Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Keep Running vs. Quitting Smoking: which is harder?

When I stopped smoking, it was a pretty easy thing to do. I had started smoking at a pretty young age, so I thought it would be harder. But then again, I was in the 8th grade and had only been smoking for two weeks. From what I hear, it's a tad bit harder for most people.

Why is smoking so hard? Nicotine, which hardly seems to have any noticeable effect, and yet to judge by its number of users, is easily the world's most addictive substance? For many people, quitting smoking is simply impossible.

Have you ever read a list of steps for how to quit smoking? There are lots of them. They are all over the Internet. They all have similar themes. They talk about things like schedules, deadlines, programs, support groups, dedication, positive affirmations, increased hunger, goals, buddies, and rewards.

Hell, they look just like the steps for starting a running program. That might explain why so many people find maintaining their running program so difficult. It's like trying to kick the habit.

The lists are tough to tell apart. No kidding. Trying to stop smoking and trying to start a new habit are very similar... No wonder so many people continually start an exercise or running program, and then slip, slide, stop, start again, or give up forever.

Do you think I am making this up?

1. (Quitting Smoking) MAKE A DATE and stick to it. Draw up a plan of action, considering what methods are available to you.

1. (Starting Running) Sign up for a race (Make a Date). Do it now! Having a race goal (and race fees!) on the line will be a powerful source of motivation. I guarantee it.

Both require you to set a date. One is for the actual quit date (smokers), and one is for your first race (runners). This is about setting goals. Sticking to your goals. Holding yourself accountable to your goals. Sounds easy enough. My race is the Walt Disney World Marathon. January 10th, 2010. What is your date?

2. (Quit Smoking) DRINK PLENTY OF FLUIDS - keep a glass of water or juice by you and sip it steadily. Try different flavours. (Really, this is from a stop smoking website)

2. (Start Running) DRINK PLENTY OF FLUIDS - An hour or two before a long workout, drink 16 ounces of water or a sports drink like Gatorade. This will help prevent dehydration and also keep you feeling alert. Plain water is fine if you're running an hour or less. If your run is longer, you'll need to replenish lost electolytes, so Smartwater or a sports drink are better options.

Although drinking fluids was kind of a surprise for me to find under stopping smoking, the rest is a no brainer. Jane and I went out and bought water belts, and then didn't even wear them during our first run with our new running group. We didn't want to look like the new kids with all the cool new gear. Now that I have run with water a few times, eff em if they can't take a joke. Running with water makes a HUGE difference.

3. (Quit Smoking) THINK POSITIVE - Withdrawal can be unpleasant, bit it is a sign your body is recovering from the effects of tobacco. Irritability, urges to smoke and poor concentration are common - don't worry, they usually disappear after a few of weeks.

3. (Start Running) THINK POSITIVE -That kind of confidence, of course, springs from putting in the physical work of hard, smart training between races. But on race day, even a well-trained runner can sabotage his effort with negative or unproductive thoughts. Bottom line: Believe in what you’ve done to get to the start line, focus on what is possible, and use both your physical and mental strengths to produce the best outcome on the day.

I received a comment on one of my stories a few weeks ago from a friend (Tiffany-an Iron Man Competitor) who said she had just finished one of her worst runs in a long time. They were about 7 miles into a 13 mile run when she made the fatal mistake of saying "this is one of my best runs in a long time, this just seems easy today". The wheels immediately fell of the cart. As soon as the words came out of her mouth, her superstitions kicked in and her mind filled with negative thoughts. "Oh crap, I shouldn't have said that." Then all the usual aches and pains of a long run became accentuated, painful, and difficult to run through. Negative thoughts started to play tricks on her, and the run became a painful, demoralizing event from there to the end.

Moral of this one is, just stay positive, and keep the nagging neggies away...

So far, it sounds like stopping smoking and starting running (or stopping being lazy) are running neck and neck foer degree of difficulty.

4. (Kicking the Habit) Breaking a habit can be simple - you just create a new one and then practice it again and again. If you've smoked for any period of time then you have probably practiced the smoking habit thousands of times. Every time you think about it, you practice it and cement it in further.

