Tuesday, December 30, 2008

You Play, You Pay and "Resolutionaries"

We all know that we should ring in the New Year by celebrating responsibly, i.e. if you drink and drive, you are an idiot (sorry, did I just use that word...).  Yet, as someone who preaches a "No Excuses" lifestyle, I would also tell you that should you stay up too late (or early as the case may be) and have too much poison (crappy food and booze), than you still need to get your butt outta bed to train on Thursday.  Or, as the post title says, "you play, you pay."  Jody and I are going out to celebrate, yet I will be up and ready to rock the 2 hour Yogathon class at 9am.  And, I already have my personal practice planned for when I get back home.  How 'bout you?  

I would also add that IF you plan to indulge in extra calories and alcoholic beverages, plan ahead -- be sure to train earlier in the day, ideally for at least 1 hour.  Eat clean, fresh, healthful foods throughout the day.  Don't go overboard and totally blow it.  Finally, as stated above, get right back in the saddle on Thursday!

"Resolutionaries" -
Resolutionaries is a word I came up with a long time ago for all the people who would crowd up the gym for a month or so and then vanish.  These were the folks who made their New Years resolutions to "lose weight" and "get in shape" so they would come into the gym with vim and vigor and show up 7 days a week.  Yet, inevetably, by March most of the fresh faces were gone and only the long-time regulars remained.  Among the resolutionaries, the common thread I observed is that most of them came in with no plan, little support, and without the deep inner transformation that needs to occur before a "resolution" can be met.  

If you have been a student of mine for any length of time, you know how I feel about resolutions, especially those made on January 1st -- they stink!  In general, resolutions fail within the first 30 days, and certainly by the 90 day mark very few resolutions are kept. Change is a mindset and a lifestyle not a date you write on your calendar.   Resolutions are a moment by moment choice that can be made at any time and there is no need for setting a special date; it can start right now.  What is required for true change and growth is a change in heart, mind, and spirit and a solid, realistic plan.  After that, it's a matter of discipline of the heart, mind, and spirit and sticking to your plan with "No Excuses".

In many ways, this is why I feel that Project: BTWG® is so successful and touches people on a deeper level.  The Project address the body, the mind, and the spirit.  You have a plan, you have support, you have all the tools needed to make true change rather than a half-baked resolution to Nowheresville.

Last week I selected 35 "New Recruits" to participate in the Winter '09 Project: Bridging the Wellness Gap® and I can guarentee you that on January 19th, when their Project officially starts, they will have a proven plan, and strong support network, and they will be Wellness Revolutionaries, not resolutionaries...

If you are not partaking in the Project, I still encourage you to look at your plan for your personal health, fitness, and well-being.  Do you have a plan?  Do you have a vision?  Do you have support?  And remember, change isn't the future.  Change is now; it's in each moment and in each thought, word, and deed.  Change is a lifestyle.    

After the New Year, I will share how Jody and I plan ahead for the upcoming year and how spending a few minutes each week can help to transform your life and take you in the direction you truly want to go.

Until then -- Peace, and Happy New Year!


Monday, December 29, 2008

Cityoga Schedule this Week

Hey Gang, I am back in town after a little vacation/visit with my family and back up to speed with classes and online work. Here is my Cityoga schedule for the rest of this week:

Tomorrow (Tuesday) - 5:45-7:00pm Yoga for Strength and Endurance
Thursday - 9:00-11:00am Yogathon. Please visit the Cityoga site for details(www.cityoga.biz)
Saturday - 8:00-9:30am - Yoga for Strength and Endurance  

See you on the mat!  


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Red Neck Christmas...

Hey Gang,

Jody, the kids and I are in Vincennes visiting with my family and friends. It's been an awesome couple of days and we still have 2 more to go!

Today I was able to do a 50 minute run around the farm. It's way too warm for this time of year, so it was pretty weird. Plus the rain and thawing made for some muddy fields. Oh well, it made the run more challenging and memorable. Looking forward to a couple more great workouts while on "vacation", including a workout at the gym where I worked during Junior College.

