Well, yesterday’s run didn’t completely kill me. I was hesitant about heading out today but once I shuffled about half a mile or so, I felt alot better and managed to put in four miles. So, four days in a row. In itself, this won’t exactly get me to the starting line but if I can keep it up for another several months I’ll at least make a dent in the fitness situation.
I started listening to audio while running recently. It used to be that I only listened to audio if I absolutely couldn’t get myself out the door otherwise. Then I would crank up some tunes . . . either mostly bad 80’s music that provides an initial burst of energy but gets annoying after a while because it’s just bad music, Motown, or in some cases, chill out to some jazz. Lately though, I’ve started listening to either audiobooks or podcasts on the way home and gotten so enthralled that I’ve taken them out on the run — and even end up running farther just because I want to get more into the book. Today, it was The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller. It’s a memoir of a English man who has a rather mild midlife crisis — no red corvettes, blingy gold chains, or anything like that, but rather, a sense of disappointment with some aspects of his life that he has passively settled into. He begins to desire to “improve himself,” makes a “list of betterment,” with books that he has resolved to read, and sets out to read about a book a week, and writes about his experiences with these books. Some of them are classics such as Moby Dick, Pride and Prejudice and Middlemarch. Others are books he became interested in for one reason or another. In one of the most memorable sections, he relates the experience of reading Iris Murdoch’s The Sea, The Sea. From what I gather, the protagonist of the novel is a rather pompous and disturbed retired actor. Food plays a major part in the novel, and Andy Miller’s relating of some of these dishes is ‘laugh out loud” funny! What’s even funnier is, not knowing much about cooking, he attempted some of the recipes of the novel’s protagonist himself, and got to experience firsthand Iris Murdoch’s irony. Anyway, now I need to put The Sea, The Sea on the reading list.
My wife is at class tonight so it’s reading time tonight. Another book and a half of Plato’s Republic with taking notes to get ready for class Monday. Need to keep moving through Paradise Lost because I’m teaching it later this year and feel woefully underprepared. Of course, I’ve taught the Republic for eight years now, but it’s so rich that every year, I feel like I’m starting all over again. Then, I’m hoping to get into something that I’m not reading to prepare to teach a class. So, that’s the daily wrap-up.
What tricks have you used to get yourself out the door to exercise? Is there a particular kind of music or audio that is helpful? I’d love to hear about it!
My oldest son and I decided to run a marathon together in the Fall of this year. So, I decided to get my act together and actually follow a training schedule for a change. I pretty much took a Christmas break from running, so I’m feeling rather soft and out of shape. I’d like to lose some weight and improve my speed so that if my son decides he wants to run the whole thing with me, it won’t be absolute torture for him to go as slow as I do.
The first two days, it was tough to get out the door to run 3-5 miles. However, today something started to kick in. I set out to run three miles and continued to stretch it out and ended up running up to Hanna Park, a city park north of my house, and doing some trail running to end up running eight miles. It was an absolute blast — the sun shining on me and then being able to watch the hues of the sun setting, the rough terrain of our somewhat eroded beach, and being able to be outside and move on a warm January day. I can’t remember the last time I came home from a full day of work and put in eight miles! Usually, it’s a four mile or so trudge after getting home from work. I was pumped! So it looks like I’m good for “sticking with the program” for this week.
I’ll be lining up some events for late spring and early summer to test my fitness. Meanwhile, I’ll see if I can lose some weight, feel better, and gain more energy.
Wow! It feels quite rebellious to take a 2 hour nap AND run 7 miles AND spend extra time writing all in one day. Not quite sure how I managed to do all of that ! Rebellious? Doesn’t exactly sound like the word most people would use. However, I’m not used to taking that much time to focus on what I want to do. My wife and I lead a nonprofit educational organization, which is pretty much like running a family business. My sister lives with us, who is disabled and needs some help with daily living tasks. And two of our children are home from college. So, it did feel rather delightfully rebellious and irresponsible!
The 7 miles is the longest run I’ve gone on in about a month or more. Lately, with the holiday weight gain, it’s been a struggle just to get out and shuffle 4 miles or so. But today, the miles just clicked off! It was a beautiful day, temps in the mid 60’s, with a northeast breeze about 10-15 mph. Started out south on the beach and headed back into the wind — but on the road. Felt great physically and made me remember why I continue to persevere in this activity.
