Peace. Pity. Action. Progression.

Inspiration, instigated by a thought provoking read.

Action requires information. Let peace inform your actions and your intention will be displayed. -MFT

Too much posturing. This is what I do. What I’m good at. What I’ve done. What I have. Where I’m going. Enough. Absorb information. Inquire. Learn. Who you are will be displayed through how you move, speak, and engage. No declarations. Just listen. Ask.

Stop. No more looking for pity. Don’t desire those who love and care for you to give answers. They will and you probably won’t take action. The cycle continues. Time goes by. You don’t need pity. Opinion does not equal actuality. Black and white. Win or lose.

Life is swift. Enough digressing. Forward is the way. Not in the future, but in the now. You are here. There is no past, or future, only present. 365 days go by fast. 365 sunrises. Opportunity is offered only so often. Is it too late to begin? Not if what you want is worth the pursuit. Limitations are self employed.

Peace of mind. Not giving a fuck what others think of YOU. That’s progression. No groups. No need for belonging. Flow happens when you engage. Acceptance is not worth the time or effort.

“Yes, I teach. I lead. I coach. I declare. But in the same breath I learn. Because anything else would mean I am dead: either death-dead or living-dead, stagnant, redundant, repetitive, stuck. I have wasted time, of course, but I won’t waste life. And that’s why I’m here, on the road, in the dirt, atop the bike but sometimes on the ground next to it wondering what just happened. I am a student. This is how I learn.” – Mark Twight

Advertisements

Friendships and Coaching

The right prescription, assignment, plan, outline, etc. does us no good without the inner confidence that we are capable of improvement, completion, and success.

Friendships develop over time. Often taking months before a level of trust and willingness to care is manifested. This trial period of sharing experiences, exposing weaknesses and displaying strengths is a delicate dance requiring equal participation of both parties. One can not want it more than the other.

Establishing this relationship fosters the potential for new heights. You must give to get. We cannot create more time. A reprioritization must occur and remain to keep the potential a possibility. Commitment.

You must know your “why” in creating change. Admit a void, or known weakness, struggle, insecurity, etc. and be confident in your decision. Continuing down your current path will not produce the desired change. Comfort breeds complacency. We cannot hope to maintain that which hasn’t been maximized. Not knowing our full potential (will we ever?), those words, “maintain”, should never be uttered when speaking of our health. Continuous engagement requires an allocation of energy resources. When training, you are building/working/fatiguing, then recovering, where you lose, in order to regain the energy/resources to begin again. See the full picture.

Committing to coaching requires a letting go of emotion, control, and routine. This is not easy, but it is the only way. Trust requires vulnerability. Change requires months, not days and weeks. This should embolden you to let go of repeated judgment and give in to the daily assignment.

And do you know what I found after several decades of life? We achieve our goal, we become a level of ourselves, and then we want to go further. And we make new mistakes, and we have new hardships, but we prevail. We are human. We are alive. We have blood.

Patti Smith

Effective Strategies For Health and Wellness Pt. 2

The previous post was a bit of an extended lead in to this one. Now, onto the nuts bolts of applying and implementing knowledge.

Sleep/Wake:

  1. Get to bed on time. Put some closure on the day. Plan the next days events, including your workout time. Schedule everything.
  2. Wake up EARLY. Just a few minutes at first. This is step #1 in winning your day.

Nutrition:

  1. Schedule a cheat-day. Keep it the same day, no matter what your week entails. I like Saturday.
  2. Keep foods out of the house that are known culprits of indulgence: alcohol, peanut butter, potato chips, any and all sweet or savory snacks.
  3. Hydrate first. When feeling tempted to eat, or overindulge at a restaurant, drink a large glass of water first. Then, make the proper decision.
  4. Join or start your own group, for accountability purposes. Believe me, there is power in numbers when seeking to elicit change. Well established, in place, peer and work groups are great places to start. Who doesn’t want to make positive change?

Cardio/Aerobic:

  1. Think about activities you’ve been interested in in the past. If they’ve gone completely dormant ask yourself why, then decide if their benefit could possibly outweigh their cost. With a new mindset/outlook/goal you might be surprised at the answer.
  2. Get it in before the day starts. Four days each week wake up to that early alarm and start moving. I find getting it in before sunrise gives me a lot of power and momentum to seize the day. Start with 20-30 minutes for the first 6-weeks. Patiently increase your time each subsequent week until you reach that 50 minute sweet spot.
  3. In areas or times of inclement weather, or simply if you prefer indoor exercise, try utilizing media to make the time pass and gather knowledge at the same time.
  4. Seek enjoyment! The mind is powerful. If you believe what you are doing is improving your health, giving you more enjoyment, and increasing quality of life, you are more likely to be proud of it.

