Daily Schedule

As a part of my efforts to improve work / life balance, a schedule is essential. I jotted down a list of some the things that I need in my daily schedule in order to be successful at work and in life. Currently, the daily schedule looks like a summer camp for of mindfulness and self-improvement. I have decided not to restrict myself to allotted times, rather granting some wiggle room (this freedom allows my creativity and productivity to thrive).

Running / Fitness 

Days are better for me when I run. It jumpstarts my day, gets my blood flowing; it challenges me yet calms me. Beginning the day with the run, I have accomplished something the the rest of the day cannot take away from. During runs, I am able to process thoughts, experience the outdoors, and stay in strong physical shape. The fitness is listed as some days will fall under a recovery day, those days will include yoga, core strengthening, swimming or cycling.

Writing

My self-awareness is higher, mindfulness more abundant when I write. With the practice of writing, I include a few moments of meditation. I reflect and plan, note expectations and experiences, challenges and successes; as well as potential places for improvement. Sometimes is a reflective journal entry, other times it becomes more of an essay on life or a testimony about certain elements within my life.

Coffee

Over the past several years, coffee has become a staple. It is more than just a shot of caffeine for me; I truly enjoy the flavors that different coffee’s provide. Though Cuvee Coffee is my absolute favorite, I like finding new coffee’s – especially when I travel.

Community

We all need people. Funny enough, I was recently reminded of this through the Lego Batman movie. Granted I watched it at a time when there was a great shift in what I thought I knew regarding my future. The themes that rang true were family, friends, and Not-going-it -alone. Even though each of us may be strong as individuals we are stronger together. Often times. experiencing places, things or events with others adds a significant amount of value to that moment.

Sports

With a career in youth soccer development, sports are a piece of my everyday life. I enjoy watching most sports and keep up with the sport world. Of course, it is most enjoyable when I get to play as well.

Learning

Currently, learning some things about myself, as individual (outside of a relationship). I look to learn something new daily – whether it pertain to the world, nutrition, the Spanish language, or the driver’s education course which I am enrolled.

Outdoors 

Nature. It does so many good things for the soul. Beyond breathing fresh (for the most part) air, sunshine, water, greenery and touching the actually earth  – each of these appeal to the senses and enhance life.

Relaxation

Any or all of these activities or items can be combined. After two weeks with this schedule, only the writing portion has be solitary (or just coupled with coffee). This was necessary at the time; now that I share some of that with you, it falls under community.

running

Running is an essential part of my life. It is so much more to me than exercise; it is a drug that allows me to remain balanced in a number of ways. When I fall into a running rut, I will run every day for a week; much like I am doing this week with the blog. The regularity gets me back on track, helps me get back to where I want to be.

For the remainder of March, after the ½ I ran in Little Rock back, my running had struggled. I was still running three or four times a week but without much purpose; meaning without much promise as well. Going into April, I knew I needed to get back to running more regularly. My brother and running partners have helped with this in several different ways.

My brother, Joe David, is a Physical Therapist at the Texas Physical Therapy Specialist Bee Caves location. He invited me to try out their AlterG machine. As you can read more about if you click on the link, this machine fights gravity – taking away your weight – allowing you to run while your body recovers. I started with running on the treadmill with 100% of my weight then took it down to 85 – then to 70 which is really where I could begin to feel any stress on my joints begin to disappear. I continued to increase the speed and eventually the incline. At 50% of my body weight I compared the way I felt while running to that of my youth soccer players. By the end of my run, I was running with only 30% of my body weight.

Image

The AlterG also has cameras surrounding the legs to allow its user, and the doctors standing nearby, to analyze stride, foot-strike and balance, among other things. The side view showed my stride or gait to be pretty well in sync with what I though it should be. The view from the front just looked like someone was going to trample my face. I found the rear view to be the most helpful. With this angle, I noticed that my left foot falls out a little as a step. My anatomical and functional training as a massage therapist interprets this to mean that I need to strengthen core, gluts, and hips to remedy this. Honestly really returning to full body strength training altogether will help.

