Last week Ronda challenged me to think of an activity, act, or something I could do everyday for the next month to increase my level of happiness. (Apparently, I don’t portray an overly happy person.) I immediately told her I knew what I was going to do – complain about everything, daily.
She politely informed me I was missing the point.
It caused me to think about what brings me joy, happiness. My next thought was writing. I don’t we’re much anymore. Years ago, it was catharthis and helped me through a dark time. Those words were compelling. That connected with people at their core. I haven’t found the words to connect with people in the same way. Ronda encouraged me that I do have the words, I just need to find them. Starting my career over at 39, hitting 40 and struggling with that, being a dad of 3 boys, and the constant inner dialogue of realization I don’t really measure up to anyone’s standards.
The next thing I thought of was running. I love running. Or, at least I did until I ran a marathon a few years ago. There’s an ache in my heart for running. I want to recover that.
So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m committing (to myself more than anyone else) to run everyday in February and to write some words daily. Day 1 was a lackluster start. I ran 0.6 miles thanks to a needy 7 year old. I wrote… just wrote some family assessments for work and not anything personal. Today is Day 2 and it is off to a much better start. I’m writing this 1.74 miles into today’s run.
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As I prepare to embark on this journey, I recall the whispered words in Celldweller’s song Fadeaway – ‘don’t beat on me, I’m nothing’. I fear I will let us all down (well really only me, because your expectations were much lower than mine).
Here’s to victory or failure, which road I may be on.
I’ve been what I would call a ‘runner’ for 11 years this month. While my wife was pregnant with my oldest son I gained about 25 sympathy pounds. After his birth my wife looked at me and said, ‘I was pregnant, so I gained baby weight and I’m not pregnant anymore… what are you going to do?’ So I started running. And kinda like Forest Gump, I never stopped. But after 11 years of running, I completed my first ever tempo run. While I have run often and far, I realized I was a lazy runner, running for distance and not really caring about the pace. Not anymore. I’ve started a new training plan that is going to kick
my butt. But it will also get me ready to destroy my current half marathon pace. I’ve set my eyes on the Tomoka half marathon at the end of March.
So today, as I ran my first ever tempo run I feel like I’m now beginning to train like a runner. Refine my skill and become better more efficient at it.
I like running.
I don’t admit defeat.
I don’t like defeat. I don’t like admitting I have been defeated. I don’t like admitting I started a challenge I couldn’t finish. I especially don’t like admitting defeat when it highlights my shortcomings or inadequacies.
Today, I admit defeat. I admit to biting off than I could chew. I ain’t to thinking more highly of my abilities than I should have.
I endeavored to run 8 miles this morning. I made it to 3.3 before I completely bonked. There was just no gas left in the tank. I write this as I hang my head in shame walking the reminder 5 miles home. Luckily, I won’t have to because my wife is on her way to save me. This experience has taught me a few cuable lessons about running, training and life.
- You have to fuel your body. Now this may sound simple, but I’m notorious for not doing it. I didn’t eat or drink anything this morning before setting out to run. I have learned to be able to ‘compete’ at the level I want to, I need to take my nutrition and hydration seriously. Eat healthy. Drink water. Fuel my body appropriators the task at hand. This is true across all areas of life. You must prepare yourself appropriately for the task ahead of you. You have to be prepared to tackle the obstacles ahead. Pre-planning prevents poor performance. Or as I like to practice: piss poor planning provides piss poor performance. Fuel yourself for what you are doing.
- You have to be realistic about your limits. Last Friday I had a minor surgery removing a mole or something. The doctor said to lay low for two weeks. Let the stitches heal and come out. Blah blah blah. I took a couple days off after I had been slowing down leading it the procedure. I then expected to jump back into a long run. I ran once or twice this week and last week and then expected I could pound out 8 miles unfueled. This wasn’t realistic. I should have planned a week or two of light running to get back to where I needed to be for an 8 miler. This is also true across life. Trying new things and pushing ourselves are fantastic ideas, but only after we have trained and prepared ourselves for what comes next.
- You have to be serious. I have realized the best way to describe my approach to total fitness (training, running and eating) is undisciplined. I’m undisciplined. This is harder to admit than defeat. It’s hard to admit I love my life haphazardly, coming and going with whatever and not sticking to discipline. I’ve known this about myself for a year or so. I’ve been trying to work on it, but I still have a long way to go. I believe, being undisciplined is the main thing holding me back from doing incredible things in my life. Having order and organization feels rigid and robotic, but being disciplined allows for things to be accomplished, tasks to get completed and progress to be made. I’m making progress in becoming disciplined and slowly I’m seeing my life pull together.