Strength:

  1. Keep it super simple (K.I.S.S.). No sense being overly creative here. The same exercises that worked in the early 20th century still work in the early 21st century.
  2. Be creative in your programming. Utilize ladders, timers, games, competitions, and keep track of your workout totals.
    1. Max reps in 10/20/30/60 minutes. Take 1-3 bodyweight exercises and do as many reps as possible in the allotted time period. Squats, lunges, pull ups, push ups, and dips work best here. Metabolic conditioning movements, such as burpees or squat thrusts are great as well, but don’t combine these with the other movements as they are most effective, in this format, when isolated.
    2. Kettlebells. Simple and sinister. Check these out, but be sure to learn proper form and technique. The best exercises are the Goblet Squat and the Swing.
    3. Deadlifts. If you’ve got a background in strength training, you’ve probably done a few deadlifts. Check out the form here, and then keep the reps simple. Build a solid base of 5-10 reps at 100-150% of bodyweight before cranking out super heavy sets.
  3. Rest 48-72 hours between workouts. Unlike cardio, it’s not advised to “lift” on consecutive days. You can get away with this in your youth, with hormones raging, but let commonsense play out and recover properly. Proper recovery insures we absorb these hard training sessions.

Yoga/Stretching:

  1. Do it. Once a week, minimum, spend 45-60 minutes breathing and stretching.
  2. Focus on the hips, low back, and shoulders. Breathing is everything here.
  3. The foam roller can be extremely therapeutic. I use it as a passive activity for my back and spine, but you can get extremely involved with it.

Search, Seek and Employ. The solutions are right in front of your eyes. Make the time. Make it happen.

Onward, Jake Lawrence

Mindset: Practice in Pursuit of Excellence

miyamoto_musashi1

“Rote, mindless repetition is not practice… it is purpose that focuses the practice, and it is the intensity and specificity of that focus that governs the efficacy of the practice.”

Michael Livingstone

“The most beautiful and most profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical.  It is the sower of all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms … this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.”

Albert Einstein

In my personal training practice I teach from the point that the body is a function of the mind. To make physical changes the mind must be able to manifest a vision for what leads to those changes. To simply want the endpoint, or reach the summit is a fleeting desire. Preparing to climb the mountain may lead to a successful summit, but we must start the process of preparation and mental transformation.

Learn to think of change or transformation not from your current condition, but from that of the teacher, coach, or prominent figure that has given you a image of success. What often stands in the way is this feeling of immense physical distance between the present and the future. The body is far from where it needs to be to stand on the summit and without a strong, patient, willing mind, we will never touch our physical potential.

Preparing for transformation will not leave you with a culminating completion. The path becomes the way. The journey of preparation, undertaking of challenges, completion or failure in competition can and may fill your lifetime. True devotion to the process will lead to a new mind and body, one that you can’t envision now, nor will you know where it leads you.

Understand that by seeking knowledge through purposeful practice you may never reach the summit and that will be okay. Success becomes a commitment to the self. You will never arrive or graduate to a state of completion. Know this and pursue your personal excellence anyway. Be comfortable in this knowledge and realize that possessing this level of awareness is not common in Western culture. We are taught from a young age to focus on completion and to endure the valley’s in life to, hopefully, experience its peaks: graduation, marriage, children, promotion, retirement, relaxation, and finally heaven.

“Reason enslaves all whose minds are not strong enough to master her.”

George Bernard Shaw

“The Way is To Train.”

Miyamoto Musashi

Adapt or Fall Behind

Adapt or fall behind.

Looking at my training logs over the past 4 years I’ve seen a clear shift in the direction of my training. Going back to 4 years ago, much of my time was spent cross training, and doing intense strength sessions in the gym. I trained a lot on the rings, with kettle bells, and with a lot of plyometric movements. My strength was high and fairly balanced, though I tended to focus my attention on what I was good at. 3 years ago I got into trail running. I had a major shift in the direction of my fitness training. Instead of hitting certain numbers in the gym, I focused on time, distance and elevation on the trail. Running, as well as biking, took me to amazing places. I covered vast distances and started to learn about endurance. Of course I took some of these adventures pretty far and developed some injuries. Taking time away from running and training was not easy to do, but during this time I realized the importance of those activities in my life. 2 years ago I took this racing thing head on and competed in many trail races, from 10k to 100 miles. I had some great results and along the way I learned to balance my training. The core/strength/gym work was essential to keeping me strong and balanced. I found that with two 45 minute sessions each week I could stay strong and fit, while spending the rest of my time focusing on developing endurance and training on the trail and the bike. A new path was forged and a new enthusiasm for fitness and training was fostered.

With gym training your only objective is showing up at the gym and working out hard and long enough to feel like you maximized your time. Thus, each session and each workout ends up having the same importance. Over time, training like this leads to burnout and huge peaks and valleys in our fitness. By having an event based focus I could prioritize my sessions, spending more emotional energy on the hard/taxing workouts, and much less on the day to day therapeutic/recovery sessions. I realized that if a certain week was busy/long/hard that it was part of the process of preparing to race a certain distance and terrain. Completing a workout brought me closer to my goal “event”.

This past year felt very similar to the previous one. I raced and trained much the same. Competing well in some races, even winning a few, but experiencing some low points as well. Poor performances, injuries and a general unsatisfied feeling. This posed some good questions for me leading into this winter. I took a break from running during the month of december. My body rested, I worked on short focused strength sessions using minimal gear (kettle bells, bands, bodyweight exercises, dumbbells). By breaking these exercises down I really learned the movements again. Focusing on stabilization, body tension, and breathing really helped maximize the effect of each exercise in every training session.

