Absurd Disciplines

“Uncommon disciplines lead to uncommon results” was today’s quote of the day, a tradition at the beginning of every practice.  If I forget to deliver the quote of the day, the boys remind me before they get on their way with 2 laps around the park we gather in to do what I call the “Kenyan shuffle”-a very slow warm-up jog run together as a team before beginning 25 minutes of dynamic drills with some calisthenics thrown in for good measure.

We’ve been meeting 5 or more days/week for 5 weeks now throughout the summer in preparation for the upcoming Cross Country season.  As I stood in front of the 16 boys in attendance this morning at 6:15 a.m. after they had run their 2 lap “Kenyan shuffle”, I was inspired to expound a bit on today’s quote of the day.

What is discipline?  Many of us have our own ideas about the word, but to me it incorporates a few other “Ds” as well.  Discipline starts, but doesn’t end with decision.  When my alarm went off at 3:25 a.m. this morning, I had a quick decision to make which I now make unthinkingly because I’ve made it so many mornings before.  Do I get up?  Heck YEAH!  Why?  Because I made a decision many years ago that fitness is going to be a way of life for me.  My approach to fitness over the years has taken many forms, but it is a part of every day.

Discipline does the work when we don’t feel like it.  How does this work?  We have learned from William James (“We must…go through the outward movements of those contrary dispositions which we prefer to cultivate.”) and others in psychology that feeling follows action.  We simply can’t wait to take action until we “feel like it.”  I explained to the boys that I wasn’t necessarily “feeling it” this morning as I rolled out of my car into 24 Hour Fitness, but I made a decision.  I made a decision, as I tweeted later,  to live this day in answer to the question: “How much kindness can I spread today?” and it started with the first person I saw exiting the gym as I greeted him with a smile, kind word and a hand shake.  It followed with the same for the young man working the front desk and before I knew it, I was “feeling it”!

Disciplined decision making begins with doing.  Discipline leads to action.  Hopefully that action is built on a vision of who, what, where, why you want to BE.  And this is why we run.  Competitive distance running is one of the greatest metaphors for life.  As yesterday’s quote of the day by Coach Bill Bowerman goes: “Men of Oregon, I invite you to become students of your events.  Running, one might say, is basically an absurd past-time upon which to be exhausting ourselves.  But if you find meaning, in the kind of running you have to do to stay on this team; chances are you will be able to find meaning in another absurd past-time: life.”

For many, the uncommon disciplines that you practice will seem absurd and hard to understand, but then again, so will the results you produce!  Cheers to discipline, decision, and doing!  Have a great day!

Sunday Run

Yesterday I ran a “contrarian run.”  Why do I call it a contrarian run?  Well, it was contrary to the way I’ve ever run before, coached others to run or thought of running.  My number one goal for yesterday’s run was to “stop and smell the roses”…to experience the run and to have FUN!

After awakening at 5:00, we traveled out to one of our favorite places to run about 45 minutes SW of downtown Orlando.  I loaded up with my youngest son and we picked up one of his teammates to head out to what we call the mountains of Clermont-a circuitous, almost 10 mile clay road loop of vistas and hills-challenges that are uncharacteristic of what most people think of Florida running terrain.

I’ve been in love with this place since discovering it with my oldest son about 6 years ago.  There is something magical about every time we go there even when are going every week.  Arriving before daylight as other runners emerge from their cars with various forms of “bed-headedness” and “half-awakeness” after parking alongside the road is a welcome Sunday ritual.

Moon Set Brilliant

We were the second car to arrive yesterday and when I stepped out of the car, I immediately noticed the setting moon in all of its fullness to the west.  I had already decided to carry my phone on the run with me today so while going through dynamic drills I snapped photos of the setting moon while waiting for the sun to slowly emerge in the east as a backdrop to the city skyline.  The decision to carry my phone with me was the beginning of the contrarian run for this runner who shuns all accessories aside from a GPS watch, a pair of shorts, the thinnest socks possible and shoes.