I admit defeat. I admit that an 8 mile run defeated me today. But I also admit, I have learned about myself and will be better equipped for the next one.
What have you learned from times you’ve admitted defeat?
Some time ago, I began to use #trainingformy40s when posting my training whether it was running, crossfit, weight training or hiking. Anything athletic or exercise or training related. I did this because I decided to take a long haul approach to my fitness. I have always trained in some way, never with any real purpose or meaning behind it. Never with a goal in mind. Never with anymore thought than I should do this.
When I train now, it is less haphazard and slightly more on purpose. I want to be interesting the best shape of my life physically, mentally and emotionally by the time I am 40. On my 40th birthday, I want to look back at my life and say, ‘I have never been healthier than I am at this moment!’
As we age, too often it seems we lose the many of the things we once had in our youth. I don’t want to be that way. I want to be better than I am now and when I was younger. I want to stand on the precipice of ‘the hill’ and as I begin my descent down, I want to be in my Prime. I want to face the second half of my life better prepared than I faced the first half.
For this to become reality, it takes determination, drive, discipline and sweat. It takes getting out of my comfort zone and forcing myself to train… especially when I don’t feel like it. It is about finding a routine of training that works to cover all aspects of what I want to accomplish. It is about getting my eating habits under control (the piece I’ve always struggled with).
It is about total health.
It is about discipline.
It is about 1 Corinthians 9:27 – but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
These are not thoughts of an earth-shattering nature. They are my thoughts on somethings I wanna share. Since this is my website, I can. Take them apples.
I have been running for just over ten years now. When my wife was pregnant with our first child, I gained about 25 sympathy pounds. At the conclusion of the pregnancy, she inquired as to how I intended to lose those sympathy pounds.
So I started running.
This year has found me drastically changing some of the fundamentals about how I run. Two significant adjustments were made by me in 2015.
The first is I stopped listening to music when I run. I have been listening to music while I run for about as long as I have been running. I am not 100% sure what prompted me to make this switch, but I did. It may have been I invested in a case for my iPhone and now it doesn’t fit into the armband. Or it may have been I just wanted a change. Either way, I don’t listen to music anymore. Which leads to another subtle change, I don’t use the Nike+ app while I’m running. I have switched back to using my Garmin Forerunner 205 GPS watch to track my runs. I still carry my iPhone in a small CamelBak in case I need to be gotten ahold of, but it lays dormant while I run. I have to admit, I have enjoyed this change much more than I anticipated I would. It allows me to enjoy the scenery around me more… when there is scenery to enjoy around me. I find myself running in the early morning or late night often and therefore don’t have much to enjoy from the scenery. This has been a big shift. This is a big deal, because now I have to find something to consume the space while I run. I have used it to pray, to think and just shut down my brain. Running has always been about the solitude I get from it for me… I would almost rather run by myself than with anyone. So for me, running is about time alone, space to just be with myself. And strangely, not listening to music makes that solitude more solitary.
The second big change came in the form of a change to the running shoes I run in. Several years ago, I found a pair of Vibram Five Fingers (I later determined they were KMD Sport model) on the road. I had run in them a few times, but this year I began to run in them in earnest. This was a drastic and significant change as it totally redefined the way I run. These shoes work your muscles differently due to their design. They stimulate a more barefoot style of running. This was a change that left my calves very sore for a time. I have gotten used to it now and I really like it. I like it so much, I just bought a pair of Vibram Five Fingers Bikila LS. This is a dedicated running model of the Five Fingers. They are spectacular. They feel very good. I have for several years now, enjoyed a more minimalist approach to running shoes. This is by far the most minimalist I have ever had. But it kinda fits my personality too, I think. I feel more in touch with the ground and more importantly more in touch with my body. I have decreased the knee pain I have had for over a year by running on the Five Fingers. I can better feel when my legs are tired or if I am pushing myself too hard. This is a big change, that I believe has the potential to propel my running game forward.
There you go. It’s not even March and 2015 has dramatically and forever changed my running strategy. It has already been a year of paradigm shifts in running. My next dramatic shift is going to be in my overall discipline and approach to training. If I can get all aspects of my training under a disciplined control, 2015 could see the fittest most athletic Eli Westfall the world has ever known.