Medusa is a runner. She only runs 3/4 marathons. She always runs alone and never carries any mace, pepper spray, knife or gun. She was running in the wilds of Colorado the other day and a dog jumped out of a whole in the ground and tried to attack her. It didn’t end well for the dog.
The author of this quote, David Brooks, is one of my favorite authors and commentators on modern life. He is contemporary and current in politics but can also take a longer view of society and civilization. He wrote a great book called ‘The Social Animal – A Story of How Success Happens’. It was an examination of both the definition and course of success in American life. He told the story using two fictional characters as seen at various moments in their life. But the essence of the book was the philosophical evaluation of success itself, and how the understanding of success changes over the course of one’s life.
One of the take aways of the book was that to be successful you need to grow and learn from your experiences. This will make you adjust, adapt, mature and become wiser about gaining and maintaining success.
It’s what I find grossly missing in the world of the Orange Man.
“The incompetent person is too incompetent to understand their own incompetence.” – David Brooks
If you remember, last week I attended a High Altitude Training Camp (read – vacation at Sister-in-law’s house). This week I attended High Heat Training Camp (read Tulsa, Oklahoma all summer long). When I came back a number of people asked if it was easier to run now that I was back closer to sea level (700 ft vs 10,000 ft). I said ‘uh….no.’ as sweat poured down my face and body while running under a blazing sun at 96º with 103º heat index. That was the average day this past week in Oklahoma, and pretty much will be for the next month.
Mr. Gray (Coach Joe) and Mr. Neon after a VERY hot and humid run in Broken Arrow!
Luckily I am a pretty good high heat runner. I can go a long time as long as I keep a sustainable pace. But being good at it can be a problem. I can start to think I don’t need to do the basic things one should do, like hydrate! I haven’t had an issue yet this season but what I try to remember is I am not training for a training run, I am training for a marathon. That means the more I do in a training run what I would do in my marathon (proper hydration, nutrition, pacing, etc.) the more automatic and natural it will be when I am running my race. The other thing I have to remember is even if I can run 12 miles without hydration (I did it once, years ago) that doesn’t mean the next 14.2 miles would turn out to be good. I stopped after those 12 miles and drank a lot of fluids. But in a marathon I won’t be stopping in an air-conditioned home for a break to regain my strength and rehydrate. That means I need to be fueled up from the beginning of the race and not let my tank get empty.
Did I mention we got caught in another downpour this week? We loved it!
We talk about training runs but I sometimes like to think of them as practice runs instead. Just the same way a football or baseball player practices a play again and again, I want to practice all the elements of a real race again and again so when the race comes I can do it all without over thinking it. So this past Saturday I made sure to do nutrition and hydration like I would in a race. I took Endurolyte tablets (for electrolytes/minerals) before the run, ate a Huma Chia Energy Gel at mile 4 and a Gu Roctane Energy Gel with Caffeine at mile 10. I also drank Nuun Electrolyte drink and water at the 0, 4, 7 and 12 mile mark. It was probably more than I needed but much better to have too much than not enough in your tank. This is especially true when you are sweating profusely!
I also found another Fleet Feet runner this week who is doing the Marine Corps Marathon. I think he is close to my pace so we should be able to get in extra miles in together as needed. I will keep you informed.
Fleet Feet Full Marathon Program – Fall, 2017
Fleet Feet Half Marathon Program, Fall 2017
The other thing going on this week was the start of the Half and Full training program (called HIT and MIT) at Fleet Feet here in Tulsa. I am a co-coordinator for it, in charge of all the weekday maps and activities. It made for a very active and fun week. I was required to be at each location early to answer questions, introduce people, clear up issues about who is coaching where, who is running in which group, etc. I also made sure to be at the TU Track on Tues. to introduce new people to how we do track workouts and to help them figure out their pace group. But even with those obligations I was able to get extra miles in before or after most of the runs and meet my mileage goal for the week. Turns out I ran 45 miles, by far the most I have run in a week. I have already passed my May mileage and I am just barely half way through July. And the best part is, besides being a little sore after the long run yesterday (14 miles), my body is responding well to the increased mileage.
Half-Marathoners warming up
If you are interested in half or full marathon training, be sure to contact me. The program has just started and there is more than enough time to jump in and get ready!
That is it for this week. Feel free to ask me any questions or give comments.