I'm doing my best to keep up with emails and will keep the blog updated and fresh. Also, be sure to head to my online forum. Several of the Project "New Recruits" are getting registered and introducing themselves. I surprised the applicants by making the announcements early, as a "Christmas Gift"! To access my forum, just go to the right column of this blog and click on the link. It easy to register and post if you want to get involved, or just hang out and read what everyone is chatting about.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!  May your Holidays/Holy-Days be blessed abundantly.

Chris, Jody and Family

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Class Cancellation

No Tuesday night class at Cityoga.  Sorry I was unable to post this sooner, as I have been on a sssslllloooooooww drive home.  For future reference, if the weather is sketch, be sure to check with Cityoga for class cancellations.  I will do my best to post an cancellations here as well.


Congrats Travis and Lindsey

As if 2008 hasn't been amazingly blessed enough, yesterday, Jody's daughter Lindsey and her fiance Travis were married.  Travis is serving in the U.S. Air Force and is home on leave for the holidays.  The ceremony was beautiful and so was Lindsey.  We are super-proud of both of them and know they will have a long and fruitful life together, especially with their strong spiritual foundation and commitment to the Lord, something that most struggling couples lack.  

Travis' permanent duty assignment is in Dover, Delaware and Lindsey will be joining him there in the spring.  And in case anyone is wondering, Mom (Jody) pulled through pretty well; only a few tears.  It may be another story once Lindsey prepares to move : -)     

I hope to have pictures posted soon.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Project: BTWG Application Process

The application process for the Winter 2009 Project: Bridging the Wellness Gap® is officially closed at this time.  

I have received more applications than I have "New Recruit" slots to fill; the decision making is going to be very difficult.  The essays sent in were not only astounding in number they were equally powerful in their message.  Thoughts, feelings, and emotions ran the gamut from passionate and heart-felt to amusing and humorous.  Each applicant was sincere, open, and often brutally honest; just what I asked for!  

Since launching BTWG last summer, the response has been nearly overwhelming and I can truly feel the wave of excitement, enthusiasm, passion, and community that is building around the Project.  Word about BTWG is getting out and not just in Indy.  I've received words of interest and encouragement from all over the country and the Project blog is getting visitors from all over the world!  

One of the things that inspires me most about the blossoming of the Project is that 100% of the growth has happened through word of mouth, blogs, and emails; no other form of marketing has been utilized.  As I've said before, Project: Bridging the Wellness Gap® is truly a "grass roots wellness movement".

If you were on the fence about applying for this round of BTWG, you can breathe a sigh of relief, you stuck it out long enough to use the deadline as an excuse : -)  Not to worry, for you and those who felt "now" was not the appropriate time to enroll, I'll look forward to getting your application for the Summer '09 Project!

All current applicants will receive further instructions in an upcoming email.  

In Peace,

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Project Info

Each day I'm getting new visitors and readers of the Project blog.  Welcome!  And thanks for joining us on this crazy journey of health, fitness, and well-being.  There are two things I want to point out:
1) If you are here looking for information on the upcoming round of BTWG, please go to this direct link from the blog archives: http://btwg.blogspot.com/2008/11/next-round-of-project-announced.html
2) In addition to this blog, I also host an online forum.  Since the close of the last round of BTWG, the forum has been pretty silent, but feel free to jump in and get some topics going or post your thoughts and questions.  I've found that if someone takes the time to post, readers show up and answers and thoughts are exchanged.  It's a great medium to stay in touch with one another, learn, grow, share and get connected.  There is a direct link to the forum in the right hand column of this blog or you can go here: http://chrisroche.10.forumer.com/
3) Feel free to contact me if you have questions or if there is anything I can do for you: chris-roche@comcast.net


First Tracks

Note: Sorry for the poor quality of the images. I had no intentions of taking pictures during my run, yet felt inspired to go for it. These were all taken with my phone, so the quality, plus my poor skills, made for some "interesting" pictures. Enjoy!

