You Are What You Do

From Derek Sivers’ new book,

No matter what you tell the world or tell yourself, your actions reveal your real values. Your actions show you what you actually want.

Hell Yeah or No

There are podcasts I want to start, websites I want to launch, campaigns I want to champion, but more and more I see my focus, my “spare time,” is devoted to running. My physical fitness.

Hours per week not just to running, but stretching, the food prep, more stretching, the cool down, the extra rest time devoted to recovery from a hard or long workout.

Of value to me – right now – is physical well being. Running keeps me focused, it clears my head, it manages my stress, it helps me unwind, it gives me something to accomplish each day that’s not just a check box in Todoist.

It sounds simple, but it’s become either “Hell Yeah or No” for me. I’ve recently turned away work because it was not a hell yeah. A friend wanted me to start a music-based podcast with him, revolving around one of my favorite bands, but it just wasn’t a “Hell Yeah” for me.

Hell yeah is 11 miles in a snow storm. It’s a 13 mile bike ride, then a four mile in the middle of a heat wave. It’s “just another run” when it’s pouring rain outside.

That’s my hell yeah, and I’m getting better at realizing that.

Nothing is Real

This is a refrain I jokingly toss around, especially lately. COVID-19 is tearing through America, billionaires have made more billions during this horrible pandemic, sports leagues think they’ll play this fall, and like.. I don’t know, nothing seems real.

This lightens the load a bit with work, with finances, with everything else in life. If nothing is real, what matters?

Of course, the opposite is true. Everything is real. The tension, the uncertainty, the loss; everything we’re feeling is very real.

Being present helps. Being in the moment, in the now, absolutely helps. The whole “just mediate 10 minutes a day” thing is very real.

Counting your breaths and being very present on an hour and a half run helps, too.

The Only Way Out is Through

Thought of this scene while running on a brutally hot day recently, how I wanted to check out, think of other things, keep my mind off the hurt and the heat.

“Stay with the pain, don’t shut this out.”

When I let my mind wander, I think about work, money, taxes, and all sorts of stressful stuff. Since I’m thinking of that nonsense, my pace can quicken, which just leads to more pain. Or maybe I forget to drink.

“This is your pain. This is your burning hand.”

Lately I count, which I learned from the Headspace app. Check in. Bring the focus back to the breath. Count one when I breathe in, two when I exhale. To ten. Then repeat.

“It’s the greatest moment in your life, man, and you’re off somewhere missing it.”

Tonight I set off on a bike ride. I didn’t make it 10 feet before I realized I had a flat.

It was already raining. I was already reeling from some work stuff. I had to burn this stress off, so I changed into my running shoes and set off.

There’s a storm rolling up the east coast, and we’re getting lots of rain here in PA. The sort of rain that keeps you indoors, where it’s safe. Today got nasty.

I was getting pelted. I was three miles from home, on a stretch of road with corn fields on either side of me. The only exit strategy was keep running. No phone call, no one was picking me up. I was soaked, sweaty, and teetering on burning out. I felt the weight of my heavy clothes, it was cooler so I could run a faster pace. The rain was dumping on me, the wind was kicking up.

I thought about the junk food I ate coming home from the grocery store. Or how maybe that salad for lunch didn’t provide enough carbs.

Could I keep up this pace? Was I gonna fizzle?

One, two. Three, four.

One foot in front of the other. Make it to that tree. Then that one. Slow down until that sign. “I’m not walking home,” I thought.

Five, six. Seven, eight.

The rain let up.

I literally thought the of the most David Goggins-esque quote:

“The rain will stop, but I don’t.”

For a lot of people who know me, they don’t that’s not a Seth-like quote, but that’s where I was tonight.

Drenched, making sure I didn’t get run over, managing my energy, staying present.

The miles on the roads, on your feet, can reveal a lot. Tonight was spiritual. I went to church tonight.

Four Years of Running

Four years ago today I ran a mile in 13 minutes and had problems walking down stairs for a week. That run tore up my thighs, and it was hot, and horrible, but somehow I stuck with it.

Back in 2016 I didn’t have much control of things in life, notably employment. Money. And then we all know how lack of moneys leads into other problems, like loss of autonomy, self worth, self esteem. Yeah, that was a dark time.

So every other day I set off, using a Couch to 5K app on my iPhone. One minute, then two, then four, then eight. Rest, repeat, do it again two days later. Before long I could run for 20 minutes, then 30, then 40. Since then I’ve ran 10 mile races, a half marathon. My longest run so far has been 18 miles.

The biggest take away – it still hurts. Not like, PAIN, but watching Star Wars is a heck of a lot easier. There’s definitely easier hobbies, I guess. But I leaned into this to lose weight, accomplish something, and become a runner. I wanted to go places and do things with just a pair of running shoes.

Since then, I’ve ran 3,111 miles. Onward to many more.

Learning to Laugh

Running in the heat is tough. So is biking. The sun just saps my power. Throw in some humidity, and them my heart rate is through the roof.

I used to get mad at this. I’d stop running, reluctantly, and utter some stupid boyish “dammit” or “fuck” which never helped.

Now I just laugh. I’m a privileged white male who can run anywhere, even here in farm country, and I never have to worry about being shot or threatened.

It’s a fucking joke that the worst part of my day is being unable to maintain a faster pace running, or a more powerful ascent up a hill on my bike. I’m covered in sweat, my eyes are stinging, and my chest is heaving… so?

I laugh at this shit now.

It used to be “why aren’t I more fit?” Or wondering if I really “have it,” like I’m some 20 something semi-pro runner. But I’m a dude who works on a computer all day and tries to run 25 miles a week, and spend two hours on the bike.