4. (Starting the Habit) If you struggle with making running a regular habit, try doing it every other day at the same time. Habits are easiest to form if you do them consistently, but the key is to go very easy in the beginning — nothing that will stress your body out or make you sore the next day. Also, instead of running every day, you could swim or bike or do strength training, so that your running muscles are given a rest while you continue to form your exercise habit.

If you are at all human, this is the place where it is easy to trip up. My dedication to go running tomorrow morning is without question. The next morning, when the alarm goes off, my motivation to actually get out of bed and go, is sometimes nowhere to be found. That is where our great enemy the snooze button comes in...

5. (Quit Smoking) Rearrange your routine- Many have found that if they change up their daily routine they find no time for a cigarette. If your structured this works very well for you. Many people do the same things everyday at the same time in a repetitive motion.

5. (Start Running) Write down a time plan that varies each day. Put your plan on paper by listing the days you will run, the distances and the paths you will run. Varying the lengths of time you run each day will make your runs more interesting. You might start by saying you will run for 15 minutes on your first day, 20 minutes on your second day, 30 minutes on your third day then 15 minutes again on your fourth day. Make it interesting for yourself.

Making a routine is something that can help lot's of people. In business, we call them systems. In exercise, we call it a routine.

6. (Stop Signs) Post signs in your home- Every time you think about smoking look at these signs you create. Make the signs thoughtful, draw up reason why you wish you never began to smoke. Write the negative affects the nicotine has had on your body. Keep the signs visible, so whenever a craving creeps up on you. The signs can be your saving grace behind you not giving in to temptation.

6. (Start Signs) For runners that are in need of a little help in sticking with their routine, posting positive affirmations has been found to be extremely helpful. "I enjoy listening to the sound of my beating heart in exercise. With each beat, it strengthens."•" I love the feel of the pavement beneath my running shoes." "I feel strong and in control."• "I enjoy listening to the beautiful sounds of nature as I run around the block. " "I love the wind against my face as I jog around my neighborhood."

These examples pretty much suck, but good ones actually do make a huge difference. A reminder when you walk past the mirror in the morning can make the difference between putting on your running shoes, or your Florsheim's.

7. (Stop Smoking) The first two weeks are critical, seek all the support from family and friends you can find. The side effects to quitting begin just four hours after your last cigarette, generally they peak at three to five days, and then fade out after two weeks. The symptoms are both physical and mental.

7. (Keep Running) Focus strongly on getting through the first three weeks. It takes roughly three weeks to establish a habit. If you can get past the first three weeks, your mind and body will find it much easier after that.

You probably know someone who has tried to quit smoking, and failed. You more than likely also know people who have succeeded. You also probably know someone who has started running, or getting into shape, and then fallen off the wagon and given up. What do you think the difference is between the people that succeed, and the people that don't? All I can tell you is that if I knew the answer to that, I would be a billionaire. They are both hard.

When you make the choice to go running, congratulate yourself. When you get out of bed in the morning, remind yourself that this is a victory all by itself. You are completing an act of determination that hundreds if not thousands of people fail at every day. I failed four day's straight this week. It can be a constant struggle. For me so far, it has been a whole lot harder than it was two quit smoking. But I had only been a smoker for two weeks. I have been lazy my whole life.

I think I will cut myself a little slack. If it was easy, everyone would run marathons.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

On the road to the Walt Disney World Marathon

Whenever I think about my family trip to Disney World as a kid, the first thing I think about was the lake. I remember taking a ferryboat from the parking lot to the park. I was watching a landscaper riding a lawn mower cutting the grass right up along the edge of the lake. Right as I told my little brother that the guy was a little to close to the edge of the water for comfort, the uphill side of the mower started to lift off the ground. The guy jumped off and into the lake just in time to clear the tumbling John Deer as it crashed into the water.

When we signed up for the Walt Disney World Marathon a few months back, we thought we had tons of time. We are now officially 20 weeks away from the race and while that may seem like a lot , what it really means is that our 16 week training plan starts September 21st. 4 weeks and 4 days from today.

