Place your bets

For me, I need to be motivated to do things. That goes for all things in life from mowing the lawn (I don't want another letter from the HOA) to writing up that quarterly report I've been putting off (I don't want my boss on my ass). Exercise is no different but it's so much harder to get motivated. "To be healthy" or "to lose weight" sound great and dandy but it won't get me to run outside in the nasty weather when I'm all comfortable sitting on the couch and feeling extremely lazy.

Motivation is different for everyone but what motivates me the most is competition. I get such satisfaction in beating someone, whether it be in a card game or basketball or drinking game. Anything. And to make it even more satisfying, I like to up the stakes by making bets... make it juicier since I need more than bragging rights. But I don't want your money. I want to embarrass you.

These days a $20 bet between each other won't really push a person anymore than without a bet. One would have to make a higher monetary bet, maybe like $1000 but then it could get really ugly since you're talking about serious money between friends... or should I say, former friends once the loser pays out.

So the next best thing is to bet on humiliation. No one wants to be embarrassed, laughed at... especially in public. Almost all of my bets revolve around embarrassment. I don't want your money but if I have to run around a crowded park shirtless, wearing tight Speedos, you're damn sure I'm doing anything to win that bet.

Here I am snowboarding shirtless because of a lost bet.
I've won plenty of embarrassing bets but I've had my fair share of loses too... but it won't stop me from making more bets. It's the only thing that gets me going. So I ask you...

What motivates you?


On The Road Again

On the road again, by Willie Nelson, is one of my favorite songs. When we moved to California I put Pandora on the Willie Nelson station and this was the first song that came on. It was a great way to start the trip!  I'm not writing about country music or Willie, but rather some tips on how to run or keep active when you are on the road.  The picture above was taken on my last trip (Bonita Springs, FL).

Plan ahead.  Schedule your workouts right along with you hotels, meetings, and dinners. I called Luke's Locker, in The Woodlands, and the runner on the phone told me exactly how to get to the National Forest and which trail to run! He was excited that I asked and was happy to explain how do do it. 

The hotel you choose is pretty important. I book those that; have a gym, serve a free hot breakfast, and are close to good running routes. 

Bring healthy snacks along with you to keep your energy up throughout the day. Before I started doing this I always chose eating over running because I was too hungry after work to run. All i wanted to do was eat!  This led to me overeating and then being too full to run!  Cliff Bars don't get smashed in your luggage and contain enough protein and carbs to hold me over and keep me energized. 

Travel with a dirty clothes bag and a shoe bag to keep the running clothes separate from your work clothes. I pack my running shoes in a shoe bag and I bring along a Baggallini for the trip home, which I check.  I just wash my clothes in the shower with soap, but you could bring a small amount of Woollite or Sports Wash with you instead.  I may try this on my next trip.

I would like to hear what tips you guys have when you travel.  Post replies please and happy running y'all!




Mr. Glass

I am no man of steel. To say that I’m prone to injury might be a wee bit of an understatement. I’ve been to the emergency room more times than I can remember. At last count, it was more than ten. I was backed over by a car, broke both arms, sliced my leg open, fell down the stairs (more than once), crushed a couple of teeth when my face got into a fight with the street, bashed my head into the corner of a formica covered kitchen counter, broke numerous digits, stuck an EpiPen into my thumb bone, severely sprained my ankle while trying to prove I could jump over a cardboard house (the house didn’t survive), and on and on and on. With the exception of the head meets counter episode, each of those injuries was self inflicted and the product of carelessness; and one might argue the counter was my fault since I asked to be swung around by my feet.

