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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Running, hiking, and then some

As I sit here on a rock, I look up and I see that Mike is climbing up a rock face. He fell a couple of times to catch himself but he kept on going until he reached his limit. What makes people keep on doing this when there is so much pain involved? It's because they have a goal. To push themselves as hard as they can, to reach as high as they possibly can so that they can push their body to the limit.

The body is controlled by the mind and does whatever the mind tells it to do. Now unfortunately, the body is limited, but the mind... it is basically unlimited. Now. In order to improve your body, you need to push it, and your mind is what pushes the body. For Mike, he wanted to mold his body to climb rock walls out in the mountains even if it meant that he would get hurt. In order to mold your body into doing what you want it to do, you need to expect that pain.

As for me, I want to be able to run ultra distances and compete against elite runners. In order to get that, I have to want it, I have to expect the pain, I have to push on. There are going to be obstacles that I'm going to have to overcome. There are sacrifices that I must make. But if I keep my eyes on the goal and push my body into submission, I am able to achieve my goal.

Today is a great day, running by myself, hiking and climbing with my friends, and seeing people work hard towards their goals, achieving things that I would have looked at and thought impossible. It's a great thing, to be able to take part in this because it really inspires me to work harder towards my goals. Now I'm watching Brad climb. Haha. Cool friends.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Power of Words

Words are powerful.  Words can influence.  Words can impact.  Words can encourage.  The power of words can affect the individual as well as others.

Words can change a person.

Why is it important to understand that?  It's because using that power can help you as an individual improve and go towards your goals.  Today, I spent a lot of my time online.  Not just bumming around, but studying.  I have this weird addiction to running and I like studying about it.  The words I read not only help my knowledge and understanding, but it also is an encouragement to me to continue to push forward with my training.

When I make goals, and I want to do as much as I can to achieve it, I do a couple things.  First of all, I write down the goal with my own hand and I put it somewhere that I can see regularly.  The physical reminder, as well as knowing that I wrote it pushes me to take steps to accomplish the goal.  The second thing I do is announce it to my friends, telling them about my goal.  Using my own mouth, I let them know what's going on in my life and what I am aiming to accomplish.  Once again, I've put myself in a position where I have said something, pushing me to take the right steps.  It also lets other people know that I am running towards my goal, and when I see them later, they'll ask me how I'm doing and what I'm doing to accomplish my goal.  There may be pressure from telling your friends (to me, I'd like to think that a man is only as good as his word) but at the same time, they become a source of encouragement, people you can rely on to cheer you on as you take steps, believing that you could do it.  The words of encouragement becomes the supporting hands when doubt comes my way.  I know that whenever I'm in a slump, whenever I feel too tired to move on, there are people that push me through that... using the power of words.

I hope that as I write this blog, these words become a source of encouragement or inspiration to others to push forward towards their goal.  Just as I have friends that support me, I would like to support them... and not only them, but to everyone I can and make a difference in their lives.

As a side note, I also made a facebook page so if you have a facebook, please 'like' it and ask other friends to 'like' it so that they might be able to find words of encouragement.  Today, I walked for a little bit to loosen up my legs, and now I can't wait to wake up in the morning to go for a run!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Tortoise and the Hare

Everyone knows Aesop's Fables, where a Tortoise and a Hare have a race (long distance, apparently) and in the middle of the race, the Hare, who was ahead, decided to take a nap.  The Tortoise, on the other hand, was going at a slower pace... but did not stop.  The perseverance paid off, and the slow Tortoise beat the fast Hare.  The moral, 'slow but steady wins the race' works well for those in training because it is the individuals with the perseverance and steadiness that works their way up.  Should the training be done quickly, there's a chance that the individual would hurt themselves, but by gradually building up the training, it gets the job done.

Sometimes, people are obsessed with the here and now and want that instant gratification.  Ads on the internet tells me the quickest way to lose fat, or how to gain muscle... things that sounds great... but the thing is that it doesn't give you the perseverance needed for a lifestyle of growth.  After finishing an endurance race, I'll take a break for a little bit because I need the recovery time... but because of my lifestyle, I would get back into running, and little by little improve the amount I run, getting to a point where I run, improving my time, but mainly to continue my lifestyle, working towards maintaining my health.

Progress does not happen overnight.  Progress happens through every little thing you do, taking steps towards your goal.  Being like the Hare and taking a long break fails you to reach the goal, while being like the Tortoise and plodding on little by little does in fact get you to the goal.  Today, I'm taking a day off, making more time for me to just chill and hang out with family, as well as resting up my muscles from the hard work from the last few days.  There are times to run, and there are times to rest, and as long as resting doesn't become an everyday event, it's good for the body rest, so that it can build itself up and become stronger.

Remember the constant movement of the water in a stream.  As it moves over the jagged edges of a rock, its constant movement slowly smooths down the rock until the jaggedness disappears and what remains is a smooth river rock.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Life as an Ultra-marathon

I look at life, and I see an ultra-marathon race.  In order to run this ultra-marathon race, you need to be prepared.  The same goes for life.  In my younger years, I lived with my parents, went to school, and learned a little bit about the 'important' things, and graduated and went to college.  When I went to college, I still didn't know what to do and went through it slowly coming to a point where I would depend on myself, and managed to get through college debt free (thanks to my parents or the first couple of years).  My father managed to organize my college life in such a way that I would become independent, little by little, and because of that, I was able to balance work with school, and still enjoy the college life.  Then comes the adult world which I was dreading.  Fortunate to get a job, I managed to rent a place and started saving money... which is where I am right now.  My journey is far from over, but I managed to step up a little and go forward.