In addition to that strength training, I am also getting back to running regularly in general. Currently I am focused on building up mileage.  Primarily I have been running with Sarah a 3:16 marathoner that prefers, and excels accordingly so, to run the half. My other regular running companion is Lesley a 3:19 marathoner. Off the road, I am part of a regular-texting-group of guys that are very serious about running. They keep me excited, motivated and accountable.

The thing that has proven to keep me more responsible to running regularly is a race on my calendar. I am leaning toward the Chosen: Marathon for Adoption in New Braunfels. Though an out-and-back course, it is beautiful, peaceful and for a great cause. This year our Ninja Running Team will compete in order to support our friends, Chad and Cris Yarbrough, in their adoption.

 

miscellaneous monday: motivation

As you may have gathered, or those of you who are regularly readers, miscellaneous mondays have been missing. This is because even though the topics were miscellaneous the weekly occurrence of such posts were not. Today, I write miscellaneous about something that is indeed miscellaneous.

Coaching youth soccer, or coaching any sport for that matter, teaching techniques and tactics are a heavy part of it. Physical fitness, or athleticism, is a necessity as well. Those three are rarely overlooked, whereas the psychological aspect of the game can be and often is. There are teams, whose players I have coached, were very technically sound, tactically brilliant and incredibly athletic. However, if that fourth – mental – aspect is left out, there is no motivation, desire or passion.  A will to win can often be blown off the field by a light breeze.

There are many aspects of the psyche; I will not address them all today, but did want to touch on motivation. I am never short of surprised at the things that motivate some of my youth soccer players. Last season, I wrote a little about the purple marker that reminded me to have fun while I am out there. This season, having some of the same girls mixed with some new ones, I would need to find what motivated them. They too were excited about the purple marker but never quite enough to get the job done.

Last Sunday, at halftime of a scoreless game, two players approached me asking, “if we score two or three goals will you shave your beard?”

To which I replied, “well which is it? two? or three?” They quickly went with a definite “two!”

I agreed “if y’all score two girls AND win, I will shave my beard.” We won 2-1 and very few people recognize me. 🙂 Very worth it though and since then we have tied 1-1 and won 3-1 (the win coming yesterday meant my assistant Dave had to shave his beard.)

Naturally, I would love for the girls to be intrinsically motivated instead of something like a purple marker or beard or even a purple beard. For now, in practices I am working to instill a competitiveness through a number of games and series of drills. Ideally, their competitive side will grow and they will eventually share my desire to win. Until then, I will continue to regrow my beard and promise to shave it upon their success.

P.S. Writing this post, I realized how many other angles I can write about motivation and most likely will in the not too distant future.

little rock marathon, a visit home

At the end of January, as I have blogged about, I attended the Arkansas Heart Association Heart Ball. During the event, there were a number of things in the auction. I chose to bid on an entry to the Little Rock Marathon. The package included registration fee and a $50 gift card to a local running store, Go! Running. My starting bid of $60 won; meaning I would return to Arkansas only five weeks later. This made me glad to have a race on the schedule and happy for the opportunity to return home. Since my training had not been in full swim and I had such a short time to prepare, I opted for the half versus the sold-out full.

Last Wednesday, I began my journey up from Austin for this half-marathon. I stopped in Magnolia to visit family there, including my 92 year old grandmother (sharing stories), and stayed until Friday. On Friday, I finished my trip to Little Rock. Just outside of the city, my aunt Amy and uncle Pat have a home set on 20 acres that looks up to West Pinnacle.  It is one of my favorite places in the area and since my parents no longer live in Little Rock, I decided to stay here. When pick up my packet on Friday I ran into a friend from high school, Thomas Chapin. He is now an ultra-marathoner, runner-up in the 2012 Arkansas Traveler 100. Thomas said it best with, “a half-marathon is a great excuse to visit home.”