When I was a kid growing in Los Angeles we were die-hard Dodger Baseball fans. The announcer for the games had a lot to do with that since we listened to most of the games on the radio. His name is Vin Scully and he started broadcasting for the Dodgers when they were still located in Brooklyn, New York. That was before I was born. He came with them to LA and announced their games until last year, 2016. That was 67 YEARS of broadcasting. I mean really, that is a ridiculously long time. That is 3 broadcasting careers, not one.
Why do I mention him? Because his magic was in never being cliché. Yes, he might repeat himself in describing a play on the field, but over the course of a game or a season he would pull out of his original mind a connection, or a word, or an analogy he hadn’t used before and give it to us in telling the story of the games. It really was incredible. I loved him as a kid, as a young adult and as an older man. He truly was an artist with words. Always unique and compelling.
Political and PR Speak
This happens all the time in politics. Politicians are pointedly bad at saying something original since they are constantly trying to make sure they don’t offend anyone or misstate something. They end up spewing clichés that no one is really listening to. That is why Trump garnered so much attention, because he didn’t say clichés. He spewed disgusting stuff in my opinion, and still does, but he can never be accused of being cliché.
The same thing holds true in corporations and their communications. The PR and Legal teams go over pronouncements with a fine tooth comb to make sure nothing will make them liable or unlikable in the marketplace. The end result is cliché patter that is not listened to and means nothing. It is the exception to the rule when a company leader steps out and actually says something real and original.
The clichés in life blind a person from seeing the beauty in life. That is why being you is more important that trying to be someone else. Be you or you won’t be seen. And that would be very sad.
Last week I went to ‘The Hills’, an elite high altitude training camp in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. I was there to train my lungs, legs and mind in the thin air of 10,000 feet. Ok, I actually went with my wife to visit her sister, Cathie Hill and her family, who live in Breckenridge. But it is at 10,000 feet and I did go for a number of runs so I am going to stick with the training camp idea.
We had a fantastic time with family doing all sorts of fun activities. We rafted down the Colorado River one day and hiked 6+ miles up to a magnificent waterfall and back another day. We went to a cookout in Denver, then to a Colorado Rockies Major League Baseball game. And we witnessed and worried about a threatening forest fire near their home. There was also a fair amount of cooking, eating, game-playing, singing and general fun. In addition I read about 100 pages of my current book, Alexander Hamilton. However, I still have close to 600 pages to go so I definitely need another vacation.
4th of July Spirit!
There is anxiety for a runner when they face a new challenge. My worries up that high were simple: ‘Will I collapse and die?’ and ‘will I get eaten by a bear or stomped by a moose?’ I can safely report now that none of those things happened. But, when we got to their house and had to climb a flight of stairs I definitely thought any running would include a collapse. It’s SO easy to get out of breath in the mountains! But because the air is so much thinner, high altitude running is fantastic for building lung capacity and oxygenating the blood. It can be done, it just takes patience.
Plans and Expectations
My plan was to acclimate gradually by going a short distance the first day, then increasing that each successive day. Day one was a 3 mile run. I took a walk break after the first mile, then each half mile after that. I felt good at the end but it felt more like I had done 6 miles, not 3. Day two was a 5 mile run. I took a walk break at mile 2 and 4. Day three was 4th of July and I skipped that day.
The scenery made the miles easy
At this point my plan for day five was to do 7 miles and day six I would do 9. As I started my 7 mile run I definitely thought I was not going to make it 7 and certainly wouldn’t make it 9 the next day. It was tough, even when I tried to slow my pace. I took a walk break at each of the first four mile markers. Then I turned around and instantly realized I had been on a very slight but insistent uphill grade for those 4 miles. Once I headed back I felt great and didn’t stop at all, stretching the 7 miles to 9 miles! I was acclimated!
“I am NOT impressed!”
Day six we decided to do a rigorous hike. Because of that I didn’t want to wear myself out beforehand and decided to skip the 9 miler (since I had done 9 the day before anyway, right?). The hike was more of a challenge than the runs because it was a 1,000 ft climb over mostly rocky terrain. That pushed my Achilles and my legs in ways my running does not. I am not a trail runner but I took the opportunity to run a few times during the hike anyway. I loved the hike and it made me want to do some trail runs in the future.
WAY high up!
