All the “No’s” that led me here

NO.NO

My life is actually pretty awesome.   I don’t always feel that way, but when I stop and really think about it, I realize that I have so much to be grateful for.   I’ve always had a sense that I was going to do great things and, I don’t think I’m alone in this.   As I get older, the idea that I’m going to be remarkable, in any specific and tangible way, grows more and more distant; ever more remote.   It might even be a kind of hubris, but entirely human all the same.

“We all think we’re going to be great. And we feel a little bit robbed when our expectations aren’t met.” Meredith Grey, Grey’s Anatomy

I want to say real quick too, that I actually like myself.   At least, most of the time, even when I mess up, I’m learning to laugh at myself and not take things so seriously.. not all the time, anyway.   What I’m trying to say here is that I can say nice things about myself without thinking too hard about it – and for some people, that’s a big accomplishment.

But..

I’m not perfect.   I haven’t reached some special state that has elevated me above the masses.  I’m not really all that special, after all.   I’m just a guy who has some ‘yes’s’ under his belt.   And, at the same time, I’m just a guy who still hasn’t let go of all the NO’s!

There are a lot of NO’s.

My big think is that I’m afraid.  I’m afraid to interview with ‘important people’ so I say no.   I’m afraid to climb out on that rock with my friends, so I say no.   I’m afraid to apply for that job because I don’t think they’ll take me seriously, so I say no.   I’m afraid to sign up for that race because I’ve never run that far, so I say no.   I’m afraid of working out that hard so I can get to Boston, no.

So I was going to write this blog about all the NO’s, and sure, they exist BUT..  I’m not really feeling the “No’s” right now.  I can think of yes’s for every no, right now.   Right now I know that the road to greatness is mundane, persistent and consistent action; never giving up, letting go of the things that are hurting you, and being your own champion.

If I DID  want to wallow in my miseries, then I’m sure I could look back and see a series of fear-laden “No’s”.  No to myself, no to offers and invitations from others, no to flights of fancy that weren’t so flighty after all.

When I don’t have time

I want to do amazing things, when I don’t have time.  Planning.  Tomorrow.  Later. Future-tense.  I will get this cleaned up, weed-whack the yard, wake up early and run. I’ll finish making the brochures, design a booklet, work on a project, search for caterers.  

Starting next week, I’m off carbs!  Going to sit down and write up a schedule for home-gym workouts.   It’s going to be life-changing. It will be amazing. 

Someday, I’ll call the library and see about reading to little kids. That would be fun. I’ll raise money to fight cancer. 

But right now, I’m at work and I don’t have time.   Worse, I won’t feel like doing anything when I do have time.  I’ll buffer with alcohol, entertainment, food.. anything to while away the hours so I can go to sleep too late, dehydrated.  

Still dreaming about what I will do, tomorrow. 

Not showing up!

By the way, this isn’t going to be a guilt-trip kind of blog.   If you’re braced for a verbal/written tongue-lashing, you might be disappointed.   It isn’t that we don’t need a kick in the pants sometimes, but that’s not my job here – that’s your job.   But you have another job too, and that’s what I want to talk about today.

We all have this script in our heads of ‘how things should be’.  In running races from 5k’s all the way up to ultras, we have this undefined image of how the race ‘should’ go.   Of course, things never quite turn out the way we plan though, do they?  We go out too fast, the weather is awful, our knee is bothering us on race day, we trip somewhere along the way or take a wrong turn, we can’t quite seem to dig ourselves out of a recursive negativity.   All these things and more can happen in races, they can happen to our plans, and they can happen in life.

Not only can they happen.. we all know, they will happen.

So something happens and our plans get wrecked.  We can’t make it to a meeting we wanted to go to, we can’t find the will to leave an aid station and continue on our journey or race, we can’t figure out how to write a proposal or create a strong elevator pitch for an idea that’s been knocking around forever.   But at that point, it stops being about that thing, whatever it is, and starts being about you.   Who you are.  How will you handle this setback, defeat or failure.  What will you DO, now?

And the funny thing is, it was ALWAYS about you, the whole time.

When those curveballs come, you need to find the original script – “So those plans got smashed.. what gives me the best chances of moving forward?”.   That’s how you show up, even when you couldn’t “show up”.   You brush yourself off, you take on this new challenge of forgiving yourself, accepting it for what it is and nothing more, and you let go of that self-abusive, useless and even damaging thought process.

Letting failure tear you down is the worst two-for-one deal you could ever take – but you don’t have to!

Guest blog: “I hate Running”

“The thing that I love the most”

Emily, aka “RobotLeggs”

I recently came across an article entitled, I Hate Running, which resonated with me on a level I didn’t expect it to. It inspired me to further examine what I also love and hate about the thing that I love the most: running.