This is really what this trip has been about, a trip home. During this trip, I have been able to see most of my family. The race may have been the instigator for the trip but it was never really the focus for me. Turned out to be a good thing too. The weather for the race was not ideal. It was mid-50’s at the race start and 38* when I finished – raining, to some extent, the entire time – with winds ranging from 15 – 25 mph. This was my first time for me to race that distance in the rain, first time to run that untrained, first time to run with the temperature dropping and first time I was super thankful to have simply run the half versus the full. I typically prefer to keep running.  All in all I was happy with my 1:43 time. Though some around me found ways to complain about the conditions, I did my best to just enjoy being out there. The marathon was eventually (around 11:30) rerouted due the weather; the race officials and organizers handled everything wonderfully.

Today, I am iced in. It is the coldest day in March, in Arkansas, EVER. The weather that came through yesterday, Winter Storm Titan, left a blanket of ice on the roads from Central Arkansas north to Missouri. As the day goes on, the roads are fine about 45 miles south of here but getting to the interstate is one thing while driving on that ice for 45 miles is another. That said, I will spend another day here enjoying family.

never look back, never give up (a year end review)

Today’s title comes from the band Haim’s song, Falling.  Haim is just one of the bands that I fell in love with this past year. Others include Air Review, Lord Huron, Chvrches, Poolside, Phantogram, The Joy Formidable and St. Lucia.  Phosphorescent’s Song for Zula takes my song of the year, at the least.

White Lies, Local Natives, The National and Arcade Fire gave us new albums. I was able to catch a Mumford & Sons‘ show with my brother Joe and two of my cousins, Mary Elizabeth and Annie.

My year began with a snowboarding trip with my brother Joe. He is a skier but gave boarding a go. It was a good, yet cold adventure. At the end of the month and in contrast, I took Lindsey to Playa del Carmen, Mexico for her 30th birthday. We enjoyed the warm weather and beach views from the pool plus its fruity and sugary drinks. The few days we were there reminded us that we could take a vacation and simply relax versus go – go – go.

Three other trips that Lindsey and I took, and I have already blogged about include, Vancouver, Chicago and Charlotte.  Vancouver, in May, to visit the fabulous city and I ran the marathon. The Chicago trip was to visit some old friends and celebrate the 4th of July. Charlotte was to visit her family and explore what the city has to offer; we took a second trip there for Christmas.

Two of my favorite places to eat in Houston grew this past year. Good Dog, formally a food truck, opened its brick and mortar in the heart of the Heights; walking distance from Lindsey’s. Liberty Kitchen, still a favorite in the Heights, opened a second location that has a gorgeous interior and a Japanese influenced menu. My final word regarding food and drink in 2013 would be the introduction of the Untappd app. It allows me to find, track and rate the many craft beers I get to experience.

Finally, some life experiences of note. Two of my brothers graduated from college. One of which, Robert, has been living in Houston for all of 2013, meaning I was able to see him more. Some of my most memorable dining and concert experiences included that young lad. Running is a major part of my life. This year I ran fewer marathons and less mileage overall but found joy in coaching running. I helped a few friends run their best races, whether it was a 10k, half marathon or marathon. Coaching two soccer teams, I was reminded the happiness that can be found in coaching soccer, the fun to be had while learning. To top them all, last Saturday my niece, Mary Elizabeth, said “Wuv you!” for the first time, it was to me, her uncle John.

I look forward to the adventures, meaning and moments that 2014 will bring!

miscellaneous monday: the long run

I started my day today with a long run; having that availability on a Monday is a perk of working for yourself. In Houston, I prefer to run along the Bayou. From the Heights I ran to Houston Ave. then head south to the Bayou. I head east then south to UH Downtown and hit the main bike/running path to head west to Memorial Park. Once I get to Memorial Park, I choose the number of loops or even which portion of the loop I need to run to match the mileage I want for the day. Today my goal was 20. To make things easier, I ran one direction around the loop until I reached ten total miles and then turned around, retracing my way back to the Heights. Two weeks ago, I ran 18 without any problem, but I did this in Austin, on good rest, and with balanced diet going in. Things like that matter when you plan to run so a long way. Today’s 20 was “just because”, as I have no races on the schedule. Today, I was put in my place.