I have not chosen a training plan yet.

If you google "Marathon Training Program", there are 3,810,000 results. A little about me... If I go to a restaurant and there are more than eight choices for dinner, I close the menu and put it back down on the table. I then ask the waiter what they suggest, and nine times out of ten, order it. Sometimes I win. Sometimes I lose. (particularly when it involves crab)

How In the hell do I choose a training plan. There is no "running waiter" standing in front of me saying "If it were me, I would go with the intermediate plan that is five days a week running, one day cross training, and one day of rest. (but I would have the chef hold the goo packs, cause they give me gas)"

How in the heck do you decide? I have been trying to figure that question out for several weeks now and am pretty sure that I am no closer than I was when I started. I am 20 weeks and four days from hitting the starting line at the happiest place on earth, and I still have no plan. Eff!

Jane and I went shopping at the Runners World at Tempe Marketplace last weekend. Spent a frikken mint. Running belt with four water bottles for Me. One with two bottles for Jane. She also needed new running shoes. Then you go to accessories. Who knew that running requires accessories. Crack would be cheaper. Do you know about nip guards? Awkward! That is all I am going to say on that matter. How about Glide. Yep, it's lubricant for fat. I can't have one fat part of my body trying to intimidate another fat part of my body because it starts to chafe and hurts like hell. Can't we all just get along?

Now lets talk about goo. You may have guessed that you need to replenish nutrients DURING the marathon. I had no idea. I assumed you had some pasta the night before to carbo load, had a little water out on the course, and fell asleep in pain afterwords. Apparently, it's not that simple. You have to carry around little packs of goo, or chews, or jelly beans designed by mad running scientists Your choice depends on what you like, what gives you the best energy, and (here's the good one) which one doesn't give you the walks (maybe she meant runs:).

Yes, you have to eat something out of a little aluminum pouch the size of a pack of gum, and while you are worrying about your speed, mileage, pace time and breathing, ability to finish, you need to hope you don't all of a sudden have to pick the pace up to a sprint, while you take off for the bathroom. No one told me this as I was sitting at home one night thinking that I wanted to run a marathon. All I was thinking was "Cool, I might as well go to Disney World." That running waiter guy didn't jump out from behind the couch and say "Dude, that stuff might make you poop your pants!"

I don't care. I would gladly have to change my undies for a chance to spend time at Disney World again. It has been about 26 years. (I grew up on the West Coast, so we usually went to Disneyland) I passed on Captain EO and went with the the Indiana Jones ride instead. (never did like M.J.)

One of the plans I am looking at says that I need to be comfortable with 8, 10, and 12 mile long runs to start. I am NOT. One of the plans we looked at actually has us PLANNING on walking some of the time...WTF? Pre forbid, I might end up walking at some point in the race, but I sure as Hell am not going into it PLANNING on walking!

But then again, it's Disney World. I might want to take my time...

Here is another thing that we have to do over the 16 weeks of the training plan... We need to practice our pre race dinner. We have to eat a nutritious carb filled dinner that (here the tough part) won't make us have to go number two during the race. We actually have to test different dinners on Friday nights and measure what it does to our system between 5am and 11 am the next morning. No poopin' on the race course from what I hear...:)

Whatever plan we choose will have us running nearly 500 miles between now and race day. We catch the Red Eye on the Thursday night before the race. Since we have to report to the parking lot at Walt Disney World at 3 am Sunday morning, we will be changing our sleeping times for the week prior. Our hope is that we can get some sleep on the plane, drop off our luggage at the hotel, and go straight to the park after landing in Orlando at 9am. After spending both Friday and Saturday at Disney World, we will hopefully be in bed by 6pm the night before the race so that we can get up and be able to run 26.2 miles without falling to sleep. How is that gonna work?

This may not be exactly what I had in mind for my next trip to Disney World, but we just didn't want to pass up the chance to knock two things off of our Dream Fruition list. I am looking forward to both, and will keep an eye out for the landscaper in the wet overalls.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Weight loss and running

Running may be a fantastic way to stay in shape, but it is not the end-all be-all to weight loss. We need to watch what you eat as well. We won't lose weight by running more, if we just replace it by eating more.

