Day 80: The King Crab Challenge Is Within Reach

This October, I will be running the Baltimore Half-Marathon to raise money for Kennedy Krieger Institute. If you are interested in sponsoring me for an incredible cause, please visit my donor page. Thank you!
Rus032115It’s Day 80, and for the first time since I resumed my Clydesdale clomping, I didn’t feel like my workout at the gym was done. I wanted more, and if they weren’t pushing us out the door at closing time, I would have logged another 3-4 miles on the treadmill.

That’s a feeling that, I know, I have earned from the hard work and dedication I have put into these last 80 days.

Before I get to the King Crab Challenge, a few stats:

  • Starting weight: 317
  • Current weight: 257 (as of 3/17/15)
  • Total weight lost to date: 60 pounds
  • Weight loss to go: 50 pounds (and then we’ll go from there)
  • Number of trips to the gym since rejoining the YMCA on Feb. 10: 29 in 40 days
  • Average number of miles walked/jogged: 5.7 miles/day
  • Number of days on the Whole30 Plan: 80

I feel fan – (youknowwhat) – tastic.

So about this whole King Crab Challenge thing….

Here’s the deal. The Baltimore Running Festival has dangled this little chicken neck in front of us crazy crabs (now there’s an allusion that my die-hard Baltimore lovers will understand), and right now, I am feeling very tempted to clamp my claws on this challenge and go for it.

(I realize that I am mixing my metaphors with the Clomping Clydesdale; please find it in your heart to forgive me.We’re sticking with the crabs right now….)

To be specific, there are three races that you need to complete to master the King Crab Challenge. They are:

  • The half-marathon at the Frederick Run Fest on May 3;
  • The Baltimore 10-Miler on June 6; and
  • The full or half-marathon at the Baltimore Run Fest on October 17.

I feel like I am already in better shape today than when I ran the half-marathon in October 2012. I have been training in an entirely different manner, and my diet is basically the opposite of what it was 3 years ago.

I think I can do this!

The bling is nice, too:

King-Crab-Rack-2015And there are claw-clacking awesome medals to hang from each of those solid gold (well….) crab claws.

So I press on. I still have a full month to go before I have to make a final decision about the half-marathon in Frederick. The good news about that course is that it’s flat. Pretty sure that, in a worst-case scenario, I could speed walk that course in about 3 hours and change.

I’ll know more in about two weeks when I move at least three of my weekly workouts outside and start walking/jogging in 4–8-mile stints.

I have a good feeling about this, though. And, completing these three races at the age of 50 would be a good in-your-face to getting old.

Screw that. You are as young as you feel, and right now, I am living my life like I just turned 30.

Finally, there’s this: A lot (and I mean many-many) of my friends are really engaged in some serious weight loss and exercise regimens. THANK YOU for being such a great inspiration to me as I carry on. Keep up the great work, and I look forward to keeping up with all of you as I continue my march to completing the King Crab Challenge.

Running-Festival-15th-Anniversary-Crab

Days 1-39 In 2015: Clomping My Way Back To Prime Fitness At Fifty (And Beyond)

Running-Festival-15th-Anniversary-Crab copy

Welcome Back Well, that was a nice 2-year break. I’ve missed you, and I am glad to be back. I’m happy that I didn’t trash this blog after completing the Baltimore Half in 2012. There’s a lot of good stuff … Continue reading

Half-Marathon Post-Race Report

FINISHED! That was the single-word status update that I posted to Facebook after the race (in fact, Amy had to post it because I did not have my glasses on, and–coupled with my near-delirious state–any status updates I would have posted would have been something similar to “%#^F<@)3!!!”), and never before has one word captured so many emotions and experiences. I will attempt to capture the event as accurately as possible.

Thank Yous

First and foremost, without question, I need to thank my wife, Amy. Since day one of this journey (April 15), she has believed in me, supported me through the most challenging times (and there were many), and led by example the entire way. I could not be more grateful and more proud of her help and her accomplishments yesterday. In every sense of the word, she has been my mentor, my coach, and my support. Thanks, Amy. I love you!

Next, I must thank my Clydesdale Warrior and Facebook supporters. There are just too many of you to list by name, but you know who you are. I am dead serious when I say that you were with me yesterday every single step of the half-marathon. And Sandy, your post to me early Saturday morning was the last thing I read before I took off my glasses and headed downtown. When it got toughest around mile nine, I heard you cheering me on, telling me that failure was not an option. Sandy and so many others: you will NEVER know just how grateful I am. Your love and support lies deep within me now for the rest of my life. No matter what challenge I face, on a running course, in a classroom, or something much greater in the scheme of our lives, I will have your faith and belief stored firmly within my soul. You are, forever, a part of me. Thank you!