Though, with all of the abuse and harm I have inflicted on my body, I heal. Strike that; my body heals itself. I don’t have to do anything except wait and try not to get hurt while I’m waiting. However, there is one exception. More debilitating than any of the aforementioned injuries is a good ole back injury. How have I hurt it you ask? Well, let me start with my honeymoon (yeah I wish it was what you’re thinking of. Get your mind out of the gutter, you pervert). Seven years ago, my wife and I went to Great Britain after we got married. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t a great idea to pack our entire wardrobe, but hindsight is 20/20. Being the gentleman that I am, I carried both of our 70lb suitcases up and down many flights of stairs as we navigated our way through the London tube system. The following day, I felt something I had never felt. It was a tight tingling sensation all the way down the back of my left leg. After months of pain and discomfort, I discovered through an MRI that I had a herniated disc. More so, I found out that the discs from the middle of my spine down to my butt were degenerating. Since that discovery, I have injured by back by picking up a large man, picking up a small baby, lifting my leg in the shower, standing up out of my car (this was the worst since my son was born the same day and I couldn’t walk normally for more than three months), and by doing ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOTHING!

Of the fifteen or more times I have been incapacitated over the last seven years due to back pain, doing absolutely nothing has been the primary cause. Why is that you ask? Gee you sure have a lot of questions. I have come to the realization that doing nothing is what causes me to constantly injure my back. Conversely, as I have become more and more active, I have been able to avoid injury. Like many people, I began to live a stagnant life after college. When I met my wife at 21, I weighed 135lbs. Within 10 years, I ballooned to 195lbs. The funny thing is, I didn’t even notice. I drank, I smoked, and I ate in excess. Worst of all, I did nothing to counter the unhealthy lifestyle I was leading. I spent the vast majority of the day on my ass. I would wake up, and go sit in my car for the ride into work. Then, I’d go sit in front of a computer for 8 hours. After that, I hopped back into my car, rode home, and then proceed to sit on the couch until it was time for bed. In short, I was a slug, an idler, a bum.

But then, three years ago, it all changed. I don’t consider myself a very religious man, but for some reason, I decided to give up drinking for lent that year. I had never given up anything for lent before, so it was a little out of character to give up something that I love so much for a reason I had never quite understood. A month into this newfound and short lived religious devotion, my cousin challenged me to a bet that would change my life; a weight loss competition. I’m not saying I’m a competitive person, but losing is like dying. Given that I had already lost 20lbs from my heaviest due to some sporadic exercise and the healthy lent living, I had my misgivings. Fortunately I didn’t let the risk of losing the challenge keep me from accepting. Over the next few months, I exercised more than I had in the previous 10 years. I ate Greek yogurt for breakfast, a dry meat and bread sandwich for lunch, chicken breast and veggies for dinner, and a high fiber cereal right before bed. I limited my drinking to black coffee, water, and red wine. I was on a mission, and my devotion paid off.

Funny thing is, I liked working out so I kept doing it. It gave me energy, made me happy, and increased my feeling of self-worth. As an added bonus, the frequency of my back injuries declined. Sure I’ve had some setbacks, but usually those have been of the self-inflicted type (i.e. giving a 300+lb man a piggy back ride—no one can cure stupid). At no time during these last three years has the correlation of working out and staying pain free been more evident than when I started a routine that focused on the core. What is the core you ask? Again, what is it with you and all of these questions? The core is the body minus the arms and legs. Watching TV late one night, my wife happened upon an infomercial for the Insanity workout. She wanted to try it out, so I was game (more on the benefits of having an exercise buddy in a future post). Prior to starting this intense 60 day routine, my exercising consisted mainly of running. The Insanity videos feature a healthy dose of squats, planks, stretches and other exercises that work on the back and stomach. By the time we finished, I had no more back pain. I was stronger than I had been since my teens.

Sadly, we took a break and a month later my back issues resurfaced. All of my experiences over the last few years have taught me that when it comes to back pain, inactivity rather than activity is the cause. Only during times of frequent exercise have I been able to stay pain free. Taking it easy is not the key to avoiding injury. You need to strengthen the core and keep moving if you want to keep living. Since my last setback, I’m working out again, getting strong again, and eliminating that pain again. If there is a takeaway from this post, I want it to be pain is not inevitable. Just because you age, doesn’t mean you have to slow down. Just because you hurt, doesn’t mean you have to accept it as a fact of life. You have the power to fix what ails you. Get off your butt, and get moving. Your body will thank you for it.

My name is Michael. I’m 35. I may not be a man of steel, but I will become one.


