Coaching – Are You Ready?

“You show me a boy or girl, man or woman with a desire to win, and I’ll show you a person who will work hard the thousands of hours it takes to win. Show me those who want to go to the top, and I’ll show you people who’ll take coaching. They will welcome it. They will beg for it. They will use every God-given talent they have to its utmost. They will drink in inspiration. If they lack desire, they won’t work. They won’t take coaching.”           – Bob Richards Olympic Gold Medalist / Speaker / Coach

Looking back at each developmental stage of my life, I can pinpoint a specific person that was pivotal to my progress. Coaches, mentors, and even friends come into your life at key moments when your curiosity, drive, and focus are at their peak. This is the law of attraction. Connection builds trust. From a position of trust, we open ourselves to suggestion and likely, honest criticism.

When I meet someone I’m always curious about where they are headed. What’s the future look like? How are the decisions they make aligning with said direction? What are the hard choices they are making or putting off?

This curiosity comes from my own self-analysis. I’ve wasted plenty of time. Been complacent. Lazy. Put off hard decisions. Wallowed in self-pity. Made excuses. Quit races. Given up. Been jealous.

The complacent, weak-self I described above ALWAYS occurred when I was without guidance, mentorship or coaching. What’s missing? Accountability and vision. Someone who knows when to build you up, as well as when to break you down and then put you back together.

As a professional coach myself, I value my personal coaches immensely. Investing in yourself shows maturity and a level of commitment to life that can only be described as UNCOMMON.

Lean it out. Cleanse yourself of the common attitudes and opinions of those around you. Self-limiting beliefs can be contagious. Protect your circle. Let your true energy and personality shine through and opportunities will present themselves that you couldn’t have imagined.

Are you ready?

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Stay the Course…

We grow when challenged. Now, more than ever, it is easy to avoid uncomfortable situations. Social, physical, mental, environmental… they can all become non-existent in our lives. Days turn into weeks turn into months turn into years, they hurry by you. Recognizing a challenge and engaging whole-heartedly without fear of failure, or expectation of success is a trainable skill. Approaching your challenge with a personal, meaningful mantra and reason is paramount. I can’t create your why or reason for you. Spend time in your own head each morning. Rise a little early. Break the routine just a little. Journal. Think. Grow. Be accountable.

Epithets for the self: Upright. Modest. Straightforward. Sane. Cooperative.

Marcus Aurelius

Pick your two words. You know you’re going into a tough assignment—say to yourself over and over again, “strength and courage.” You’re about to have a tough conversation with a significant other: “patience and kindness.” You’re about to lead a team of people, and you’re uncertain of your own ability: “calm and composed.” via Daily Stoic

-Let a man not be corrupted by external things

-Let him be unconquerable and admire only himself

-Let him be courageous in spirit and ready for any fate

-Let him be the molder of his own life

-Let not his confidence be without knowledge, nor his knowledge without firmness

-Let his decisions once made abide

-Let not his decrees be altered by any alteration

-Let him be poised and well-ordered

-Let him show majesty mingled with courtesy in all his actions

Seneca

Be honest. Follow through. Recognize that we often quit at 40% … think about that… you’ve got 60% left to give, it’s there, just waiting to be exposed. Whether training or competing you need to wire your mind to dig deep into the well of effort. This is why you do the uncomfortable, repeatedly. Training is just that. It’s practice. Don’t judge practice. You are your toughest critic. Running 100+ miles in 24 hours is a practice of commitment and self-care. Over and over again you are asking yourself to keep moving for no other reason than a personal commitment. No fame, no glory, no money, nothing but completion of the short journey that is endurance sports.

Value your time and you can create an existence for yourself that will bring you pride and joy. Do it for yourself. Do it for your family. Do it for your soul. Don’t do it for the selfies and likes you may receive. It’s not a reliable source of validation. Accept how much personal power you have. Once realized it may overwhelm you. Move forward and look ahead. The future is now and the path is in front of you.