We got home late Friday and the next morning I was ready to lead Pathways and do extra miles to get in my scheduled long run of 12 miles. But, it was storming quite a bit and we were only able to get in about 3 miles, 2 of which were in a pouring deluge. It was invigorating and exhilarating (I love running in the rain) but it wasn’t 12 miles! I could have just let the long run go but as I mentioned before my goal has been to hit at least 30 miles a week running. So I did my 12 miles Sunday morning before church. It was a solo run, probably the longest solo run I have done in 3-4 years. I took a unique route along a busy street so that I could pass a pharmacy and get some hearing aid batteries I needed. It all went great and I averaged the pace I wanted (9:30). I could have gone longer even as the day heated up so that was a good sign.
This coming week will be filled with leading the start of the Fleet Feet Tulsa Fall half and full program and continuing to coach the Pathways group. Getting in my miles shouldn’t be a problem since I have a lot of running to do just covering those groups.
That’s it for now. Feel free to ask questions or give suggestions about running, training, etc.
I was proud to get up to 30 miles last week. I did it again this week and felt good about that. But ramping up the miles took its toll. Soreness, fatigue, random pain all came out of the woodwork. I thought the main reason was because I had run two long runs in a row. But I was reading the post of a friend who said she had run 220 miles in June and it started me wondering how many miles I had run. I knew it wasn’t anywhere near that far but checked just out of curiosity. My June miles were 120. That isn’t all that much for a marathoner but then I checked that against my May miles and it was more than double, from 55 to 120. That gave me a longer view of my progress, beyond day by day or week by week.
Another element of my training this time around has been a regimen of stretching. I am terribly unlimber, have been my entire life. But if I want to be able to increase my stride length and go longer distances without me tightening up, I really felt like I needed to be stretched out. My goal? To touch my toes. NOT an easy thing to accomplish for me! Month after month it really seemed like I was making no progress. But just recently I have been able to touch my toes in two different ways! I am not at the point where I can just bend straight over and do it, but I can do it sitting down on the floor and stretching out and I can do it with one hand to one foot. So, I am making progress after all!
People more limber than me!
I think we easily get stuck in the short view, that if we can’t see progress in the immediate present we can’t see it at all. We end up thinking none is being made. But that is a mistake. We are making progress, it’s just sometimes on a longer scale than it is easy to see.
I am currently in Colorado on vacation. I am at 9,500 feet and have a whole new set of running challenges ahead of me!
My wife Linda once did this for a stranger. The car in front of her wrecked getting off a freeway and she was the first on the scene. She tended to the driver, who was seriously injured. She held him and let him know she was with him until the ambulance arrived. She found out later he died. She also found out later that he was the brother of one of her co-workers. His family was quite grateful to know that she was there with him and that he didn’t die alone. Linda felt good knowing that even as she was sad about the death.
Recently she was leaving church when two woman at a bus depot across from where she parked her car screamed they needed an ambulance. Linda didn’t see anything that led her to believe they really needed an ambulance and kept walking. The women started yelling and screaming at her, spewing hate and anger. Linda turned around and asked them if they really needed an ambulance. One of them yelled, “I need some food!”. Linda went across the street and offered the woman a protein bar. The woman said, “I don’t want that. I want a ride home!”. She then proceeded to throw the protein bar into the street toward Linda, who had started back towards her car. She got in and left. Linda felt bad at getting that response.
Two acts of kindness, two different circumstances, two different feelings. But that’s the thing about kindness.You have to do it because you just want to be a kind person. You can’t be kind with the expectation of a specific result. If that is the case you will quickly be disillusioned and bitter about being kind.
Have you ever felt like your reason for doing ‘the right thing’ is because of what others would think of you if you didn’t? Think of how many areas that happens; giving in church, volunteering, forgiving someone, wearing something ‘appropriately modest’, dating only people in your age range, your choice of careers, etc. The list goes on and on.
What are we worried about? We are worried that we will be judged. At the least we will be judged ‘less than’. At the most we will be judged morally corrupt. We don’t want to be judged. it’s painful, it’s embarrassing, it’s shameful. And so we behave. And that is good and bad. For example, It’s good if your conscience keeps you from doing something hurtful and destructive but it’s bad if it keeps you from pursuing a lifelong dream.
