Smile Plan

This might seem weird or maybe I’m not the only one that does this. And just like every lesson learned while running, it can be applied to everyday life. So if you are not a runner, try and make it a habit of doing this.

Every long distance runner or endurance athlete has a nutrition and hydration plan. I like to take a sip of water every 5 minutes and intake calories every 30 minutes on my long runs or during my races.

But I believe there is a huge gap that many overlook and don’t even think about.

That is the mental plan.

There are a bunch of things that I do to mentally training for and practice during my longs runs and I wanted to share the easiest and most simple thing.

Smile.

Even if you are telling yourself to do it, you still reap the benefits as if something is making you smile. Smiling releases endorphins, which reduces pain, stress and anxiety. And it also makes you more attentive and in the moment, which is a must in really long, all-day events. Otherwise you’ll just beat yourself down thinking about how much further you have to go.

Things are more enjoyable when you smile, even if you are miserable.

Try it on your next run. Maybe try and remind yourself once every 30 minutes or so to do it.

Hell, do it right now and see how much better you feel!

This is me (on the right) and another runner finishing up my first 50 miler:
trailrailrun

When we reached the last aid station with about 3 miles left to go, the volunteers told us that we didn’t even look like we had just run 40+ miles. We were all smiles and laughing even though we actually felt like shit.

So smile! Stay positive, enjoy the moment and be happy

Winter Winds

The winter winds are wearing me down. My mental strength got put to the test this morning and I wanted to throw up the white flag in defeat to the weather.

It’s not very pleasing to be woken up by the wind pounding on the windows and door like it itself doesn’t even want to be outside. It’s a provoking taunt and I really dreaded going out in it.

I don’t mind cold but add “gusts up to 46 mph” to it and it turns a run into a battle.

Sometimes it’s a matter of leaning to one side so you are not blown off the path or tucking your head down and marching forward at a crawling pace but with full force effort which creates inner frustration because the effort doesn’t match the pace.

It’s both physically and mentally draining to go at war with nature sometimes just to prove and/or build the endurance and strength to achieve the goals we set for ourselves.

But at some point in the run I let my mind drift away with the gusts of wind and the resistance was suddenly eliminated. I just accepted what was thrown at me and went with the flow. I was willing to admit defeat at the beginning of the run but at the end I was glad I didn’t give in.

I let my discipline and dedication carry me out the door even though the desire wasn’t fully there, which later in the run the desire eventually was elevated.

When I got back, the first thing I read was:

“Champions choose to suffer…Others avoid it!” -Dr. Stan Beecham

That made me feel even better for getting my run in.

I always like to think that others decided not to run when I did, especially when it is miserable outside. It makes me feel like I am taking that extra step in my pursuits when others would take a day off.

Part of wanting the results we want, we also need to want to struggle. You can’t get what you want without difficulty. Some days it will be tough to get moving on whatever it is that we want, but you just gotta do it. Because if you don’t, then there might be someone out there who will and they will be the ones who get what you want.

Never stop grinding. Never stop moving.

This Ray Lewis video got me out the door and I highly encourage you to watch it when you need the motivation.


To give you an idea of the weather here, this guy sat next to me at the library as I was typing this post up. He fell asleep immediately, haha! But he is a trucker and the highway was shutdown because it is basically whiteout with the snow and wind.
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I could really go for a night with a fire, hot chocolate (extra marshmallows), a giant bowl of popcorn with white cheddar seasoning and a movie!

How do you enjoy your winter nights?

Running In Circles

Something that has come unexpectedly from sharing my story here have been the comments that have triggered even more in depth thinking on a personal and emotional level.

Dan, who writes at Dan’s Marathon, left a wonderful comment on my post Running Together and two words really resonated with me that he said in reference to me.

“…soul search…”

I know that I spend a lot of time thinking about my life. How to live it better and more passionately. How to learn from mistakes and to move on from them. How to find the silver lining in things. And how I would ultimately find happiness.

I know all of this encompasses soul searching, but I have never put a label on what I do.

It made me really think about this search of mine and if I have made any progress along the way.

Ever since I graduated college about 6 years ago, I have been on this constant search of the meaning of life and the meaning of my life.

But by constantly searching, I’m always digging for the truth. And by always digging, I may miss out on those fleeting moments that make life so amazing, and I may actually miss finding the meaning of life itself.

By always searching, I am always wanting.

I might not be allowing myself the whole life experience if I am always looking for a meaning.

I am just running in circles within myself.

Maybe you could call this an epiphany of some sort, but I now believe after looking within that the meaning of life is living in the moment.

And when in the moment, you are aware, you are honest and you are connected.

The moment, this moment, is where you find the meaning of life. This moment is everything.

I now think it is not actually something that you could possibly one day discover by searching for it because the only way to discover it, is to be here.