Yesterday, I ran for Kennedy Krieger Institute, and so many people supported me financially by donating to Kennedy Krieger. In total, we raised nearly $500, and Kennedy Krieger raised nearly $100,000 from all of its runners and sponsors. We were the leading charity at the event yesterday, and I am grateful for your support and your donation to a great, great cause. Thank you!

Corrigan Sports ran the Baltimore Running Festival, and I am absolutely blown away by the professional job they did. Their communication with all of us was unparalleled, and I would participate in any event Corrigan Sports was organizing. The volunteers made the experience extraordinary from the moment we arrived until the moment we left. There were over 25,000 participants, and yet I always felt like the race was all about me. They made me feel that special. Corrigan Sports and the entire Baltimore Running Festival made me feel like a champion, and I will never forget that.

During the entire event, I felt like I was in the middle of a publicity commercial for The Baltimore Police Department. Every single officer I met along the way was supportive, energetic, kind, and (again) treated me like I was the only runner in the world. They danced with us, high-fived us, joked with us, and looked us right in the eye and told us we were winners. How great is that? Talk about putting a positive glow on the city image… They were upstaged by only one group.

The Baltimore residents and volunteers along the way stole the show, in my opinion. If you are from Baltimore, and you were any one of the thousands of people lining the streets cheering us on, let me tell you: You made a difference, you mattered, and you changed our lives. As a native Marylander, you made me want to stay here forever. Your signs were amazingly funny (“You think this is hard? Try dating me!” and “Damn you’re legs are sexy!” and “If running a marathon were easy, it would be called YOUR MOM!” and “GO RANDOM STRANGER!”); I smiled at all of them, laughed at some, and felt the swelling pride of being from Baltimore carry me along the way. Some of you offered free food, free water, personal cheers, and incessant claps that are probably still stinging your hands today. One gentleman in particular took great care of me when I was especially dehydrated. He had certainly seen his fair share of hard times, but on this particular day, none of that mattered. He was pure kindness, and I will never forget that. To all of you, thank you for making this experience so extraordinary.

Being a “back-of the pack” runner, I really felt like I mattered as much as the marathon sprinters who had already finished well ahead of me. There was always water, always food offered, and always a word of support or encouragement. Four great examples for you all.

First, at mile 12, with less than a mile to go, a police officer high-fived me and smiled, then patted me on the back. “You’re almost there,” he said. “Just five more miles to go!”

Second, as I approached the finish line, I heard my name being announced by the emcee, and he made me feel like I had just won MY race, which I had. There was great enthusiasm in his voice, and he made me feel like the Baltimore Running Festival valued my effort as much as anybody else. At some of the other events I’ve been to in the past six months, volunteers were packing up or simply gone from their posts. Very sad for our back-of-the-pack runners.

Third, after I crossed the finish line, I felt a little disoriented, and a young man came up to me and put his arm around me. He congratulated me and asked if I was okay. “Is there anything I can do for you?” he asked. I was stunned. A total stranger making sure I was okay even after crossing the finish line. He spoke gently, with genuine concern, and it mattered. I didn’t get his name, but I hope he knows how huge that was for me and for countless other runners, I am sure.

Fourth and finally, running through the Camden Yards promenade was tremendous. Many people stuck around to cheer us on, and when I ran toward the finish line in great pain (we’ll get to that in a minute), they cheered even louder and carried me across that line with their words and their screams. Amazing experience.

Overall Race Result and Summary

The weather was nearly perfect for the entire race, except for the near-freezing temperatures at the start. I was decked out in a heavy long-sleeved, high-neck shirt with my Orioles shirt over it. I wore gloves, and I had long running pants as well. The skies were a brilliant blue, and within the first mile, I had to fight back the emotion of running through my hometown for this race. I was really running in the half-marathon! I could hardly believe it as the beautiful and historic buildings framed my path.

The course was challenging for the first seven miles, with many hills that seemed to await us at every turn. After we hit Lake Montebello at mile seven, though, everything leveled out, and there was even a gradual decline for the last few miles. If you can make it through the first half of the course, you got it made.