Knowing God’s Will
For those of you of a religious bent, when I first became a Christian I heard a sermon called ‘Knowing God’s Will’. I expected it to be some tirade about sacrificing and doing what you didn’t want to do to prove how much you loved and followed God. It wasn’t. What the preacher said was basically, Whatever you want to do is God’s Will. That surprised me and has kept with me ever since. What I took it to mean was that God has instilled in you a desire to do or accomplish something and he is not interested in creating a desire in you only to condemn you for following it. If you love creating art, then create it with the full assurance that your desire was put there by God. If you want to be an aid worker helping victims of disasters, do that with the full assurance that your desire was put there by God.
Knowing the Difference
But how do you know whether what you want to do is ok or not? Simply and honestly ask yourself this: is what I want to do going to hurt myself or others? If you are going to go have an affair, then guess what? That is hurtful. It’s called cheating for a reason and there is a valid moral judgment on that. If you are going to pursue being a park ranger, even if your family doesn’t understand why, that is not hurtful to you or others. There is no legitimate moral judgment on it.
No Matter What
But guess what? Someone is going to think what you want to do is a bad idea. They will say you won’t be able to support your family that way. Or you will be putting yourself in harm’s way. They will say it is trivial, or shallow, or not important enough, or this or that. Someone will judge you. But your conscience, if it’s screwed on straight, will know whether what you are doing is harmful to yourself or others. It will know if you are rationalizing or are lying to yourself. Looking inside at that instead anticipating the opinions of others is key to living the life you want to live.
Thanks for continuing to read of my progress in my marathon training this summer. My goal for week 3 was to run 30+ miles and I did it. Depending on how I want to count it I also ran 40+ miles! That is because on Sunday (usually a rest day) I ran 10 miles as a pacer for a friend who is doing a fundraiser. Kevin Shank, a long time runner in one of my groups, is focused on his own Marathon training this season. He is running the New York City Marathon (Nov. 4th). He didn’t get in with the lottery but his wife Amy did. So he decided he would do the charity route and raise money for one of the causes the NYC marathon supports. Many people get into marathons that way and it’s a fantastic method to raise funds.
Me, Don Brough, Kevin Shank
Kevin was running a 25k to raise money and his plan was to have at least 1 pacer per 5k distance. I was going to run the 4th leg but arrived on the scene as he was just about the start his 3rd leg with Don. I decided to join them for that. Then I ran my own leg and after at that point I could either run the 5k back to my car, or run the last 5k with him and another pacer to the finish line. They had breakfast tacos waiting so it was a no brainer. Thus, my 5k turned into 16k (10 miles). This was on top of the 9 miles I had run the day before that brought me to 30 miles for the week.
One thing I am focused on during this season is proper pacing. After my surgery and weight loss I am much faster than in previous years. But faster at what distance? Just because I can run a certain pace doesn’t mean I can run that for 26.2 miles. I need to figure out what is my realistic pace for a marathon. There is a formula that can be used to decide that but the problem is it is dependent on recent race times at lower distances. I have a recent 5k and 10k, but my other races are from before and they aren’t really accurate reflections of what I could do now.
TIred Leg Technique
That brings me to the back-to-back runs this weekend. One training technique that some use is to run on tired legs. This simulates what it might be like later in a race when you are indeed likely to be running on tired legs. My Saturday run was at a 9:24 pace for 9 miles. I felt great until the last mile or so then I could feel myself tiring. The Sunday run with Kevin was a good test of running on tired legs. How would I respond to another long run? Knowing we would probably be slower than Saturday made me decide to test this theory out.
The result? Overall I felt great. My ankle that had the surgery let me know I was pushing it, but not terribly. The last mile I was starting to tire, but also not terribly. I could have gone further. A whole 26.2 miles? Not likely yet but I am on target and that feels good.
I learned a couple of things. One, my ankle can handle it. This morning it feels not much different from if I hadn’t run yesterday. Two, I have 2 paces to compare, the 9:24 of Saturday and the 11:00 of Sunday. I have more confidence now that my pace can be closer to the 9:30 pace than 11. I am starting to focus on 9:45-10:00 being a realistic pace for the marathon. But, this is still early in the training and I am not sold on it yet. It’s a benchmark I will keep in mind, that is all. Three, I loved running with Kevin and others to help him complete his goal. It was a beautiful morning with great company.