I applaud your decision to use the sharp knife and make a clean cut on a new future.

Onward and Upward.

On Reflection, Time, and Decisions

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Giovanni Paolo Cimerlini’s etching “The Aviary of Death

I have made myself what I am.

-Tecumseh, Shawnee 1768-1813

Search for yourself, by yourself. Do not let others make your path for you. It is your road and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you. Accept yourself and your actions. Own your thoughts. Speak up when wrong, and apologize. Know your path at all times. To do this you must know yourself inside and out, accept your gifts as well as your shortcomings, and grow each day with honesty, integrity, compassion, faith, and brotherhood.

-Terri Jean

Each morning I reflect on the passing of time. Not in a nostalgic manner, but one of acknowledgment. What actions were pointless, frivolous, or simply self-indulgent? What choices did I make that I’m proud of? The second question is harder to answer as those choices, for the most part, have become automatic. Habitual, if you may. Nevertheless, my goal is to quantify the positives and negatives, assess the behaviors that led to the decisions I made, and move forward, progressively as well as correctively. The analysis is not judgment.

Categories of Decisions (choices):

  1. Mental / Psychological / Emotional / Spiritual. This is broad for good reason. Each of these areas come together to quantify the self.
  2. Nutrition / Health. How much self-respect do you have? As human beings, we are physical clones of one another. We differ, mainly, because of the decisions we make in this category. Simple. Re-read the quote above from Tecumseh. 80% of the time think about food as it relates to health, wellness, and respect. 20% of the time associate food with an enjoyable, flavorful, entertaining activity. Would you attempt an extended endurance activity after eating “that” meal? Choose wisely.
  3. Physical / Fitness. Here you choose whether to seek the feeling and participate in change or not. Simple. Movement practice. Repeatable actions that accumulate and force adaptation. Improvement is felt and seen. The strength of your character. Prioritization of your time. How accessible is my chosen form of exercise? Do you know enough about, or have you mastered the movement to obtain full effectiveness from it?

Prioritize. Repeat. Learn.

It’s cliche, but true. Your most valuable resource is time. We can only hope to waste as little as possible. The expiration date is usually too distant to fully comprehend it’s magnitude. But you must. Your life is a gift. Your health is a choice.

  1. Create and assign values to every aspect of your life: physical / social / mental / spiritual / work / family
  2. Make sure your decisions align with your values.
  3. Repeat.
  4. Reflect, but don’t judge.
  5. Learn.

Onward and Upward.

 

Nuts and Bolts of Fitness Coaching

I label myself a fitness, health, and performance coach. The reach of fitness and health is broad, wide, diverse and expansive. It’s almost impossible to quantify the power your physical and mental fitness has on the rest of your life. No matter how successful you may be in other areas of your life, if you don’t have a high standard of fitness and health, you will lack performance.

My approach is simple. Get fit. Be healthy. Stay confident. Fit. Healthy. Confident. It flows right? I believe in coaching for one simple reason: accountability. In most areas of our lives deadlines imposed on us by others. Appointments, due dates, responsibilities, etc. all work to structure our weekly flow. When adding something personal into that mix, such as fitness training, it is paramount that the importance of this addition is treated as highly as those imposed on you by others. This is where your accountability coach comes in.

A few tools I employ to make sure you stay on track and have success:

  1. Private Fitness Training App/Website
  2. A requirement that all fitness and health activities be recorded and tracked.
  3. Sunday night check-in.
  4. Upgrade: “live” training via facetime, skype or other video calling service.
  5. Consequences for non-compliance. If you aren’t participating, you are gone.

Do you run a marathon to get to the finish line? Seems like a lot of hard work to simply stop the clock, right? No, you run a marathon to experience the journey along the way. From the day you commit to the process your life begins to change. No excuses. Do what has to be done to be successful!