How much do we actually know about the basics of diet? I can tell you that I learned more than a few of these things researching this story. A little education, as well as determination, can help us all make diet decisions that will help us reach our goals. Let's take a quiz.

Here you go:

What are calories? (Aren't they the things that we count when we are trying to eat more healthy or lose weight?)

Calorie: A unit of food energy. In nutrition terms, the word calorie is used instead of the more precise scientific term kilocalorie which represents the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of a liter of water one degree centigrade at sea level. The common usage of the word calorie of food energy is understood to refer to a kilocalorie and actually represents, therefore, 1000 true calories of energy.

According to, "Calories reside in almost 100% of the foods that we eat. Even evil-tasting rice cakes contain calories - but you sure wouldn't think they would. Anything that tastes like cardboard shouldn't contain calories, but yes they do indeedy."

I don't think we need to check the facts on that one. I think we can trust that to be true (rice cakes really do suck).

Those same people at Dietbites say this: "Calories that go unused by the body fly into our fat cells. Even pencil-thin people have fat cells. Once stored, they stay until they are needed by the body.Once released, they turn into energy and are burned through activity. It's like storing energy in a bank. However, it's not a good thing because those plumped up fat cells register on the body and are often times visible even through vests and snug sweaters. I need a tissue...can you please hand me the box?"

So far I like the writer for Diet Bites.

What is Fat? And I am not looking for answers like: 1.The two people I always get stuck between when I can't get an aisle or window seat. 2. The guy that says "Get in to my belly." or 3. That bad ass Harley I have had my eye on. (that one is spelled PHAT) tells us this about Fat: "1 Along with proteins and carbohydrates, one of the three nutrients used as energy sources by the body. The energy produced by fats is 9 calories per gram. Proteins and carbohydrates each provide 4 calories per gram. 2 (was boring, so I deleted it). 3 A slang term for obese or adipose. 4 In chemistry, a compound formed from chemicals called fatty acids. These fats are greasy, solid materials found in animal tissues and in some plants. Fats are the major component of the flabby material of a body, commonly known as blubber. "

Here is the big one. (For those of you that already know this, quit looking at the rest of us like we are clueless. That's why we're over weight, leave us alone!)

How many calories equals one pound? This is the basics of weight loss. It is nothing more than math. If I were to take one pound off body mass, how many calories are in it?

Three Thousand Five Hundred. That's right, 3500 calories weighs one pound. 3500 calories will always equal 1 pound, no matter what you eat! So, what does that mean to you. Well, lets use this example (Estimated Average Requirements (EAR) are a daily calorie intake of 1940 calories per day for women and 2550 for men.)

If 3,500 calories is equal one pound of body weight, then the rest is easy. Generally, dieters dump an average of 1,000 calories per day in an effort to lose 2 pounds of body fat per week. That means for a woman that is burning an average 2000 calories per day would need to cut her intake to 1000 calories per day, or increase her burn to 3000, or a combination of the two, to lose 2 pounds per week.

Regardless how much you run and how many calories you burn from fat, if you increase your calorie intake to replace all the calories you burned, you will not lose any body fat.

Here is a calorie/ weightloss calculator that works very well to explain what I am talking about...

Now lets take this information and relate it to running. According to "Depending on your speed, body type, and the terrain over which you are running, you can burn around 350 calories by running for about 1 hour at an easy gait."

The Bodybugg I wear on my are tells me that I burn about 100 calories per mile when I run. I will use my Bodybugg's 100 calories to make some examples.

Jane and I were running Sunday morning going North on 5th Avenue. As we crossed the I-10 overpass I realized that for the second day in a row I was having a hard run. I would catch myself comparing my breathing to Janes as she was kicking my a$$. Then my mind would wander off into the never ending internal debate of the dieter, "Is my appreciation and passion for the consumption of good food and beverage worth all this sweat?"

