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.
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.
This thought has been banging around in my mind for a while now; consistent effort. It’s something I’ve got locked down when it come to my runs and I’m proud of that. I run when I’m supposed to run and I don’t ‘miss’ days, though I might fudge the times here and there. But when it comes
To foam-rolling, yoga, planks, push-ups and weight lifting, I’m all over the place and almost nowhere at the same time.
Thing is, I need these workouts. After dislocating both shoulders years ago, they get really sore on long runs. Push-ups and weights help for sure, if I would just stay consistent. My ham-strings, calves and quads – and IT band – might thank me for foam-rolling, but do I do it? No, less than 1/week, anyway. And everyone knows that a strong pelvis, strong hips, lower back, and general core fitness is just SO FREAKING GOOD for runners but, nope, nope, nope.
All of those things, done in tiny pieces every ‘now and then’ are essentially useless. A pressure-relief valve for guilt but not much else. Huge changes sometimes seem to happen suddenly in a flash, when really, they have been building incrementally for years.
A recent Freakanomics podcast does a great job of pointing this out; if you want mind-blowingly tremendous results, you have to do mundane, little things every day, consistently.
I’m cutting breads and grains in general. Working on cutting back on sweeteners, but now, it’s time to schedule daily workouts. Time to start building streaks of planks and lifting and rolling and stretching.
Thanks to my friend S_ for creating a Facebook group dedicating 30 minutes of exercise every day in November. Great motivation!
Accountability. Consistency. Results. Let’s go!
For me it was heart-rate training. The zone I was supposed to be working in was so easy that if I ran, I would shoot right out of it and have to slow down. That was frustrating – I wanted to get a workout, not go for a walk!
I suspect the same thing happened with my C25k group. I suspect that around 14 people showed up that first day and thought,” this is great! I’m going to sweat and it’s going to be challenging but fun and my muscles will be sore tomorrow..!” Then, we worked out and it was SUPER easy – Week 1, Day 1.
People suck! (Me included)
We’re so impatient, we quit when something seems too easy. We’re such whimps, we quit when it’s too hard. If it’s just right, we quit for some other stupid reason. We consistently sabotage ourselves and our hearts desire because an easy excuse presents itself. We don’t blame ourselves because the instructor could have been better, or certified or hotter.
We literally grab any excuse to play the victim and we quit.. why?
Because this is too easy!
A surprising lesson from a Facebook purge.
I run a group to help people who always said they wanted to run, run. The program is called “Destination YOU!“, it is a couch-to-5k (C25k) program and it can be done either in person, or virtually; wherever you are in the world.
Recently, I noticed that I had over 50 members to the group on the Facebook page, but only three to five people were showing up and only two were actually participating virtually. As I went through the members, trying to remember who was who, how I knew them, who they were friends with, I kept coming across people that recently joined but whom I had never seen at the group or online in any way, shape, or form.
Any of you who have done something like this will not be surprised that some of the folks I ended up kicking had gotten in under false-pretenses and tried selling things. Others just seemed to get in and plop themselves down to promptly do nothing, whatsoever. However, there were some on my list who I knew had some vested interest in joining. I had invited them personally and they took me up on it so far as to take the action of requesting to be part of the group; and then? Well, then they just disappeared – their digital spot secure they were likewise never heard from again. Maybe worst of all, I noticed that several members had been added by other members who were family, and neither one of them had lifted a finger to introduce themselves, introduce the family member, comment on any workouts, or show up at all. To reiterate – someone joined and thought the program was such a good idea, they invited their dad or mom, sister, cousin or whatever and those invitees never did anything. They sat there waiting for the program to somehow magically do something for them. The real crime here is that someone who thought the program was good enough for someone else, couldn’t be bothered to participate..themselves.
