Archive for the ‘exercise’ Category

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Risks involved with your job

In business,Community,culture,exercise,faith,family,Spiritual on August 15, 2016 by mstevensrev

0814016-OLY-Ryan-Lochte-2-LF-PI.vadapt.980.high.79There are risks involved in your job. For some, such as police and firefighters, the over all daily risk of death is much higher then others. Being an Olympic Athlete is not a job generally thought of as high risk for death, and yet this week Ryan Lochte was held up at gunpoint while in Rio. The details seem sketchy and this could end up going strange directions, but the fact remains that many of us do not have regular threats on our lives in daily work or even when we travel for work.

I’m grateful for the peace that I experience on a daily basis and I also am grateful for those who put themselves in harms way intentionally for the sake of others. So the next time you take a cab or Uber and end up at the destination without being robbed, say a little thanks.

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

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What kind of proof do you need?

In Community,culture,exercise,olympics,Uncategorized on August 8, 2016 by mstevensrev

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Headlines that have caught my attention today from the Olympics have to do with cupping. Cupping: (in Chinese medicine) a therapy in which heated glass cups are applied to the skin along the meridians of the body, creating suction as a way of stimulating the flow of energy. This is becoming a trend with some athletes and with Michael Phelps majestical return to the Olympics it has everyone’s attention.

It is something that I looked into with my training. Since having a shoulder injury in college I have regular pain when starting new exercise routines. For the time I decided against  using cupping, but not because I don’t think it works.

The truth is that from what I read it is very difficult to say without doubt that it is effective, results may vary. This sounds like most of what we use in life. Even the best of medicine has that caveat. There are things that may work for you but others may not have the same experience.

So before trying something new, what proof do you need? Are you someone that is willing to kick the tires and try it out? Do you like being first in trying the new and experimental? Are you just fine where you are at? Personally when I do try something I’m uncertain about I want to give it the best effort, my full attention and the best people in the field I have around me to help it be successful. Perhaps sometimes my willingness and those great people are the only reason it works.

I have always been more interested in experiment, than in accomplishment.

-Orson Welles

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Race Lesson 3: Double down on strengths

In exercise,Fun,leadership,Sports,swimming,Uncategorized on July 28, 2016 by mstevensrev

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Running is the place where I excel, and over the years it is also the physical activity that I have found the most enjoyment in. The SeaFair Olympic Triathlon only confirmed that running is the most fun I have all day, when compared to swimming and biking. In addition to finding someone to help me with my incremental improvement in swimming, I also am convinced that nothing will get me to my goal faster then more running. So I immediately signed myself up for the Carkeek 12-Hour race which I ran a few years ago and wrote about here. There are a few other races I’ll compete in, but for the 12-hour I’d like to complete 40 miles this year.

There isn’t anyone in the world that has been created the same as you, many people spend their life looking at what they don’t have and how to improve their weaknesses. The opposite approach is more fun, go out and enjoy your strengths!  There is a really fun book that highlights this that I read years ago, American Shaolin: Flying Kicks, Buddhist Monks, and the Legend of Iron Crotch: An Odyssey in the New China. I believe focusing in the one area where you can shine makes you better and has a larger impact in the world. Well roundedness is a myth and can often weaken your position in life when it comes to using your gifts. 

Use your gifts faithfully, and they shall be enlarged; practice what you know, and you shall attain to higher knowledge.

-Matthew Arnold

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Race Lesson 2: Get expert help on your weakness

In exercise,leadership,quote,running,swimming,Uncategorized on July 27, 2016 by mstevensrev

035sports-coachIn Race Lesson 1: Go beyond your desire to quit, I mentioned the challenge that the swim leg of the SeaFair Olympic Triathlon caused me. It was great to get through that experience but it immediately led me to action for improvement. The number of years that I have dedicated to running and the expertise that I have gained in that area cannot be duplicated with swimming. Therefore my goal is not to make swimming my strength in triathlons.

To date the gains I have made in swimming have been through self study and practice, there are a few fundamentals that I understand about good form. Now that I have more experience it is time to find an expert to help me incrementally improve that area of my race. As I mentioned my overall race time was respectable, middle of the pack for my age group and the swim was exactly what I expected it to be. Therefore if I can make moderate improvements in swimming I will advance up the ladder in my age group rapidly. My self education in this area has gotten me as far as I can go, therefore it is time to seek an expert. Since my greater goal is to move beyond the middle of the pack for Olympic Triathlons and complete an Iron Man.