When I snapped out of my trance I could see the stoplight up ahead at McDowell, where we take a right and start back towards home. I was thinking about this story, and how I could relate the run to the calories. It then came to mind that this 4 mile run would not burn off the Kettle Corn that I had eaten on Saturday. I had 10 ounces or so. At 140 calories per ounce, I would need to run a half marathon to burn that off. Is it worth it? (remember that I will have been training for six full months when I run my marathon in January).

When we got close enough to the intersection to read the sign I realized that we were approaching Encanto, not McDowell. That means we are another half mile from our turn. That means I need to run another five minutes to still be 8 miles short on burning off yesterday's extra calories. It makes you think twice.

Add a shot of Bailey's to your coffee on Saturday morning, a mile and a half. 16 ounce coke, 2 miles farther. How about a Big Mac? According to, you will need to to run nearly 5 1/2 miles to burn off that extra 540 calories.

Here is the point. I run a lot. I am still overweight. You need to work on both ends of this equation. Burn more calories, while also addressing the amount you are taking in.

Read the lable, do the math, then go for a run. Just remember that those miles are sometimes hard, and maybe sometimes, you could just eat a salad.

Monday, August 10, 2009

I run in Phoenix

I was talking to a friend the other day who asked me how in the hell I can run, because, according to him, "it is so boring." I asked him, "where do you run?"

I run in downtown Phoenix.

Lock the door. Watch Schooner pull Jane down the hallway. (Hmmm, I wonder who wears the pants in THAT relationship?). Push the button. Wait. Ding, door opens. We both look inside the elevator fearfully, Schooner leads the charge. We both get on behind him. "Going Down" says the recorded voice. Thank Pre, there is no one on board.

Ding, second floor parking garage. Jane and Schooner get off, on their way to Doggy Training. (there's $110 I'll never get back). "Going Down"... First floor, door opens. I get off and head through the lobby and out the door.

I walk across the street to Chase Field. I get approached by three different scalpers by the time I cross the street.

"Hey, need one for the game?"

"Nope, I'm good."

I walk past the line of pedicabs, all waiting for the game to end, nearly three hours away.

"No thanks." I check my Garmin. It's searching for a satellite. I stop at the stairs that lead up to the bank of ticket windows and spread my legs wide as I start to stretch out. No more asking the guy in running gear if he wants to by tickets to the game.

I stretch out right here before every run. I usually run about 5am, so I am normally here all alone. There are still hundreds of people walking around me, waiting to go into the game. A few of them wondering what the hell the guy over by the stairs is doing. I check my watch again. Satellite acquired.

I push the start button on the side of the watch, and start off through the crowd.

It's quite different running around the ballpark when there is a game going. I get looks that are a cross between "Ignore the guy who thinks he's cool running through the crowd", and "What's up with the guy running, any cops chasing him?" Nope, no cops, just a stop watch...

I pass Sliders, the closest bar to the grounds of the stadium, and check out the Beer Tub Girls as I run by. Outstanding hiring practices at that place. I get to the end of the field and turn right. More people all walking towards me. I pass the outfield entrance to the park, and move to where the little wall ends between the walkway and the Lite Rail route on my left. No train coming, so I don't slow down as I cross the street and the tracks heading North on 3rd street.

I am currently running about 213 out of 226 for people saying "Hi" back to me. It always affects my mood when I'm running, usually for the better.(for the worse about 13 times...)

I have to stop at the next intersection. There are cars coming, and since there is a game, there are also cops. My Garmin 405 stops the timer automatically when I come to a complete stop. (pretty cool) I cross the street with the light (the timer starts back up). On this side there are the dorms for Downtown ASU on my right, and the headquarters for the Catholic Arch Diocese on the left. I always found that a little humorous. Accidental? Who knows...

I run through the next light, no cars, no cops. On my left is Arizona Center. A great place to see movies, there is never a crowd. Also a couple nice restaurants, and the local Hooters (hiring practices, not so good). There is a beautiful stretch of green lawn through here and the street is lined with giant palm trees on both sides. Coming from Seattle, I smile every time I go down a palm lined street.