Imagine a gosling becoming a fledgling.  First, the wings needs to be strong enough and have the right feathers, and if they don't have it, then they won't get off the ground.  Second, they need to have some kind of momentum to get going, so that they would be able to take off.  Finally, when the momentum and the wing strength/feathers are right on, the fledgling is able to take flight and soar throughout the sky, getting stronger as they experience the sky.

We are like geese (maybe a little better) because when we are born, we aren't ready to take over the world.  We need parents to care for us, nurture us, teach us... and help us grow.  Once we gain the proper skills, we are able to take care of ourselves, and are able to fly off.  Flying solo may be fun, but flying with a group helps us get further.

In an ultra-marathon race, there are steps to be taken in order to finish.  Preparations are necessary in order for an individual to complete the race.  It doesn't matter who you are because it starts at the same place.  We start with running.  As your legs get stronger with the running, you get faster and you can go longer.  The constant training (with breaks) push you to get stronger and endure.  You take the right steps to go from training once a week to training 5-6 times a week, getting your body used to the running so that you can accomplish your goal.  You might take steps by signing up for races and gain experience about water stops and running in a crowd.  When you're training, you control what you eat, how you train, and what you do.  By the time you come to the ultra-marathon, you have the training, the experience, the confidence, and you're ready to run and finish the race.  When you start, you start smart, knowing that you're going to be running a distance that is further than you've experienced beforehand.  While running, you might trip on roots, get a little tired or dehydrated, but you keep on going, stopping a few minutes to rest at the water stops.  As the end approaches, you're tired, you want to stop, but you don't.  Your body doesn't listen to you as much, but you push on... until you finish.

Let's live our lives like how we train and run for an ultra-marathon.

(Today, I took it easy, running 10.83 miles in 1:35:58, a 8:52 min/mile average, and played floor hockey for two hours)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Your Steps and Your Goal

In order to reach my goal of running for others, I need to take the proper steps.  In order to impact a greater number of people, I have to have the credibility as a runner and also as an inspirational speaker/writer.  In order to do that, I need to take the proper steps in order to work towards that goal.  One of my steps to achieve my goal right now is to perform well in the Nashville Rock 'n' Roll Marathon.  I'm training pretty hard to be able to compete and do well in that race.  Today, I was able to do another night run of 7.15 miles in 51:57, an average of 7:17 min/mile, which isn't a bad pace, considering where I started.  After that, I went to the gym (or rather... I just ran to the gym using a long-cut) and did a few workouts, with the main focus on my abs... and then went to the sauna to help my muscles recover.  It was one of those great nights where I felt like I could push myself and go further, but considering that tomorrow I'd be doing another 10+ miles of running, I thought I'd take it easy today.

Although I am training pretty hard core for this upcoming race, I always keep in mind that I'm not running this race just to make a PR and feel good about myself.  I want to use this race as a stepping stone into running further.  This race is just one marathon, where I trained for two months in order to compete in, and also to judge where I am and where I should go.  Of course, I'd like to do well and get a PR, but if my focus was on that, I lose focus on the real reason I run.  Focusing on my step is a good thing as long as you realize it's just a step, but once that step turns into a goal, you lose sight of where you're going.  I believe that if I look at this step as a goal, there's not too much of a point of me writing a blog every day about how my training is.  A simple calendar would be all I need in order to accomplish that.  The race is a step towards my goal, just like the blog is another step towards my goal.  Putting all the steps together helps me get closer and closer to my goal.

Sometime, we forget what our steps are and what our goals are.  It's important to understand which is what; after all, we have to keep the main thing the main thing.  What's the point of running the first half of the marathon at a record speed if you're going to tank out the last half?  The reason some people run their first half faster than their second half is because they lose sight of what the step is and what their goal is.  So let's work on each and every step we have to take to reach our goal, and always keep our eyes on our goal.

Monday, March 26, 2012


Water is important.  60-65% of a man is made up of water, and in the human body, blood, bones, and muscles need that water to function properly.  When the percentage goes down, our body doesn't work properly, and when we become dehydrated, we can first feel it through our muscles cramping, and our mouth becomes dry.  Without water, we cannot survive.  Today, I ran two times.  Once during the hottest part of the day, and once at night.  Before I ran during both, I prepared myself by drinking a lot of water, because I don't like to bring water with me as I run.  I went out this morning and ran 11.81 miles in 1:44:01, an average of 8:49 min/mile.  During that run, I perspired profusely, losing the water within me in order to maintain my body temperature, as it was rising due to the sun being out and me running.  During the night, I ran 6.98 miles in 56:37 an average of 8:07 min/mile.  It was at night, so I didn't perspire as much.  After that, I went to the gym and worked out and went to the sauna... it was a good night.