The Perfect Trap

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”
― Anne Lamott

A common phrase uttered in the world of sport is: practice makes perfect… or, better yet, perfect practice makes perfect. In relation to competition, this may be the very thing that is holding many of you back from peak performance.

Competition in sport has a way of exposing your weaknesses. Maybe you train to your strengths, or obsessively compare one workout to the last, judging your performance in the present moment. These tendencies, over time, become hindrances to progress. You improve by encountering failure, embracing the unknown and using experience to move your forward. This is the antithesis of perfection.

In the above quote, Ms. Lamott is speaking of writing, and obsessing over perfection. How will this look? How will this be perceived? How does this make me feel? Is it (am I) ready? Its application is directly relevant to sports and competition. In endurance sports, you are your main rival. The other competitors are their own rivals on race day. It is your body of work that is represented when the gun goes off. All dreams of perfection must be released and the importance of acting and reacting must be prioritized.

So, how do you avoid the perfect trap? Here are a few examples:

  1. Ditch the watch: run by feel and emotion. Biofeedback is fun to track, but it can hinder the mind if the numbers aren’t where they “should” be.
  2. Train with a group: training partners, friends, and teams can provide the necessary stimulus to lift you into a new training experience. *Communicate with the group members and understand the goals of the workout before beginning.
  3. Go off road: nature is calling. Hitting the trails is a great way to add new and dynamic stimulus to your training. The mind works harder to engage with the environment. The body reacts to sudden terrain changes. Pace and speed go out the window when the terrain dictates movement. Also, proprioception, coordination, mobility, and strength are enhanced by training off road.
  4. Remind yourself that your finishing time matters to no one else. Nobody cares, but you. Nobody remembers, but you. Release the social pressure of achievement and be happy to be able to participate.

As the great Stoic Marcus Aurelius wrote:

“The things you think about determine the quality of your mind. Your soul takes on the color of your thoughts.”

We take on these difficult challenges, because they bring out the best in us, on that given day. Be happy in the moment and embrace the beauty that competition and sport bring to life.

Onward and Upward!

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

Maintenance for Longevity

“A soft, easy life is not worth living, if it impairs the fibre of brain and heart and muscle. We must dare to be great; and we must realize that greatness is the fruit of toil and sacrifice and high courage… For us is the life of action, of strenuous performance of duty; let us live in the harness, striving mightily; let us rather run the risk of wearing out than rusting out.” – Teddy Roosevelt

Coveting the new, finished product is not an unknown concept. Yet, it is the act of ownership obsession that stifles personal growth.

All items that make our lives easier and/or more convenient require maintenance. Fairly infrequent is the act required, meaning our confidence and expectation trumps action in upkeep. When failure occurs, which it will, it takes both time and capital to get our life up and running again.

Our mind and body are no different. Neglect, and pay the price. Abuse, and live with the consequences. Time/age escapes no one. The fade may appear slow, until the check engine light flickers on. What will the diagnostic test reveal? What’s the damage? For many this is a trigger to wake up and forge a better life. For others this is the beginning of the end. The mind accepts the sentence.

Maintenance prolongs life. By now you should be familiar with what is minimally required of you to keep your arteries clean, blood pressure down, BMI at an acceptable level, and a myriad of other necessities to live a respectable life. But you slip. You stop learning. You envy the healthy and vigorous. You spiral into the depths of self-disrespect, and loathing.

But wait, doesn’t that new car come with an owners manual? The proficient dealership whom sold you the car is so kind to send out reminders of when service is needed. Just call, schedule, drop off the car, heck, you even get a loaner for the day… how convenient and caring of them? You clean your car, washing it weekly. It requires “premium” gas. You justify the extra expense by reminding yourself it is required to keep the engine performing. All this for the peace of mind in knowing that you’ve done what is required, as an owner of this find piece of machinery.