After passing this oasis in the city, I hit the edge of downtown, and start to work my way into the neighborhood of Roosevelt. This is the area where First Friday takes place, our monthly art walk. This is a cool, funky part of town. Past the restaurant Fate, now known as nine 05 . This is one of the hipper urban haunts, with an outside bar in the front yard of this old converted home. A fantastic place to people watch on First Friday.

When I hit Roosevelt, I turn left. Ahead of me is the vacant shoebox of a brick building that I call Alligator Jane's, named after the Bar /Restaurant I keep telling my wife we should put into the building. I look at my watch, and realize I am doing about a 9:15 pace. I tend to lose myself as I go through this part of town. As I am pushing down Roosevelt, I see the next intersections crosswalk light is changing. In phoenix, when the light is about to change, you get a flashing countdown on the crosswalk lights telling you how many seconds you have left to cross the road before the light turns red, and you get run over.

When I see this, I am pretty sure I can make it. It says 9 seconds, so I start to run much faster, almost a sprint. I love these lights, they always help me pick up my speed. I call the Pacemakers! The problem is that I become so focused on making the light, I don't realize one of the cars waiting at the intersection is a cop. I am sure he is waiting for me to not make it across in time so he can run me over...

I make the light, and I don't get the always fun "Red means stop" lecture on the cops PA system from his car. And I don't get run over. Today is gonna be a good day.

I get to Central and look both ways for the light rail, which goes in both directions along here. Nothing coming, so I cross the road. I pass the church on my right side. I run by here a lot on Sunday mornings, and get to say hi to all of the people on their way to services. I am now going through the nice area of Roosevelt, with old tree lined streets. Along here, many of these gorgeous older homes have been converted to attorneys offices.

I cross Third and turn right, up the sidewalk. This is one of the areas that is surrounded by new condos on each side of the street, with fully grown flowering trees an both sides of the sidewalk. I rarely get through this stretch without getting smacked by a low hanging branch. I suppose I could pay better attention, but along here there is often palm fronds fallen onto the sidewalk, so I am paying attention to my feet. Smack, my sunglasses almost fall off of my head.

I am wide awake now as I take the next left, and head down this residential street with nice older homes on each side, also lots of palm trees. At the end of this block is my house (I just haven't bought it yet). It is probably 100 years old on a corner lot with a rambling two story balcony and an unobstructed view of the downtown skyscrapers. Plus it's a fixer... Someday.

As I reach my house I turn right on 5th Avenue and head north across I-10 into the the residential area between downtown Phoenix and uptown Phoenix. It's 102' outside, and I am really trying to work on my pace. Every since I realized my goal pace for the Marathon is 9:16, I have quit accepting pussy footin around on my training runs. Most have been a 10 to 11 plus minute pacenot anymore. Time to step it up. I stretched out my stride as I continued on.

There are two things I need to pay attention to along this portion of my route. In the city, most homes have alleys behind them, and I am running along the sidewalk right up next to the typical Arizona six foot tall stucco privacy fences that every home has. What that means is if there is a car coming out of the alley about the time I reach the end of the fence, me and a 3000 pound SUV are going to argue about right of way, with me most likely coming out on the losing end...

The other issue is that there are continuous changes in the slope of the sidewalk because of the alley's, streets, and driveways. Constantly jumping off of curbs, across the side street, and back up over a curb onto the sidewalk. A twisted ankle would really screw with my training plans...

All that being said, I love running through here. There is usually shade around. I see more runners and bicyclists. There is always people walking their dogs. Not yippee little ankle biters like mine, but real dogs. Every once in a while I see a woman walking her giant dog towards me and I do a risk versus reward analysis. The size of the dog versus the size of the woman walking it. Sometimes it's just safer to cross to the other side of the street.

What is the point of this narration? Why am I describing my morning 4 mile loop?

Because. If the Disneyworld Marathon next January is the destination... Then this is the journey. You need to find a way to enjoy it. Otherwise you will get bored and quit. Same reason I have a tough time going to the gym. I get bored, so I don't go. What is it about your run that keeps you engaged? Is it the music on your headphones? Is it the company of your running partner. Is this the only time of day that you can think without being interrupted? Is it the only time of day that you don't have to think at all?