I started out pretty strong, feeling great through the first five miles. But somewhere around mile six, I started to feel pain in my feet, calves, shins, and quads. Then, as I made my way around Lake Montebello, I felt genuine fatigue kick in. I wasn’t getting enough water, and the bagel with cream cheese that I had at 6:30 a.m. had long since stopped fueling my run. Adrenalin was no longer carrying me, and the pain in my legs was getting worse.

By mile nine, I started questioning my ability to finish. That’s when Sandy’s words and the encouragement of everyone else (Marylynn, you have no idea how much I heard your encouragement along the way) really gave me that courage I needed to push through the pain. For all of my Harry Potter heads out there, it reminded me of that scene in Goblet when Harry and Voldemort are battling for the first time, and Harry’s parents come out of the stream and give him the support and courage he needs to survive. That’s how I felt. It would have been so easy to give up. But all of you had reminded me that Failure was NOT an option. Clearly, you made the difference.

What I Did Right

When I look back at the journey I’ve been on, I can say with certainty that I have done a few things right.

First, I have the right attitude. I kept the big picture in my mind the entire time, and I never focused on everything being about “THE RACE.” This is a lifestyle change for me, and I am not even halfway there when it comes to fitness and weight loss. I ran this marathon at 277 pounds. Yes, that’s 40 pounds lighter than I was on April 16, but I am no fool. I have to lose at least 60-70 more in the next 10 months, and that means I have to keep the big-picture perspective through the fall, winter, and spring.

Second, I see this as a fun journey, not something that is overly stressful, and I am certainly not resentful for making this decision to run in the half-marathon or lose this weight. The journey’s been a blast, folks. And the best news is that it will keep going for the rest of my life. Best reason ever to smile every morning when I wake up!

Third, I went public with my intentions. Now, I know this might not be the best decision for everybody, but for me, it’s what I needed to do. I needed that “Accountability Factor” to weigh heavily in motivating me. My friends and community came through in ways I could have never imagined. Whether it was through words or donations (Natalie– the weights have been great!), every single effort has contributed to my success. If you are where I was just a few months ago, or if you are where I am right now, and you are on the fence about going public with your decision to improve your life, I recommend unconditionally a public outing of that decision. Best one I ever made.🙂

What I Did Wrong

There are a few things that I wish I would have done differently.

First, I wish I would have taken my workouts more seriously after school started. I somehow forgot that my weekday runs only took 30-45 minutes, and my long runs on the weekends a couple of hours. I could have worked that in better, and I didn’t. I will definitely need to make that adjustment from this point forward.

Second, I have never gone a distance greater than 12 miles, and that took me all day while hiking in 1994. Four weeks ago, before I got sick with bronchitis, I did an eight-mile run and felt on top of the world. For the last month, I thought that little success story meant that I would be able to tack on another 5 miles with little problem. I was terribly mistaken. Even in my weeks of being sick, I should have walked when I was supposed to run. I needed to keep my legs strong, and I failed to do that. Huge mistake.

Third, I never trained with anybody, and that needs to change. I enjoyed the solo runs and taking things at my own pace, but I need to step it up and find a running partner to push me and hold me more accountable.

Fourth, I need to do a better job at cross-training. Trina, as soon as I heal up, we’re resuming our bike treks on Sundays, and we’ll work up to an early Sunday-morning Maryland round-tripper (34 miles) before March. And that’s a promise.

Other Things I Will Change

Shoes. I have loved my Asics running shoes, but it’s time for a change to find a shoe that is really designed for my foot. I’m not a neutral runner, damnit, and I am very excited about the prospect of being a Newton Runner. Juda– Let’s talk!

Prescription Sunglasses. I spent the entire journey squinting at people and handmade signs simply because I don’t have prescription sunglasses. It certainly compromised the entire experience, and it is something that needs to change before the next race!

Sunblock. My face is sunburned, and I never even considered that this would be something I would have to worry about. Here’s the thing, though– I will be sure to test different lotions to make sure that, on the run, the lotion doesn’t begin to run into my eyes via sweat streams, and thus blinding me and stinging my eyes for the rest of the race. That would be a bad thing. A very, very bad thing indeed!

Music. I chose to run the race with a well-planned soundtrack, but I really think that I missed out on a lot of the spontaneous conversations along the way. Next year, I’m leaving the music at home and interacting fully with everyone along the way.

Training through illness. The bronchitis I have been fighting for the last four weeks wiped me out, but I should have still walked when I was supposed to run. NO activity was the worst move I could have made. Never again.