Over the years I’ve come to the reality that I cannot be an expert at everything, it is not realistic and therefore there will always be weakness in my life. Working in teams and the management has taught me to seek those who challenge me in my weaknesses, these are people that are key to success. For example, one area you may notice is in my blog, I need an editor:) This is key when I’m developing captivating materials in my work for clients, if quality assurance is my sole responsibly we have not developed the strongest possible team.

Having people around me that are experts where I am weak is not easy on my ego, therefore I’m learning how to continue to listen and take in their perspective. Often these experts are not even directing their talking at me but rather what we are working on. When they are talking to me, they are inviting me to expand my mind and see how the world can be better because of what they uniquely bring to the table. This place of humility and openness is often more easily said then done, but even as I write about it I get excited.

In my next lesson I’d like to explore doubling down on your strengths, so pay attention for Race Lesson #3

“Hard work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning. Once it does, it becomes the kind of thing that makes you grab your wife around the waist and dance a jig. (150)”
Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success

 

 

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Motivation

In exercise,Fun,fun video,Games,running,Uncategorized on December 4, 2012 by mstevensrev Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

Yesterday I went for my second run in my new shoes. As some of you may have read in previous posts after reading Born to Run, I registered and successfully completed my first ultra run, a grueling 12 hour race, that I completed 38 miles in 10 hours before the terrible rains.  The one black Friday purchase I did make was a new pair of running shoes and I decided to go Bare Foot.  Yes, reading Born to Run influenced this as well but there was a greater factor I realized while running yesterday.

Image When I was a kid I remember getting a new pair of Zips or Kangaroos and running as hard as I could outside my house in Baltimore.  I mean this is what you did, the new shoes made you run faster and it is almost as if they had a will of their own that took you over.  Yesterday on my run I realized whether the Bare Foot running trend is just a fad or not, it has sparked new motivation for me during a very difficult time of year to train in Seattle, especially this year with how wet it has been.  Never before in my life have I lived so close to trails that I can easily get to to run. Never before have I enjoyed running in sopping wet grass through my neighborhood.

I am using wisdom and not going out on long runs in my New Balance Minimus 20V2 Trail Shoes, rather I’m keeping them to 3-6 miles on the trails.  Also I have kept my old shoes, which are very worn to wear as I run longer distance that requires running on the street and pavement.  As I head to San Francisco this week for work I’ll only be taking my ‘street shoes’.

So today whether you are running, working or watching kids I hope that you are able to find some motivation and encouragement to be your best, Rock and Roll!

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A thanks and what I learned from my first race ultra-running and how does it apply to the rest of life.

In Books,business,Community,culture,exercise,faith,family,food,Friends,Fun,humor,quote,Reading,running,Spiritual,Sports,Theology,Uncategorized,work on October 28, 2012 by mstevensrev

Yesterday I participated in a twelve hour race less then a mile from house called the Carkeek 12 Hour, which is marketed as the worst race in the world.  It is twelve hours of a two mile loop on poorly marked trails and approximately 400 vertical feet every loop.  You begin a six in the morning in the complete dark with headlamps and go until six in the evening.  And now the results, I WON, okay I didn’t win the most number of loops, I’m not even sure if I won the costume contest (I was Waldo from Where’s Waldo, pretty clever if I do say so because it was easy to run it).  I am certain I WON the prize for most smack talking in the race, I think I met every runner and had a blast getting to know them, in addition I accomplished my goal for the race and finished with a smile on my face, clearly I was the day’s winner.

Before I start talking about what I learned from the experience, I’m sure some of you have some questions:

Q. Did you run the whole time?

A. Depends on what you call running.  I averaged about 4 miles per hour over my race.  So my questions is how fast do you run? I kept moving and other then some adjustments to my costume throughout the race I kept moving, there were laps I completely walk these laps often were when I was eating.

Q. Did you say eating?

A. Yes, I ate good.  One of the sponsors of the race was Seattle Biscuit Company, @SeattleBisCo and it was amazing.  I did tell them if I had a Biscuit Truck I would have a picture of someone’s butt in the logo and an African-american woman named Flo serving them…perhaps for their second truck SBC will do this;)  
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They offered us food included in the cost of the race, so I took full advantage I 
had two eggs, bacon, and ham over grits, and two biscuits.  One biscuit with jam the second with Apple butter.  It was amazing, many runners stick with Goo and other sports products that make me want to puke.  The candy they provided was great initially but I noticed that I would crash from the sugar about in the second lap after eating it, so SBC was my savior and was one element of the race that made my experience unforgettable.  Very grateful for the amazing food and wonderful service from these guys.  They even laughed when I told them that, “If I crap myself or throw up I won’t blame you guys..” That is a line that could really be taken poorly by the wrong person.  So if you are in Seattle find this food truck, you will not be disappointed.

