Define, Decide, Do

Kroger's Canteen

San Juans. Virginius Pass.

Your life gives you a finite amount of time, energy, and focus. Define what gives you the most value and spend your time on that. Do it. The rest is simply details.

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Balance. Keeping it all in check. Working enough to be proficient, but not an excessive amount to be a specialist. I’ve always operated best in a state of balance. Creating my own goals and activities. Using self-monitoring techniques to make decisions.

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Input and Output. Cause and Effect. Analyzing the aftermath.

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Life is never easy. The modern world is demanding. Therefore, we must be flexible. To be flexible we must be competent. Having a diverse set of talents gives you options. Having options provides the power of choice. Well, when you can choose, the effect is never far away.

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Engagement forms the bond. The bond becomes the connection. The connection makes it a lifestyle. When it’s your lifestyle, well, then you own it.

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Think on these things:

  • Life is a continuum. There is no big moment lying ahead. Establish your daily routine now. What you live will be a circular set of experiences.
  • Avoid magical thinking. There are no secrets. All changes are just habits. Learning to say “NO” to things that derail is paramount in importance.
  • Foster your Movement Mindset… 
    • Physical Activity Trumps Body Composition
      • Build it into your daily life
        • Choose simple over complex
          • Get really good at simple
            • do more, with less, more often

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Sequence your year…

My “quarterly” physicality:

  • November to March –
    • strength, flexibility, walking, and patience.
  • March to May –
    • prioritizing endurance, reducing strength and flexibility, increasing recover practices.
  • May to August –
    • extended endurance, goal-specific training, execute a successful race. ***Maybe
  • August to November –
    • hunt, hike, stretch, water, body weight, movement flow.

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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Performance / Success / Discipline

“A warrior cannot complain or regret anything. His life is an endless challenge, and challenges cannot possibly be good or bad. Challenges are simply challenges. – Don Juan, Carlos Castaneda

Application of the concept of right practice, the pursuit of excellence, or the process of formative lifestyle change/improvement applies to all areas of your life. Making this distinction and honestly engaging each aspect of your existence with these principles is a skill to be consciously employed.

“I appreciate greatness and I appreciate hard work. It’s something about devoting a piece of every day to something that’s far off that’s really inspiring to me. I know there are areas where I can improve, which gives me a lot of confidence that it’s not the peak for me.” Dylan Bowman – Professional Ultrarunner

“Performance is about being your best and learning to do something better. Excellence does not come easily, nor is it automatic for even the most talented, highly-motivated individuals. Rather it stems from the desire to be really good at something and the discipline to make a lasting commitment.” – Connie Carpenter 1984 Gold Medal Cycling

“A performance gap is thereby delineated with maximum specificity between the performance system subject to premature failure and the image of purpose. By employing the force of will, moment to moment, to sustain the training exercise past such points of premature microsystemic failure, the performance of that particular episode of exercise is enhanced.” Michael Livingston – Mental Discipline

Most athletic practice will embrace some fundamental performance objective, and this objective properly will be embodied in a general image of purpose. Discrete performance objectives / maximum specificity. Each microsystem must be trained with maximum intensity.

The purpose of walking the path is not to attain some final destination but simply to progress ever further along that path.

The ego distorts purity of practice. Product-oriented pursuits serve the ego, seeking some objectified result to be achieved through that practice. There is no purity of practice. No commitment to the process.

The purpose must possess a process orientation. This process orientation to the image of purpose, in turn, has two dimensions: intention and direction. The force of will acts on the mind in two ways. First, the mind must be directed, toward some conceptual goal. Second, the mind must be propelled or animated to move in that direction.

The greater the specificity and intensity of practice – that is, the more purposeful – the more effective the practice will be.

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.

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!

Simple is Sophisticated

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Da Vinci

Simple is key, but simple isn’t easy.

Exercise, for most, is a small part of our lives. A means to an end. Keeping it simple and efficient requires a skill of practice that is not instantly obtained. In order to excel with this concept: repetition, discipline, and desire must be harnessed consistently.

  • Coaching is an accelerator.
    • Accountability ensures.
    • Progress comes quicker.
    • Results are seen sooner.
  • With trust and commitment change is possible.
  • Our species thrives on forward/upward movement.
    • Feeling the momentum of progress is addicting.
    • Chasing the idol of physicality is never-ending. Mastery is an illusion applicable to no physical endeavor.

Endurance is repetition / Movement molds / Breath is fluidity & connection

The effective minimum dosage of the physical permits frequency.

  • Continuation.
  • Progression.
  • Evolution.

Where does this lead us?

Guided, online coaching requires you to be heavily engaged in the workout. Focused and attentive. Understanding the stimulus. Adjusting resistance or rep count to elicit the proper feeling. There is no “plug and play” concept to exercise. Questioning if the movement warrants the response. You will never skip this step. Avoiding failure is smart for most. Quality repetition leads to increased frequency via efficient recovery.