Our body is always using the water that we put in it, using it to maintain temperatures, sending nutrients from one area to another, as well as many other things.  Water is vital, yet we use it up.  That's why it's important to always keep yourself hydrated.  Sometimes, I forget about hydrating myself, and usually that ends bad.  I start seemingly okay, but as I continue to run, I would feel a little more tired, and would have to push harder.  I remember one time during the summer between my freshman and sophomore year in college.  I decided to go for a ten mile run and didn't properly hydrate myself.  Because of the heat, I had to stop running after about 6 miles into the run, and I was still a ways home.  On the way back, I stopped by a gas station, and the man that was there gave me a bottle of water so that I would be able to hydrate my body again.  As the water went into my body, I realized just how important water was for me.

Water isn't the only thing that keeps us going.  Food is important, sleep is important, as well as many other things, and lacking those things will affect us negatively.  Taking care of yourself is an important part of training for your goal.  If you're not taking care of yourself, you might end up getting hurt.  Taking steps towards your goal means to prepare properly, so that you can put yourself in a good scenario, whether it be drinking enough water, eating enough food, or getting a good night's rest.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Accountability and Encouragement

Today... was another day of nothing.  I didn't work out, I didn't run... I didn't do anything.  Do I feel lazy? Yes.  Is my body going to be ready for an amazing run tomorrow?  Yes.  Taking two days off isn't exactly what I would have liked to do, but I starting tomorrow, I plan on going all out for the next few days, so I decided that I would just rest up my body as much as possible before I logged miles and exercised hours upon hours.  Tomorrow, I plan on running about 20 miles.  Putting this down on this blog forces myself to do one of two things:  1.  In my next blog, lie about how many miles I ran, or 2.  Actually run as many miles as I said I would.

Having other people around you to talk about your goals is really important.  Some days, I don't feel like exercising even though my body feels great.  Sometime, I just want to relax and take a day off and watch a movie or just bum around and not do anything.  However, if I tell my roommate that I'm going to go run 20 miles, I am more likely to do so because I told him what I was going to do.  If I tell a bunch of friends that I'm going to run a 50 mile race with one month of training... I better do it!  It's not like my roommate is forcing me to run 20 miles, and it's not like my friends are making me run 50 miles... but it's me looking at what I said, and asking myself whether I am a man of my word, or just a big mouth that likes to dream big dreams and not live it.  I never asked my friends to encourage me, or to 'force' me to train.  Instead, I told them I was going to do something, and I followed through on it.  Sometimes, you have to force yourself into a position where you feel like you shouldn't back down, whatever your goal is.  Other times, you would ask your friends to encourage you as you go through the journey, supporting you.

Friends... they're people that share a part of your life, being there for you when you need them.  Friends are always there for you and want to support you in whatever you do.  My goal isn't to become the fastest runner in the world.  My goal is to be the most inspirational runner I can be, to encourage others.  However, I'm not alone when it comes to this.  My friends will be there to back me up, support me, encourage me every step of the way.  Friends keep you accountable, friends keeps you going with encouragement.  Friends share your joys as well as your pains, and will stick with you.  In fact, their very existence encourages you to keep going and be strong, because you know that your friends all want you to do your best in whatever you do.

Without my friends, I wouldn't be at the level I am right now.  They are there for me as I take steps towards my goals, my dreams.  They are a big source of accountability as well as encouragement, and because of my friends, I'm able to run towards my goal.  Let's remember who are friends are, not taking them for granted, and encourage them, as they have encouraged us.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Habit

Habits can be hard to break. Habits can be hard to make. Habits design how we live our lives. Some days I go out and run because it's a habit. Some days, I eat late because it's a habit. A habit can be good. A habit can be bad.

Leading a healthy life is changing bad habits into good habits and continuing your good habits and making them better. Because I want to live a healthy life, I do my best to start the morning with some sort of exercise to jump start my body's metabolism. Making that a habit was especially hard for me because I had to wake up 'early' to go to work. Doing that would mean that I would have to go to sleep earlier. A habit is not made overnight. It requires a lot of diligence and hard work.

In order to achieve my goal, I needed to make habits AND break habits. There are days where I want to run because that's what I always do. However, I have to choose to not go and run because that is beneficial to me. In the same way, for any individual to achieve their goals, habits must be created and destroyed. The creation and destruction of these habits help form the foundation of the lifestyle that the individual wants to live.

In order to work towards my goal, I have chosen to contribute to my blog daily, and some days, it has been tough. Today, I'm actually typing up this blog with my iPhone because I didn't have a computer to type it on. It's a new experience, a little hard, but it's worth the effort to do it because I want an opportunity to encourage others to take that step to break a habit or to creat a habit, and to work as hard as they can towards their goals.

Today I took a break and decided that my body needed to recover, rather than train. It felt really good.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Poker 101

We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play our hand.
-Randy Pausch

When I run... it's not always about exercise... it can also be like a counseling session with myself.  I can run away from all the problems and stress that comes in my daily life, and instead focus on something I feel is important.  Focusing on things one at a time, and not just worry about it gives me the strength I need to overcome it.  Worrying about what's happened doesn't do a thing to help me.  Instead, it just makes me feel down, and I become distant from who I am.  Using running, I am able to focus on what I can do about what's happened.  There is no way to change what has happened, and the most logical thing to do is about what to do to take the next step.

Bad things happen... and sometimes, it's out of our control.  The next step we go with is to deal with the situation.  To dwell upon the situation does nothing about the situation itself.  Instead, one must do something about the situation, in order to go towards the direction they want to go towards.

