You don’t have to like it, you just have to do it.

A simple Army saying that applies to almost every action we take or avoid…

The mind is our power center. Dictating and directing the body to take certain actions. To do or not to do. To give the power of choice to another (boss, spouse, etc.), or to trust in oneself to make the right decision. Many times the things, tasks, jobs we do not like, are a part of a bigger process, or delayed gratification. Giving in to this process is OK. Repetition is required to learn and then improve all skill.

Your focus must be on the specific microsystem (your mind) that is subject to failure. Your training “action” must stress that microsystem to failure. Mind-power is therefore trained by the decisions and choices we make from the time the alarm clock goes off to the time our head hits the pillow at night. You must believe that weaknesses can be eliminated, if not become strengths.

It is the concept of purpose that distinguishes specific practice from simple experience. Did it happen to you, randomly, by chance, or did you engage, plan, and seek it out?

We are, you are, and I am one simple step from the right path. You don’t have to like, you just have to do it…

Aim high. Dig Deep. Fall where you may.

 

Set lofty goals. Goals are there to guide is. They start us on a desired path. The journey begins. Destinations and arrivals signify the beginning and the end of something. Achieving a lofty goal is pleasant, not necessary. All or nothing ensures failure. Aim high to bring your best day in and day out.

Out of goals come habits. Good and bad. Work on the good. Benefits, reaped for a lifetime, will surely come.

“You will never get anymore out of life than you expect.” -Bruce Lee

 

Mornings

Protect your mornings. As the first few minutes pass and you begin to awaken, turn your attention to your favorite form of movement. Move the body to prime the mind for what is about to occur, and what may lie ahead throughout the day.

This time is precious. Do not put off what can be accomplished right away.
Win the day. Accomplish more in your first 90 minutes of awakening than you could ever imagine as they day wears on and its effects weaken your resolve.

Rituals of habit, work. Continually showing up, engaging, and finishing are qualities that transfer to other areas of your life.

Movement, Muscle and Metabolism

“And while these pounds were being shed, while the physiological miracles were occurring with the heart and muscle and metabolism, psychological marvels were taking place as well. Just so, the world over, bodies, minds, and souls are constantly being born again, during miles on the road.” – Dr. George Sheehan

  1. Invest your resources in your chosen mode of movement. Facilitation of activity.
  2. Cardio/endurance commitment precedes strength training. Build habits before refinement and instruction.
  3. Avoid all diets. If it has a name or title, it won’t last, and you’ll spend a lot of money in the process.
  4. Keep a journal. Document how lifestyle choices (food, work, sleep, entertainment, drink, stress, etc.) make you feel.
  5. Graze throughout the day.
  6. Schedule periods of relaxation during the day.
  7. Sleep 7+ hours a night.

“What the jogger’s face shows is not boredom but contemplation, which Thomas Aquinas described as man’s highest activity save one—contemplation plus putting the fruits of that contemplation into action.” – Dr. George Sheehan

Be confident and adamant about how you live your life. No explanations. No excuses. You own it, when you no longer feel like you are missing out on your old lifestyle. Movement, the endorphins and positivity it cultivates, is the way.

Our life is a game. Play it often and play it well. Don’t take what you do, or the decisions you make too seriously. Do your best. That’s enough.

Checking In: Connecting Trainer with Client

“If you are prepared, have confidence and persevere, you will always have the edge.” Howard Ferguson

As a personal trainer, I find the most difficulty and dissatisfaction in those days in between my training sessions with my clients. On the way to meet the trainee I’m pondering how their week went. Did they workout? Eat well? How are they sleeping and recovering? Days always turn into weeks, turn into months, and eventually years. Time is always of the essence, so for me, finding a program that allows me to be connected and locked in with my clients in the virtual world is essential, but until now, it wasn’t a reality.