Desired results. Efficiently delivered. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

Smart Training = Avoiding Fatigue

Have you ever experienced the feeling of decreased self-control, or willpower due to simply being tired? I know I have. Finishing a long run, depleted, I’m susceptible to cravings and impulses I simply do not normally have. Sweets, carbs, bread, beer, etc. Following the “positive” comes a negative.

What do you think this is telling your body?

The same can be seen in the effects of excessive high-intensity interval training. Crushing workouts followed by fatigue, lead to diminished discipline and heightened reward signals.


  1. Know the purpose of your training:
    1. Why are you exercising? Body composition change? Image enhancement? Mental and physical performance? Hobby?
    2. Your purpose should direct the type of exercise you employ, as well as your nutritional needs.
  2. Avoid the extremes:
    1. Injuries happen when you ignore the signals your body is giving you. Excessive fatigue before, during or after exercise is a “Red Flag” to be respected. Stop and reassess.
    2. Only use a training weight that you can manage effectively. Ignore rep counts that you can’t mentally stay engaged long enough to handle.
    3. Where the mind goes the body follows. If 100% focus is not happening, then stop the exercise. More harm than benefit may be had on this day.
  3. Leave a little in the tank:
    1. Learn to leave something in the tank for the other events of your day, or tomorrows workout. Consistency and repetition are where your results will come from, not the temporary beat down of too much too soon and subsequent delayed recovery.
  4. Exercise in a 1:1 environment or alone:
    1. Distractions help pass the time, but it is not passing the time that we are after.
    2. Mind/Body is not a byproduct. Manifest the desired outcome and picture it happening.
  5. Less is More:
    1. Simply put. Learning to engage a muscle, what it feels like to achieve a proper contraction and seeking that feeling each repetition will give you amazing results.
    2. Eating less frees your body up to focus on aspects other than digestion and recovery.
    3. Less time spent exercising means more time spent living with your fitness.

Remember that your fitness and health are positive enhancers to your lifestyle. Engage in the learning process. Mastering a few key aspects of movement will do more for your health than any amount of variety can muster.

Onward and Upward!

Xclusive Mindset Approach to Execution

Horns and crew...

Western States 100 – 2017

REPETITION:

  • Rep to rep, day to day, step by step. Positive, useful, negative… it all adds up. Choose wisely. DO THE WORK.

ROUTINE:

  • Reps/Sets/Minutes/Miles.
  • Warm-up = easy/prep.
  • Work = quality/present.
  • Cooldown = mental/nutrition/future.

PLANNING:

  • Scheduling.
  • Days priority. Know it. Respect it.
  • Energy dispersion and allocation. Finite resource.
  • Nutrition and supplementation. The timing of fueling.

MENTAL:

  • Start the process each day.
  • Break the fast.
  • Embrace the day’s challenges.
  • Eliminate self-sabotage.
  • You can do it. Mindset/approach.

Remember in tough times, this too shall pass…

PERCEPTION:

  • Of… reality, possibility, difficulty, ability… all manifested within.
  • Be aware of this.
  • Breathe deeply, move forward.

ABILITY:

  • You must realize this is your responsibility. To give your best effort when called upon regardless of circumstance.

EPICTETUS’ Foundation of Excellence:

Tentative efforts lead to tentative outcomes. Therefore give yourself fully to your endeavors. Decide to construct your character through excellent actions and determine to pay the price of a worthy goal. The trials you encounter will introduce you to your strengths. Remain steadfast… and one day you will build something that endures…

Breakthroughs

The first 15 minutes of my day are tough. Not physically, but mentally. Do I get after it, or do I snooze a bit longer? Tuesday mornings, this is especially the case. On this day of the week, a standard hill workout is scheduled. Hyland Park’s South Ski Hill provides the incline via a 0.5-mile loop going up the hill and back down a class 5 gravel maintenance road. A trail runners version of the “track” workout. This is done to improve climbing and descending ability, as well as accumulate elevation gain in the mountainless state of Minnesota.

So, the alarm sounds at 4:10 and there are 30 minutes to departure time (Hyland is a 20-minute drive from home). Depending on the previous nights sleep this can be an especial cruel start to the day. Nonetheless, it’s time to move.

Somedays breakthroughs happen when we least predict or expect them. When the mind settles the body will often follow. Having commitments, scheduling consistent events in your week, and sticking to a routine is the most effective way to set yourself up for success, and even a personal breakthrough.

Breakthroughs aren’t planned, they happen. For me, on this day, I experienced a mental-physical one that has been a long time coming. Controlling the thoughts in my head: doubts, pity, defeat, and weakness. Letting themselves out while I do what I love (run) is giving in to the athletic process.

Eliminate the decisions you need to make. The fewer choices the better. Show up. Give your best effort. Don’t quit. Good things happen.

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!