"First Tracks": Term from winter sports - ski, snow shoe, running, mountain biking, etc. Considered a "prize", bragging rights, or gift. The first to lay down tracks in the first snow of the season, is said to have "first tracks". May also refer to being the first to make tracks in any freshly fallen snow after the first snow of the season...

Tuesday, I had the honor of making first tracks at a local park. While this isn't nearly as exciting at being the first to ski down a beautiful mountain slope, or being the first to break trail while snowshoeing in the back country, it was still a heck of a lot of fun.

When I left home for my run, it had been snowing for some time, the weather report said it was 22, but felt like 11 and I believe they were right on that estimation. The snow continued throughout the duration of my run (around 90 minutes) and the wind gusts continually reminded me of how cold it really was. After 10 minutes of running, I really didn't mind the conditions as I settled into my rhythm, my breath, and my run. Plus, after going at it for 7 hours at the Tecumseh Trail Marathon, I blew any excuses I had for running in the cold and the snow. I figured I could hack it for a shorter run like this. No Excuses!

I headed to a park which is only a 10 minute run from my home. For the outside observer, one would think this to be like any other city park, yet upon closer examination, it is adjacent to a wooded area that is filled with trails and plenty of space for exploration.

As I arrived at the park, I noticed there were no cars in the parking lots and no one had been in the park since the snow feel. Sweet! To top it off, I also noticed that the only footprints in the freshly fallen snow were that of squirrel and what must have been a stray dog as there were no human tracks. Even more sweet, first tracks for me!

I've explored a few of the trails over the past couple months but felt like expanding on my familiar routes and was grateful for the inspiration. I "discovered" a couple sections, one ran parall to a stream, others undulated with a couple small and rolling hills. I found enough single track to keep me from repeating the same path for around 20-30 minutes. Hey, it's not the "Great White North", but it'll do.

My point in sharing this post and these pictures is to encourage you to get out and explore the "wilderness" that surrounds you. Even for city dwellers, with a little exploring and asking around, often you can find places to hit the trail and enjoy a little play time/working out while getting away from traffic, noise, and in this case, other people. Additionally, I want to encourage you to continue your outside workouts. Along with the spiritual and physical benefits of training outside, you also help prevent mental/emotional challenges that may arise in the winter; things such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), or just plain 'ol cabin fever! Fresh air and sunshine are known remedies for these conditions.

Was it cold and snowing? Yup, just look at these pictures I took when I returned home. Dressing properly makes ALL the difference. Growing a beard is very functional as well...

Here's to your winter training!



Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Patrick's in da House

Patrick Kinsman is stepping up to sub a couple of my upcoming classes. Please remain strong and dedicated to your practice and attend Patrick's class. Be there. No Excuses!

Tuesday (tonight), 12.16.08 - 5:45-7:00pm
Saturday following Christmas, 12.27.08 - 8:00-9:30am

Aside from these dates, I will be back to my regular schedule classes. Please check with Cityoga for their Holiday schedule changes as well as their upcoming Christmas party and New Year's Yogathon. www.cityoga.biz.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Tick Tock

Less than one week remains in the Project: Bridging the Wellness Gap® application process. If you are thinking of sending in an application, "git 'r done". No late applications will be accepted.

I already have enough applicants to fill this session, however I am still taking applications for consideration as I will not make any decisions until the deadline arrives next Sunday night.

Tecumseh. Another Perspective...

I'm a member of a local trail runners forum. Below is a great "bedtime story" that someone posted. Thought it was a pretty cool perspective.

After viewing the race results I was additionally pleased to find out that of the 600 people registered, only 490 finished the race.



To all: What follows is a report from a TTM newbie, composed in the form of a child's bedtime story. The author wishes he had spent more time training, so the story would have had a happier ending.

Chapter One: See John Run

See John run.
Run, John, run!
John is running a trail marathon .
Uh oh, now John is walking.
Is this a good thing?

This is John's first trail marathon.
He is excited.
And a little nervous.
Trails are beautiful. And refreshing to the soul.
But they are also hard.

Huge hills. Snow and ice. Creek crossings.
How do you train for 26.2 miles on this kind of course?
John is not sure. But he knows one thing.
He should have trained much harder.