Trainerize, an online personal training software has changed the game for me. My plan is to fully integrate all clients into it’s usage moving forward. The ability to see how each week is structured, and how those week’s lead and build into a 4-6 week block of training, is a game changer for clients. It shows them where the process is going. As much as it is about the daily workout, the focus is more on the long-game. Are you building or are you dabbling? Are you hoping it gets easier, or are you planning to get stronger?

I won’t wax philosophical too much, but I will challenge your involvement with the success process. It’s as simple as checking-in. Once that becomes automatic, a connection is established that gets strengthened on a daily basis. For the client, knowing that I’m not judging what they did or didn’t do is crucial as well. I want to know and understand they “why” so we can implement some strategies and find other paths to success. It’s there, but we need engagement in the process in order to unlock your/our potential.

Check in. Utilize. Implement. Engage. Discover. Succeed.

Onward and Upward,

Jake

PS- I’ll leave you to ponder all of the crucial moments of your life where you were required to check in. Listed below are just a few examples.

  • Your first days of college. Checking in at the dorm, registering for classes, exploring options of engagement with the university and your peers.
  • Medical/dental/legal appointments.
  • Sports practices.
  • Job interviews and admissions interviews.
  • etc

The list can flow on and on. Give the process a certain importance and your actions will follow.

How I Improve “It” Every Day: Base Fitness

The biggest question that is asked of me, and that I ask of others is what or how do you do it? This question is always hard to answer, because as a trainer/teacher/coach I have a strong understanding that everyone is different. Thus, I’m fearful of others diving down my path to achievement or success. Needless, I have found some very strong parallels in those that have continual success. For the purpose of this post, I will keep it fitness related, though it applies to success across all areas of life.

Time. How much time does it take? When I’m training to maintain my fitness, while also enjoying life (food, drink, etc.), one hour each day is my bare minimum. This can be one hour of running, or a split hour of biking and stair-climbing, or a tri-hour of biking, rowing, and stair-climbing. Focused movement, one hour. As an endurance athlete, my “quality time” is that which is spent training specifically for endurance. This is the time each day/week/month that I track to make sure I’m staying consistent. I do also spend 60-90 minutes each week strength training, but I only track that if it is specific to my endurance training (squats/deadlifts/lunges/kb swings).

How do you find the time? When I consume media, I’m doing my cardio. Podcasts, books, or the occasional documentary are all enjoyed while working out on the indoor trainer (bike), or stair-master. I really enjoy this. If I were to recommend one takeaway from this article it would be to find an endurance activity that is convenient for you (could be just walking) and do it while listening to a podcast, audiobook, or in the case of indoor activities, reading on your kindle/iPad.

Enjoyment. You’ve got to enjoy fitness for it to show. No way around this one. If you enjoy working out, and attend to that part of your life every day, it will show. For most people, this is the goal, for it to show… to be recognized by your peers, family, and friends as someone that has a certain level of fitness. You can’t fake this. It’s so easy for me to invest the necessary time, because I enjoy it, and I really really want it to pay off, either athletically, or simply in enhanced appearance.

Activities. The more you have, the more you can pull from, the more likely it is you will be successful each day. The hardest part of programming or writing weekly workouts is the rigidity. By nature, I’m extremely flexible in my daily fitness. I’ll have 2-4 things I can choose from to address my fitness needs each day. Usually, running is at the top of the list, but on occasion, that will get swapped for a workout on the trainer, a row on the concept 2, or a long climb on the stair-master. I like it all, so I’ve got options. Options = Success. Remember that by skipping a workout session, you skip the essential hour of exercise each day. When those skipped days add up, it’s pretty obvious why you aren’t being successful.

Correlation. Working out (exercise) is a fairly sufficient beast on its own. You can make some great gains in your strength and cardio by only focusing on the workout. With nutrition, you can also make some great gains in the area of weight loss by only focusing on nutrition. When you combine the two, and use them to keep you accountable and attentively to both elements, results happen VERY quickly. Starting both at the same time is a pretty strong shock to the system, but stick with it for 3-4 weeks and you will start to re-wire your operating system. You see, it’s all about TIME. How much you invest each day, each week, each month, and ultimately over your lifetime. When you make it quantifiable it is easily trackable. By tracking it, you can see patterns develop (both success and failure) and work to accentuate the positive behaviors.