What is it you like about your journey? Jane and I try to run different routes as often as we can so that we get to see different parts of the city, and don't get bored. One morning we went down a street in the middle of downtown that we had not run in a while, and boom. There are three new restaurants right on the same corner. One of them, Sens, is fantastic. It is a Saki and Tapas restaurant. Another place we found on a Sunday morning run is Cibo, an urban pizzeria about a 10 minute walk from out condo.

This is why I run outside in 100' weather instead of inside an air conditioned room on a treadmill. I like to keep up with the Joneses. Or at least with how the Joneses yard looks. I try to make the journey as interesting as the destination.

I run in Phoenix. Where do you run?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Goal setting for runners

I set my first life goal when I was 11 years old. It was 1976, and I was in a gang.... There were five of us. We specialized in small time stuff, like skipping our cub scout meetings and chasing girls during recess. We called ourselves the Bicentennial Minutemen.

That is when I learned to like running. If you were fast, you caught the girl:) I wasn't very fast. But I did have $.25 a week from the money my mom gave me for cub scout dues to invest in my future. I was a real planner. I put that $.25 into candy at the 7-Eleven every single week. Some things never change.

My first goal was a doozy. I was having so much fun that I wanted to be alive to celebrate the tricentennial. I decided right then that I would live to be 111 years old. Talk about starting off with a stretch goal...

When I get home from work at night, I have a goal. I try to find a way to get out of walking the dogs. If I fail at my first goal, I set another. To not to run into a single human being while I am walking the dogs. If I fail at that goal, I set another. To definitely do not run into another human being that is walking their dog!

What is your goal?

I am going to run in the 2010 Disneyworld Marathon. My first marathon. I have another goal. It is to finish the marathon in under 4 hours. That is a 9:16 pace. Currently when doing a 6 mile run, I usually have about a 10 minute pace. I have another goal. It is to get under 170 pounds, look tight, and be able to wear a swimming suit in public (I can wear one now, but it scares children and old people). These are all related to my overall goal of being in shape. Being healthy. Making better choices. Following through on commitments I make to myself.

And these are all part of my goal to be partying like a 111 year old rock star on July 4th, 2076.

I do pretty good on commitments I make to others. It's the ones I make to myself that are sometimes on shaky ground...

What about you? What is your goal? Do you have one? Is it big picture, like "I want to start running and get in shape?" Or is it specific, like " I want to run a minimum of twice per week, logging at least 30 miles a month for the next six months." Do you want to start exercising? What is the outcome you are looking for, and what are the specific steps it will require to get you there?

It's kind of like the difference between "I want to retire in the Caribbean"... and "I want to put $200 per week into stocks, buy one rental property per year for the next 14 years, create an online company by 2012 that will generate $55,000 per year income from my laptop anywhere in the world, and purchase my condo in St Thomas by Jan. 1, 2018, and I retire on March 3rd 2027.

Get specific.

I swear to Pre, I believe in SMART goals. They are the time tested sure fire way to accomplish what you want. But when it comes to running, I just want to run. I get more joy from sweating my a$$ of during a crazy hot six miler around the city than I can explain without sounding stupid. I just want to run.

But I am lazy.


Tough to admit. Especially to every single person on the planet with internet access. Check this out. In a couple days, Google this posting. Look up "Run Into Shape" and "Goal Setting for runners", together. You will find it. What I am trying to say is, I just told EVERYONE on the planet... I AM LAZY. Effing admit it. You might read this because sometimes it is funny (Hey, I try). But you also might be reading this because once in a while you need a kick in the pants to get your a$$ up off the couch, into your running shoes, and out in the streets.

Everyone is lazy... Sometimes. That is why we set goals.

Everyone of you reading this does something for a living, inside or outside the home. For yourself, or for the man. And every single one of those careers that you all do, have goals involved, one way or another.

Do you sell cars? I sold cars for a year once. Not my cup of tea. Had a hard time putting a little old lady in a 1987 Hundai and telling her it was a great car. Because of that small integrity issue, I sometimes had a hard time hitting my goals. (o.k., that, and I was a crappy car salesman).