Overall Recommendations If You Are In A Similar Situation

Look, this is hard. But that’s what makes it great, too. I got here (and like I said before, I’m not even halfway there) by taking it one day at a time. And sometimes, that day was broken into one hour at a time. I surrounded myself with great support coming from even greater people. I listened to them and absorbed their encouragement. That translated into self-confidence and a belief that I was capable of something greater than I’ve ever done before.

That was hard to fathom in April when I couldn’t even walk my daughter to her crosswalk just 1/3 of a mile from our house. The back pain was severe, and I was breathless. But I kept believing in what was possible, and I let go of the past. I didn’t dwell on how bad it had been; I just believed in how great it was becoming. It was a very powerful thing to dwell in the present and celebrate the good decisions I kept making. And, when I might have slipped a little in my diet or might have missed a run, I didn’t beat myself up about it. That was in the past. I was in control of the present RIGHT NOW, and I had the chance to make great choices.

They add up, those great choices. And today, despite the great pain in my entire body, I know that none of it would have been possible if I kept dwelling on what had once been. Wasted energy. Every thought of it. Abandon where you are coming from and focus on what you are capable of doing today. It’s like putting together a 1,000-piece puzzle. When you look at each piece, it doesn’t make much sense, no matter how you turn it all around in your hand. But when they are all put together, they build something pretty magnificent. That’s you! Just start focusing on the big picture, one puzzle piece at a time.

What’s Next

In the last few months, I developed this “never-again” attitude about the half-marathon. It stood for so much in my life, and was such a huge goal for me to reach, but I believed that, once I achieved it, I would cross it off my “Bucket List,” as my sister said to me earlier today. And I really believed that after the race, I would be so thrilled that I would never have to run another half in my lifetime.

But that’s not how I feel at all. In fact, I feel just the opposite, and I am already planning my revised training regimen for the next seven months to prepare for the Maryland Double — that’s two half-marathons in a six-month period: the first is in Frederick on May 5th, and the second is the Baltimore Half in October.

I have a long way to go, but now that I’ve “done the distance” of the half, I know what to expect. There are no more surprises for me about how long the race really is, what the course is like, or what I need to do to be in better shape to finish as strong as I start. I have all the information I need. Now it’s up to me to step it up for next year and really master the training program that will help me improve my time and meet my overall health and wellness goals.

I will continue to offer updates on The Clydesdale Warrior, and I am always happy to talk with anybody who is thinking about starting a wellness program like the one that has helped me get this far.

Thanks to every one of you. I am ever indebted to you for your kindness, your support, and your love.

Rus

Day 119: Train Harder, Run Smarter

Last week, Scott Wykoff of WBAL Radio interviewed John Cardigan, Operations Director at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club (NBAC), where Michael Phelps and many other Olympic swimmers have trained. Wykoff asked Cardigan why so many swimmers from NBAC are Olympic bound (Wykoff reports that, this year alone, 24 NBAC swimmers qualified for the Olympic trials).  He rebuffed rumors that there was “something in the water.” Instead, he answered with a practical and simple statement.

“…I think that over time it is a set of beliefs that we train harder and we train smarter, and over time that belief that we do those things becomes kind of a confident knowledge that we can accomplish stuff here that other people can only dream about.”

Train Harder. Train Smarter.

I was thinking about this a lot this morning as I was running a 5K distance in preparation for Sunday’s Charm City Run-sponsored 5K at Boordy Wines.

I wasn’t thinking about this because I am Olympic-bound, or I have any chance at all of placing in Sunday’s race.

I was thinking about it because I am slow as hell, and I don’t care.

My time for 3.2 miles this morning was 45 minutes and 31 seconds. That works out to be 14 minutes, 13 seconds per mile. At this pace, I will finish the Boordy run in just under 45 minutes.

Not exactly on pace to set any new records, that’s for sure.

But you know what? That’s ok. I kept thinking about Cardigan’s words, only I changed them up a little to reflect my approach to how I am getting in shape and changing my life around completely.

I think there are a lot of us out there who are doing this, aren’t there?

Train Harder, Run Smarter

All we need to do are these two things. Here’s what I think they mean.

By training harder, we are being sensible about our lifestyle: what we eat, how frequently we work out, the rest we get, and the way we spend each moment of our lives. We are not training for some race that’s coming up; we are training harder every day for the moment that is right in front of us. That’s it. That’s all we care about. If what we are doing THIS MOMENT is contributing to an even better moment coming up, then we are training harder, and we are succeeding, all the time.