By feeling the moment you free yourself of certain expectations and limitations that you put on yourself, situations and desired outcomes.

It won’t always be pure joy. You have to have the lows and sadness to appreciate the highs and happiness.

Part of being in the moment is embracing how you feel and there are an infinite number of ways to feel. And to feel, is to be present. To be present is to being alive in the moment. And that moment, is where the meaning exists.

“So when I think of, what is the meaning of life, to me that’s not an eternal unanswerable question, to me that is in arm’s reach of me everyday.” -Neil deGrasse Tyson

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Push Your Limits

Like the continuously expanding universe, I believe a person has unlimited potential. At a given moment, an individual is capable of achieving something and reaching a new limit, thus creating a new limit to what they can do. So they too are continuously expanding their universe. No one ever reaches their absolute maximum potential in life. It is imperative you always go and work for what you never thought was possible so you can keep pushing your limits, to live a life worth experiencing.

Strength Training: Up Down Planks

This one has become one of my new favorite variations to the traditional plank. It can get pretty boring holding a normal plank for minutes on end. And I think these are more challenging and work a few more muscles than a normal one.

This exercise will work the inner and outer ab muscles, back, shoulders and arms.

This is another one that you should focus on quality over quantity.

First start with doing 2 x 30 seconds for each of your core sessions. Then progress into doing 3 x 1 minute of these.

Switch the arm you go down on each time. Once you try these it will be easy to remember which arm to go down with because it will be the arm you come up with.

And most importantly make sure your back is level and flat just like a board.

Enjoy!


Other strength training exercises:
Jumping Lunges
Flutter Kicks

Running Together

Solitude has been one of many enjoyments that I have found in running that suits my nature. Running is my time in the day that I get to disconnect from my phone and computer, from worries and obligations, from books and music, and even from people.

I find balance in being able to clear my head or even collect my thoughts of the day. It allows me the chance to be more aware of my body and surroundings.

This morning on my run I was at my turn around point, high above the town and looking across the small rolling hills that fill the void of Wyoming’s eastern half. The sun was bright and beaming on a fresh new morning.

Something I rarely do, but wish I did more of in certain moments in life, and something I did at that point was I just stopped. I decided to not even think about running or anything else. I wanted the stillness. I enjoyed the stillness. Nothing was audible above the light breeze.

It was a moment I felt completely in and a moment that I wish I could have paused and lived in longer.

It was a moment of solitude that I embraced. But it was also a moment worth sharing.

I have never really been a person that has wanted to run with someone. Finding a rhythm with someone is hard and rare to come by. I have been on many runs with someone where I could barely keep up. They are chatting away and I’m fighting for air in between my own words. And there have been many times where it has been the opposite. I have even been on group runs and have still found myself by myself.

I prefer my own pace.

In those rare occasions where each stride is met in unison and each breath is the same, a unique moment is felt. It’s a period of time that is probably similar to when a band comes together in perfect timing without mistakes after hours of practice or a basketball team that just clicks and makes everything look effortless, and maybe it’s something few actually do experience.

But like I said, those are hard to come by when a pace doesn’t match and things are forced.

And as I stood in the moment of this morning, I thought for a second that another presence would have been nice. And maybe that was because she overslept.

It has been only a few times in the past week, but I have gone on a few runs with someone. The pace has been met. And the conversation welcoming.

Each time I have wished it could have gone on longer or that I could have paused the moment and lived in it longer, just like what I felt on my run today.

My enjoyment in solitude has been matched with the enjoyment of another.

Hit Restart

Remember growing up and playing Mario or Donkey Kong?

You have the controller and shit is just not going your way. You cannot get past a certain point in this game for the life of you and you’re boiling with frustration, squeezing the hell out of the controller.

What did you do next? Hit the restart button.

With a fresh start and experience behind you, you pass that point you had trouble with, with such ease.

Life is the same fucking game!

Are you not where you want to be? Hit that button!

Everything will work out for you. Just trust it will.

As some of you know that have been following my blog for a while now, know that I worked as a hiking guide at a guest ranch this past summer in Wyoming. Each week a new set of guests would come and stay.

Everyone had the same question. Not just for me but every worker got asked this. “What’s your story?”

I had the luxury of telling my long story of how I found myself there during some long hikes.

The most common response I got in return was, “man, if I could do it all over again I would do something like this.”

It’s always great reassurance for me to hear people say things like that because I’ve never really wanted to live the “norm” that most people do.

Then on the other side, when I hear people say that, I think that really sucks! You’re life is over half over and you wish you did things differently.

Why live thinking like that? If you say that you wish you could do things differently, then do things differently!

Serious think about your life. If your life was a book would anyone want to read it?

“The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry our their dream.” -Les Brown