Today, I ran with Garrett 6.29 miles in 47:19, an average of 7:38 min/mile.  At the beginning of this blog, I weighed 174 pounds, and my miles were considerably low.  Because of this constant running and exercise I have been doing (not to mention the amount of good food I've eaten), I am now at 167 pounds, and am faster, and I can run further. When I first started my blog, I had just gotten over strep throat, and was running a little slow.  Progress is taken through steps, and with the steps I've taken, I've been able to take quite a few steps towards my goal.

How are you going to play your hand?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Running and Family

Being a single guy, it's pretty easy for me to find time to run.  However, I do have two sisters living about 30 minutes away from me.  If I have to choose to run or hang out with my sisters... I would hang out with my sister and run at another time.  The thing is, to me, family is important.  Years ago, I watched CSI: Miami, and I remember a quote which goes something like this, "Family... is what we all want."  Looking into it, I can see that family is where we feel the most accepted.  It's not just our blood relatives that are our family.  We have friends that are so close to us that they are family to us as well.  

In my list of priorities, my family is definitely higher than my passion towards running.  It's not because my passion for running isn't that strong.  It's because my appreciation and love for my family is stronger.  People know (from how much I talk) that I am passionate about my running, and when I show others that I'm not going to run today because I need to visit my sister or do something, they realize how much more important my family is to me.  Running... is pretty much my life.  I enjoy it, I talk about it all the time, and I use it to connect with people.  Family is even more important.  For family, I would sacrifice my running, and it would be worth it.

Sometime we forget the value of family, and we take it for granted.  We don't realize how important our family is... until we lose it.  I don't want to put myself in a position that I may regret, and knowing my priorities and what is truly important to me, I feel that it's important to live in that way.  Living our lives according to what we truly believe is important.  Today, I was able to only put in an hour and a half of exercise in the gym (cycling, calf raises, ab training, sauna) because I had a young adults group.  The people in that group are my family, my friends, and to hang out with them is something that I won't regret.

Let's make sure that when we follow our passions, we don't lose sight of what's important.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

From Droplet to Ocean

Let's say that you are in a jungle, you're thirsty, and there aren't any water sources nearby.  You walk to a tree with a vine, cut the vine, and let it dangle, water slowly dripping out, little by little filling the cup.  As each drip slowly forms and goes into the cup, the heat evaporates some of the water, losing part of the volume.  However, due to the amount of water going into the cup, eventually, the cup is filled, giving you enough to drink.  Looking at the ocean, the vast quantity of water, it's hard to imagine how many droplets had to have been put down to form that body of water.

Now imagine each droplet as a single event that you do in your life.  As a runner, I look at the miles I've run, the hours I've slept, the foods and drinks I've consumed... but there's a lot more to that in my life.  How I live my life reflects how I turn out to be.  Every second of my life points me towards a direction that I've chosen.  It's not just the things I do for my goals, but what I also do on the side that adds to the runner that I am.  Today I played a couple hours of floor hockey.  Was that strict running? No!  I used it to improve my speed, but what I truly focus on is my lifestyle.  I live an active lifestyle, and living that active lifestyle supports my overall goal.  As I am writing this blog, I am encouraging myself to continue my course of running, honing my mind to move towards my goal.  Every droplet counts.  If I were to eat out at a fast food restaurant every day, but kept my workouts the same, I wouldn't be improving as much because my life isn't focused.  The choices I make either adds the droplets, or lets the droplets evaporate.

What if we were traveling from one end of the country to the other.  It's a long trip, but we're fully prepared.  We take a step towards where we are going.  Does that make the distance shorter?  Yes.  However small your step is, you have shortened the gap between where you are and where you want to be.  Every decision you make can be that small step that shortens the gap between you and your goal.  The question is: Will you take that step?  Will your lifestyle correspond with the goal and become the small steps towards it?

Whatever you do, be it big or small, makes a difference.  As each droplet forms an entire ocean, each moment in life makes up... you.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Running with a Veteran

Today, I was able to run three times.  The first time was in the morning.  I ran 3.1 miles in 24:10, an average of 7:49 min/mile.  Because the day before, I was running long and hard, I decided that today, I'll take it easy.  In the afternoon, I went out to run with Jordan.  We went out and ran 3.1 miles in 27:38, a average of 8:57 min/mile.  In the evening, I went out and ran with Ashley.  Together, we ran 4.08 miles in 45:54, an average of 11:15 min/mile.  Altogether, I ran a little over ten miles at a nice and easy pace, getting the mileage, but making sure I wasn't pushing too hard (and afterwords, I went to the gym and worked out for an hour and a half... it was nice).

When running with people, you are able to push or be pushed to a higher level of running, when running with Jordan and Ashley, I am at a place where I can push them or encourage them to improve their time and distance.  I am put in a place of responsibility, where I can leave them in the dust, or stay with them, and help them do their best.  In both cases, they were able to do their best.  Not because I was cheering them on, shouting or whatnot, but because I was simply... there.

Let's think of a new scenario.  When you put an veteran runner and a novice and have them run together, the novice will improve at a rapid rate because running with a veteran insures that the novice will gain experience at a faster rate than if they were running alone.  The reason that they will gain experience at a faster rate is because of the push that the experienced runner gives them.  During the run, there are many opportunities for the veteran to encourage and advise the other runner, as well as pushing the pace ever so slightly, using synergy to speed the time, and the adrenaline to push them further.