Do you schlep drinks. I was a bartender for some of the best years of my life (shout out to all who provide cocktails to the rest of us...). Guess what. We had goals every shift.

Everyone has goals. They hold us accountable. When they are business goals, they hold you accountable to your boss. They hold you accountable for your actions. They hold you accountable to your word.

Running goals are exactly the same. They give you something to measure yourself against. They give you something to shoot for. They give you something to hold yourself accountable for. They let you know if you have succeeded.

The big difference is, running goals are mainly for yourself. Do you sometimes hit snooze and go back to sleep? So you sometimes forget your shoes, and not be able to run? That is called NOT holding yourself accountable. That is why I write this blog. I helps me keep myself accountable for my running. And since I sometimes falter in keeping my word to myself, I make my goals public. I am less likely to flake out on a goal that I have told the whole planet about.

In my case, my goal is to run. But if I don't give myself a big goal to work towards, my lazy, weight gaining, junk food eatin, T.V. watchin tendencies will sneak right back up to the front row. I'll be right back up there at 212 pounds. I don't look good yet... but I looked like shit at 212!

Set a goal. I want to get in shape. I want to run. Now make it specific and measurable. I want to run a 10k (marathon, 5k, half marathon, 4 miles per week...), whatever it is. Make sure it is attainable. Is it realistic? Now make it time based. Example. My goal is to run the Disneyworld Marathon on January 10, 2010, in under 4 hours.

Is that a SMART Goal. I guess we shall see come January.

I want to use this large goal as my dream. It is what motivates me to set my medium goals like running 4 days per week. Running at least 20 miles per week through August. Then starting a 16 week training program September 21st.

What is a short term goal. Mine are things like getting out of bed early enough on Saturday to put in 8 miles before it reaches 100'. Or to not eat the damn snacks people leave in the break room everyday.

What is your goal? What do you want to do? What challenge do you want to conquer? Is it written down? Is it smart? Have you told anyone? How do you plan to hold yourself accountable? What practices are you putting in place to keep you on track? Do you post it by your desk at work? Do you have it hanging from your bathroom mirror to see every morning while your getting ready for work? What will it take to get you out of bed?

Here is my challenge to you. Make a goal. Whatever you want to accomplish. Post it in the comments section at the bottom of this blog. Write it down on a piece of paper and put it somewhere you have to see it every day. Put your name with it. Make it public. Make it proud.

My goal when I was 11 was to give up my gang bangin ways, and to live for another century. I succeeded in the first part, and am still working on the rest.My belief is that publicly declared goals work best...

What is your goal?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Justification

I didn't go for a run yesterday because it was Friday. I don't like to run on Friday's because I usually make Saturday morning my long run (this morning I ran a total of 3.63 miles). I didn't run on Thursday morning because I was tired from travelling the day before. I decided I would run on Thursday night instead. When I got to work I found out that I was attending a going away party for one of my workmates after work. I didn't run on Thursday night.

We had a big Costume party on Tuesday night at the end of our convention in Austin and danced and drank till 1:00 am. I didn't run on Wednesday morning.

We went out into Austin and went to dinner on 6th st, the heart of the "Center of live music" of the world. The bar and music scene in Austin is unbelievable. We then went bar hopping and did not get back to the hotel until well after midnight. I did not go running on Tuesday morning.

On Sunday night we had the welcoming party for our Franchisees with an open bar and a buffet. When That was done we all migrated to the hotel lounge and played pool until early in the am, mingling with our franchisees. I didn't go running on Monday.

If you read my last posting, you already know about my Saturday run through the hills of Austin. When I heard the sound of my wake up call on Sunday morning, I wasn't sure if I had already been awake do to the throbbing pain in my calves from the day before. I called the front desk and asked them to call me back in an hour. I did not run on Sunday.

I travelled from Phoenix to Austin on Friday and did not run. Before that I have been running three days a week for about two or three weeks. I am starting back slowly because I just took four weeks off from running because of a sore toe.

A sore toe.