By running smarter, we listen to our bodies. We check our breathing and our pulse. We push ourselves to that point where we remember this run is all about the longer run. Injuring ourselves or putting ourselves in respiratory distress does NOTHING for us in the long run. Each of us is unique; we must be sensitive of our own needs, our own limits, and keep our own big picture in our own minds. It makes no difference what other runners might be doing. None at all. The times they post have no reflection on us, good or bad.

Training harder and running smarter is about you, about the longer journey, about the moments you have here on this earth to enjoy, right now and in the future.

We are accomplishing things that, at one time, we only dreamed about. Never lose sight of how great and wonderful that really is.

You Gotta Be Selfish To Be SelfLESS!

It sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Put YOURSELF first to be selfLESS? Such a contradiction, right? I mean, it goes against everything that we’ve been taught.

How HORRIBLE of you to think of yourself first! Do you realize how much more helpful you could be if you devoted more time to others? Instead of taking that run, or working on that project, you could be helping others in greater need than yourself.

Right?

I got fired up about this yesterday as I was listening to my brother-in-law’s interview down in Tampa about Caregiving (he’s written a book about it, and even has a great website; I’ve placed the promo video at the end of this post for you to get a better idea of the power of love that he shares with my sister). Well into the interview, the radio host asks him to talk about some caregiver tips (he’s got 70 great ones in the book), and the tip he shares is that caregivers have to take care of themselves. He then goes one step further and says that, even before the caregiver takes care of the patient, s/he has to take care of him/herself FIRST.

First! I couldn’t believe he said that on the radio, as the sole purpose of caregiving was to be there for the patient, first and foremost.

But after thinking about it for a few hours, it started to really make sense to me. How in the world can I take care of another individual, if I don’t first take care of myself? In the end, is it worth it if the caregiver falls ill from such personal neglect? ONE- where does that help the patient? and TWO- nobody asked you to sacrifice your life for that person.

I’m just 10 days away from my next 5K, and when I went on my run today (after not running for a few days), I realized how out of sync I had become in those days that I did not run. I neglected myself, and my mood dipped, I couldn’t be there for my kids like I had been just a week ago, and I started feeling less confident, insecure, and self-doubting about a lot of issues. Talk about HORRIBLE!

One run, though — one hour to take care of myself — and everything is rebooted. I feel great, my social interactions with my family have improved immediately, and I’m looking forward to working harder on a few projects that I’m in the middle of creating.

Why did I not run those last few days?

It’s a contagious, flesh-eating monster, I tell you. For all of you Little Shop Of Horrors fans out there, it was feeding Audrey II, and the more I did NOT take care of myself, the happier and bigger that monster got. The negativity, the diminishing effort to accomplish my goals, the stronger desire to eat more, work less…. Yeah, Audrey II was being fed a bunch of soul-sucking trash that was making me feel absolutely worthless.

The reason why I didn’t run is because I had “other things to do” that were creative in nature. I rationalized and said that this was BALANCE, this was feeding the muse, this was satisfying both the spiritual and the physical.

My daughter scoops less manure when mucking the stalls every weekend when she is at the farm.

Bottom line: If your workload is too much that you can’t take time out for yourself, then your workload is too heavy, and you got to cut something out. Simple as that. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is more important to you than keeping in shape, taking good care of yourself, and staying on top of YOUR game, whatever that game might be.

Then, and only then, can you truly be selfless for others. Only then can you be there when they need you, and in ways that don’t make you feel like you are sacrificing your life for theirs. It’s not about that folks. Never was, and never will be.

This is YOUR life. Love it. Live it. Give it.

No excuses!

Ok– Here’s the video promoting my brother-in-law’s book. It’s bigger than that, though. You’ll see. Music is by the wonderfully talented Pattie Lin. Pattie, you are the best.

Day 100: It Is No Longer About Me

Today, on Day 100, this quest stopped being about me.

Since April 16, 100 days ago, I have been working hard on changing every aspect of my life for the better — the foods I eat, the exercise I practice, and the overall approach to living a happier, more fulfilling life.

In every way imaginable, I am experiencing success. I have dropped a good 40 pounds, I am running at least 2 to 5 miles during each run, and I’m doing this at least 3 times a week.

I have slashed my daily calorie intake in half, at the very least. On most days, I am averaging between 1,500 and 1,750 calories a day. Do I keep at that level every single day? Of course not. I am realistic that, if I am going to stick with this for the long run, I have to allow myself the occasional snack or dessert that I really enjoy. Hey, I love life, and I love good food. It’s just that moderation has a new meaning in my life, that’s all.