I’m glad to answer any other questions related to the race, my experience, and my training for it (actually I didn’t train specifically for this race, I’m currently preparing for my triathlon season next year…this race was just for ‘fun’).  As I ran there were a few things that came to mind that I wanted to share, principles that I applied that I thought applied to both my personal and professional life, check it out.

The Plan

Going into the race I spent a good amount of time mentally planning, I don’t just hop out and try to go running for twelve hours without thinking it through.  The course record was 33 laps, approximately 66 miles and 13,000 total vertical…keep in mind Mt. Ranier and Pike’s Peak are 14,000 vertical feet.  I knew if I ran the race of my life the best I would do is 30 laps, so while that was in the back of my mind it was not reality.  I set an achievable goal of running 15 laps (30 mile), which would be the longest distance I have ever run (6,000 vertical feet which is two trips up to Snoqualmie Pass) this was a goal I would be completely satisfied achieving.  Since the trails are only .5 mile from my house I spent many training runs exploring and enjoying the trails so they would seem familiar to me for the race, I did not run more then two laps for any training run because I didn’t want to get sick of the course before I even got to the time of the race.

During the race I executed my plan.  Some ultra runners are so remarkable they can push their bodies to run an entire course like this one for the entire distance of the race.  That is not me.  I knew for me to survive the day walking was important.  The course was marked the opposite direction of what I had trained and there were a few areas that I had never run and was unfamiliar with.  Thankfully at the start of the race in the pitch black I was able to run the first lap with a few people including ‘Big Bird’, an extremely gifted woman ultra runner who had completed the race the year before.  This lap was much faster then I had anticipated starting but it was worth it just to have someone take me through the course, honestly it was tough for me to keep up that first lap but I knew in the long term for the race it would be to my advantage as getting lost would have discouraged me from the start.  After that lap I was able to reorient my mind going the opposite direction from what I had anticipated, the parts that I thought I would run downhill now became areas to briskly walk, the hills I anticipated walking now were opportunities to bomb down, within the first hour of the race I had completely adjusted my thinking and honestly I think it is one of the factors that kept me mentally fresh.

Most of my life I have lived without a plan, only in the past five years has planning enter the equation.  Having a plan with stretch goals and achievable goals is important, otherwise as Yogi Berra famously said “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you going, because you might end up there.”  This applies in my personal and professional life, plans for the next month, year, and years into the future are important.  These plans are not set in stone but they are the maps for the trails of my life, I can always vary from them if I want to see a view or if a hill seems too difficult to climb at the time, but at least I know (on some level) why I am where I am at in any given moment.  Even when wandering because as someone once said, “Not all who wander are lost.”

Winning and being competitive

The reality is there are amazing ultra athlete’s in the Pacific Northwest, I got to witness these men and women first hand yesterday.  And yes I’ll admit many times during the day I fantasized about what it would mean for me to finish with the most numbers of lap, and in my fatigued state I may have even thought it was within my grasp.  So I ran competitively, at the point in the race when these amazing athletes began to pass me I played a game with them, though they had no idea.  They would come up behind me and as they got closer I would incrementally speed up, this had two advantages as I saw it.  Here were people already working harder then I was early in the race, this meant they would have to work even harder perhaps even harder then they had anticipated.  Once you see someone often you determine regardless of your pace to pass them, so you do what is necessary to get by, this meant I could ‘fool’ them into using more energy then they would prefer.  Also it improved my time, even though I was not racing at the same level as these folks I was able to benefit myself and my time by being competitive with them even if it was only for five or ten minutes while they passed me.  Again this was a complete personal secret that improved my time and kept me mentally fresh, it also made me better.

In life there will always be someone who is better then you.  Your chance of winning often is dependent on whether they show up to the race or not, because you have no chance of beating them head to head.  Whether they show up is not in your control, but if they do show up it is an opportunity for you to personally improve.  Take the opportunity to make yourself better and perhaps one day you will end up being the person that everyone hopes doesn’t show up to the race.

