Monday, July 6, 2020

Motivation Monday: Mindset

Mondays! Uh, here we go again.  Out of any day of the week this one seems to be the hardest. As a culture we have developed social mindset that this is by far the worst day of the week.  Why is that?  Other than being the first day of the week how is it any different from any other day? The answer is nothing.  Nothing is different about Mondays except for our perspective or mindset about Monday.

This brings us to our topic for this week.  Mindset is the attitude in which we view the world around us.  Our mindset is heavily influenced by our biases that we have developed over our lifetime.  Take for example, when you order a pizza.  Would you order a Hawaiian pizza, you know the one with ham and pineapple?  About half of you will say yes and the other half will protest that this is some type of sin to have pineapple on a pizza.  Have you ever actually tried it?  Why are you against it?

 Running for many of us was fun as a small child but as we entered school and (possibly) sports our attitude changed.  This is because running was presented to us less as a tool to make us better but rather as a punishment when we did something wrong.  If you were late to practice, messed up a drill, or didn't move fast enough running drills were the coaches' method of correction.  If you were not an athlete growing up then you may have developed a mindset that running is hard and stupid.  

If our experiences and biases affects the way we view the world around us and shapes our mindset, then the question is- can we change our mindset?  The answer of course is yes.  Mind over matter is a common phrase for a reason. If we actively think about the positive and less about the negative we will be more receptive to positive events around us and less about the negative experiences.  Maybe the book, The Secret, is on to something.  Positive thoughts bring positive experiences.


So instead of looking at running as a punishment, or as something you just have to do, think of it as something you get to do.  To help find a running path or trail that has something interesting along the way.  Think about the wonderful things you will get to see along your route.  Also, celebrate your experience and work.  Do not self-criticize your pace, time, or distance.  You did great work.  Think about what you have accomplished and all of those that haven't done anything all day.  The more positive you look at your life the more likely you will continue your healthy habits.

So rethink Mondays.  Instead of dreading them, think of them as the beginning of a new week of changes.  You are going to be better this week than the last.  You are going to be a little healthier, a little faster, or a little bit stronger.  Monday is another day full of goal
s to be accomplished.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Monday Mindset and Motivation Series

Long time no speaky everyone!

Sorry for the absence but man did COVID really throw us for a loop.  As we try to get back to some form of normalcy I want to start a new series of posts: Monday Mindset and Motivation.  Maybe I need to put this on a coffee mug... Cha-Ching?! Ok, back to reality. Monday is usually the beginning of the week for all of us.  No matter if it's the first day of work week or the first day of your weekly training cycle, we want to think about our mindset and what motivates us to keep doing our thang until the weekend.  I want to provide all of you, and even me, a reminder and some understanding on how our mindset affects our decision making and reaction to the environment around us.  This includes discussing motivation; what is it, where do we obtain it, how do we increase it, and can I grab it - bop it - shake it - pull it - twist it?  Ok, not the last one.  IF you got that reference you were a lucky kid growing up!

So to begin, let us just think about the word "mindset"? 
It's the little things...
What does it mean to you? Can you identify yours?  Mindset is basically the set or established attitude you hold towards a noun (person, place, thing, idea, concept, belief).  Think about all the different mindsets you have.  Are they all good, or bad, mixed?  Do you think you can change yours? Like admitting pineapple on pizza is actually amazing!  Of course it is, you shouldn't even have to contemplate that discussion with yourself.

Ponder this until next week.


If you are already looking for some extra motivation to start training for your next event then check out my coaching site at www.ultraflunkierunningco.com 

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Am I worth it?

Am I worth it?  Wait, no, I am not asking about myself.

I am talking about hiring a personal coach.  Now, there are many reasons why we look for coaches.  We may want to build up our mental resilience with a mental coach, lose some weight and get stronger with a personal trainer, maybe prepare to audition for Britain's Got Talent with a singing coach, or most importantly become more efficient a running with a cool running coach.  Ok, that last part was half a joke, I am really cool.