Having someone there helps, whether it be running or anything else.  Being by yourself, you can discipline yourself and improve, but having someone teaching you, guiding you, encouraging you... you can go a lot further.  When you have a math problem that you don't know how to solve, you would look for someone that understands the problem and can explain it to your level.  If you want to be a little more outgoing and get to know people, you hang out with people that are outgoing, and little by little, they rub off onto you.

Hang out with the fast runners, and you will improve your speed.  Hang out with the distance runners, and you'll improve your endurance.  Hang out with the good crowd, you become even better.

Who do you run with?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Breaking Your Chains

A ball and chain were put on a prisoner to inhibit the individual's movement.  The weight of the ball would be heavy enough that whoever was chained to that would find that running with the ball would be an impossible feat.  The only way the prisoner would be able to escape is if they were to break the chains that kept the ball.

In the same way, we all have our own balls and chains.  However, the thing that weighs us down is something close to us.  It is ourselves.  WE are the weight that limits our movements towards our goal.  So how do we break the chains?  How are we to break our limits?  In order to break something, we need to know what it is.  Can you break a chain with a pair of scissors?  Knowing exactly what binds you allows you to know how to break it.  As we are the limit that inhibits our movements towards our goals, we need to know how it works.  First of all, we do things based off of our own knowledge and experience, basing possibilities off of our realm of understanding.

Today, I ran out 11.61 miles in 1:46:17 (a 9:16 min/mile average), ate at Subway, drank a couple cups of water, and then ran back 12.72 miles in 2:03:11 (a 9:42 min/mile average).  To some people, they look at this and think to themselves, "There's no way that I could ever do that."  Unless they have bad knees, no knees, or a real reason that they say that they can't do it, I believe that they can.  Maybe not right away, but taking the right steps, they CAN get to that point.  We need to understand that we are bound by what we know, and knowledge limits us.  Opening our minds can in fact allow us to go beyond what we think may be possible.

We have a flawed version of the definition of impossible embedded in our head.  We see where we are, and what direction we are going, and we see that there are things we can do and can't do, and we see that there are just some things that can't be help because... it's life.

This is far from true.  Choices exist.  Our life is the sum of our choices.  Every choice you or someone else makes makes life roll the way it does.  The one that has the most control over your own life is the individual making your choices... you.  We are our own limit and the way we break our limits is to realize that we can open our minds.  Opening your mind allows the impossible to become a possibility... and eventually into reality.  I wasn't able to just up and run my marathon in under three hours.  I took the proper steps to be able to reach that point.  Life is a journey, so let's all enjoy it and make choices that bring us closer to our goals, however impossible they may feel.

Break your chains.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it.  Impossible is not a fact.  It's opinion.  Impossible is not a declaration.  It's a dare.  Impossible is potential.  Impossible is temporary.  Impossible is nothing.

-John Maxwell, from The Difference Maker

Sunday, March 18, 2012

You Only Do What You Want to Do

Today, I took a break.  Didn't do anything.  Just a little sauna, but other than that, I just stayed home and chilled.  Today was another beautiful day... I wanted to run so bad... but I didn't.

People work in places they don't like working in.  Students do homework they would rather not do.  Toddlers are forced to eat their vegetables when they dislike the taste... It seems as if people do things they don't want to do.  However, it's far from true.  The reason people work in places they don't like could be because of the amount of money they receive from that job.  Their want of money outweighs the want of an easy job.  The difference is priority, and what wins is the one that has more priority.  If the individual wants more money rather than an easy job, they would choose the one that pays more.  However, if the individual wanted an easier job than the money, they would choose the easy job.  Why do students do their homework?  It's because they want to pass the class or get a certain grade.  Toddlers eat their vegetables because given the choice, eating vegetables is better than arguing with their parents.

All in all, people only do what they want to do.  However, we should understand that because none of us are perfect, we have no way to understand every possible situation we could choose from.  We can only make decisions based off of what we know.  One good example I'd like to talk about would be food consumption.  I have a friend that didn't eat right, that didn't know what was good, what was bad.  I don't claim to know everything about food, but I know that what and how much you eat makes a difference in your performance.  With the little knowledge that I had, I was able to advise my friend on different things they could do.  However, the only person that could make him eat was the person himself.  All I could do is to give him information or advice.  He would be the one that would make the final decision.

I try to keep things simple.  As for me and my diet, I like to cut what I eat in half and two quarters.  Half of my meal would be vegetables.  A quarter would be carbohydrates.  The final quarter would be protein and fats.  Simply put, a possible meal choice for me is a salad, chicken, and rice.  Vegetables are important to me because not only do they give the body water, but it also helps out with the metabolism (because hey, the fibers helps take out the trash as it goes through your body because it doesn't get digested).  It also takes up space, making me feel full.  For carbs, I like eating rice, because I was born and raised in Japan.  I eat rice practically all the time, and it's been a great source for energy to me.  As a long distance runner, I would need to eat more carbs due to the fact that I use a lot of the energy the carbs give me.  As for protein and fat, I would eat meat, mostly chicken, because of the balance of protein and fat seems to be good, so that my muscle would heal using that protein.  I also make it a rule to not eat any fried foods, snacks, or sweets.  As for drinks, I drink water, unsweet tea (barley tea from Japan is my favorite) and 100% juice.  I would drink milk but due to some problems with milk and my stomach, I'm not fully able to function, but if I could, I would drink it.  Carbonated drinks are not good for multiple reasons.  The carbonation fills up the stomach, expanding it, allowing more food to be consumed... more food that the body needs.  Carbonated drinks also have a lot of chemicals and sugars that is harmful to the body, and so I like staying away from that.