I also started using a pretty cool new app called ‘Relive’. It takes your GPS statistics and makes a video of your route over layed on a satellite map. It’s pretty cool. Here is the link to our Sunday run. RELIVE
That’s it for this week. The upcoming week will be a bit different because I have some coaches out and I have some marathon training informational meetings I need to lead when I usually would be running. The week after that we are going on vacation over 4th of July week and that will be a new set of training challenges.
If you have any questions or suggestions, by all means let me know!
Have you ever looked back on money leaving you and realized you were hurt by it? Perhaps you were scammed or lied to about something. Perhaps you spent money recklessly or maybe it was just bad luck. The saying ‘Buyer’s Remorse’ comes to mind. What is buyer’s remorse but regret about money leaving you?
When I was a young man I got a small settlement in a lawsuit of around $9,000.00. I had to decide how I was going to use the money, whether to invest it or to use it for Graduate school. I chose graduate school. I put the money in a money market fund and took it out little by little. It allowed me to work part-time while I went to grad school full-time and it lasted long enough for me to graduate. I don’t regret it and I don’t feel hurt by it being gone. But I do sometimes think what if I had instead invested that money in a relatively new local company where I lived. What would have transpired if I had invested in Apple in 1981? That $9,000.00 would be close to $2,000,000.00 now.
My Parent’s Money
One of the reasons I was conservative and deliberate about what I was going to do with my money is this story. My mother got an inheritance after her mother died of about $30,000.00. My parents used a good chunk of it to by a very nice boat. We had a lot of fun on that boat for a little over two years. I really loved living and working on the boat for my high school summers. It seemed worth it. But in the end, it blew up and I was burned on 70% of my body. At that exact same time the oil embargo hit the US and the aviation industry, which my father was employed in, went in the tank. My mother meanwhile had a brain hemorrhage and spent almost 9 months in the hospital and in recovery. The result was our family having a big change in financial fortunes. We didn’t go into dire poverty by any means, but it did make for a drastic change in things. My college bills couldn’t be paid and I had to leave school. I moved to California with some high school buddies and made my way on my own from there. The boat was nice but the loss of that money really did make a difference later. I look back and am amazed at how much stress my dad must have been under during that time.
Ah, 20/20 hindsight, right? It’s hard to say what would have happened. Maybe I would have invested in Acme Computer instead of Apple Computer and lost my shirt. My parents may have done the same with their money. All one can really do is learn from others and from experience and try to make the best decisions about where your money goes. It isn’t easy but one can become educated about how to handle money wisely. It’s worth it.
“That money talks, I’ll not deny. I heard it once, it said ‘Goodbye’.” – Richard Armour, 1906-1989, American Poet and Author
This week I did an unorthodox track workout. I needed to be at the Pathways workout again this week instead of the track, but decided I would go early and get my speed work in before the scheduled run. The only problem is there is no track at the Fleet Feet store. What is there is a very long, straight and flat street that used to be an airport runway, So, with my trusty Garmin GPS watch as a guide, I figured out 600 meters distance (the track workout was a bunch of 600 meters sprints) and simply ran up and down the street until the workout was done.
Since it was a straight-away instead of a curved track I had the wind directly in my face for three of the 600m runs and directly at my back for the other two. I was almost a minute per mile slower heading into the wind, which was about 25 mph. The time difference in the stats below shows the effect wind can have on a runner.In addition, the temperature was 90º+. That meant the wind wasn’t really cooling me down much, just pushing up against me.
The idea behind speed work is two-fold. One, to get faster, (obviously). There is a common running mantra, “If you want to get faster, you have to run faster.” Simple, but true.
The other reason is something called VO2max, short for maximum volume of oxygen. That is how much oxygen your lungs can take in. During long distance running you are at about 60-70% of lung capacity. When you do speed work, if you are doing it right, your lung capacity is closer to 90-95% of capacity.
Why is this important? Think of it this way. You have a plastic cup you can pour water in. But it is a flexible cup, it can get bigger or smaller. If you always fill it up to 60-70% of its total volume, it won’t get bigger because it doesn’t need to. But if you fill it up to near capacity again and again it does gets bigger. How does that help you run long distances? Because your 60-70% capacity that you use for those long distances is now 60-70% of a BIGGER cup. That means you are getting more oxygen into your lungs and thus energy to your muscles. The result, better endurance at a higher pace.