So the first thing we do is start scouring the internet looking for coaches.  We find a coach that meets our requirements but then talk ourselves out of the follow through.

Why is that?  Usually we back out for one or multiple of the following reasons.
1. Commitment - We are not willing to set aside the time required or our work/life balance is out of wack.
2. Nerves - We feel that we are not prepared, will be embarrassed, or hesitant about spending time with a complete stranger.
3. Cost - This is probably the most prevalent reason. We can't bring ourselves to pay for the coaching.

I admit, depending on the type of coaching and the individual, a personal coach can be expensive.  This is where you have to ask yourself, "Am I worth it"?  If you are pondering this question for more than a nano second, just stop!  The answer to that question is and always will be YES!  We all need that guidance, motivation, and push out of our comfort zone from time to time.  A coach will help us set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) goals.  You should see a coach as another tool to reach your goals the same as your bike, treadmill, or metronome.

Just like a pair of running shoes, you have to do your research and find a coach that is a right fit for you.  I can't tell you that you should take the jump without giving some tips on picking the right one...me, just kidding.

1. Personality - This is probably the most important aspect of selecting a coach.  Your personality and the coaches personality has to mesh.  This does not mean you have to be friends.  What I mean is, are you are motivated by bubbly encouragement, or you need to have drill instructor's hot breath and spit spraying over forehead and spattering all over your cheeks? That is the type of coach you need to find. Bonus piece of info- don't get a coach that says they can be whatever you need.  We all can tell who is faking the funk.

2. Scheduling - Yes, there is some sacrifices you have to make to fit your training into your schedule into your life schedule but your coach also has to be willing to work with you developing you schedule.  If they are not willing to help you succeed then swipe left.

3. Focus - Not all coaches in a field have the same focus or speciality.  So make sure you have an open dialogue when interviewing a coach. Yes - you should interview them because you hiring them, and find out if they have the knowledge and/or capability to get you to your goal.  For example if you are trying to run your first marathon you would not hire a sprint coach.  Both are running coaches but their specialties are at the opposite ends of the spectrum.

4. Price - This is sort of contentiousness as a coach telling you to negotiate price but again I refer you back to #3 and the fact that you are hiring the coach.  If you really want or need a coach but you can't afford to hire one then you are back at square one.  To negotiate price check how often you are actually capable of training, time frame of your training process, the amount of contact with the coach, or tweaking your current training program.

So in closing, you ARE worth it.  Find a coach and reach your goal because hiring a coach is an investment in yourself.



If you are thinking about coaching or would like to know more about coaching options, please visit www.ultraflunkierunningco.com

Sunday, December 22, 2019

80/20 In Training & in Life

As a running coach the most asked question I get is what type of programming should a athlete follow to reach their training goals.  This truly depends on the athlete, their goals, timeline, and personal life.  I do not believe in a one size fits all program since no two athletes are identical so no two training programs should be identical.  There are, however, prefered programs that are backed by thousands of hours of coaching experience and clinical studies.  Still, these programs, to be effective must blend well into an athletes personal lives with minimum conflict.

One popular and effective training program is the 80/20 program made popular by Matt Fitzgerald’s book 80/20 Running: Run Stronger and Race Faster by Training Slower.  The theory is by conducting 80 percent of your training at a low intensity (below lactate threshold) and 20 percent at a high intensity you can prevent injury, increase endurance, and actually increase your running pace.  This program has proven to be very effective and great for new runners or older runners.  This same philosophy can be applied to other endurance sports as well like triathlons, cycling, and even dragon boat racing.

I think we should take the same philosophy and apply it to our lives.  If you put an effort into staying or getting in shape, trying to maintain an active lifestyle, or just started to train for a lifetime goal (like running your first half marathon) then I consider you an athlete.  As an athlete, trying to manage the stresses of our real lives and our training lives become overwhelming and constantly battle with each other.  How do we know which side should win?  I would be lying if I told you how to manage the battle and what the perfect balance would be, hence the long absence in my blog lately.  I have a tendency to dedicate the majority of my focus on my family, specifically Ultra Flunkie D and his medical requirements, and ignore my own health.  I can only provide guidance on how I try to manage things.