Discipline is important, and since you only do what you want to do, sometimes you have to bite the bullet and not eat the things you want to build a strong body.  If you truly want something, then your eye's won't stray from the goal, and your feet won't stray from the path.  Whatever obstacle you may face, whether it's choosing to eat right, winning a heart of a girl, or becoming the president of the United States, you only do what you want, taking the steps towards where you truly want to go.

Although I had wanted to go out and run, I didn't do that because I wanted to efficiently train my body to improve and forge it into becoming the runner I wanted to be.  I looked at my goal, and decided that in order to reach my goal, I needed to rest and recover, and I did just that.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sauna After Working Out

I woke up this morning, my calves on fire... and 30 minutes later, Garrett came over, and we ran.  Since I ran last night, I could still feel it in my legs.  We finished running 8.42 miles in 1:07:53, an average of 8:04 min/mile.  It was raining and my whole body was drenched... but it felt pretty good.  I actually forgot about the hurting calves.  That is.  Until we stopped running.  After the run, my calves were screaming at me as I stretched them out, I decided that I needed a half mile walk in order to get the blood flowing and wash the lactic acid away.

A couple hours later, my roommate Christiann and I went over to THE RUSH to work on our cardio.  After warming up with 10 pull-ups and 25 push-ups, we went to the stationary bikes and cycled.  I did 30 minutes of cycling, and it was pretty rough... yet fun.  After that, I thought it would be a bright idea to work on my already hurting calves.  I figured that the lactic acid needed to go out and the quickest way to get it out was to do those dreaded calf raises.  This time, I upped it up to 230 per leg, and although it hurt, my calves felt slightly better.  After that, I decided to work on my obliques... because previously I had worked on my abdominals and I needed to work on my core.  It felt wonderful... and painful at the same time... funny how those two seem to work together.

After doing all that, we both went to the sauna where we perspired profusely for ten minutes.  As we got out, I noticed something different.  My calves weren't hurting at all!?!  Curious to see why that was so, I went to good ol' to find out why.  After a little research, I learned that it's actually pretty beneficial for athletes to go to a sauna after working out.  Not only does it de-tox your body and clears out the grime that is on your skin, but it also warms up your body and increases blood circulation, soothing the muscles that you worked out, increasing your recovery.  It's also said by going to a sauna, it enhances an athlete's performance.

After a workout, it's important to do something to 'cool down' your muscles, so that it wouldn't go under any unnecessary strain.  Walking after a run, or stretching can help your muscles cool down.  Today, I learned that saunas can also do the same thing, relaxing your muscles, allowing it to flush out anything that would make your muscles sore.  Flushing out the unneeded things, taking in the needed things... it works pretty darn well.  (I guess tomorrow's blog is going to be about nutrition then)

Friday, March 16, 2012

No Pain No Gain

Training tears you up.  Literally.  When you go to the gym to work out any muscle, your muscle breaks down and get these microfiber tears.  These tears allow the body to rebuild itself slightly bigger and stronger.  The important thing about the whole process is the time to heal.  The healing process rebuilds the muscles so that it CAN get stronger.  It's said that your muscles takes 24-48 hours to fully recover and become stronger, but do long distance runners have that luxury?


Advanced long distance runners do not have the luxury to take a day off every other day in order to maximize the rebuilding of their muscles.  A simple explanation is to call to mind the race we are train for.  For example, a marathon consists of 26.2 miles, but according to most training menus for advanced runners, their longest runs would be 22 miles.  Why is that?  It's because those runners run almost every day, accumulates all the mileage from the previous days (like a roll-over) and though the muscle has some time to recover during each night, on their day of rest, the body has enough time to heal and rebuild itself from the accumulated damage done to the muscles.

All the pain that comes in the training isn't something that I look forward to, but I know that the pain that I am going through shows that I am indeed becoming stronger, faster.  It shows me that every cramp I get, the soreness in my legs, they're all worth it because I'm becoming the runner that I want to be.  As I write this, I am in pain from working out my calves, and hiking three miles in the morning.  If I had been in shape, I wouldn't have gotten into this whole mess, but because of the shape that I want to be in, the individual I want to be, I'm going to go out and go for a run, because I have a goal in mind that no pain can ever wash away.  This pain will be something that I will use to become stronger, reminding me to not lose focus towards my goal.  This pain is not where I stop, but where I keep on going, filled with perseverance and determination.