As I start to increase my running miles again and look ahead to races in 2014, I am drawn to the many motivating events each and every month around the US. This is a great problem to have, but it also takes discipline as an athlete to pick and choose the ones to focus on. My race schedule this year will be very minimal. Instead I will focus on exploring new areas on foot. Using running as my mode of travel through vast expanses. Building strength, recovering properly and gaining an intimate knowledge of the places I will race.

I have only three races on my schedule currently:

  • 7/12/14: Eugene Curnow Marathon, Carlton, MN
  • 7/26/14: Voyaguers, 50 mile, Carlton, MN
  • 9/5/14: Superior Sawtooth 100 mile, Lutsen, MN

I hope you are contemplating your goals for 2014. Try to branch out in your thinking. Find an event or activity to train for. Image and mirror based goals are Ok, but they often lead to peaks and valleys, emotional ups and downs, and a general disappointment in your time in the gym. They also represent extreme diets and restrictive lifestyles, which as you all know are not fun to endure.

Our choices will either move us forward, or lead us to fall behind. The physical “you” can be your greatest source of happiness and discovery, or it can be the strongest trap and inhibitor in your life.

Gain control and forge your future. Use the past to help guide your actions and decisions, both today and every day forward.

Mt. Taylor 50k

Consistency.

In order to gauge performance one must “put out” at a high level in each race or competition.  This means having the guts to suffer and know that the suffering will come at some point. This was on my mind a lot during the Mt Taylor 50k on Saturday.

First off, what an amazing course. Great singletrack, runnable jeep roads, mountain summits, smooth downhills, semi-technical sections, excellent aid stations, you name it, RD Ken Gordon provided it.

About a week and a half ago I had reservations about running this race.  The Heartland 100 is only two short weeks after and  the “don’t do too much” warning light was starting to become more prevalent.  You see, when I race, I do the best I can, period.  I crave competition, the green light to put the hammer down and leave it all on the trail.  Could I use this race simply as a training run?

Self Control.

Knowing this, and knowing that I would indeed line-up to race on Saturday, I told myself not to push hard the first 16 miles.  There was one “big” climb at the beginning to over 11,000 feet and the race leaders were sure to push a solid pace up that climb, as well as the ensuing 10 mile, mostly downhill section after the initial climb.

I settled into a comfortable pace, focusing on my breathing and running relaxed.  I had done only 2 mountainous runs since Mt. Werner on August 4th, thus was not expecting to be totally relaxed on the first climb or decent.

At mile 10 there is a rather welcoming aid station, full of support and screaming efficiency.  I was in and out quickly, grabbing two gels and filling my water bottle, as I did at each aid station along the course.  Through the next 6-mile section I kept the strategy going and could feel myself becoming more and more comfortable.  Thoughts were now turning to, “do I want to push it?”  At the Rock Tank aid station, mile 16, I was again in and out quickly, dropping my jacket off as I left.  The next 4 miles were ran alone.  Coming up on the aid station at mile 20 I was told that the next runner in front had about 3-4 minutes on me.  Based on how I ran the first half of the race I knew that catching him was possible.  The next section was a 3.5 mile climb to the summit of Mt. Taylor.  This section was mostly power hiking, mixed with bursts of running when possible.  I was now eating a gel about every 20-25 minutes and taking two saltstick capsules per hour.  My calves were tight from all of the climbing, but my body felt strong.  I spotted Jason Taylor in the distance, and one other runner just ahead of him.  Summiting Mt Taylor we embarked on a steady downhill of probably close to 3 miles.  On this downhill section I blew past the two runners that had led me up the previous climb and put a nice gap in them as the trail turned back uphill, the final uphill section.  On this section I came up Andrew Hahn and Garret Smith, passing both of them before the last aid station and feeling super strong.  Two miles to go and I was off and running, thinking a lot about Heartland in two short weeks, and about how well my fueling had been that day.  I must have really spaced out because I missed the right turn to go down the mountain by a lot…. I ran a mile past it, back up to 10,800 feet, when I should have been descending… realizing my mistake I was immediately deflated.  Having worked so hard on to pass 4 runners only to give it back to them by a stupid lapse in clear thinking was upsetting to say the least.  Needless I bombed back down the jeep trail and finally saw the turn I missed.  I hammered as hard as I could to the finish, which wasn’t in the plan, but I now just wanted it to be over.  About 100 meters before the finish I spotted Smith and came right up on him as we finished.  Looking at my watch and finishing time, I had lost 16-17 minutes on that blunder.  Amazing.  All in a race I wasn’t planning on “racing”, ha.

As Prefontaine famously coined, “we run to see who has the most guts”.  This is ultrarunning, pure and simple.  Strategy mixed with the willingness to expose all limitations, and break through previous barriers whether physical, or mental.

Onward.  Heartland 100, now 12 days away.  The Hay is in the Barn.