I think the 80/20 philosophy is a compass to guide us on this journey.  Our families and careers should have the priority 80 percent.  Our family will be there fat or thin, slow or fast, on the good days and the bad.  They are our support and without them, let's be honest, we would be lost.  Our careers provide the means to our survival and the ability to seek and achieve our goals.  While these two things provide the foundation of who we are they also add to our stresses at times.  This is why the 20 percent should be focused on physical activities.  We all need a way to remove the effects of stress for our mental well-being.  We need to take time to take care of ourselves and when we don’t we can feel and see the effects that stress has on our lives and bodies.

I am guilty of ignoring my well being as much as anyone else.  The results have been additional injuries, weight gain, and increased difficulty dealing with mental health issues.  SO in short I am trying to kick start all of us for the new year.  Let us enjoy the holidays with our friends and family but start thinking about and developing your 80/20 plan to create a new you for the new year.  Share below in the comment sections on how you plan on creating a balance in your life.  Your thoughts could inspire others or you might just find someone on the same path that can help you stay on track.
If you are interested in running or coach, and want to know more, please visit www.ultraflunkierunningco.com


Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Pain Game

To my wife I am an infuriating character. I often let life and laziness distract me from training or even going out for a casual enjoyable run. We have a full gym 40 feet from our living room and I still find it a chore to make time to go outside and do 30 minutes of strength and stability training. Yet, I still sign up for races and finish. I have truly “earned” my trail name, Ultra Flunkie.  All the while my wife is putting time in the gym and trying to find ways to get her miles in during the week in between work and dragon boat practice.  You should hear the profanity that comes out of her mouth when we run races together. You would think she had done time in the Navy.

I was not born a runner and did not run in school. I was a pole vaulter, and not a good one either since I have a small fear of falling, so the most I ran was 65 steps. The Marine Corps sucked the fun out of running for me because your career dangled from how fast you could run three miles.  It was not till my mid to late twenties that I started running long distances and I have never stuck to a training plan. So want makes my wife and I so different?  I call it the light switch or in the military we refer to the pain cave.

We all have a light switch but the dimming capacity varies drastically from person to person. Don’t believe me? Think back to the last time you stubbed your pinkie toe on a door frame or couch. You probably screamed every profane phrase you have ever learned and limped around the house for the rest of the day. That was an unexpected pain and you focused on it because you had no immediate goal or task at hand that needed to be completed. Your dimming switch was on a very low setting. Now think about the last time you were playing a sport or having to move out of a house and you were either hit in the face, had your finger jammed or smashed, or got cut. You were able to push past the pain because the task at hand had greater importance. Your dimmer switch was set on high. 

The great thing about your light switch is it is programmable. The more uncomfortable you are able to make yourself while focusing on a task the more resilient you can make yourself. The key is to learn the difference between discomfort and injury. This is why we refer to it as the pain game. Sometimes the line between discomfort and injury is very thin. It takes experience in pushing your body to the limits to learn where that line is.  For those of use that have spent time in the military we had the unfortunate pleasure of being guided through this process. You on the other hand can take a more....um.....pleasurable(?) approach to conditioning.

So how can you better develop you light switch? One method is time on your feet. If you have ever worked in retail then you know what I am talking about. Ten hours on your feet without sitting down will definitely drain you. This is a great way to condition for a long race.  Another is the age old method of adding a little more distance each week you go out for a run. The distance can be measured in both total distance covered or the distance of running without stopping to walk.  Finally, add a load, such as a pack or weighted vest, or supplement walking for power hiking. Both of these methods will help push you out of your comfort zone and will help you realize you are capable of much more than you thought. 

I don’t think we can ever reprogram our light switch to be able to walk off a stubbed pinkie toe with dignity but we can program ourselves to understand and accept discomfort when trying to complete a task.  I would love to hear how you deal with pain and discomfort while competing or training!  Leave a comment below 

If the goal is to become comfortable with being uncomfortable, then it will take a lifetime. Ultra Flunkie





If you would like to learn more about running, have specific questions, or are interesting in coaching for your next race, please visit www.ultraflunkierunningco.com

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Shiitake Happens!