There were two ‘official’ ways to win at the Carkeek 12 hour, most number of laps and the costume contest. While I would have loved to win both or either of the honors, I created a third way to win “Best Trash Talker”.  For me this meant that I would talk with anyone where every on the course regardless of how bad or good I was feeling.  While alone on the course I would imagine what fun conversations to have with others and I created a catch phrase that I stole from work “Gitty up!”  When I would be passed by the most serious of runners for the second of third time I would accuse them of using their car or cutting the course short. Knowing the truth, that they were just better then me, I didn’t let a little truth get in the way of me connecting with others on the course;)  This created a bond for me, one that I began to enjoy seeing these folks even though they were kicking my butt, and my hope was that they were enjoying seeing me because they knew they would get some entertainment value when they passed the guy dressed up like Waldo. At one point I came upon the aid station and said to the crew of people who were assisting us, “I don’t want to be a tattle-tail but unless Hippie Runner is a costume I don’t think anyone ahead of me in the race is actually dressed up in costume, can you disqualify them so I can win?”  It lead one runner who overheard me say this say that he was dressed as Lance Armstrong and has a blood bag full of horse blood that he was going to run with later in the race.

Chris McDougall in his epic book Born to Run, discuss the evolutionary theory that humans were pack animals and each member of the pack plays an essential role for survival.  At the core of the ‘pack’ theory is that we are created for connection with each other, frankly I believe connection is key for our existence as a species.  Yes, my trash talking talking was a means of connecting more deeply with my pack yesterday.  One more popular example I relate to this has to do with trash talking and the NBA.  Rumor has it that Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant were/are two of the greatest trash talkers in the history of the game, not only two of the greatest athletes every to play basketball.  I draw a connection here to their athletic performance and their connecting with people.  Just to clarify, trash talking is not merely swearing at people or telling them the are worthless pieces of trash.  Trash talking is connecting more along the lines of “your mother dresses you funny”. Clever thoughtful words used to engage your competition mentally.  You don’t have to be a great athlete to pull this off, you have the opportunity even if you are average to make a deeper more ‘human’ connection.  Since none of us are machines operating through life we have the chance to enter into another reality through engaging conversation with people. Take this opportunity today, if you have the skills in an area to back it up then the world is your oyster.

Gratitude

A few months ago I read with a book club Chris McDougall’s Born to Run, and it was the inspiration to participate in the Carkeek 12 Hour. I am grateful both for the book club and the book itself to have provided the soil for me to grow as a person, I could not and would not do something so insane without others.  We do not change the world (or ourselves for that matter) alone.  I have hard people say, “Even the lone ranger had Tonto.” Yesterday the people that made the race possible were the race organizers (Sam and Brock) and the folks that volunteered to run the aid station.  Many of these folks probably would have preferred to be running the race themselves and instead they made it possible for me to enjoy the day and have an experience of a lifetime.  During the race my goal was to show my gratitude by keeping these folks entertained.  Somewhere around my seventh loop I came by the aid station to check my time and laps.  When they told me how many I had run I said, “Crap I am going way too fast, if I keep running this fast my intestines will fall out my asshole.” While they were still laughing I added, “I know because I’m a doctor.”

Regardless of where you are in life you did not get there on your own, I don’t care what any politician tells you.  People help people and often especially as Americans we forget the fact and continue to move forward.  Make sure that you find someway to say thanks, a grateful heart leaves no room for bitterness.  I am so thankful for my family, friends, co-workers, race organizers, and crew that made yesterday possible and make everyday of life possible.  Each one of us has dark seasons, during my darkest times I have taken to the intentional practice of gratitude.  At the end of the day I will light a candle and reflect on all that I am thankful for starting with the beginning of my day and working through until the end, often I will do that twice because it is very hard for me to think in a linear manner for any length of time.  Once your mind is oriented in this way go out and practice acts of gratitude.  In our family we emphasize saying the words please and thank you, showing others their proper value.

C.S. Lewis said, “There are no ordinary people.  You have never talked to a mere mortal.  Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn.  We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, is fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”  Yesterday was not without me being flippant or superior toward other, therefore I know I have a long ways to go before ever achieving this goals.  Regardless I am grateful to Sam and Brock and the crew who made such a wonderful event possible.

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>6AM this morning

In exercise,Mornings,swimming on December 4, 2009 by mstevensrev

>The alarm went off at 6AM, I didn’t exactly jump out of bed. Actually reset my alarm for an hour, but then knew I had to try out my proof of concept. So I put on on running clothes, brushed my teeth and grabbed my backpack with my swimming gear.

The run is one mile. It was dark and cold but fun, mostly because it was new I think. Made it to the pool, checked in, changed showered and was in by 6:35. New goggles and not being in swim shape lead to lots of rest. My form needs work, but I did alright in the Easy lane. Over all I was in the pool for about 40 minutes. At my last stop I was seeing stars and feeling great, think it was the endorphins pumping (or that suit really is way too tight and messing me up).

Dried off and ran home. Looks like this is going to work. The biggest hindrance to repeating this over the next two weeks is my travel schedule, good news with that is the hotels I’m staying at have pools, so I can at least get sometime in working on my form if nothing else.