I also increased my miles this week. This week I ran 5 times. Four of them were 4+ miles each and Saturday’s run was 10 miles for a total of 28 miles. My goal is to run 30-40 miles per week. I am getting there. The Achilles I had surgery on still is a bit stiff and sore after a long run so I am trying to move up mileage slow enough to allow the tendon to respond effectively.
Fork in the Road
Oh, and aside from all the goals and stats, I managed to coach some fun people this week. And yes, we did. We found a fork in the road (actually on the sidewalk) and we didn’t take it.
Week #1 of my training coincided with the start of my head coaching duties with Pathways, the 10K & 15K program I lead at Fleet Feet Tulsa. This is in addition to the Half and Full Marathon Program I co-coordinate that is already in the middle of its summer season. What that translates into is lesson #1 when for working towards a goal:
Summer Pathways 2017
Be Flexible and Creative
The thing to remember about a training schedule is that it’s one size fits all. For example, My marathon training schedule called for between 20 & 25 miles of running. I was able to get in 20+ miles so I met that training goal. But it also called for a track workout one run and hill repeats for another. Those I wasn’t able to get in because it was the opening week of Pathways and I had to have easy and flat routes for them.
Excuses vs Reasons
For me at least, I see the schedule as a guide, not a rule. That means I need to take into consideration my circumstances such as age, surgery recovery, other obligations and adjust accordingly. I don’t want to push my Achilles with a fast track workout and a hard hill night on back to back nights. I will, just not yet.That means I have to reason through what is best. What is best given who I am, what my body is going through? Adjusting accordingly is critical to moving forward successfully when you have a challenging goal.
Having said that, excuses are easy to come by. For example, I had to run with Pathways on their first Saturday run and they were scheduled for 3 miles. I, meanwhile, was scheduled to do 8 so I did 5 on my own afterwards. To do otherwise would have been to find an excuse and excuses aren’t the same as reasons.
This week will be similar to last week. However, I will be going to the University of Tulsa track for speedwork on Tuesday, we do have a hill night planned and the Saturday run is 10 miles. The weekly mileage should be closer to 25 this week.
You can read the entire Marathon training series by going to my website, Napkindad.com, and looking up ‘marathon training’ in the series dropdown menu.
If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, etc. feel free to connect. I would love to hear from you.
Little known fact about Medusa. She actually does not turn things to stone just by looking at them. It’s only when she gets mad at them that it happens. Her cat, ironically named ‘Rocky’, clawed her belly during Yoga and that was that.
Today I officially embark on my marathon training and I thought I would take you along on my journey. I am training for the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC on October 22nd, 2017, exactly 20 weeks away.
I have run marathons before, 6 times to be exact. Sometimes I ran sloppy, sometimes sharp. Sometimes seriously, sometimes too casually. Some were successful, some were disasters. But this time is different because I had Achilles Tendon surgery to remove some nasty bone spurs 7 months ago today. I ran for 6 years with those bone spurs stabbing into my Achilles until I just couldn’t do it any more. It took me a little short of 4 months to start to run again after the surgery. Besides the surgery I also have lost approximately 30 lbs in the last 10 months, since Aug. 2016.
At 6 months post-surgery I ran my first race, a 10k, and had a personal record (PR) of 51:52. Three weeks after that I ran another race, a 5k, and had another PR (24:50). I ran these races so I could have a new baseline from which to measure my abilities after the surgery and weight loss. Running shorter races also allows me to project what I might be able to do in a marathon. Given those numbers and judging from my past marathons, I am working towards running a 4:15 marathon. That would eclipse my prior PR by 20 minutes. That is a big leap and it will take a lot of determined work and luck to make it happen. If circumstance of weather are less than ideal, if I have injuries along the way, if I find my Achilles doesn’t like the longer distances I have to subject it to, or any other number of things, that number could change dramatically. But, that’s the nature of long distance running, surgery or not, and I accept it as part of the package.
I will update my journey at least once a week. Each week I will let you know what I did and how it went. But I will also let you know how and what it is I am feeling about the journey, what my fears and enthusiasms are, and what I have coming up. I am sharing the journey for a number of reasons. I want to learn from my friends and followers what they know about running and training, I want to help inspire and motivate my friends around the globe on their own fitness journey, I want to have accountability and I want to teach what I know, and what I am learning, to others.
