Tag Archives: Random

Shameful Running Representation

As a runner, I feel ashamed when I read stories like this one – Thanksgiving Day Race organizer: I can’t sleep. This poor organizer had to deal with behavior from runners that is absolutely reprehensible.

It is common for there to be snacks or treats after a race for racers to consume to replenish energy spent. It can be anything from bananas to protein bars to beer (although I can’t drink beer myself after a race in the daytime). This helps fill emptied stores and add to the social element of all the runners finishing – kind of a party.

Well, in Cincinnati, at the Thanksgiving race, participants turned things upside down. It’s almost like Black Friday greed took ahold of them early and they decided that they were entitled to something for nothing. There was a vendor who provided post race snacks – Pure Protein who handed out small boxes of treats. Many runners apparently couldn’t stop with just one… Or two… Or several… They were so disgusting about it that they actually dumpster-dived to hoard as many snacks as they could.

These individuals couldn’t care less it appears about any runners who came behind them, or even for the homeless who would get the leftovers in previous years. This is truly a bleak day for the sport.

I think of running as a sport of good competition and fellowship. I have seen some of the most generous people imaginable sharing courses whenever I have run. That has made me very proud to be among their ranks.

Incidents like this one however, make me sad. Perhaps I am not jaded enough. I considered running to be a safe-haven from the cynicism and greed plaguing the world around us. Now, I fear that it is seeping in. I only hope this is an aberration and doesn’t repeat itself.

The Cry Babies Aren’t In the Stroller

As described in the post Julia Webb pushes baby stroller 10K in record time from GrindTV, another Webb, has set a record. In this case, Julia Webb, wife of American 1 mile record holder Alan Webb has set a new world record — the fastest 10K recorded while pushing a baby stroller. Her time was 38:15 surpassing Allison Tai of Canada whose time is 43:07.

After reading the exciting events in the article and feeling good about the world — An amazing woman accomplishing a great feat with the help and encouragement of her friends — my glow was quickly dimmed when I read the comments.

Someone actually wrote “So she selfishly took a baby out cold, wind and rain, just to try to set a record, sounds like child abuse.” Then the back and forth began. It is really discouraging to see this type of thing.

I mean, child abuse? Are you kidding?! Because someone runs with a baby in a high end stroller made for runners. A baby who was swaddled in blankets and protected by a rain cover. A baby who was being pushed at a pace of 6 minutes and 9 seconds a mile or 9.7 miles per hour. There are babies being taken around on bicycles at more than 10 miles an hour all the time with no complaints.

And little Ruby has to grow up with the shame that she participated in a world record being set. Oh wait, that’s pretty cool. Which kid wouldn’t want that? People astound me.

Social Media Community: Good People. Good Friends

I am a very shy person. It doesn’t always seem that way to people in real life and some folks think that I am standoffish. I am often by myself at races because I don’t always know how to approach anyone. Ironically, in the past I have corresponded with people in the community online, but never interact with them at races we both attend.

I have almost always felt like I needed a purpose to be comfortable at a location or in a setting. This frees me to communicate with much more confidence. I was very fortunate that my beautiful wife is a librarian. As a bookish type, I was able to go in and “check her out” (her words).

I think that my shyness contributed to me ballooning up with weight. I let it act as a buffer between me and the world. This of course exacerbated my issues and I started to feel even more out of touch with others.

In 2012, I finally decided to lose the weight and eventually this led to my taking up running. After I had some success at it and shared my history, I was asked if I would like to appear on a podcast to talk about it. I was honored for the opportunity and then realized that I liked to write and would like to continue sharing with people what I had discovered.

That is where social media has come in. I launched this blog and then created a Facebook page facebook.com/hamptonrunner and Twitter account twitter.com/hamptonrunner. I had always been leery of social media in the past. I had an aversion to the word “social”, but I wanted to try and promote my blog, where I started to meet a cast of really good people.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of the amazing people I have met online, but rather a chronological sampling of the kind of generosity and good will I have discovered on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Brian Burk of Brian’s Running Adventures

As the user @Cledawgs on Twitter, Brian was one of the first people to follow me back and to read some blog posts. Then later on, I was surprised to see that someone had come to my site from his. I looked it up and he had posted about my blog and shared it with everyone.

He also introduced me to the concept of Follow Friday. It is amazing to have people like Brian out there who gently take a newbie like myself and give me such support. I try to practice the same as much as I can to follow his example.

Steve Carmichael of RunBuzz Radio

Steve was kind enough to invite me out of his thriving RunBuzz community on Facebook to appear in a podcast. It actually was the first one published online even though it was the second one recorded.

Steve is always following his community closely and really giving sound advice to help aspiring and experienced runners. He does this with humility and wisdom.