Chapter Two: A Tough Year

This has been a strange year.
Injuries. Long days at work. Lots of weekends with a paintbrush.
Too much running around.
Not enough running.

Last year was better.
Three marathons. Four half marathons.
PRs in the 5K and 10K.
Lots of accomplishments.
A few disappointments.
Kind of like life.

But this year didn’t go as planned.
Running got squeezed out.
The months went by.
Then the year was almost over.
That scared John -- more than any hard race.

Not succeeding is one thing.
Not even trying is another.
John has run marathons for six years.
He never skipped a year.

Would this year end the streak?
That was a scary thought.
So in the fall, John decided to give it one more try.
Why not a really big challenge?
Something like a trail marathon.

Chapter Three: Up and at ‘em

The training is over.
Lots of trails. Lots of races.
It was hard. It could have been harder.
But that’s how it goes.

Now it is race day.
There goes the alarm.
Five thirty. Time to get up.
It's cold. Icy cold. Twenty-five degrees.
Brrrr! Maybe they will cancel the marathon.
Ha, ha. John laughs.
A weak, sickly laugh.

It is time for a marathoner's breakfast.
Hot coffee. Banana. Bagel and peanut butter.
It sticks to the ribs. Good for a long day.
If John only knew how long!

Time for one last look at the gear bag.
Extra socks? Check.
Extra gloves? Check.
Extra everything? Oh for Christ’s sake, get moving!

A goodbye kiss, and then it’s time to go.
Drive, drive, drive to the race.
It's 83 miles away. A long distance
It seems to last forever.
Almost as long as a trail marathon.

There’s lots of time to think this over.
An hour and 35 minutes in the car.
Watch the snow hit the windshield
Watch the trees bend in the wind.
My, it's chilly!

Is it too late to turn around?
Ooops, too late. There's the park entrance!
Lots of other cars are heading in, too.
With lots of running bumper stickers.
Lots of beards in this crowd too.

John's stomach begins to sink.
It's the moment of truth.
The truth is a very scary thing.
Sometimes it’s better not to know.

Well, time to get the race packet.
The sweatshirt looks OK.
The race number is funny.
It says: "Tecumseh Trail Marathon."

It also says: "I think I can."
That part is written upside down.
That’s so you can look down and see the encouraging words.
“I think I can.” Just like the little engine.Did that story have a happy ending?
Will this one?

Runners are heading for the shuttle buses.
This is it. No turning back now.
Like getting on a roller coaster.
Once you're in, that's it. No getting out.
Not until the ride is over.

The bus ride takes nearly an hour.
There’s time to make a friend or two.
Listen to the war stories from previous years.
Share a nervous joke.

One man says: "I've done this four times.
I should know better by now."
What does that mean?
John laughs, but not very hard.

Chapter Four: The start

Here's the starting area. Hooray!
Look out the bus window.
People are jumping up and down to keep warm.
You can see their breath in the air. Between all the snowflakes.

Some people are standing in a long line.
They are waiting for a Porta-potty.
"Hurry up! Hurry up!” a race official says.
“Just go water a tree!"

People laugh. Then they walk to a tree.
Some just step to the side of the road.
They don’t care about privacy.
This race is different from other marathons.

Now it's 10 o'clock. Time to start.
But not yet.
Here come more buses.
There are a lot of people.
Six hundred signed up.
They want to run and run!

People gather at the starting line.
"Be careful!” says one runner. “It's hunting season."
His friend replies: "I don't run like anything like a deer. I'm OK."
People laugh. Ha ha!

John knows this is funny.
He runs nothing like a deer, either.
More like an elephant.
Thump, thump, thump!

Finally, it starts! People cheer.
Go, runners, go!
Down a paved road they go.
Then to a gravel road.
Then down a hill.
When will the trail start?
Will there be enough trail in this race?
This time, John smiles at the joke.

Then the course goes into the woods.
Lots of runners. Skinny trail.
No passing lane.
That’s OK. John is in no hurry.

