan. Genetics, lifestyle, local weather, weekly calendar and numerous other factors determine when and how I can train.
I have a genetic limit. If I train perfectly then I will reach my genetic limit. At this point I don’t know if my genetics are a better sprinter, 5k runner or marathon runner. I just have to start running and see what distances I prefer.
My lifestyle, where I live and my weekly schedule play a huge role in determining when I can run and for how long. At this time I’m limited to my lunch hour. Long training runs are not an option. I have to finish my run and shower in one hour.
I’ve had to adopt portions of popular training plans and fit them to my life. My running plan is working. I’m becoming a stronger runner. Running is a personal journey only I can map and travel. I take guidance when it is available, but in the end I need to adapt.
There is no 80/20 rule in running.
Running has no shortcut, no lifehack, no minimum effective dose.
Running performance is directly related to the number of miles ran.
Sure, there are optimized training plans. Rotating intervals, short runs and long runs creates better results than running medium length runs. The training plans still require weekly mileage goals.
The only way to prepare for a marathon is to run a lot of miles. Spending only 4 hours a week on running will not be enough. The body needs to learn how to run long distances. It takes miles and time to build the muscle and cardio necessary for long runs.
This is great news to me. To run well I have one simple decision to make.
Do I run a lot of miles this week?
Each day I make a decision to be a runner. I decide I will put on my shoes and run today.
If I’m feeling tired, I choose to run.
If I’m feeling sore, I choose to run.
If I’m feeling stressed, I choose to run.
If I’m feeling hungry, I choose to run.
If the weather is hot, I choose to run.
If the weather is cold, I choose to run.
If I’m feeling too busy, I choose to run.
No matter how I’m feeling, I choose to run.
After a year, I have chosen more often than not to be a runner and that makes me a runner.
Strength and stamina are built by stressing the body for an achievable time interval. Interval training is one of the best ways to increase speed. Warm up easy, run at the limit, then cool down easy.
By carefully monitoring and enduring stress we strengthen ourselves. Running at an easy pace builds endurance. Running at our limit builds strength and speed. Combining easy runs with interval runs we learn to run farther faster.
Carefully monitored and controlled stress strengthens us.
Why do I run knowing I will never be the fastest?
It is a silly question, but one I must answer. If I’m not going to be the best, why do it at all?
This question hits me hard when I’m being passed on the trail. Ego yells at me, “Run! Run faster!”
I believe this is a response developed in the human mind through thousands of years of survival. Being faster than threats and faster than competition was the only way to survive. In modern society, this response is a leftover annoyance I need to recognize and carefully address.
I have one goal. I run so I will be a fit dad. In 10 years my sons will start to surpass me in speed and agility. It is important to me that I am able to challenge them in sports and teach through my example of daily routines.
I run so I am my best self. I run so I am 1% better today than I was yesterday. I race against my past. I strive for personal records. There is an upper limit for me. My goal is to find my limit.
I run because I enjoy life. I enjoy the strength and rhythm found in running.
Runners are optimistic people.
Running is hard. Running hurts. Running takes time away from enjoyable activities. Still, people run.
To run is to have faith the future will be better. Faith the body will be stronger. Faith the mind will be more creative. Faith that running today prepares us for the challenges of next week.
Running requires a long term outlook on life. Running improves us slowly. Each run strengthens us a little. Stacking hundreds of runs in a row and the improvements become noticeable.
Optimism is required to get through the first month of running. Improvements are not visible the first month. It takes hundreds of runs before muscle starts to look tone and the mind responds with clearer thinking.
Before we can become runners we must train our minds to be optimistic.
385 Days to become a runner.
That’s how many days between when I prioritized fitness and when I finally labeled myself a runner.
My first FitBit entry is from September 11th, 2015. I used the default goals. 10k steps was my goal. For whatever reason the silly green circle motivated me to walk 10k steps.
I walked 10k steps for 7 months before I considered running. To meet the 10k step goal I had to go out for a walk at lunchtime.
I work near the most beautiful stretch of the Mississippi river. Walking everyday cleared my mind and relaxed my soul. The only hurdle was getting over the fear of stepping away from my desk. When I’m 50 years old I will be thankful I went walking instead of looking busy at my desk.
For 7 months I solidified my habit for daily activity. Only then did I consider running. First, I made fitness a priority through walking. I made walking a habit. Then, I increased my pace from walking to running.
“Walk before you run.”
I think the phrase should be “build a daily habit before committing to an audacious goal.” That’s how I see the intent of the common phrase. Walking is good, walking everyday is better. Only after a healthy physique is developed can we take on more.
For 30 days I’m going to write about running. I just completed 30 days of running at least 5km. The 30 Days of Running challenge taught me there is so much more to learn about running. I’m going to capture my observations about running in writing. I hope 30 Days of Writing about running will strengthen my mind and teach me to see the subtle details of running.
On first thought, running is a simple motion. Running is moving faster than walking. I just checked the Wikipedia page on running. I’m fascinated by how long the wiki article is. 30 Days ago I didn’t think there was much to running.
Running is a huge and important part of human culture. In fact, I’m beginning to think success in running is success in everything else. Running is emotional, physical, mental and spiritual. This is especially true for longer runs.
I’m excited to focus my writing on this one topic for 30 days.
Ready. Get set. Go.