So all of this is working. These first 100 days for me — beautiful.

But all that changes now. The next 80 days (which completes my first 6-month crusade) are all about the children at Kennedy Krieger and the great services the Institute provides them. I am running the Baltimore Half-Marathon for them, not for me.

And so I ask, humbly, for your support.

Here’s what I’m thinking: I am on target to lose 100 pounds before my birthday next March. That’s one of my big goals to get down to 217 and live life 100 pounds lighter. In just 80 days, I’m going to run 13.1 miles in the Baltimore Half.

I am looking for 100 friends to each sponsor me just $1 for every mile I run. That’s a total donation of just $13.

If I carry with me the support of 100 friends for those 13 miles, that’s $1,300 we will be giving to those beautiful children and the Kennedy Krieger Institute.

So what do you say, 100 friends? You and me, together, helping Kennedy Krieger, helping these children.

Here’s the link to my donation page: http://supportus.kennedykrieger.org/site/TR?px=1058969&fr_id=1090&pg=personal

$13. Please join me. I want you on our team.

Thank you…. So very much!

Day 87: Pants Fall Down!

No. I did not exactly have a Bieber Moment.

What I did have, though, was a little running crisis that, if you’ve been at this like I have now for 87 days, and your weight keeps dropping like you hoped it would, then you have probably experienced something very similar.

When I’m running, I like to look and feel good. Even if the reality is that I still have a way to go before people start saying, “there’s a real runner” instead of “God bless that fat man for getting out there and doing something about his weight,” I like to do everything I can with good form, a happy expression, and overall control.

Now, when it comes to clothing, I, like most others, wear compression shorts when I run. Over those, I wear a pair of moisture-wicking pants (non-cotton) that are very, very light, not to mention very, very comfortable.

These pants are so light, in fact, that I didn’t even notice they were falling off of me while running down a very busy street during morning rush hour.

I always do a periodic check to make sure my pants aren’t sagging a bit, but this time when I checked, they weren’t there.

They were too busy traveling south, and in a hurry. I stopped just in time to catch them before they became ankle warmers.

Yeah. So much for that great running form and image I’m throwing out there…. To be honest, though, all I could do was really laugh — and make that mental note to find pants that fit me so this doesn’t happen again.

That’s the frustrating thing, isn’t it? We’re losing weight, in the middle of some transition where we are nowhere near where we want to be, but we certainly can’t get away with wearing the clothes that are now falling off of us. Do we spend the money on that temporary wardrobe, when we know fully well that this is a temporary stage?

The answer is Yes. If you are focused on the PRESENT and not on where you were or where you are going, it is most important that you feel great right now in everything you do. One of the biggest factors that allowed me to begin this program in the first place was feeling great about where I was when I weighed 317 pounds. I went out and bought new clothes, and suddenly my self-esteem picked up.

That self-esteem continues to strengthen, but it’s hard to keep up when your pants keep falling down.

So invest in the new wardrobe and love the way you feel. It will keep you focused on your program and keep you happy.

At least until those pants fall down. And won’t that be another great day when you have to find that new wardrobe all over again?

Day 67: Ruts Happen (Five Strategies To Stay On Your Running Regimen)

Three runs ago, I was dragging. Something wasn’t clicking right in what I was doing, and I was getting a little frustrated. Why did the things that were working before suddenly stop doing their magic? I alluded to it in my post for Day 64 about battling pessimism.

Ruts happen. And when they do, you need to shake things up a little bit. It’s easy to get frustrated and, too often, that frustration leads to an open invitation to just give up. Hang in there…Help is on the way by changing one or more aspects of your running regimen. I did just that with my last two runs, and it has made all the difference for me.

1. Change the time of day that you run.

I have been running primarily in the afternoons or early evenings, but moving my workouts to the morning has made a big difference. I am less fatigued, I have not eaten much (or as the case was today, I ran on an empty stomach), and I am not running with a lot of daily stress built up inside of me. Plus, there is not this nagging feeling that I carry with me all day that I’ve got to get my run in, but when will I do it? If I can run earlier in the day, I don’t have any of that anxiety, and it makes my run more about the exercise and the wellness, and less about being a stress-reliever or something I “have to do.”