He has small goals today.
Get to the finish line.
Don't break an ankle.
Beat the 4:30 p.m. cutoff at mile 23.
Get some soup at the end.
That will be good enough.

Chapter Five: The hills

Here comes the first downhill.
Watch the greyhounds sprint to the bottom.
Go, greyhounds, go!
Oops. There is a problem.
Two runners are down.
"Ice!" someone shouts.
"Ice!" others repeat.

The ground is slippery.
The trails are steep.
The runners slow down.
Some fall down.
Some bump into other.
Wham! Wham!

Everyone has one thought:
Is this just one bad hill?
Or is it the first of many?
The greyhounds hit the bottom and start up the other side.
"Ice!" someone shouts in the distance.
It is going to be a long day.

The hills keep coming.
Big hills. Lots of hills.
Some as big as skyscrapers. Some bigger.
Up and down.

This is the hilliest marathon John has ever run.
And the iciest.
It is hard to run.
It is hard to walk.

People fall and say bad words.
Someone slides down a hill with a scream.
Someone sits by the side of the trail.
He is covered with snow.
He is rubbing his leg.
"Are you OK?" someone asks.
"I think so," he says.

Soon the aid stations appear.
Runners begin to drop out.
DNF. A scary phrase.
Some days, DNF is a bad, bad thing.
Some days, it is a good thing.
No one is sure today.

"My ankle is shot," someone says.
"Can I get a ride back?" another says.
Race officials get on the phone to drivers.
The ambulance stands by.

Others runners keep going.
Go runners, go!
The greyhounds are far ahead.
How do they do it?

Chapter Six: The middle miles

Soon the hills go away.
For a little while, anyway.
Finally, some clear, flat ground for running.
No hills. No ice.
It's almost too good to be true.
How long will it last?

Pretty soon, the race passes the halfway point.
The first-timers are happy.
They know this means they are closer to the end than the beginning.
The veterans are nervous.
They know this means Indian Hill is next.

Indian Hill is a steep gravel road.
Very steep. Very long. Very high.
It looks 1,000 feet high.
Higher than the Sears Tower.
Higher than the clouds.

Everyone begins walking.
No one even thinks of running.
Except maybe the greyhounds.
They passed this point long ago.
Maybe they are already eating soup.
And laughing around the fire.
Maybe they are driving home.

But the others are still climbing Indian Hill.
They take baby steps.
They breathe deeply.
They stop to stretch their legs.

It takes a long time to climb this hill.
Ten minutes.
Fifteen minutes.
Feel the burn.

Are we at the top yet?
The road disappears around a corner.
Slowly the runners reach the turn and look around.
They say bad words.
The top is still far away.

Some runners think this would have been a good place to end the race.
A half-marathon is plenty today.
A marathon is going to be tough.
Tougher than some of the runners.

Chapter Seven: More punishment

Finally, the runners crest the hill.
They do not look like runners.
They are huffing. And puffing. And standing around.
They pant. They rub their legs.
They wonder how many hills remain.

John is optimistic.
Climbing a long, long hill can only mean one thing.
It is time for the course to flatten out.
Or maybe even descend.

Poor, sad John.
He is suffering from lack of oxygen
In a few minutes, he will learn something.
Trails sometimes go down.
But sometimes they keep going up.

Soon, it begins to snow.
The woods are pretty.
But the trail is a bitch.
Who ever heard of mountains in Indiana?

Up and down.
Up and down.
Hills. Creeks. More hills.
Who’s idea was this?

Soon, the trail levels out. More or less.
Here is a chance to run again.
And to talk to other runners.
And to walkers.
My, there are a lot of walkers.

There is a runner from Kentucky.
And one from Louisiana.
And one from New York.
They are nice.
They like to walk.
It is fun to walk.

The runners reach another aid station.
There is a nice man serving hot chocolate.
A woman is handing out Gatorade slushies.
There are bowls of cookies. Cheese doodles. Pretzels. Candy.

Runners stop to talk.
This is the fun part.
It is almost like a party.
Please pass the cookies!

People are smiling.
Lots of smiles.
Lots of wet feet.
Lots of steamy hats.
The day is fun again.