This is something I stress to my friends that are in their late 30s and 40s who are just starting to run – it’s gonna be years until you’re finishing in the top 50 at your local 5K, or whatever. Just enjoy running with people who are 20 years older than you. Have a laugh, make jokes, encourage others around you. It’s a lot of fun, I promise.

Just enjoy it.

Food is always an Adventure

I sort of struggle with my weight. When I got my first office job back in 1998, I packed on 50lbs real quick, and I’ve had problems getting it off ever since.

Starting running in 2016 helped a lot, and then working with a nutrionest a bit in 2019 helped, but then I hit a wall. Then the pandemic hit, which has led to all sorts of stress:

when cortisol levels stay high, this is why stress can impact our sleep, energy levels, metabolism, and libido, and lead to declining productivity levels, fatigue, weight gain, constipation, poor concentration, and even depression.

Fast Company

My productivity has fallen off, but my weight gain has been an “issue.” I use quotes because I’m going easy on myself – we’re in the middle of an unprecedented world event, and it ain’t getting any better here in the United States. And really, I’m not eating fast food multiple times a week, or even eating horrible foods – I just love to snack.

Putting this out there because I just don’t see many men talking about this sort of thing. It’s either HOW TO GET RIPPED or RUN FAST or FASTING and shit, and I just don’t want any part of that noise, in part because of working with Grayson Murphy for nutrition and run coaching.

This week I’m trying to eat hearty salads for lunch, rather than my go-to burritos, which are pan-fried in oil with LOTS of stuff (zucchini, onions, broccoli, beans, fake-meat, etc.), so hoping less oil, fake meat, and tortillas will help.

Golden Coast Track Club Pride 5K Report

The past few weeks have been blah, which has seeped into my running. My last 20+ mile week was back in APRIL, when I was still doing my “Four Miles Everyday in April (the 4th month thing), and hurt my foot.

So a combination of injury, and mental burnout from work stuff, and *** everything else that’s going on in the world *** I’ve lost a step. Haven’t felt as “driven” to run.

Thankfully that changed this past two weeks, having hit 17+ miles each week, along with some cycling.

All that to say, this 5K was rough. First mile I clocked an 8:39/mile pace, but the heat and humidity (97%), along with not actually training for that sort of effort, I finished at around 29:17. The last half-mile was in the eights, topping out at 7:39 (!!!), but that’s all I could muster. Strava page here.

But hey – this was all to raise money for the Trevor Project, and I got to run my friend Shannon at 8am on a Sunday, so this was good.

First Race of 2020

My first race this year was supposed to be the Queens Marathon, way back on March 22nd. All hell broke loose on March 14th or so, when the NBA suspended their season because one of their players got diagnosed with COVID-19.

Now here we are in late June, and things ain’t looking great. I went to my gym today, intent on cancelling my membership. All their treadmills were still packed together, and no one was wearing masks. Hell, they’re not even required. I don’t like walking in the chip aisle at the grocery store if someone isn’t wearing a mask. I sure as hell ain’t gonna be comfortable in a gym with sweaty, heavy breathing people. Fuck that.

So yeah… first race is tomorrow, a virtual 5K. The Golden Coast Track Club Pride 5K.

I’ll get up early, do my pre-race breakfast routine, and hopefully start at 7:30am, like most races in the summer start. I know it’s gonna be painful, I’m not really in 5K race shape, coming off two weeks of the “blahs” and barely squeaking out 15 miles a week, but I know that pain and discomfort is nothing compared to what those in the LGBTQ+ community face. The stigma, the prejudice, the discrimination; people have died for who they loved.

The virtual race raised money for the Trevor Project, and I’d be stoked if you could chip in a few dollars. Sure, June is Pride month, but it’s really every month. Give if you can, spread the word otherwise.

Full Attention

Today was day 20 of my 4 mile-a-day run streak. Feeling a little spent after a speedy point to point 5.5 run on Sunday, but got it done regardless.

So much of all this, of anything during a global pandemic, is about being in the moment. If I think too much about all the miles before today, or how many more I have to go, it won’t do me any good. I believe there’s tremendous value in focusing on each step – literally – and counting breaths. I don’t do this 100% of the time, but when I find myself getting too lost in my head, I’ll bring it back.

Same goes for work; too many notification from email, Slack, texts… shut ’em all off, and focus on the one task at hand. Not only will it get done quicker, but it will be done better, because it had my full attention.

Taste for Racing

Running in the rain is the best, so long as you’re prepared for it. Thankfully I’ve got my sweet Patagonia rain jacket, which is bomb proof, and pretty much my winter running jacket. Keeps the wind and rain out, and keeps the body heat wrapped up nice inside.

Today I continued my four-miles per day run streak, making it 17 days into April, and almost 70 miles for the month. Just 13 more days to go.

Had a nice talk with my coach today, wrapping up the marathon training cycle that we started way back in December of 2019. Like Morpheus said, what was said was for me, and for me alone, but dammit if I’m not stoked to pick back up later this year and work on some speed. I turn 44 next month, and I’m stoked to keep building towards rad shit.

To be honest I’ve gotten a taste for races, for competition. The fun part about running is you don’t have to be a professional to kick butt. Races vary in size, distance, and the line ups are always varied. That I came in 2nd at a 5K last summer really jolted me. A top 10 finish and 1st in my age group a month later at another 5K.

Like, I can do this.

Again, I’m not thinking of turning pro, but the thought of getting good enough at something like running is thrilling. To show up at a local race – whenever we might able to do that again – and out run other people? Pass other runners? Fend off attacks?

Like, at 44 how else am I gonna experience that?