2. Change your playlist.

If you run to music, like I usually do, maybe you need to mix up your song choices — but not necessarily because you are just getting tired of the same old songs. In my last two runs, I switched from the Lady Gaga and Katy Perry songs (very upbeat but superficial, for the most part) to the deeper, more spiritual music of Enigma. Instead of using the songs for their tempo, I used the music to tap into a deeper spiritual part of my run. This has mad a tremendous difference. Now, that might last for another two runs, and then I might feel like I need a double dose of Rhianna and Pink to mix things up. But for right now? Enigma is what I need, and I’m sticking with it.

3. Change your mantra or focus.

In these last two runs, I stopped looking at telephone poles, parked cars, and trash cans as goal lines. Why? Because I was convincing myself that these were my destinations, my checkpoints granting me permission to slow down or walk. I could feel myself getting all worked up about “making it” to that destination. Just 30 more steps, now 25, now 20…  The psychological impact this was having on my run was negative, in just about all ways. So, I changed my focus. I stopped setting goals. I stopped setting in-run destinations. Instead, I listened more deeply to the music, I thought about hiking on the Appalachian Trail, I reminisced about my children’s happiest moments in the last few days. All of these thoughts carried me well beyond any pole or parked car that was a contrived stopping point.

4. Change your intervals or pace.

Believe it or not, I slowed my pace in the last two runs, and I am actually running faster than ever before. How can that be? Instead of running harder and then having to take longer walk breaks to recover, I discovered a slightly slower pace that keeps me running longer, and my intervals are shorter with a faster pace. I love this approach, as it will keep me healthy (non-injured) and makes my entire running experience more fluid.

5. Change your route.

I have three pretty standard routes that I run now, yet with each one, I have many variations and different levels of difficulty that I might choose. I am getting smarter about which route to run, how to run it, and why. I am also aware, however, that the time may come sooner than later when I need to find a fourth or even fifth route to add to my regimen. Not a big deal. Whatever it takes to keep the running real and beneficial. That’s all that matters to me.

What strategies do you use to stay on track?

Day 64: Silencing The Inner Pessimist

I’m in Day 5 of Phase Two of my transformational journey to lose 117 pounds and run in the Baltimore Half-Marathon on October 13. In my Day 60 post, I outlined the changes I plan on making in this second phase. So far, everything is on target. In the first four days, I did two runs (2.5 and 3.9 miles), I spent a good 1.5 hours cutting the lawn and sawing wood, and I began lifting weights to strengthen my upper body and increase my overall metabolism.

These are all big changes from Phase One, where I was rather dormant in the four weekdays when I wasn’t running. In Phase Two, I will be resting only one day each week.

Sounds good, right? On paper, it’s fantastic.

The Other Side Of Reality

In truth, I’ve been plagued lately by this ridiculously annoying beast: The Inner Pessimist.

I think I know what is feeding it, too.

I have been on this plan now for 64 days, and my mind is certainly in a different place than my body. I feel great, I know I am losing weight, my running times are improving, and I have more energy than I have had in years.

So where’s the discrepancy? The disconnect?

With all of these changes, I feel so much better than I did 64 days ago. But one cold, hard fact still remains: I am still morbidly obese, and I still need to lose — at the very least — another 85 pounds.

Now, this doesn’t begin as something psychological. I don’t dwell on this before my workouts begin.

It’s when they start that I am reminded of this sobering fact, and that is when the Inner Pessimist throws back its ugly, fat head in full laughter.

“You think you are doing SO well, don’t you? Fat Man, go step in front of a mirror and just check out that side profile. How do you feel now?”

I hear this Inner Pessimist when I start my runs now. In my head, I feel world-conquering awesome before that first step. I feel powerful from my successes, my weight loss, my renewed energy.

And then I begin my run, and reality sets in. The Inner Pessimist laughs, and every extra ounce on my body feels like an additional ten pounds. I feel it it my ankles, my knees, and all around my waist. Every step becomes heavier and heavier.

And the Inner Pessimist gets bawdier and bawdier.

So how do I silence it?

Keeping The Big Picture In Mind

This is a work-in-progress, folks. But I’m combining a little eastern philosophy with some good old-fashioned common sense.

Buddhists do not resist negativity any more than they resist positivity. They acknowledge it; they let it come with out resistance, and they let it go just as easily. Resistance only makes it worse.

So– The first step in silencing the Inner Pessimist is to let it come, and let it go. Do not resist it. Acknowledge that the extra weight is still a reality, but it is a diminishing problem. The positive feelings I have from my early successes need to be put in proper perspective. Just because I feel better and have more energy, it doesn’t mean that I should show magical transformations on the track. This is a slow, long process to undo decades of poor eating habits and living a largely sedentary lifestyle.