Chapter Eight: Another killer hill

Then it is time to hit the trails.
Four hours have passed.
Eighteen miles down.
Eight to go!

The field has spread out.
Small groups of runners play leap frog.
I pass you on the downhill.
You pass me on the uphill.

Then the sugar kicks in.
First it is a light shuffle.
Then a trot.
Go, John, go!
He is passing trees and rocks as if they are standing still!
Sometimes even another runner.

Oh no. Another hill.
Everyone starts walking again.
This hill is a whopper.
The toughest since Indian Hill.

It looks like something out of a disaster movie.
Up, up, up.
It resembles a tsunami wave.
High overhead, people are walking switchbacks in row after row.
Six, seven, eight rows of people.
They are climbing Jacob's Ladder, straight to heaven.
Does this mean we have died?

John's head hurts. He pulls off the trail and count to 20.
It's an effort just to think about walking this hill.
He sees the bitter truth.
He should have trained harder.
This is the toughest race of his life.

Chapter Nine: A new goal

Finally, after another hour or so, John does it.
No, not the finish line.
It’s the aid station at mile 23.
This is where volunteers start pulling slowpokes off the course.

What time is it? The ax begins falling here at 4:30.
OK, good, it’s only 3:25. Plenty of time.
John is feeling giddy.
He says to the volunteers: “Has anyone passed by here yet?”
Everyone laughs.

Yes, the leaders came through here hours ago.
They are running gods.
John is not a god. He is a mortal.
A mortal with heavy legs.

But he beat the cut-off.
Now the finish line is within reach!
It’s time to set another goal.
Just finish is no longer good enough.

It’s time to start passing people.
And finish under six hours.
That is still a long time.
But now it is the goal.

It looks like other runners are thinking the same thing.
People begin to step a little livelier.
No more long walks.
No more laughing around the aid stations.
It’s time to hammer. So to speak.

Chapter Ten: Take it home

The hills have flattened out.
They no longer tower.
Now they gently roll.
Thank God for small favors.

Far across the lake, a loudspeaker echoes.
In the distance, runners are crossing the finish line.
Home, sweet home.
Take it home, baby.

Ahead, some runners look familiar.
There’s the woman with icicles in her hair.
She disappeared at mile 12.
Now she’s back. It’s time to pass her.

Who’s next? Backpack boy. He has four water bottles.
Doesn’t he know this is a supported race?
Goodbye, Backpack Boy.
Who’s next?

It’s time to reel them in, one by one.
It feels good.
There’s Yellow Coat. There’s Hard Breather. There’s Santa Claus Hat.
Pull ‘em in. Keep going.

Finally, down a hillside, and out of the woods.
There’s another aid station.
“About one more mile,” the volunteer says.
Goodbye trails. Hello, gravel road.

Chapter Eleven: Big finish

The woods are done. The end is near.
Now it is just the runners and the road.
And another hill.
Who can get traction on a gravel hill?

Everyone walks the hill.
Is there enough time? Ten minutes to go.
Look out. Here comes a car.
And another. Lots of runners are going home.

Up the last hill. Turn a corner.
More ice. Be careful.
Another 200 yards to the finish line.
Plenty of time. Go, John, go!

Cross the line. It’s over.
Wow, that was hard. And long.
Two hours longer than a marathon PR.
Two hours and 17 minutes, to be precise.

What changed? Why so hard?
Who cares.
Get some soup.
Think about it tomorrow.
The race is over.
Thank God, it’s over.


The results are posted.
The winner finished in 3:12.
Holy smokes! A 7:19 pace.
Didn’t he see the ice? And the hills?

John finished 349th out of 490 finishers.
No complaints. Finishing was fine.
It was a tough course.
There’s always next year.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tecumseh Trail Marathon - Race Report

Update Note: I knew there was someone I was forgetting to thank and that would be Patrick Kinsman. Thanks, Patrick, for teaching my Saturday class. Knowing the class was in good hands, I had no worries and could focus on the race.