Daily. With the goal of one hour of movement (aerobic based) each day, this will set you on the path to success. In addition, by starting to add some basic strength exercises: squats, pull-ups, and/or push-ups into the equation you also address the structural needs of your physique. Squats build and define your thighs and butt. Pull-ups build your biceps, back, shoulders, and core. Push-ups build your chest, shoulders, triceps, and core. This is the “secret” …. daily practice. When something gets easier, you can do a little more. Now, you are on the confident and success driven path. You’ll find yourself willing to set aside more time for these activities.

The Mind. This is the big one. Initially you must conquer the complacency of the mind. The mind seeks comfort and consistent patterns. Interruptions are resisted, but must come anyway. The body communicates it’s current ability. When your fitness level is very low, the body must be driven forward by a disciplined mind. Once these two work together, making daily choices on exercise and nutrition, which positive path to take, the success process takes form.

Engage in the process. Immerse yourself in learning about topics, people, and practices of successful, enhanced living.

Tracking: attackpoint.org

Podcasts: Tim Ferriss, Joe Rogan, Sam Harris, Tara Brach

Books: whatever motivates!

Running: Structure for Beginners

Running: Application and Implementation for Beginners

Becoming a runner is extremely satisfying. Having the ability to cover a certain distance, in a given time, is very freeing and enabling. You now can exercise almost anywhere, at any time, as well as plug yourself into the wildly popular and very welcoming running scene, whenever you feel like it. You can’t say that about too many other forms of exercise. Running is the best.

As you begin this journey, you must approach application in a patient manner with the intent to make it a lifestyle, not “bucket list” undertaking. I hate the idea of having a bucket list, but that’s beside the point here. Your first run may feel awkward. You may experience side aches, dull joint paint, dry mouth, and even boredom. This is OK. You are a beginner. Having two legs and being able to walk does not qualify you for anything. All good things come to those who persist, so as a beginner it is important to enlist the virtue of patience, often. Any time both feet are off the ground at the same time, you are running, not walking. There is no “pace” that you have to keep to be a runner. If it feels extremely slow, do not fret, you are running!

Running, like all endurance sports is measured in volume (mileage or time). As a beginner, understand that each week has seven days. Each week you will need to “rest” from running, three to four of those days. Sounds like a lot of rest right? It is. Your body needs time to adapt and accept what it is you are asking it to do. Think of it this way. Have you ever taken a long car ride or plane flight and had sore legs or back for a few days afterwards? I have, and that’s from being in a foreign position for far too long. Your muscles shorten, ache and may even spasm from just being a certain, non-strenuous, position. Well, running, or run/walking is the same way. You may be able to run/walk for six days in a row, but the unknown is how the cumulative fatigue will affect you the following week. Most likely it will leave you hungry, tired, lethargic, and unmotivated to keep up the activity. This, of course, is not what we want. Using our seven-day analogy, we need to structure our week like this:

  • Run or Run-Walk: Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday
  • Rest or Low Impact Activity: Monday/Wednesday/Friday
  • Full Rest: Sunday

I have not met a beginner yet who was ready to run or run/walk more than three times per week, successfully. At this stage quantity forces a sacrifice in quality, which leads to injury and burnout, and obviously we don’t that!

You may be asking how long? The answer is one hour. The answer is usually one hour. This includes warming up and cooling down. If you devote an hour you will get some quality work in during that time. Trying to shave it down to 30 minutes is OK for experienced athletes or exercisers, but not beginners. One-hour sounds like a long run, right? It is, and as a beginner you’ll want to break up this hour into small chunks of running and walking. A common application is running for 1-minute, walking for 2-3 minutes, and repeating until you’ve covered the hour. Remember it’s easy to scale your workouts up, meaning make them harder, but it’s harder to cut back after you’ve gone too far, both physically and mentally. Applying the run/walk technique also makes you a more efficient and aware walker. Your pace quickens while you walk as you work to keep your heart rate elevated. This also keeps your mind engaged in utilizing each minute. It’s not boring, because you have something to monitor, you are covering ground, and working on the new you.