The second step, I am learning, is much more specific to handling the negativity during the actual run. I am developing mantras — short phrases with motions — that keep my mind focused on nothing more than putting one foot in front of the other. My victory comes from single steps, and each one made is an accomplishment. I focus on those quick, step-by-step achievements. They happen so fast and so frequently, there is little room for the Inner Pessimist to chime in.

When it does, though, I acknowledge it and remain realistic. I have succeeded, I am succeeding, and I will continue to succeed.

The race is not over, I remind myself. This one’s for life, and I’m in it for the long haul.

A Little Gallopin’ Gratitude…

Lately, I have received support from others around the country and the world who are following my journey. I’m extremely grateful for them taking the time to drop me a comment, “like” one of my posts, or even mention the Clydesdale Warrior in their own blogs. So, beginning with this entry, I’ll be giving a shout out to those who are offering that support. Please take a few moments and check out what they’re doing online. It’s great stuff, folks. Really.

Stainless Steel Droppings– Carl is an avid reader and blogger who, just earlier this month, revealed that he had embarked on his own health journey. Now, he is sharing all of the results of his (ongoing) hard work. He just completed his first 2.8K Trail Run, and he’s got the running and health-conscious bug. Carl has been a supporter of my writing for many years, and I am so inspired by his latest accomplishments. Please take a few moments to stop by his site and see what he’s been up to. I’m sure he’s reviewed hundreds and hundreds of books over the years, and many of his comment threads are just as insightful as his posts.

CultFit– I am addicted to this site. They (he? she) provide unlimited motivation, inspiration, and strategy all rolled together with humor and a touch of sarcasm. It’s down-to-earth with an attitude. They are the recipients of several blogging awards, and I can’t wait every day for their inspiring posts. Please take a moment (or many) and check out their words, graphics, links, and videos.

FitnessNYCBlog– Melissa, who blogs almost daily, posts complete entries that are filled with photos that chronicle her journeys around NYC and beyond. She has as many tips and suggestions for healthy eating as she does for healthy living, and her passion for wellness is absolutely contagious. She gives back to her community of followers as well — in big ways — and it’s a lot of fun to be swept up in her adventures. Definitely devote some time to visit Melissa’s site, and be prepared to get more than a few tips and strategies on all things related to great, healthy, and happy living.

Love To Eat, Hate To Exercise– Andra shares with all of us her journey to live a more healthy life that she began in 2008. Her posts are filled with photos of delicious-looking foods that are not always the first things to fall out of the pantry or the refrigerator. She experiments a great deal with her recipes and documents every step of the process. Andra is such an inspiration to me as she cherishes life and eating — and she has transformed her life and lifestyle completely while enjoying every step of the journey. You will find it hard to pull away from the beautiful posts filled with even more stunning photos of food and original creations.

 

Day 60: State of the Clydesdale Warrior

Ladies, Gentlemen, Runners, Walkers, and all Supporters of the Clydesdale Warrior: I stand before you on these hefty hooves to inform you that the State of the Clydesdale Warrior is Strong, but the next 60 days will determine the success or failure of my goals to run the Baltimore Half-Marathon on October 13.

That’s right. The second 60 days.

In 65 days, I have the Boordy 5K Wine Run on August 19, 2012. Then, on September 9, 2012, I will be running in the Baltimore 9/11 Run To Remember 5K.

In October, of course, is the Half-Marathon.

So it all comes down to these next 60 days. I am ready for the challenge.

Here’s what I’ve accomplished in the first 60 days:

  • No. of workouts to date: 16 (this WILL be a stat I improve on)
  • Duration to date: 12 hours 47 minutes
  • Distance to date: 62.97 miles
  • Calories burned to date: 5811
  • Pounds lost to date: 25 (last weigh-in, 6/7/12)
  • Improved my mile time from 20:18 to 15:20
  • Eliminated fast food and late-night meals from my diet
  • Replaced soda and all sugar drinks with water
  • Trimmed two inches from my waistline

I’ve got a run today, and Amy and I will begin the INSANITY program later this week. We will be exercising 6 days a week over these next 60 days.

My new goals in these 60 days are as follows:

  • Increase my workout totals in a 60-day period to 50
  • Improve mile time to under 13 minutes/mile
  • Improve my 60-day running distance to 100 miles
  • Lose another 35 pounds (will put me at 257 pounds)
  • Trim another 4 inches from my waistline (new waist will be 40″)

Phase One is FINISHED. On to Phase Two, and I am READY TO KICK ASS.