Now think of all of the luxury items this applies to? Maintenance is a daily process. The more things we own, the more maintenance we must do. Look at all the businesses that are simply products of required maintenance. Pretty amazing to think about.

Now back to you. Why does this one thing that you’ll take to your grave get get abused, punished, polluted, neglected, etc.? How has this become acceptable? It starts at a young age. A few silly choices, and habits start to linger. As you grow older those few bad habits start to multiply. Pretty soon the effects begin to show. Fatigue, lethargy, weight gain, acne, flatulence, and dependency creep in and take hold. Some can fake it longer than others, but the cold hard truth is unavoidable. Your time has come. With more neglect comes greater reliance on modern technology and medicine to stay alive. More dependence…

You, the ultimate possession, the un-replaceable commodity, the selfless giver to the soul, deserve more. The process is rather simple, yet the journey is long. Correcting behaviors is simple. Nutritious food. More sleep. Less stimulants and depressants. Exercise. Hydration. Choices that all add up and lead to change.

Enough already. No more ignorance and complacency. It’s time to give back to ourselves. Stop. Think. Engage. Honor. Refuse to “wish you had” and instead be “grateful for” the gift of sound mind and functioning body.

Very few things are needed.

Sustenance: food and drink. Nourishment. Water. Meat. Vegetables. Fruit. Nuts. Grains. Recognize when you embellish. Don’t chastise, minimize. Why? Understand weakness. Unavoidable slips need not derail commitment.

Fitness: Lift. Climb. Step. Crawl. Jump. Push. Pull. Stretch. Run. Walk. Bike. Swim. Ski. Row. Dance. etc. Experiment to discover enjoyment. Fulfill daily. Options are unlimited. Consistency is key. Repetition is the mother of skill. Daily engagement resets your mind, fueling the drive to give the body what it needs. Internal as much as external. Heart. Lungs. Brain.

Growth: Mind. Body. Soul. Books, mentors, friends, family, spouse, lover, student, coach, community. Growth comes from listening, and applying advice and lessons. Simply taking a step back, surveying, and making a decision is often all that is needed.

Onward.

“EACH OF US IS born with a 70-year warranty, but few of us read the instructions. We blindly go through life without consulting a manual for the operation of the human machine. The maintenance and preservation of our bodies doesn’t concern us. We believe that longevity and freedom from malfunction have been built in by the Creator. And they have. But we can live long and stay healthy only if we take care of our bodies as we would our automobiles. We have to follow certain rules to get maximum performance and maximum longevity out of what we were born with. We have to apply the biological wisdom gained over the centuries to our day-to-day living. Make no mistake about it: Nature does not allow for error, and she is not reluctant to inflict capital punishment. Deviations from the correct regimen can certainly diminish one’s daily well-being and eventually one’s life span. True, aging is inexorable. And death is inevitable. But neither should occur before its appointed time.” -George Sheehan

 

Endurance Runner: The Process of Becoming, Pt. 1

Do the least amount necessary, not the most amount possible.

-Origin Unknown

In 2012 I made the conscious decision to participate and compete in ultramarathon running. My running background (circa 2008) was minimal at best, but had begun to evolve and grow into a daily, obsessive passion. Living in a high desert climate, at the time, allowed me to spend a lot of time outside, exploring the mountains, foothills, and in New Mexico, the flat, soft ground of the river trails. The ability to easily run on trail, away from pavement, cars, and people was exactly what I was looking for. Casual 45 minute runs extended into weekend trail exploring, covering 13+ miles in an outing became the staple of my weekend. An initial foray outside of my comfort zone, created a spark for change and forever altered my view of health, exercise, and wellness. As a fitness professional, I naturally became engrossed in the history of the sport, who the top athletes were, where they lived, how they trained, ate, what they wore, etc. My gravitation towards the competitive side of the activity was natural, but also something I felt a need to temper (initially). The changes in the mind happen much faster than those in the body. I visualized the product, racing Leadville, competing well, and being accomplished. At that point I had to begin the process.