I have had the pleasure of living and traveling around the world while in the military. An added benefit of this lifestyle is that I have pretty well developed appetite but there is one item that I hate eating; mushrooms. Shiitake happens though. There are just times where I just ignore the fact that there is a fungi in my food and I add some hot sauce and get over it.  The same is true for life and your training.  The past few weeks this has never been more true.

Ultra Flunkie D has had to spend a few weeks in the hospital recovering from a couple viruses. This means the wife and I spent our time sitting in a hospital room with him. During times like these training and dietary guidelines go out the window because they are not as important as the situation at hand. The down side is when life begins to get back to normal depression usually creeps in. You begin to get upset that you may have gained a few pounds or you are behind on your miles for the month. You end up replacing one meaningful stress with another meaningless stress.  


You have to learn to weigh out your stressors against each other. Family and your livelihood should always outweigh training for a race. Remind yourself that running is supposed to be a fun way to relieve stress not another means to create stress.  So what some mushrooms ended up on your pizza. Was it still delicious? Was it not filling? Was it not the reason you went to that child’s birthday party of the neighbors you hardly know because it was free and so you could play arcade games?  After a few beers and a million crying children that you sent running in defeat from your ruthless conquest of the air hockey table, you won’t even remember the Shiitake you had to deal with earlier. 

The same goes for life. Just pick up where you left off. Have a few beers at the 7/11s you pass on your next run. Revel in the fact that you tapped into your inner child and ate grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner every night while your son was in the hospital because bread is not allowed in your house. Life will be ok. Your race will be what it is. If you DNF, who cares. If you finish DFL, well you got your money’s worth.  The key is to remember that running should be a tool to help you live a better life and not what defines your life.  

A gift of a race can end friendships but the gift of life is a blessing.  Ultra Flunkie



If you are interested in learning more about running, have running related questions, or would want to know more about coaching, please visit www.ultraflunkierunningco.com

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Not Why, But Who! (Not the Dr.)

My Who & Why
 If you listen to a podcasts, read running related books, or read other running blogs you will notice that many say, "You have to identify the Why you run."  That is the key to developing your mental toughness and mindset.  I agree that eventually you must determine the why, but it is not the first or most important interpersonal discussion to have.  My goal is to inculcate you with the understanding that you are capable of not just running but achieving distances much further than you currently believe is possible.  A portion is physical and the other is mental.  How much each has an effect is highly debated but the fact that both are required is agreed upon.

"Well, who are you? (who are you? who, who, who who) I really want to know.... Now that song is stuck in your head, I got you where I want you (I want you, want you).  Sorry, I just can't help myself (if you are completely lost right now then I am not sure we can be friends­čśĆ).  Ok, back to the point, Who!  Before you can even begin to unravel the "why" you run you must identify "who" you are and does that match who you want to be.  Are you a father, mother, daughter, son, sister, brother, teacher, mentor, role model, addict, or falling apart? Take a real look at your lifestyle, your habits, the way to interact with others, how do you come off to others?  This is difficult because you have to separate the impulse to paint the picture of who you want to be or traits you wish you had as the way you are now.  Once you have given yourself a really good once over now ask yourself, "Can I be better and am I the person I want or need to be?"

My Editor and Why
I recommend picking your normal running distance and add at least 25% more distance for this discussion.  You need to really wear yourself down both physically and mentally.  No matter what answer you come up with you should now have the opening to the "why."  If you are using physical activity to redefine your life because you want to improve who you are then you just found your why.  If you love your life and running is an integral part of your life then now you are closer to the why.  You get the point, right?  Who then Why.


What are your thoughts?


If you are interesting in learning more about running or our coaching plans, please visit www.ultraflunkierunningco.com


Motivation Monday: Mindset

Mondays! Uh, here we go again.  Out of any day of the week this one seems to be the hardest. As a culture we have developed social mindset t...