After 4-weeks of 1-minute running, 2-3 minute walking, you will want to increase the time of the run to 2-minutes, while keeping the walking at 3-minutes, or dropping it to 2-minutes. At this time you should be motoring along, walking briskly, and running each interval comfortably. Notice I did not say quickly or fast. You are still building tolerance for the activity, allowing your whole system to adapt to the applied demands of running. What will not change is your volume. One hour, three days per week stays constant.

During your rest or off days from running I encourage you to partake in non-impact activities. Strength training, cycling, swimming, rowing, and yoga are all novel activities. Be aware of the amount of effort each of these requires. You will want to avoid grueling, high-intensity sessions. Volume is cumulative, so adding three hours of yoga and three hours of strength to your weekly running workouts will simply leave you tired, and looking for a way to boost energy. We don’t want that. It doesn’t work! Our virtue is patience. Cycling, swimming, and yoga are nice additions to running. Different muscle groups are prioritized and utilized during these activities, which is helpful, but the most important benefit is that they all need cardiovascular endurance to accomplish.

Remember, the key is to monitor intensity and volume. As a beginner, you must err on the side of caution and be diligent in your progression. Adding a variety of activities, especially if you have a comfort level in them already, will help you build cardiovascular endurance. Again, monitor intensity!

 

 

Endurance: Intro to Running

Running: Where to begin?

This is the first in what will be a series of posts about endurance sports. My intention is to describe in detail how to begin, get comfortable, and grow to love endurance sports! Running is by far the most convenient, accessible, and affordable form of endurance training. The big question is always… where to begin?

Let’s start with a goal. No, I don’t mean your big-hairy-audacious-goal, just where you’d like to be in a few weeks, or a couple months. This is often is represented by an image of you doing something. It could be running a 5k, or just consistently increasing your weekly mileage or time. Take a moment to think about where you’d like to be.

  1. Goal: short-term: _________________________________________________

Next, let’s look at your purpose. Why do you want to run? What’s the prime motivator? Think this one through. Your purpose is the most important factor in you sticking to your plan, and making a lifestyle of your fitness.

  1. Purpose: _________________________________________________________

Ok, now we need to look at your current fitness level. Are you fit? Do you have a background in running or another endurance sport? Have you been consistently going to the gym over the past month? Year? Several years?

  1. Current Fitness Level: _____________________________________________

Let’s look at your accessibility level. Where do you live? Do you like to exercise outside, do you prefer the gym, or do you workout at home? If you are currently inactive, just list what environment you would prefer, or see yourself being most consistent in.

  1. Preferred Environment: ___________________________________________

All right, now we are getting somewhere. Let’s look at any possible inhibitors to successful running.

a)   Are you currently injured?

__________________________________________________________________

b)   Have you had any significant injuries that limited your physical mobility in the past?

__________________________________________________________________

 

c)   Do you know your BMI? If not, do a quick search online and you’ll come up with a quick calculator to figure it out. If your BMI is above 30 you may want consult with your healthcare provider before beginning a running program.

__________________________________________________________________

 

Great. Let’s keep rolling along. Now I’d like to talk a little about clothing, footwear, and all other associated gear. I’m going to focus on running in warmer climates here.

 

  1. Running Shoes:
    1. Sizing/Fit: If you’ve got a pair that fits, or know your general size you can use that as reference. Ideally you will do your shopping locally, at a quality independent running store, but if you choose to shop online, then you’ll need to use either runningwarehouse.com, zappos.com, or another vendor that utilizes “shoefitr” technology.

i.     Your foot:

  1. Wide/narrow forefoot?
  2. Flat/Medium/High arch?
  1. Terrain: will you be running on paved or gravel roads, treadmill, track, or trails?
  2. Feel:

i.     Soft, plush, cushioned.

ii.     Stiff, inflexible, protective.

iii.     Flexible, low to the ground.