The long run is an essential part of marathon training. To be a runner, you simply need to get out there and run; to be a marathoner, you must run 26.2 miles. Training for marathons you log many miles, but regardless of your weekly total, every week needs to feature a long run. These long runs challenge the body to endure, to maintain a pace over an extended period of time. Elite marathoners finish in just over two hours, while a good average-everyday-runner might shoot for closer to five hours and finally marathon course usually close eight hours after the last wave. Of course, there are many different breeds of runners all through that spectrum, with just as many factors enabling or disabling their run. My best is 3:17:09, while I have run most of my 13 marathons between 3:20 and 3:40.

Long runs for me are more than just a part of a training, they are often an adventure. Whether it be the route, restroom needs, fuel intake, or the people and places I see along the way. In addition to a physical challenge, it is a way for me to sort my thoughts, evaluate life’s equations and restore a since of balance to my mind. So this morning, when a tired, ill-prepared (sleep, hydration, nutrition) runner (me!!) found himself 18 miles into a run and still two miles from home, he walked. I had pushed his body far enough for one day and left it able to run another. Though my goal had been 20, without a specific race on the schedule and having already met my needs for an adventure, 18 was adventurous enough for today.

finally fall, in Austin at least

When I moved to Austin eight years ago, I knew I was giving up the opportunity to have four full seasons and particular more of the warmer ones. My time in Nebraska taught me that I didn’t want to live in a place with that much cold and that little sunshine. So I am experiencing more and more things about seasons, different ways to value them per say.

Fall does means cooler weather but it also mean so many other things. It means MLB Playoffs, teams playing – especially when facing elimination – their hardest in order to play again tomorrow. It means pumpkin flavored anything: bread, beer, lattes, pancakes and pies. And I can’t NOT MENTION beards and whisky. Fall means football, on every day of the week except for Tuesday and Wednesday; you have to work sometime right? The cooler temps mean jeans and long sleeves and closed-toe shoes. Running times decrease with the temperature and the will to run increases.

Though the month began 17 days ago, it finally feels like it today in Austin. October in particular, nostalgically grows hold of ones soul, proven again and again through music, movies and literature. Here is something I wrote years ago, while reflecting on a falling leaf in Nebraska in October.

October

Collage of individuality,

Sixty-three degrees,

Colourful confetti,

Suicide of a beautiful thing.

A list of October titled band and songs: Blue October’s band name, U2’s album & song October, James Taylor’s album & song October Road, The Helio Sequence’s October, Green Day’s When September Ends, Pivot’s October, Amy Whinehouse’s October Song, Broken Bells’ October.

Even a couple movie titles: The Hunt for Red October (book first of course, RIP Tom Clancy), October Sky, October Baby,

And how can one talk about October without Octoberfest?! The German festival that has inspired brewers everywhere to make a fall appropriate beer. Though you can’t go wrong with the German beers labeled Octoberfest, some of my local favorites (all named Octoberfest, of course) include: Real Ale, Saint Arnold, Shiner, and Karbach – which is actually called Karbachtoberfest.

Since I am so glad for this time a year, it is time to stop writing about it, get out there, and enjoy it – whether it be a sport, drink, food, or fun – but now before it’s gone. ((Incidentally, when it is, we can all go down to New Braunfels for Wurstfest.))