(After writing what was said above, I ran 7.04 miles in 51:42, a 7:21 min/mile average listening to"We Won't Give Up" by The Afters)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Be Prepared

Some days, you can't run because you know you will hurt yourself.  Others day, you go running knowing that it's going to hurt you.  Today was one of those days.  My calves were still sore from all the training I did a couple nights before, and I knew it wasn't going to be one of those wonderful runs.  At around noon, I went out to do a couple laps in the outdoor trail, so that it would be easy for my joints, and lo and behold, my calves started telling me that it wasn't a good idea because they didn't feel 100%

Needless to say, I still went, ran 6 miles in 53:10 (8:51 min/mile average).  It wasn't too fast, not just because of the calves, but also because of the hills.  I'm not exactly a huge fan of hills... actually, I detest them because it requires more work, and since I'm lazy at heart, I don't want to work hard to climb up the hills.  I'd rather run on a flat area than a hill.  However, if you want to improve your body to perform it's best for any race, you need to practice running in all conditions, from extreme temperatures to terrain.  Running multiple races means there's going to be multiple courses.  For your average race, it's not just downhill coasting; there's going to be twists and turns, ups and downs (as well as flats), hot and cold temperatures... and as a runner, you need to be prepared for all circumstances.  If I only train on a 400m track and build great speed, it'll be good for me if the race was on a track, but if I was running the Knoxville Marathon, the hills would mess up my pace and I wouldn't be able to be as efficient because my body wouldn't be used to the terrain.  If I train indoors for months and run a marathon in the summer under the scorching heat, I wouldn't be able to last long because of the difference in temperature.  In order to be able to race properly, I need to be prepared for whatever conditions the race will have in store for me.

Funny thing how the same could apply to life.  We go through school to be prepared for college, to prepare us for life. We learn from our parents to get to know how the world works, and prepare us for what lays ahead of us.  The more we are prepared for life, the better we can live.  I appreciate how running can correlate to life.  There's just a lot you can learn from it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

From Practice to Performance

The human body is amazing, and will do its best to adapt to the situation it is put in, in order to make the body as efficient as possible.  As an individual that is training to run at a faster pace, it's important to train the muscles to work efficiently by cooperating with other muscles.  When a professional athlete runs fast, it isn't just because they have stronger muscles, it's because all the muscles are working together and extending/contracting at just the right time, maximizing their efficiency.

So how can an individual that is not a professional get to that point?  The same way that professionals get to that point.  Practice.  How do professional basketball players make a majority of their freethrows? It's because of the number of shots they've practiced taking.  How do professional musicians get that good? It's because of every hour they've practiced on their instruments.  How do straight A students manage to get straight A's on their tests? It's because of the times they've studied, practicing possible test problems.  So how can an individual improve their speed in running a marathon?  By practicing running at their goal pace.

What you practice comes out when it's time to perform.  Just like everything else, for every cause, there is an effect.  It's a simple equation that is understood by everyone.  As for me, my goal is to run as an elite runner, to be able to race among the top runners of the world.  If I slack off and stay at home doing nothing, will I be able to accomplish my dream?  No, I'd end up gaining weight and getting slower.  If I become a gym-addict and work out every day, would it be the right steps for me to accomplish my dream?  No, I'd end up hurting myself from overexertion.  For my goal, it's important to be able to balance working out with resting, so that my body can build itself up and maximize its efficiency; all so that I would be able to accomplish my goal.  If I had gone out and run yesterday, not listening to my body, it would be counterproductive because I would be injuring myself.  When you have a goal, you must go towards it with a fierce determination, eliminating obstacles, AND taking the right steps.

As for today, my practice was actually pretty fun.  Every Wednesday, after church, I would head down to my old college (now a University) and play floor hockey.  2 hours of floor hockey is my speed drill.  It's not exactly the kind of sprinting one does in track and field.... but there's just something about chasing a ball around the court that gets me going as fast as I could.  I use my inner dog to practice forcing my body to use all my muscles as efficiently as possible to sprint top speed towards a ball and play a fun game with friends.  Doing your best to go towards the goal shouldn't be just hard work, you have to mix in a little fun!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Know Thyself...

Today was another beautiful day in the city of Knoxville.  I great sunny day, perfect in every way for a run.  I chose not to run today.  Why?  Because I listened to what my body told me.  I've been running for quite a long time, enough that I know when my body has had more than it could handle... or before it gets to that point.  As I mentioned before, the run with Garrett was pretty nice, but at a pace that I wasn't prepared for in my training.  Also, I have been running mainly on the road, which can behard on the joints and since I haven't properly developed my muscles due to the 'break' from running, my knee decided to talk to me and say that it's been through a couple rough spots.

A couple years back, I had the same feeling with my knee, and when it told me that it was slightly uncomfortable, I didn't listen to it and decided to continue my training.  In the end, I ended up pulling my muscles/tendons around the knee which forced me to stop running.  Simply put, I was straining my body beyond what it could handle, and when I felt the warning signs, I ignored it and continued, ending up with me having a lot of free time.  It's important to be able to listen to your body, especially when it is warning you that you are going too far.  There's a difference than your body being sore and your body on the verge of breaking down, and the expert at differentiating the two is YOU!  An important factor in training is to know your limit.  If your body is only capable of running a mile, don't run two miles because you'll hurt (not help) your body.

The same can be said with life.  Know what you can handle, and don't go beyond what you can handle.  It's important to strive to achieve certain goals.  However, if an individual were to attempt to achieve all the goals they could possibly put their hands on... they'll be over-committed and would have a stress-filled life.  An easy way to stop from over-committing is to prioritize and know what you can handle.

So did I just lay around and do nothing?  Absolutely not!!  I went down to the gym, cycled for an hour and rode 21.6 miles, 210 single-calf raises (per calf), as well as other leg exercises and an ab workout.  Because I knew I wouldn't be able to do one thing doesn't mean that I couldn't do anything.  I needed to somehow work out my legs without running, and there's many things that I could do.  Although I didn't get to go running outside on such a gorgeous day, I was able to use that time of running to focus on working on my lower body.  In training, just because I know I shouldn't run doesn't mean I can't train some other way for the marathon.  I remember a quote given to me in 3rd grade, "Where there's a will, there's a way."  I like to live that way.