For fucks sake people – recommending something even YOU won’t try to someone you think needs it, is the biggest act of fraud you could ever commit. You want to convince someone? How about shutting up and doing? Actions will always speak louder than words and NOTHING gets the attention of someone who needs it more than seeing someone they love, do something and accomplish something that they had to work hard for and to which they had to commit.
Being the person that loses the weight, quits making excuses and gets fit is the biggest motivation you could ever give to those you love.
And one last thing. To all of those I kicked out of the group today, I have to imagine that they had these intentions to someday participate. The ones that joined or asked to join did it for a reason, but so long as their action cost them nothing, they were happy to pretend that they would actually do something substantive someday. Instead – #bookmarked – they’ll get to it later! But when? When were they going to get off their butts and actually do something? Tomorrow? Are they really convinced that tomorrow they’re going to get after it? They’ll just have one more chocolate-covered almond, but then that’s it – no more! They’ll just have a #3 with curly fries once a week..today, like right now.. but no more! They’re tired, it has really been a tough day and they don’t have the energy to go do a workout – they’ll just work extra hard tomorrow!
Tomorrow never comes.
It gets easier to put off tomorrow what we put of today.. and on and on. We make some half-hearted effort to join a group, this little half-measure, dipping our toes in the water, dressed out and ready but.. but.. we find a reason to get distracted, make an excuse, shrug our shoulders and wait until we catch the next whiff of motivation.
But joining a fitness group won’t make us fit. If someone wants to participate, someday.. just not today? Then they can find another fitness group. I’m not here to build numbers, I’m here to help people realize their potential, to selfishly get motivated by seeing someone kick butt and stop making excuses, I’m here to find the hero in all of you, to learn from you and cheer you on.
If you aren’t going to act, then please do me the favor of leaving the group. Thank you.
Learning what’s important and what’s holding you back
This Boston Qualifier is eating me up. I have 74 days before I run the Tucson Marathon on Dec 10 and I’m still slow. I don’t know how I’m going to drop down to a 7:40 pace over 26.2 miles, but I have to to do just that. It is as thrilling as it is terrifying.
As I begin to hit some speed-bumps and challenges that are truly pushing my limits right to the edge, I begin to realize that other areas of my life might be affecting my performance and my training. I need to go to bed earlier, I need to eat earlier, I need to stay off of electronics.. earlier. It would help if I added and stuck with some consistent core workouts. I need to be more aware of my eating and drinking habits. I need to lose weight.
Each one of those changes and additional challenges become opportunities for me to increase my chances of having a successful race – each one of them is a chance to reaffirm my priorities to my training, my coach and myself.
When I stay up past 8 p.m. – I am placing my desire to be entertained by whatever is going on after 8 p.m. ABOVE my desire to get the rest I need to have a good solid training run the next day.
When I eat late – I am jeopardizing not only my sleep, but my digestion and nutrition for my next training run. I’m putting my false-appetite ABOVE my appetite for success.
Each one of these things (and more) offer an opportunity to make the decision all over again – “What is really important to you here and how does this action reflect that commitment?”.
As we go about our lives, we begin to see all the little actions we take and choices we make against the back-drop of our big dreams and our over-all goals. It has a refining effect. We begin to see what stuff we are made of. We begin to see what our weaknesses are and where we need to work in our lives in order to make things happen. We refine, we transform, we fail and we fail, chipping away at the walls that hold us back until, one day, we succeed.
It’s funny to me how things present themselves when you’re open to them. In the last week, I’ve been challenged to investigate whether there is a meaningful part I can play in the Emerge program for Domestic Violence and Abuse (SPOILER: I think there is!), and now there might be some way I can be involved with helping refugees here in Tucson.
Today, things are winding up. The collage of ideas are sending tendrils and roots throughout the fertile soil of possibility and connecting in interesting in surprising ways. I find myself busy again and working hard to keep up with everything. Putting myself out there through action and commitment, introducing myself, offering my time, raising my hand!
I hope you’ll follow along and I hope you catch a spark of inspiration to join me. Nothing could make me happier.