That’s it for now. Next week I will explain the program, and give you some more details of my training. I will also be posting all over social media as I go. You can find me on instagram and twitter as @thenapkindad. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me!
I have known a lot of people, male and female, who wrote poetry when they were young. It was a rite of passage into and out of adolescence. Many did the same thing with journaling, diary entries, drawing and art making in general. And it was almost always about two things. The creative urge to write and visualize at that age was about expressing feelings, emoting and self-discovery. But as time passed many figured things out, the angst lessened and the need to express in that way diminished.
Or at least they thought it did. But the truth is many stopped creating and regretted it. It may have taken a while but at some point they realized they had let something important go. It may have been they needed to rediscover themselves and they once again felt the urge to express that. But they could also have matured and realized creative endeavors aren’t just about letting the world know how you feel. Sometimes it’s a way to understand how the rest of the world feels. Sometimes it’s a way to make sense of a world by returning to something fundamental in themselves.
If you are twenty, I encourage you to keep writing, keep creating. This will require you grow beyond your own expression of self and start using your creative force to imagine and understand other worlds. If you are 40 and stopped your creativity years ago, I encourage you to start that stagnant engine again. It might require some hard work, but it will be worth it.
I have known many people who do feel they are not equal to anyone else. Maybe it is like a friend of mine, one of the smartest and funniest young humans I know, who posted that she is worried sometimes that she will not live up to the standard of all the talented people she sees all around her, that she won’t make the cut. This is what I wrote to her in response:
We all feel like fakes sometimes. I am like 3 times older than you and I still feel it. But, while I was feeling that on and off all these decades I also became a kick ass artist who has created some amazing stuff. So, doubt all you want, it’s normal, just KEEP WORKING ON WHAT YOU WANT TO BE. That is what matters in the end, the work you do, not the feeling you may have once in a while.
Where did that originate with her? Honestly, I don’t know her well enough to say for certain. But if it is like many others I have known, it could be a disconnect between her desire for high achievement (based on her intrinsic understanding of her intelligence and abilities, of which there is a lot), and the recognition of her limitations of health, opportunity and ambition. I don’t think it’s an uncommon disconnect among young people. They have grand dreams and those dreams often narrow as they age. There is a moment at which they only see the narrowing of the dream, not the blossoming of another dream that will be even greater and more fulfilling.
Or maybe it is like my ex-wife, who felt she didn’t have enough value to stand up for what she wanted and expected in a marriage while she was married to me. I wish she had been able to, but she wasn’t. Where did that lack of value come from? Perhaps the roots were in her parents’ decision that if you wanted to be a good Christian (which they were in many ways) then not only was acting bad not allowed, but expressing, or even having, bad feelings wasn’t allowed either. The consequence was that when she did express the completely common and expected feelings of growing up into maturity, those feelings weren’t allowed or validated. And that told her that what she felt, and thus she, was of little value.
How to Balance
How do you get a balance? It’s about practice. Just as an artist or athlete gets better by practice, so attitudes and perceptions do as well. You can think about changing an attitude but the truth is that attitude will very likely not change until you take action to change it, to practice a new attitude. This can happen if you let an old attitude or perception trigger a new way of looking at something. For example, when you catch yourself denigrating your abilities, allow that to be a trigger to say something positive and good about your abilities. You don’t do this to fake your way towards something, you do it because you are practicing being truthful about who you are in the world. You actually do have positive and valuable qualities. Stating that you have them is not egotistical or vain. it is reality. And since you are currently on the self-denigration side of the scale you aren’t really in reality. This practice is getting you back to a balance, that is all.
I applied for a fellowship recently. It is Atlas Obscura’s ‘Fellowship of the Loneliest Road’. They are granting $5,000.00 for an artist to drive Rt 50 in Nevada. The road has the moniker as ‘the loneliest road in America’ because of its isolation, paucity of humans and lack of electronic connectivity. The idea is for the artist to creatively document the journey, finding unique and interesting expressions of that loneliness and separation from the fast blur of modern life.
I thought about this quote as I was writing the few essay type responses needed. My main work wasn’t in the writing, it was in the editing, getting the words to be essential to the message instead of filler to make the word count.
Less is More
The minimal art movement of the 20th century was all about this idea. Reduce each form of art to its essential. What is it at its essence, and just do that. Painting for example is color on a two-dimensional surface. It’s not about recreating a thing or a place. It’s not about an illusion of space. It is just color. So, the minimalists were painting flat, abstract images that forced the viewer to just see the paint and it’s properties, not anything else.