The Moon Setting

After a good warm-up, the boys set off ahead of me after a few words from Coach about taking it easy today (they ended up hammering the 10 miles of hills averaging sub-6:30/mile pace).   I started off slowly with my broken-band Garmin in my left pocket and my I-Phone tucked between my right thigh and my compression shorts.  I wore longer basketball-style shorts this morning and a sleeveless cotton muscle shirt to ensure I didn’t go too hard.  My last trip out there was a 20 miler covering the loop 2+ times at better than 7:15/mile pace before I had to cut my best months of training short with hip issues.

Warming Up 03162014

My plan (or non-plan) emerged over the first mile.  What if I stop, do 40 push-ups at each mile marker and then snap pictures/take video of the amazing vistas we’ve been enjoying all these years?  And so I did…creating and posting my first VLOG/Run VLOG ever.  Here it is in all of its unedited expression:

Mile 1  The Long View

Mile 1 The Long View

Mile 2  (Video)-Why We Run: There are Spiritual/Soulful Reasons!

Mile 2 Spirit Soul

Follow link for Video:


Mile 4 Runners Ahead in the Distance  

Mile 4 Runners in the Distance

Mile 5 The Crossroads

One of the quotes our runners and their parents hear from me regularly is “Running and running on a team is a perfect metaphor for life.”  Today’s metaphor-the Crossroad!

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Mile 5.5 Snake in the Road

Another “teachable moment”.  Remember we said “running is a metaphor for life.”  Shortly after making the decision to run right, this snake appeared in the road.  On closer inspection, it was a small, nonvenomous one…this time.  How often, though, does life throw snakes in the road after we’ve made a key decision as if to test our resolve?

Snake in the Road

Mile 6 Why do we run?…for those long, winding roads!  (This one looks pretty long and straight from here).

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Mile 7 Why do we run? We run for the VISTAS! Pt. 2

Mile 7

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Mile 9: Honey, can I get a GoPro now? 🙂

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The Finish|Mile 10 Why do we run? The bonding of father and son!

Finish Pic garmin

Father Son

Thank you for reading!  Do you have a contrarian run?  Hopefully this inspires you to find your “fun” in the run!

The Fitness Ignitor Series: Part III

I am a life-long runner, fitness enthusiast and endorphin junkie who discovered fitness and running when my childhood neighbor challenged me to run around the block without stopping and bet me that I’d never finish.  Our block was 1.7 miles long.  After completing it, I was hooked on running for life!

Several years later, I experienced my first “BIG” victory when, after going undefeated the entire season, I won the county track meet mile as an eighth grader in 4:50.  I have completed and competed in road and cross country races from the 5K through the marathon, various forms of triathlon/biathlon and plan on completing a 50K before I am 50.  I am an age-group competitive runner, personal fitness coach and high school distance coach for Cross Country and Track & Field.  I habitually awake each day well before dawn breaks to get my own work-out in before I lead others.   For years my clients, my students, colleagues, co-workers and I have engaged in informal conversations about uncommon approaches to fitness and nutrition.  My friends and family say this makes me a “Fitness Ignitor.”

Through the years, this life-long fitness enthusiast has learned to balance fitness as a high achiever in a sales/marketing capacity for Fortune 100 companies in pharmaceuticals, medical devices and commercial real estate.  Presently, as a high school teacher and coach, husband, father of 3 and best friend to my 13-year-old Lab, I balance my work-outs with the fullest of days and even fuller weeks.  Friends say this makes me a “Fitness Ignitor.”

Every workplace needs a “Fitness Ignitor”!  Is that YOU?

Find your “WHEN”!

Why all the Twitterpics and Instagram shots of early morning clocks lately?

The Drive:
Pre dawn Car Ride

The Warm-up:

Gym Clock

I wrote a few weeks ago about finding your “Why”. We must also find our “When”.  Coach Bill Bowerman said, “If you have a body, you are an athlete.”

If you have a body

We are all athletes, but the reality is that most of us are not professional athletes and must work our fitness into busy professional lives, parenthood, and life’s journey. As a father of three and a working professional, that has meant habitually rising well before dawn each morning to practice the pre-dawn early morning rite. The types of work-outs have changed over the years often dramatically, but one thing hasn’t…the commitment to rising before the work day begins.