Lisa Hamilton of Conscious Runner

Lisa Hamilton is an elite runner who only surpasses her talents with compassion. She runs a very popular podcast The Conscious Runner and has started up her own community on Facebook – The Conscious Runner Academy where runners can support and cheer each other in addition to getting great training input from her.

My first interaction with Lisa was when she put out a call on Facebook asking if anyone had any questions or issues. I seized the opportunity and asked her about a problem with my gluteus medias.

I expected a quick reply with maybe a link or two. Instead I received a long multi-paragraph response with great information and links to videos that could help me. Then she kept checking up on me from time to time.

We have corresponded many times since and she is always generous with her time and knowledge.

Brandon Wood of Gearist and IronBrandon

Brandon is a special case out of everyone here. I actually got to meet him in real life and he exceeded my expectations for what kind of person he would be.

I first heard Brandon Wood on Episodes 9 and 11 of GingerRunnerLive. I immediately checked out his YouTube channel The Gearist TV where he does very thorough gear reviews and just completed his excellent 23 part Ironman Chattanooga series.

I of course followed him on Twitter and to my surprise, he followed me back. We then talked and I found out that he is actually from Hampton, VA and grew up a few blocks from where I live now.

We chatted back and forth on Twitter and he mentioned that he was coming out in about a month. We tentatively planned to run together.

When he did come out, we went out for a ten mile run. Toward the end of the run, we saw an older gentleman sitting down on the sidewalk with a lady speaking with him. Brandon and I approached the scene.

Apparently, the man was a little confused and was wearing a medical wristband. He said that he was trying to get home. Since we were on the grounds VA Hospital campus, we figured that he was a patient.

Brandon immediately started chatting with the man in a very friendly manner. He seemed completely comfortable and amiable. He offered and helped the man up, meanwhile apologizing for being sweaty.

I was extremely impressed with the kindness and charity that seemed to just flow naturally from Brandon. This, I feel told me more about him than any of our conversations up to this point. I am a firm believer that actions speak louder than words.

Jill Angie of Running with Curves

Jill is an always supportive netizen and communicator. She has put together a tribe of other incredibly active and supportive people. She is always jumping into groups and engaging with others in any way she can.

She is also amazingly generous. Recently, I had commented in her very active Running with Curves Discussion Community on Facebook (you can find out how to join by clicking http://www.runningwithcurves.net/jointhecommunity) and felt an immediate traffic surge on my site. I also started to get some likes on my Facebook page.

Then later, the likes really started to come in. As I looked at the tags, I learned why. Jill gave me a shout out and asked for people to check out and like my page. I never asked her to do this and was blown away. She is yet another wonderful giving person on the Web.

All of these folks are trying to build a Web presence and increase their business. But that never stops them from helping each other or promoting others. It is a real privilege that I can associate with them.

My Facebook Ghost Town

Tumbleweeds are blowing by my empty Facebook page. Kind of makes me wonder. I have a fairly engaged Twitter audience and it is doing well with many lively folks.

However, I have a dearth of likes on my Facebook page. We’re talking multiples of ten. A 10/1 ratio from Twitter to Facebook would be a sizable improvement.

I post the same articles to both platforms, but Twitter seems to get the engagement. What’s odd is I that have online friends who have the opposite problem. A highly engaged Facebook page and relatively few Twitter followers in comparison.

Do you think that different voices are better suited for one platform than another? What has been your experience? Do you have any suggestions?

And now, the shameless plug – please come by and Like my page http://facebook.com/hamptonrunner, or follow below. It’s small but welcoming.

Stickers, magnets and finisher medals… Hell yeah!

There are those who think we are jerks for displaying 13.1, 26.2 or another distance on our cars. Actually, some may call us worse. I’d like to address that.

I understand from where some of the venom originates. Some people may feel that we are arrogant and displaying how tough or strong we are. Worse still, we are rubbing their faces in it. This is not the case. In fact, it is quite the opposite.

As I have written on this blog and spoken about in podcast interviews, I lost quite a lot of weight. This was not an easy journey and it took a great deal of time and effort. After I lost enough that I wasn’t in agony, I discovered that I didn’t actually hate running and grew to like it. And I started to enter races.

At first, I was prudent and entered 5Ks. I did all that I could fit in and I was doing well at them. I figured that it took me a while to work up to them and that I had found my distance and peaked. That would be about as far as I would ever run. I wasn’t superhuman and would not be doing anything truly crazy like a marathon, or even a half marathon.

But I kept seeing these 13.1 and 26.2 stickers all over the place. I honestly didn’t know what they represented at first. I think I finally figured it out when I saw them in a parking lot to a race — I’m a slow learner sometimes.