Just One Minute

(drawing by Thomas Wilder)

Have you fathers noticed how your racing times diminish as your family grows? In my circle of friends it seems that the dads tend to add one minute to their 10K time for each kid they have. Granted, this was tested on only two people (me being one of them) but it makes sense.

Jimmy, my younger cousin by marriage, and a great example of a good family man, competitor, and all-around good guy asked me to write about how I find time to train while balancing the demands of my job, marriage, and son. This is a good question as it is a complicated act.

First, it helps if you begin your mid-life crisis like I did. The thought of your upcoming demise is a great motivator. I also need to have a reason to train. A post on my blog JustRegularRunner talks about how runners should put an event on the calendar to stay focused. These are my main motivating factors that keep me training hard all year.

Second, I have to treat my body a little differently than I did just five years ago. I take vitamins, rest more between run days, drink more water, choose bagels over donuts, you know…the basics. The main difference between the single guys and the married dads is the need for us dads to give up something in order to have time to exercise. There is no way around this. There are only so many hours in the day so do what you enjoy, but make sure some of that time is devoted to exercising. There is family time, and there is everything else; work, eating, traffic, and a little time left to sleep. Where does the running fit in? I run before the kid gets up or during my lunch break so as not to interfere with the daily schedule. This is just my way to stay healthy while still being present at home, but it also explains why I walk around sleepy all the time. Now that I think of it I’ve never met a runner that did not drink coffee!

Finally, I could be successful only with my wife being on board. She and I are supportive of each other’s goals. This means we may need to take on additional responsibilities managing the house at times while the other is training or competing. Keep this understanding balanced and you will see how flexible your partner will be when it is your turn. My son sees his mom playing tennis and his dad running so he associates having fun with playing sports. He used to love sitting in the stroller while I ran, but now he wants to run too! I take him to the track (or to the Olympics as he calls it) and we race a few laps. He even started doing some long jumping in the sand pit. I’d give up a chance to run anytime in order to see him at the “Olympics”, and you bet I am happy to add that minute to my next 10K. What you give up is your choice, but I feel that I receive so much more than I sacrifice.


I've Made a Huge Mistake...

Mistakes. We’ve all made them. Sometimes they’re inconsequential; other times their repercussions can be difficult to bear. Mistakes aren’t all bad though; often times they carry important lessons so that as long as we learn from and don’t repeat them we’re all the wiser for it. Very often, we look back upon our more embarrassing errors and can laugh, remembering how foolish we felt at the time and how much better off we are now, having learned an invaluable lesson.

Thinking back over the years, I’ve made countless mistakes in my workout regiment. In high school, I worked out THREE times a day, barely ate a thing, and for the life of me couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t gaining weight! That all changed when I was a freshman at UT. My arms and chest finally began to get bigger but so did the size of my head. I began parading around campus, all swolled post-workout, thinking I was doing the ladies a favor by popping that shirt off! Much to my chagrin, I learned a year or two later that people who swagger about in such an absurd manner are commonly referred to as D-Bags and from that point on I've been determined to keep my shirt on, much to the disappointment of coeds everywhere I'm sure. After graduating, I picked up running, an activity that I previously avoided at all costs. Just when I had finally gotten over the hurdle that all newcomers to running initially face, I injured my knee as a result of not stretching properly before one of my longer runs and was sidelined for months!

The point is, these mistakes, which seem so obvious to me now, at one point were just a normal part of my workout. It’s enough to make me wonder what egregious health errors I’m committing at this very moment, which I will one day regret. I'm no doctor, but if I had to guess, a massive handful of Sourpatch Kids before bedtime every night is probably not the healthiest but only time will tell.

Anyway, we all make mistakes and learn new things every day. This website will offer us the opportunity to share our experiences and perhaps save each other some grief by learning from someone else’s wrongdoings. So go ahead and try something new this week! Get lost on that new jogging route you’ve wanted to try or go pass out in a hot yoga class! Mess up, learn something new, and share it on the webpage! We’ve got a good group here, I’m excited to be a part of it and I can’t wait to hear what everyone else has been up to!


Ahhh yeah!!

It's about go to down!!!!!