How and when will you get your fitness in? For most of us, the only way to get it in is to rise at least an hour earlier and do it most days, if not all the days of the week. The wonderful part about it is that the people you see out on the run, at the pool, on the walk or in the gym are regulars too. Once you join this group, there is an expectation that you’re not going to miss. You become part of a community of like-minded individuals most of whom are starting their day (and some of whom are ending their day) with fitness. This is the predawn early morning crew! Won’t you join us?

What is a Fitness Ignitor? Pt. 2

Two weeks ago, a gentleman stopped me during my regular warm-up routine to ask me why and how I was doing toe walks, heel walks, heel-to-toe walks and walking high-knees at the beginning of my dynamic warm-up.  Though I am not one to engage in conversation during my gym work-outs which are usually bouts of high intensity interval training that engage multiple large muscle groups and engage one both aerobically and anaerobically, it gave me great pleasure to stop during my warm-up to answer this man’s questions.  Soon he was moving down the floor doing his own toe walks, heel walks, heel-to-toe walks and walking high-knees.  Friends and family say this makes me a “Fitness Ignitor.” Who is your Fitness Ignitor?

During the past two summers, I have worked part-time at our local specialty running store.  It enables me to stay up to date on the newest shoes and gear for the runners I coach.  I get great satisfaction out of helping runners who come into the store to find the pair of shoes that will enable them to engage in their sport in an as injury-free and enjoyable way as possible.  We often spend time discussing ideas on how to improve both their run fitness and over-all fitness.  These conversations fuel my passion for working with others who want to get better.  Friends and family say this makes me a “Fitness Ignitor.” Do you have a Fitness Ignitor?

Recently, I received a very nice email from a “gym buddy” who also follows the early morning rite thanking me for the inspiration and knowledge she received from our conversations and from watching the intensity I bring to each work-out, each day.  She told me it inspired her during her lengthy recovery from a car accident.  Her approach to sport and fitness as she recovered inspired and motivated me on sluggish days.  She is a Fitness Ignitor! Are you a Fitness Ignitor?

Ignite your fitness! Change your life!

Fitness Ignitor pt 2

What is a Fitness Ignitor?

It was a great feeling a few Monday mornings ago when a gentleman I have never met at the gym before tapped me on the shoulder to tell me, “Lookin’ great on the chin-ups!”.  Incidentally, it was my first day back after two planned rest days and I was feeling a bit sluggish.  His personal shout-out gave me the boost I needed to move through Day 1, Week 2 of the #Major Armstrong Pull-up program.  It is my hope and one of my vocational missions to give people the boost they need to create and accomplish their own fitness goals.  Friends and family say this makes me a “Fitness Ignitor”. Do you have a Fitness Ignitor in your life? Are you a Fitness Ignitor?

Find Your “WHY”!

I get extreme joy seeing people accomplish their fitness goals after working to help them personally discover their “WHY”.  Before one embarks on a new fitness journey, one must identify her/his compelling “WHY”.  Your “WHY” is what is going to get you through the days you just don’t want to go any further.  Your “WHY” is what will get you out of bed on cold mornings when your sheets feel so good.  Your compelling “WHY” is your motivation.  What is motivation?  Motivation is “a need or desire that energizes behavior and directs it toward a goal.”*

Be Energized. Be Directed. Find your “WHY”!

If you are not on the fitness track you envisioned 22 days ago, STOP right now.  Get out a blank sheet of paper.  Set your stopwatch for 5 minutes.  Begin free-writing the reasons why you made that goal 22 days ago.  After 5 minutes, you should be closer to knowing your “WHY.”  This is real important, it has to be YOUR WHY…not your spouse’s, not your boyfriend’s, not your parent’s, nobody’s but your OWN!

My Why

So if you just spent 5 minutes writing down other people’s whys, STOP right now and REPEAT the exercise. Remember, motivation is “a need or desire that energizes behavior and directs it toward a goal.”*

Be Energized. Be Directed. Find your “WHY”!

*David G. Myers, Psychology, Ninth Edition (New York: Worth, 2010)