miscellaneous monday: bike lanes & back to school

I prefer to run on the road as opposed to the sidewalk. Though the difference in concrete and asphalt is minimal, my body seems to notice. The sidewalk makes the runner go up and down as it connects to streets, is rarely maintained as well as the road, and has overhanging foliage that can often hide you from drivers. Since I live in the wonderfully fit-friendly city of Austin, bike lanes run throughout the city. As a road-runner, I often run in the bike lanes. Bike lanes separate me from oncoming traffic with a solid white line. If there is heavy traffic and since I am facing traffic, I will move up to the sidewalk for oncoming cyclists; especially if it is a big group. Do I feel entitled to bike lane usage rather or not I have a bike? Yes! I think the bike lane is lane for non-motorized travelers. A week ago, I might not have made the ‘non-motorized’ distinction. On my run last Saturday, I noticed a motorized bike in the bike lane. Not only did he startle other cyclist but disrupted turning traffic at the intersection. Feel free to shame me in the comments if I a wrong on this one, or even if you feel I shouldn’t run in the lanes. My brother Joe, a triathlete, cycles and approves with my running in ‘his’ lane but I am curious how the rest of the cyclists feel about it.

When I say back-to-school I mean it as a way of life; schedules change, traffic patterns are different, and the economy takes notice. My facebook friends’ children are going back-to-school and some of my friends are teachers that are going back themselves. Even for us non-children citizens out there, back-to-school has arrived. Be careful in traffic: mindful of school zones, bus-stops, crosswalks and cyclists. Cherish and nourish your children’s growth and enjoy the time you now have to do everything you neglected to do this summer.

miscellaneous monday: my dream job

If you asked me last week what my dream job was, I am sure that I would tell you that I am currently working it. As a writer, I get to create, process and entertain; as a massage therapist, I am allowed to help others heal or relax, while encouraging healthy lifestyle practices and choices; as a soccer coach, I am able to educate and promote my love for fitness and the game. All of these come with a flexibility to travel, to run and to explore – to live. To do what one loves is to have a dream job.

It is about now that you are remembering that I started this post with “If you asked me last week…” Last Friday, Runner’s World posted a link that made me question my contentment. As someone who has run for miles in every place I’ve traveled: in Thaliand, throughout Europe, Canada, Mexico and the 43 of the 50 states, in which I have visited; as someone whose friends come to regularly for advice on running, injuries and as a comrade to celebrate their latest running success; as someone whose running is just as essential to life as breathing is to everyone else – a career highlighted through Runner’s World most certainly gets my attention.

Westin Hotels has signed on with the Rock n’ Roll Marathon Series and is looking for someone who loves running and is willing to travel and share that love with other runners. Seriously! The RunWESTIN Concierge would be an ambassador to runners making their travel experiences more comfortable, their marathon weekends less stressful, and motivate, educate and encourage participants. Needless to say, I’ve applied.

As I await the next portion of the application process, I mention all of these things here to motivate you to find and pursue your dream job. I also hope this post promotes some running awareness of the running community that is continually growing. New programs like the RunWESTIN Program will help more and more people meet their running, fitness and overall health goals; while seeing more and more of this great country and wonderful world.

running behind, literally

National Running Day was last Wednesday, June 5; it annually falls on the first Wednesday of June. I read many posts throughout the day of people getting out to celebrate running and found some to be doing a little more than that. Out of admiration I want recognize two of these efforts.

Austin – National Running Day of Service Which I think is an excellent idea and can see it becoming a regular practice. A running group that met weekly – ran, showered, served. This could be a great thing for our communities, our nation.

Zoe Romano – Running the Tour de France route; raising money for Boys & Girls Club while doing something phenomenal. Not necessarily for National Running Day but for the love of running, adventure and helping kids. Very inspirational young woman, follow her and support her if you can.

You don’t have to raise thousands, build homes or feed folks to make a difference. Maybe, you pick up trash in a park on your cool-down or maybe you help a neighbor in their yard. You don’t have to run 2,000 miles to be a runner. You don’t have to be a marathoner or even run a 5k; all you have to do is run.

I want you to be encouraged by these two stories. If you have to run then walk then run then walk again, that’s fine – just get out there. Signing up for a running group or a race can help with the motivation, but it isn’t necessary. Find a way to make a difference in your community, for your community, for our world. If you are able to run and serve – even better. If you or those you know are already doing so, please share your story here.