Monday, March 12, 2012

To Run or Not To Run...

This morning, I woke up early, ready to run... but I wasn't motivated to run.  My body was a little sore and I didn't want to push myself to run.  So I didn't.  There are times when I force myself to run, but there are also times when I listen to my body when it tells me it's needing to rest.  I just chilled in my room, played a little guitar, talked to friends on facebook, and had a quiet and enjoyable morning.  After making lunch, I thought about going out to run, but my body told me to hold on and wait just a minute before I committed to a long run, which was what I was planning on doing.  Running is good for you until you do too much of something.  When you want to get faster, you can practice, but it's just as important to rest as it is to exercise.  My joints knew that it needed a little more of a break between runs.  My original plan was to run about ten miles, but when afternoon came, I ran 8.67 miles in 1:16:13 (8:48 min/mile pace) because I wanted to take it easy.  Due to yesterday running a sub-8 min/mile average, my body became slightly accustomed to the pace and upped the pace.

It's interesting to know how the body works.  When you practice running fast, your muscles get used to that pace and eventually, when you don't exert yourself as much, your body automatically keeps the pace (which is why in practice, you would have strides, fartleks, tempo runs, and other workouts that would practice going at a faster pace).  Controlling your training can help you improve overall speed, not just in a short distance, but also in extended distances.

Long Distance Running... benefits individuals to an unimaginable degree.  It can strengthen the heart, lungs, and muscles, as well as the mind.  Although there are a lot of physical things that can grow through training for an endurance race, there are more benefits to the individual in a psychological way rather than physiological.  When you train your body to run long distances, you train your mind to not give up.  In long distance running, limits becomes barriers and barriers eventually are broken.  The race is not against other people, but against the individual him/herself.  Goals are set to be reached, and effort put into running is rewarded.  On short runs, your body tells you to slow down, but your mind is the master of the body, telling it to push forward faster.  On long runs, your run is a natural rhythm set by your body to enjoy and relax, soothing the mind and it becomes a way individuals can cast their worries away and run off and become free.  All individuals needs a certain amount of individual time, and long runs can provide that.  Long runs allows you to open your mind and forget about the present worries and instead look at the future of opportunities.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Daylight Savings Time... And Some Running

Daylight's savings time was definitely not my friend.  Before I went to church, ran 3.06 miles in 29:45 (9:47 min/mile) and I was 'tired'.  In the afternoon, I went on a nice and long run with Garrett, who pushed me hard and ran 7.35 miles in 53:59 (7:21 min/mile).

There's a big difference between running by yourself and running with another person.  When you run a long and easy by yourself, you will only go so fast because you're taking it easy.  When you run with another person, you push yourself and go a lot faster than you would have gone alone.  I read in one of Sean Covey's book "7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens" (back when I was a teen) that when geese fly in formation, they fly 71% further than they would if they had gone alone.  There's that, but when running with another individual, you not only have the competition, but you also have the encouragement that automatically comes with running together.

My next race is going to be the Nashville Rock 'n' Roll Marathon on April 28th, and I want to race well, so my plan is to get my mileage down the next few weeks, and then  after 3-4 weeks, work on both speed and endurance.  Let's see how well training is going to be!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Introduction - Why I Run

Who am I? I am Sho.  Male, 24 years old, 6 feet, 174 pounds, in shape, and I live in Knoxville TN.

I am a runner

I started running when I was in 7th grade, and since then, I've kept it up.  Cross Country and Track and Field were my two favorite things to do in HS (band coming in 2nd).  My first distance race was my senior year in HS, running a half marathon right after our invitational in Guam.  I got 10th place overall and 1st in my age division with a time of 1:37:23 with a 7:26 pace.  When I graduated and went to college, I ran Cross Country also, but I also signed up for my first marathon, the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon, which I finished in 12th place overall, 1st in my age group, with the time of 3:11:42, with an average of a 7:19 mile.  I was really happy to get that time for my first marathon, and I was hooked on running long distances and up until now, I've run 4 marathons, the best time being 3:56:05 (7th place finish, 1st in my age group).

October 15th, 2011, I ran The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 miler, finishing the race with the time of 11:49:15, 58th place overall.  Because I signed up for the race a month prior, I didn't have enough time to train properly, but I wanted to challenge myself and see whether or not I would be able to do it.

Making goals and striving to finish them is something that I believe is really important, not only in running, but in everyday life.  I enjoy making goals and working hard to achieve them.  My running goal this time is different.  It's not just one race that I want to train for.  It's not a certain fitness level I want to achieve.  My goal is to inspire people to run their hardest towards their goals, to never give up when times are tough, but to push through the pain and hardships and persevere.  My goal is to run, not just for myself, but for everybody around me.

I have been on and off training for the Nashville's Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, and last week, I unfortunately caught strep throat and had to get off exercising for a long time.  Today, as I was already better, I decided that I would go for a run.  As it was my first day of my 3 week long spring break, I woke up and ran 6.06 miles in 1:03:52, 10:33 min/mile.  In the afternoon, I ran 5.59 miles in 53:01, 9:32 min/mile.  Today marks the starting point for me, the first day that I start running for everybody around me.