"I'm very interested and excited to continue exploring the endurance aspect of 'me' and discovering where 'me' begins and 'me' ends, and I know that this endeavor is one vehicle to help learn where that 'edge' may lie.
So, what's next? The Tecumseh Trail Marathon on December 6th. For this event, I have no intention or 'goal' other than to finish and I intend on doing it using only the Project Principles and Diet.

Depending on how Tecumseh goes, I'll let you know what's really up my sleeve...!" - BTWG Blog. October 19th, 2008, upon completion of my first half marathon.

At this stage in my life, I'm less concerned about how I stack up against others and more interested in letting go of "self" in order to connect with and serve others, my spirit, and God. As I wrote on my old blog a year or so ago, "I'm less interested in what I can gain from my yoga practice and more interested in what I can leave behind." This summarizes my intentions for participating in the Tecumseh Trail Marathon. I had no intentions of competing against anyone other than "me", in my humble opinion, that is where the real competition is anyway. My true goal was to participate in an event that would take me to my breaking point so that I could observe how I respond to the physical suffering involved as well as the feelings and emotions that accompany such a challenge. My other goal was to cross the finish line. While I occasionally reach a similar point in my yoga practice or in the gym, nothing takes me to the precipice like endurance events. And let me tell you, Tecumseh delivered for me, big time. It was a humbling experience and certainly the most challenging event I've ever done.
I was blessed to have Pam "The Blam" serve as my driver and support crew for the day. When she arrived at my house, it was already snowing, the ground was covered and the weather report said more snow was on the way. We hit the road towards Bloomington just after 6a.m., driving off into the dark, the snow and the unknown.

Arriving safely at the finish line for packet pick-up, I met up with Project Grad, Corbin Baird and after getting everything settled in, we hopped one of the school buses which took us on the 40 minute, or so, bus ride to the start line.

Hanging out at the start line was actually the coldest part of the race. I think the temperature was in the upper 20's with the wind chill making it closer to 11 degrees (according to the weather report). The start was in a relatively open area so we were exposed and taking brunt of the wind. Everyone was eager to get moving and to get into the shelter of the forest and valleys.

The first few miles were flat gravel roads and fire roads and most of the runners stayed together in a long progression through the woods. Unceremoniously, we took a quick left and we were on single track which is where the pack began to string out and get thin. Small bands of runners began linking up while some runners began falling off the back and others bridging up to the next group. I was intent on being conservative for the first 1/2 of the race and didn't concern myself with which group I was in, if I was being dropped or if I was dropping others.
The first aid station, around mile 3, came much quicker than I envisioned and from my estimate, I was on an 11-12 minute per mile pace, which was a little faster than I intended, yet it was early in the race and the course was more or less flat up to this point.

As the miles passed the trail became increasingly treacherous the snow became packed and frozen. Fortunately, there were leaves in the mix which added an element of traction and some areas were sheltered enough or held enough leaves that traction was not an issue. That being said, by mile 6 or 7, people were slipping and falling, especially on the down hill turns. Trail running requires a heightened sense of awareness and constant scanning to avoid roots, stones, and trail undulations. The slick trail conditions added to the challenge, yet I never found myself fearful of falling. My years of training (body and mind) had prepared me for this sort of thing and I could simply look where I needed to go, commit, and let things flow.

Through the first 10-11 miles I kept getting caught in traffic jams of people. As we came upon sections that were a little sketchy, people were going so slow that others had to stop and wait their turn. I'm a slow learner, but after 4 or 5 of these "excuses" to recover, I started going off the trail in order to run around the backups.
I felt great when I reached the aid station around mile 12 (note - the only mile markers were at the aid stations which were situated about every 2-3 miles), but that all changed after mile 13 where we were greeted by a long hill on a gravel road. I hiked as strong as I could, yet I think it still took me 7-8 minutes to get to the top. Once I recovered enough to resume running, both of my calf muscles locked up in cramps; a sure sign that I had not trained sufficiently for the hills. For the next several miles I resorted to hiking as quickly as I could and would occasionally attempt to resume running, or make an effort to jump a log, where upon my left calf would lock up and I would spontaneously let out a quiet "ouch" or other expletive : -) After a few miles of this, it became rather comical. I relied on my training and years of knowledge/wisdom and with enough persistence, patience and doing all the "right" things (yoga stretches, fuel, breathing, and mindfulness, visualization), the cramping let up around mile 18.5. Interestingly enough, my race plan was to run conservatively through mile 18, as I knew from the course profile that once you hit mile 18 the majority of the hills were behind us; though there were still a couple of tough climbs beyond 18. So the cramps pretty much ensured that I wouldn't be running, let alone running too hard.