  1. Clothing:
    1. I like to choose a brand, and then outfit myself from there. It’s easiest to get your size dialed in on a certain brand than to have apparel from many different brands.

i.     Patagonia

ii.     Nike

iii.     Salomon

  1. Fit: your items should feel good right away. There should be no break in period, rough seems, or annoying materials.
  2. Fabric: avoid cotton. It doesn’t wick or breathe very well. Stick to polyester or merino blends.
  3. Have two complete outfits. With a complete outfit consisting of: shorts, short sleeve, long sleeve, socks, and a light jacket.
  4. Hat: don’t forget to have a comfortable running hat. If the sun is out, you’ll need it.
  5. Sunglasses: polarized is preferred. Fit is key. Make sure they fit perfectly and don’t move around a lot. You don’t want to have to adjust them while running. At higher elevations they are a must.
  6. Don’t go overboard. Quality over quantity.
  1. Hydration/Packs:
    1. Handheld bottle: find something that fits your hand well. 10-20 ounces is perfect.

i.     Amphipod: good ergonomic fit. Good price.

ii.     Ultimate Direction: nice nozzle, less ergonomic.

iii.     Nathan: good storage, less ergonomic.

  1. Waist Pack: looks like a large fanny pack. I use these for carrying phone, music, and nutrition, though some are made to carry bottles.

i.     Ultimate Direction: lots of variety, easily adjustable.

ii.     Salomon: very good products.

iii.     Ultraspire: adjustable, good fit and balance.

  1. Vests/Backpacks: these are not necessary until your runs become over 3 hours in length, without nutrition support/aid.

i.     Mountain Hardwear.

ii.     Ultraspire.

iii.     Ultimate Direction.

  1. Watch: you need a watch. Your phone is nice, but a watch will become much more handy and versatile. It’s nice to leave the phone at home as well. I would suggest picking a price point and starting from there.
    1. Garmin Forerunner series: Great place to start. Good variety.
    2. Suunto: High end watches. Stylish, versatile.
    3. Casio, Timex, etc: more for basic timer functions without GPS capability.
  2. Socks: no cotton! Thin, snug fitting, avoid rough edges. Try them on if you can.
    1. Drymax
    2. Fitsok
    3. Swiftwick
    4. Feetures

In our next segment we will start to address training for running with beginner and intermediate/basic programs. In the meantime, start moving!

 

Evolving Endurance

ENDURANCE:

We must continue to increase our endurance demands. To achieve this aim, we have two ways; one is running, but you have to increase the distance of your course every day until you are satisfied with it. The second thing to observe is progression; start out slow and then gradually build speed as your conditioning improves. All of this training will lead to a result of increased frequency of breath and heartbeat, and (during intense training) you will feel an unbearable feeling, but you do not have to fear. That point will be the maximum limit of a man’s physical energy… after taking a rest you will soon recover. It is only through this compulsory hard training that one’s physical energy can expand continuously.

BRUCE LEE

ENTERING THE ZEN ZONE:

  • Let go of forcing things;
  • Let go of outcomes;
  • Let go of your thoughts about outcomes;
  • Connect only to the doing;
  • Focus on doing the doing, being the being, being all here, being completely present, and being fully connected;
  • Become your performance by being inseparable from what you are doing.

 TERRY ORLICK

Endurance is not work; fitness is not work; exercise is not work. The path we take is our own. Movement connects and fosters personal experiences. Following prescribed workouts is a great place to start, but we must be careful not to compare our outcomes to the creator of the program, nor others that have completed the program. We must associate with only our former self. Our previous physical self-representation is the only place to compare.

It is of utmost importance to have this understanding of the patience and persistence that will be required to persevere week after week. The practice of removing the obstacles in your mind is like moving the clouds from the sky to let the sun shine through. “By removing the obstacles in your mind, you allow the pure connection to shine through,” Terry Orlick, In Pursuit of Excellence.