Anyway, like many things, after you first notice something and realize what it is, you start to see more instances everywhere you look. In my case, that was the grocery store, on the roads, and at races — I don’t get out much. But when I saw the people getting in and out the cars, I realized that they looked normal. This planted a seed I think.

As I kept racing, I was unable to find a 5K in the middle of the summer, so I entered an 8K figuring 5K-5 miles was an increase, but I could probably do it. I started to run a bit more to cover the needed distance in training. After I successfully finished the race, I felt confident that I could do as much as a 10K.

It didn’t take long before one day when I was out doing my long run, I decided to take it as far as I could. I would see if I could get to 11 or more miles. In the back of my head, I wondered if I could reach the amazing 13.1 distance but only promised myself 11 miles.

I ran the full distance and was elated. I couldn’t believe that I could actually run that far. It was an astounding breakthrough and I signed up for a half marathon with a course that literally crosses in front of my house. This same half marathon I watched the year before — amazed that so many people were able to do it. At the time, I had only been running for a little while and was just working my way up to run a 5K distance without stopping.

The week before this half marathon, I injured my foot by using a shovel with Crocs in the garden and my heel was frozen. It hurt to walk. Let alone run. At the race expo, there was a sports chiropractor who was doing free tapings using Rock Tape. He wrapped my foot and ankle up the best I could and I raced the next day.

It was the most painful thing that I have ever done. After the first 5K mark, I was running in front of my house and tried to fake it for my wife. She took video with the phone. While I thought I was a super stoic actor, my issues were obvious.

By mile 4, I had no idea what I was going to do. I started to play my mind games. I needed to run at least 10K before I started to walk. When I hit 10K, I decided to try to get another mile. Then, just get to 10 mile. Then, I had to just get through another 5K.

When I crossed the finish line, I even found a kick. I wanted this one so bad. But it took everything I had. I limped into the building where they were giving free massages. I talked the student into just working on my foot and it was just enough to allow me to limp across the parking lot to my car.

When I arrived at my car, what was the first thing that I did? I took the wet paper towel that I had collected from the bathroom and cleaned an area on the back of my car. I then affixed the magnet from my race bag. It was that important to me. I still display it proudly.

Onward and upward

After my incredible painful experience at the half, I thought long and hard. Rather than being a reasonable person, I figured that if I could survive that race injured, I could maybe survive a marathon healthy. So, I bit the bullet and signed up for the Shamrock Marathon.

Five months, 2 more half marathons, a 10 miler, a 14 K, a 10K, and some 5Ks later, I ran my first marathon successfully.

What did I do before I left the hotel parking lot to drive home? Yep, I affixed a new magnet to accompany the one I had from the Crawlin’ Crab Half Marathon.

They are called Finisher medals

Another pet peeve I have is people mocking medals from a race unless they are awards. While for some shorter distance races, I would agree that they may not be necessary, they are invaluable for half and full marathons.

Some people have a habit of calling them participation medals, like those that many children are getting now by just showing up to events.

Sorry, these are not participation medals, they are finisher medals. You do not receive one unless you cross the finish line and complete a race. That is an achievement. Anyone who completes a half marathon or marathon has accomplished a sizable amount of work and training to get there. Having the medal is something that we can look at to remind us of our capability when times get tough. We have a physical object that we can hold and feel. We did it! We will do it again!

Small Chunks and Little Victories

They can only mess with you so much before lunch

As I was out running this morning, I got a call. After I got through the discombobulation of my podcast being interrupted and a disembodied voice on my bluetooth headphones, I finally was able to identify with whom I was speaking. It was a young man who was our neighbor until recently. He just graduated high school this spring and had joined the U.S. Marine Corps.

He was calling to tell me that he was shipping out today and wanted to say goodbye. I am not known for hold in my opinion back and offered him one piece of advice, “Just remember one thing, they can only mess with you so much before lunch.”

When I was in basic training for the army (so long ago I hate to think about it), I remember that I was counting every minute until it finally ended. But it seemed so far off. I was literally counting the days and weeks. I sat there miserably thinking, “I have to deal with this for another 6 weeks, 5 days and 3 hours. Ugh.”

That’s when another soldier introduced me to his philosophy. He said, “I just figure they can only mess with me so much until lunch. It’s a lot easier that way.”

That really hit home. It changed everything for me both there and in life. I realized that he was right. In basic training, they can only deal out some much stress in a couple hours and I could survive that. I changed my focus and thought only about the next thing, breakfast, lunch, dinner (meals were the highlight of basic training, we were always hungry) and lights out. Usually when I was under the most stress, I was within an hour or two of one of these events.

After I changed my focus, time flew by. Before I knew it, it was graduation week and we were looking back at everything with nostalgia (but not willing to do it again). Which brings me to this morning.