I posted yesterday on how I’m in doubt about plans for future ultra events. However, there’s another take on this subject, or for that matter, any other physical challenge. This attitude is, “do what you can with the body you have!”
Now, this attitude is not original with me. I read this somewhere, and I can’t remember where. But it makes sense. Rather than trying to diet, slim down, and get into “better condition,” whatever that may mean, do what you can now. And push yourself to do more.
The idea here is that physical perfection is probably beyond most of us, So we use this mythical ideal to hold us back, rather than enjoy what we can. So, do what you can with the body you have ! And enjoy yourself!
I’ve put December 31 as the day to decide on which ultras to enter for 2015. I wish it were so easy. But in reality, I’ll decide later than that.
I really enjoy the sport. I see each event as a day away from the cares of normal life. Each event is a new adventure. The course, the other participants, the travel, the atmosphere, battling fatigue, and pushing myself to new limits all make for an epic challenge. However, I’m taking some medications that have the unpleasant side effect of weight gain. So, I’m almost at my peak in terms of weight. What this does is that it presents the spectacle of a 230 lb. man trying to run 30-plus miles. Plus, the downside of each event is what it takes away mentally, physically, and emotionally for days to come. I’m not sure I have those reserves to draw on.
While nearly every day I look at ultrasignup, I’m postponing any decision making until I get healthier and I can train consistently.
I’m taking permission this year to exercise each day. A couple of years ago, I made the commitment to exercise at least five days per week. However, this is one of the disciplines that seems to erode when “crunch time” comes with work or family. One of the things that I’ve learned over this time is that when I don’t take care of myself, somebody always pays — whether it’s me, my family, colleagues at work, or my students. Rather than put myself in last place here, I’m going to put myself first.
Well, I completed the 50 mile event Saturday! Great experience and wild success! It took me 13 hours and 20 minutes, which I was greatly pleased with. I was able to enjoy most of the run. Surprisingly, the most difficult portion was from about miles 13-21. It’s been my experience in doing these longer events that there is a “barrier” that one has to push through. I haven’t quite been able to define what it is but it seems to have something to do with giving up the illusion of having control of the outcome of the event. At some point, a mental and emotional surrender takes place and what appears to be obvious is finally accepted — that I am going to be out there for a long, long time. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that pain and discomfort is going to increase. There will be times of feeling better and worse, but overall, once that barrier is pushed through, the majority of the event turns out to be an extremely pleasant experience. I’m actually thinking about upping the ante and attempting a 100 miler later this year! I’ll keep you posted.
Before every event that requires alot of planning and preparation, it’s worth remembering that there are multiple possibilities for successful outcome. During the planning, preparation, and the event itself, it’s worth thinking through what these outcomes may be in order to stay encouraged and motivated.
A big life lesson that I’ve learned through my brief career in ultra running is not to view success/failure as an either/or. Most of our “big projects” in life — starting and running a business, following a career path, raising children, pursuing interests — are done with multiple intentions and purposes. Yet, we tend to evaluate the “bottom line” if we are evaluating success or failure.
I think back to some of the reasons that I began to prepare for the 50 miler that I mentioned yesterday. Some of them have been: improvement in my health (I was quite overweight and had sky high blood pressure — now I’m only moderately overweight!), fitness, increased sense of well-being, enjoying the outdoors, having time to think, releasing endorphins, meeting interesting people, and accepting a challenge. Most of these benefits have been fulfilled through the process of accepting this challenge and preparing for it.
I read somewhere that it’s important to distinguish between the process and the product, and to find joy in the process of what we are doing. Too often, people live only for the product. If we consider that life is probably 99 percent process and 1 percent product, it makes sense to find as much joy as possible in the 99 percent rather than living for the 1 percent.
Make no mistake. I’m looking forward to reaping the benefits of the habits I have sown. But it’s also a great time to think through how a successful outcome may be measured in ways other than “the bottom line.”
So, here are some possible successful outcomes for the Iron Horse 50:
Get To Starting Line Healthy: I signed up. paid my money, did some preparation, didn’t get lost on the way to the event, and didn’t wimp out!
Manage to run between 1-32 miles: Nice supported run (snacks make everything better!). Great day out in the woods doing something I enjoy. Seeing a place I have never been. Meeting new people and encouraging them.
32 miles plus: All of the above, plus running farther than I ever have before!
50 miles in 12-14 hours: Wild success!
Completed 50 miles and survived: Everything I set out to do!