It really is a relationship in and of itself. Running is a thing or a hobby or an obsession or whatever you want to call it, that millions of people have a relationship with. Like most relationships, it has its peaks, valleys, and all the stages in between. If you’re lucky, it gives back what you put in. Some days it’s easy, some days it’s damn hard. Some days, reality matches your hopes and expectations. Some days, you want to quit before you even start. Running, for me, encapsulates how I want to approach life – by really being alive and experiencing, accepting, and appreciating it for what it is each day, whether it presents itself through love or hate.

Sometimes, thoughts and feelings of love and hate flow through my body simultaneously, as if they’re in an epic battle to see whether the other will back down and give up. Those are the most defining moments, those moments when you’re right on the edge of your physical, emotional, and mental pain threshold… and you want to quit. But you know that this is where growth happens. This is when all your best – or your worst – qualities surface: either your perseverance, courage and grit; or your fear, lack of confidence, and self-deprecating monologues. As it is in running, it is in life.

Thank you, Emily for this great blog.  You really capture the way I feel about running and how, just as in life, it can be simultaneously challenging and totally rewarding. 

You’ve got this!

It’s so freaking easy to get discouraged.  Here we are in late January and, for many, that New Years gym membership is already getting dusty.  The new bike is hanging safely from the garage ceiling.   We’ve started eating sweets again, or whatever.  

For some, you’re on the she and getting closer to tipping over.  Not sure how much longer you can hang on.  

I have a message for both groups. “It’s not too late, you aren’t beaten, don’t give up!”

Maybe the change is being super stubborn.  Maybe you’ll have to tweak some things and try again. Maybe you’ll need to do something completely different.  But. Don’t.  Give. Up!

Your new attitude is “I’m going to have a healthy lifestyle even if I don’t see improvement!”  You won’t always have motivation or the will to follow through but giving up is just something you don’t do.  You get back up, you dust yourself off, you try again.  You will accept yourself where you are and keep doing the work to get you to where you want to be, he’ll or high-water. 

Trust me.  Relentless forward progress will yield results.  I promise. 

You’ve got this!

Something something time-management

It’s a subject that has bubbled to the surface for me lately, but I don’t want to think about it.  It’s like going on a diet, only, instead of being an authoritarian asshole with what you eat and how much you eat, you have to be an authoritarian asshole with what you do and how much time you spend doing it.  

Nobody likes that asshole. 

I want to just gloss over it and not really think about it; thus the title of this article.  It isn’t that I’m indifferent, it’s that I’m scared of what my life will look like when I stop escaping.  I’m scared of how it will feel when I don’t buffer anymore?

I’m thinking the long-term reward will outweigh the short-term relief. What do you think?  Do you buffer too, and in what ways? 

Every single dog that barks!

So, disclaimer.  I’m not into animal cruelty at all.  I love dogs.  This is just an analogy, and, as anyone knows, analogies are never perfect.

Have you ever heard the following phrase?

Don’t throw stones at every dog that barks!

Of course, you should never throw rocks at dogs.  They’re usually just trying to protect their territory or they’re just as scared as you are, so they bark and fuss and carry on.  But the phrase has nothing to do with animal cruelty or normalizing the act of throwing rocks at dogs.  This phrase is about something else entirely – and as it may be a holdover from an era where throwing rocks at dogs was somehow acceptable, I still think with the proper caveats, we can still learn from it.

Talking to my aunt Charlotte about all my plans, with the group, with training, with everything – I mentioned that I was working on getting certified in Personal Training through the NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine).   She didn’t hesitate to say, ‘do you really need that or are you just throwing an obstacle in front of yourself for no reason at all?’.  I mean, she was basically asking if I really needed to stop and throw rocks at that dog?

Along this same line, I ran across a video or motivational meme recently that indicated that if you keep waiting until you’re ready, you’ll never start!  That’s pretty amazing.  It went on to say, start before you’re ready.

Devin Loetscher (‘lurcher’) once told our group – “If it doesn’t scare the hell out of you, it isn’t worth doing!”

So, you can’t just go on leading your OWN beginner 5k group.. aaaaand queue the excuses;

  • you haven’t even run a 5k
  • you’ve never taught anyone anything (false, btw)
  • you aren’t certified to coach
  • you don’t have time for this
  • no one will listen to you, like you, love you.
  • no one will take you seriously

Those are all dogs barking in one particular field – leading and coaching a 5k group.  But what about life?  What about all the other things you sell yourself short on?   What if those are just dogs that are barking and..

..you should just do it, anyway?