After I finished my run, my neighbor was waiting on our block and ran up beside me. He had his spiffy new haircut and was meeting his recruiter in front of his old house. Since often the new person in a young man’s life is held in higher esteem as far as wisdom, I took the opportunity to confirm my advice with the young staff sergeant (is everyone young?). He agreed what I was saying and added, “yes, take things in little chunks and have small victories.”

I was taken aback. I realized immediately that I apply this principle to much of my life but didn’t really tie it back to the lunch concept.

There are times that things are tough. They can be nearly unbearable. As runners and athletes, we see this manifest itself directly in both the physical and mental — we workout, it hurts and we are tired.

How do we get through it? We may be less than halfway on a 10 mile run. If we are already exhausted, how do we get to the end? We break it into smaller chunks.

Depending on how knackered we are, we can determine the chunk. If we are 4 miles into a 10 miler, we have about a 10K left. We can focus on the next 5K. When we finish that, we notch up a victory and go for another 5K — another victory.

When we are really hurting, we can reach deep within ourselves and say, “need to at least get halfway done. Then I can stop if I absolutely have to.” Or, “I will run to the next corner, or the next telephone pole.” Any smaller objective will work. Then when we get there, if we still have energy (we most likely will), we pick the next target and repeat this process all the way until we have finished.

This is a major victory, and I for one never feel worse after completing a run than when I started (other than virtuous fatigue).

By breaking things up and focusing on a nearer, more achievable goal, you will very likely be able to achieve more than you ever expected. Just keep striving. There may be some science tied into this concept. Consider the Tim Noakes Central Governor theory that the brain will regulate exercise to keep the body safe. This was discussed in his Endurance Planet podcast appearance – EP’s Most Popular Show of 2013: Dr. Timothy Noakes on Nutrition, Central Governor Theory and More.

When you choose a nearer target, you give the brain a reason to release the energy necessary to complete the task on hand, much the same way you may get a burst of energy once a finish line is within sight. Of course, you will be doing it again, but that’s between you and your brain — my brain and I are often at odds.

We all have the ability to overcome great obstacles and succeed. Just consider the General Creighton Abrams‘ quotation; When eating an elephant take one bite at a time.

Failure is Your Friend

Not many people know it, but George Washington lost more battles than he won in his military career. Yet, the United States became an independent nation and later a superpower. This is because he was able to embrace and then learn from failure. His failure inspired creativity.

Failure is your friend. It doesn’t feel like it at the time. It can be excruciating and humiliating, but after a while, the sharp edges dull. Then you can begin to feel more philosophical and learn from it. In actuality, you can learn more from failure than success – something that is studied in the business world as shown in the article You Can Learn More From Failure Than Success.

The concept absolutely should not be limited to the business world and applies very much to running and fitness. When doing calisthenics in the US Army, we were encouraged to work to muscle failure. This forces the muscles to rebuild even stronger.

Now, I would not recommend running to muscle failure — that is likely to be a recipe for disaster — or at least injury. However, I do propose setting goals that are currently too high or difficult to reach. Then start reaching. Over time you will get closer. If a goal is easily reachable, it’s a bad goal.

Failure defines your limitations. Allows you to adapt and overcome. If you don’t overreach, you will never know what is actually within your grasp.

Think about it. If you set an easy goal and achieve it with little effort, you may feel some mild satisfaction. But what have you really learned? You already knew what you needed to do to succeed and likely didn’t have to work very hard. This means that you had no real obstacles to overcome or work around. We often do this so we don’t feel embarrassed. But why be embarrassed?

I like to set goals that are unreasonable. I usually don’t meet them, but I get close. Much closer than I or anyone would expect. And I usually am farther ahead than the more prudent goal. A good example is my first marathon. I decided that I would try to Boston Qualify my first time out. No surprise, I didn’t. In fact, I was 29 seconds off the required pace. But I was delighted.

Why? I knew that it was unlikely that I would be able to achieve the goal, but I got closer than I thought I would. If I were more “realistic,” I would have shot for a 3:45:00 marathon instead of a BW time of 3:15:00. I wound up at 3:27:35. There is no way I would have ran faster than a 3:30:00 if I wasn’t trying for something faster. And I still have my initial goal. I can just keep working towards it.

Whenever you try to accomplish the impossible, you have to keep working at it and it might just become possible. Sometimes looking at things a different way can point the way to success. Consider the drug Viagra. It was developed to treat Angina and Hypertension. It was not very good for it, but it had a certain side effect. I’m quite sure Pfizer is very happy with the initial failure of the drug.

Never be afraid to strive. Never be afraid to fail. Failure points out what you need to improve. These lessens test your mettle and forge you into a stronger athlete for the next round.

UPDATE

I may have been inadvertently influenced on my title. There is an episode of Freakonomics Radio with the same name Failure is your Friend. Please give it a listen. Always a great show.