Brice Marden – The Seasons – 1975
Architecture was reduced to ‘form follows function’ which is what building something is in its essence. Just a structure to do something in, nothing more.
Andrea Oliva – Italian home
Sculpture is mass, surface, texture.
Tony Smith – untitled – 1960
Music is sound
Dance is movement
Lucinda Childs – ‘Dance’ – 1979
This is a great discussion about minimalism in art music and dance coming together. Worth checking out.
We often talk about getting lost in the landscape. The idea is to go out and lose oneself, and I get that. You lose all those society-laden elements that burden you. But losing is only half the story. The other is about what you find out about yourself when you are away from all that.
Here are a selection of photos I have taken over the years that visualize the lost and the found.
I have been designing a business card for someone recently. She is a creative person and so is her business. That means what seems like just a simple business card design is actually a detailed template for her entire business plan. In planning it out with her I asked a lot of questions, from who is her target audience to what colors she likes. That gave me a starting point but my creative juices didn’t start to flow until I was actually in Photoshop working on fonts, colors, and imagery. It was then that I saw progress. And that is because the act of working is like the act of getting your heart rate up. You don’t get your heart beat up BEFORE you exercise. It’s the exercise that makes your heart rate go up!
This idea is not exclusive to creative work. Another very similar quote brings out how it applies to almost any life situation. “It is easier to act your way to another way of feeling than it is to feel your way to another way of acting.”
Here is the final business card design, by the way.
“You don’t think your way to creative work, you work your way to creative thinking.” – anonymous
Have you ever tried to explain yourself but have done it so badly you dug yourself into a big hole trying to do so? The initial explanation usually isn’t that bad. A few wrong words, a few things left out and voila, the wrong message is sent. The message isn’t that far off but it’s missed the mark enough so that you have to go back and explain again.
From Ditch to Hole
Design is like that. Create the wrong initial impression of your company or idea and you are in a ditch. Compound that with more bad design choices and you’re not just in a ditch, you are in a deep hole. Getting out of that hole means building a ladder to get yourself out. Work that could have gone towards building staircase up a mountain instead.
From the Beginning
How does this happen? By not evaluating the initial design result. Was the first design element understood properly? You have to investigate that or else you might be digging a hole with further design elements. If you don’t get feedback at the beginning you are moving forward blindly. Maybe you will be lucky and the design was spot on, but just as likely your could be digging a deep hole with each subsequent design iteration.
One of the things that annoys me about my religion (Christianity) is that lip service is given to doubt. Doubt is put forth from the pulpit as something we all have, but just like an addiction, the church likes you better if you are already over it. You aren’t expected to keep doubt with you. You struggle with it, then decide what the church teaches is right and get over it. But to have doubt that stays is dangerous. Doubt is like a virus or a bacteria that can infect others around you and that can endanger the village, which can endanger the city, state and world. Doubt that is in the past however, is a different story. It’s now a story of redemption, of overcoming, of faith. But it’s not is alive. And if it isn’t alive it can’t threaten anyone or anything.
Because of this, doubt is rarely ever talked about except in the most abstract of terms. And this abstraction means there is no ability to wrestle with actual real doubts about anything. Say you have doubts, ok. Say specifics, not ok. And if you can’t say what you REALLY have doubts about, is that really great faith?
Great faith meanwhile is extolled and talked about all the time in church. It’s the mountaintop to which we all wish to ascend. It’s the most admirable of qualities. You can talk all day about the specifics of your faith and it is embraced because there is no threat involved. But is that really great faith?
The key for me then is the third essential. What is critical, before you have great faith or great doubt, is to have great perseverance. Just as an artist won’t create consistently great work without great perseverance, so to we humans will not produce great doubt and faith without it as well.
The Yogi asks the passerby, “What does it mean for you to be well & whole?”
The passerby answers, “It means I am content with my body, mind and spirit.”
The Yogi asks the passerby, “Are you content?”
The passerby answers, “No, I am not.”
The Yogi responds, “That is good.”
The passerby asks, “Why do you say good? Aren’t I supposed to be content?”
The Yogi answers, “No, you are supposed to do the dishes.”
The passerby responds, “What dishes?”
The Yogi answers, “Wise question.”