With no formal coaching or advising I began to read about training for running, and the different ways in which athletes approached the sport. Having spent many years with strength training as my foundation or mode of fitness, it was not something I was willing to give up or even begin to replace. Thus, trail running became what I did on my own, every other day. Running 18-20 miles per week provided me with a nice balance. Having a lot of recovery is beneficial when beginning a new sport or any fitness regiment. We call this “absorption”. The “rest” allows us to soak up the workouts and build excitement and anticipation for the next outing. Looking back, this is why we often perform so well in new activities. Absent of the expectation of performance a person simply flows and consistently does their best, not knowing what that is or what it can be.

Week Flow:

  • Monday: Strength / Cross-Train
  • Tuesday: Run 6 miles
  • Wednesday: Strength / Cross-Train
  • Thursday: Run 6 miles
  • Friday: Strength / Cross-Train
  • Saturday: Run/Hike 10+ miles or 2+ hours
  • Sunday: Rest

In the beginning I ran the same course, repeatedly. It was a nice distance, offering a variety of terrain: nice climbs, some short and steep, some long and gradual, with equal descents. The biggest factor was that I enjoyed it. I came to know every inch of the course, knowing my times from previous runs, and if I was “on” a good pace or not. Super simple, yet extremely effective.

A balanced schedule allows you to continually build confidence and foster strong mental and physical growth. By focusing on the daily activity, being present each workout, you can then begin to assess the effectiveness of the training (sleep, nutrition, lifestyle choices, workouts, etc.).

Gradual lifestyle changes give time to ponder your true desire and intention of your new pursuit. Patience, with persistence, brings success.

Pursuing Peak Performance

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Points of failure in all instances define the limits of systemic function. Right Practice must seek to extend those limits through the pursuit of failure… Outside the formal practice, physical training involves the pursuit of success. Within the formal practice, physical training involves the pursuit of failure.

Michael Livingston, “Mental Discipline

When we train, we must seek to fatigue the working muscle or energy system. Doing the plank, or forward-leaning-rest, focus intently on the position you are trying to hold, tight hips, legs, locked out arms, as well as tension throughout. If a break down occurs, stop. There is no honor in spastic extended effort. In your next attempt at extending your time in plank position use your previous best as your bench mark. The same goes for pushups, pullups, squats, or other bodyweight exercises. Crush the muscle group you are training, keeping body tension throughout. True failure is controlled. It still “looks” smooth and easy. Following this protocol helps with injury prevention and overtraining.

In my running/endurance training I love :30/:30 intervals. 30 seconds of very hard effort, followed by 30 seconds of easy recovery. We must hit these hard, and then back off completely to get ready for the next. The body is adapting and with adequate rest between these intense sessions our fitness builds and expands. New realities, new limits, personal bests, course records, all become possibilities with focused training and recovery.

Respect your efforts and engage in positive recovery practices, daily. The younger crowd seems to frown on stretching, until they become injured. Start your daily stretching practice sooner rather than later. With heightened levels of exertion comes increased strain on the major movers, i.e. hamstrings, groin, and quads in running. Seek to lengthen these muscles on a daily basis via a few simple exercises:

  • Instep-Stretch
  • Pigeon
  • Downward Facing Dog
  • Wide Founder (foundation training)
  • Wide Founder into Windmill (foundation training)
  • Narrow Stance Decompression Breathing (foundation training)

Work + Rest/Recovery = Training

 

 

Discomfort

The awkward, uncomfortable feeling of physical struggle we feel when the workout gets hard is essential to growth. Most people seek to avoid this at all costs, but to do so is to avoid growth and progress. Be clear on your “why” before, during, and after.

“Working out” is your pure practice of engaging in lifestyle change and enhancement.

Discomfort never lasts. Comfort never progresses.

When it’s over. You won’t regret it.

Engage!