What we are doing is not extreme. We are not competitive bodybuilders, professional exercisers, extreme athletes, or paid performers. Therefore, our priority must be to establish a pure connection to our daily movement. Does it connect you with your environment? Nature? Community? Yourself? Does it clear your mind? Does it enhance the experience of living? … Asking these questions is vital in understanding your connection to your activity or sport.

Above, I listed a quote from Bruce Lee on endurance. He is talking about the process of increasing your capacity to endure. Distance and speed are quantifiable, thus tracking improvement is rather easy. Yet, being conscious enough, connected enough, to increase your capacity is not automatic. This is where you must use your willpower to continue to expand your ability.

There is no maintaining when it comes to living. You are either improving, or falling. A focused intention in your daily practice will allow progression. An acceptance of decreased capacity and ability places lowered expectations on the body and causes a profound loss of power of mind. Weakened mind equals diminished willpower.

Set goals and foster experiences. By endurance we conquer!

Be Tenacious!

Be Tenacious!
Live relentlessly. Progress continuously.

One of my female athletes, Kristen, recently completed a half-marathon. Kristen is one tough person. She is eager, enthusiastic, goal-oriented and accountable. Essentially, she’s a dream client. She gives honest, real feedback and asks questions, anything from nutrition, to supplementation, to body rhythms and rest. Kristen has also come a long way.

Like many other female clients, Kristen sought order and structure in her health. I find that women operate in extremes a bit more than men, and their bodies often are the representation of that extreme. The spectrum can run from super, rail-thin, nutrient deficient to obese, compulsive, coping behavior. The unifying factor with each of these women, and all the women in between is purpose. My initial job is to help define and represent purpose in relation to fitness training and exercise. If I can relate daily positive behavior and choices, to a goal-success that we’ve established, the “realness” of the association makes the lifestyle easier to accept.

Women are fierce in their self-representation. Using their intellect, career, passions, and life-balance to do so. Simply put: women seek to achieve objectives, which makes them such a joy to work with.

Getting back to my athlete Kristen, her goal was to establish control and increase her capacity to do. Meaning she wanted to be balanced nutritionally, to have energy to workout after a long day at work, to be able to do pushups and pull-ups, to be able to run 10k’s, half-marathon’s, and race sprint triathlons. Once we made the association (of fitness and life empowerment) the commit to change was solidified. The path to lifestyle change is best represented by the stock market. We want to trend upward, avoiding deep valleys, while investing the time needed to see fruition. When Kristen experienced failure or inadequate results in training she would always ask/wonder “how and why”. It wasn’t “I can’t do those” or “I can’t do that”. How and why are the two questions that continue to keep her on the path of relentless, forward, progress.

When Kristen lined up to run that half-marathon she had been living the lifestyle for one full year. The journey had brought her to the race start, not a year older, but a year better, a completely different person now stood waiting anxiously for the starting gun to fire. The race unraveled a lot like any new challenge undertaken. Ability, energy and enthusiasm carried her to the 9-mile mark averaging 7:45/mile, which is a great pace. Then, suddenly things changed. She got sick, and started cramping badly. It got so bad she passed out twice, falling hard onto the pavement and getting scraped up. When she came to, her calves were so tight they had to be massaged at the aid stations. Do you think she quit? No. She was tenacious. The previous year of problem solving and solution seeking had set her up to succeed. Kristen’s mindset was to give her best, always. Making it to the finish line, she was very sore, battered and a bit confused as to what had just happened, but ELATED that she finished!

In the days that followed we came to the conclusion that her diet was simply not supplying her with enough fuel for her active lifestyle. Her body also was lacking in minerals and electrolytes, which led to the cramping. These are easy things to fix moving forward.

Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right. Having a “can-do” attitude and spirit is something that you have or you don’t. We must all do our best to cultivate a positive spirit that lives for the experience. It’s never a failure if we refuse to quit!

Always remember, you are better than you think you are and you can do more than you think you can. Now go do it!