By far, miles 13 - 18.5 were the toughest miles for me and it's where I found the greatest internal dialogue and negative self talk. Hello ego! In fact, I knew there was a cutoff time to reach mile 23, if you didn't get there in time, you would be pulled from the course and part of me was wanting to self-sabotage and get pulled. Hey, at least it was be an "excuse" to not finish. I mean, it's not like I would be quiting, I got pulled! At least that was the game for a while. Again, I reverted to my training, discipline and prayer. I also pulled from the strength of all those who were pulling for me, and in particular I pulled from Jody, my wife. Trust me, I truly felt all of you out there with me. These thoughts passed, and I actually began to push it to ensure that I would make the cutoff. NO EXCUSES! I decided the only way they were going to pull me from the course was by gun point.

Over the closing miles there were a couple other low points for me as well. Mentally, it became difficult because I didn't know how much suffering awaited. People were slipping and falling all around me (note - I did not fall once and I attribute this to my training, meditation, yoga and core work). I didn't know what the course was like, how many hills were left, or if my body would keep going. All this combined with my egos disappointment of knowing that I would not make it in 5.5 - 6 hours (my projected finish time) brought on a couple moments of desperation. During these moments I did just what I ask all of you to do during a challenging yoga posture, when your mind is freaking out. I let go of the drama, it was all just a construct of my ego-mind and I wasn't buying into it, at least not for long. Again, I defaulted back to my training, pulled on everyone's positive energy, and focused on my body, the stride I was taking, each foot connecting with the Earth. I connected to my breath and merged into each moment. As a result, I felt better at mile 23 than I had felt for the previous 10 miles.

Somewhere around mile 22 we hit a sweet decent which set us up for the home stretch for the last 3.2 miles. Normally I can cover 5K in under 25 minutes, on this day it took me more like 45 minutes to do the last 5K of the race. Yet, all that mattered to me was that each step I took was a step closer to my inner victory.
In one final comical event in my race, I knew I was going to be super-close to a 7 hour finish, so I decided to try to bring it in under 7 (like it really mattered at this point!). However, as I was doing my darnedest to keep up the pace in the final 200 meters, the pavement was a sheet of ice and I continued to slip and slide. I finally decided it was better to sustain my record of no falls rather than pushing to the finish. I crossed the line in 7 hours 11 seconds.

Reflecting on the experience, I could not have asked for anything better. As I stated in a blog post leading up to the event, I knew I was to experience exactly what was needed and I trust that is what went down. Who am I to question or to feel disappointed in any way? When I extract my ego out of the mix, I know that I experienced exactly what was needed each step of the way. I accomplished what I set out to do, which was to finish the race and of greater importance to me, I was able to do this with relatively little time to prepare and I did it using only the principles from Project: Bridging the Wellness Gap®. I also experienced an invaluable inner transformation, which I will always appreciate.

One thing I feel I must make clear - I am not doing events and challenges such as the trail marathon to impress anyone or to cultivate my own sense of ego or pride. Rather, my intent is two-fold. First, I am doing this for personal reasons and as a vehicle to personal and spiritual development and as a devotion to God. Second, I'm doing this for others. My hope is to inspire others to embrace a lifestyle of health, fitness, and well-being. Perhaps by knowing that I'm out there running on a cold day, it might inspire you to get outside and go for a 30-minute walk. You see, it doesn't really matter if your challenge is that of getting off the couch to go for a walk around the block, or to run 26.2 miles in the snow and cold weather, if it brings you to your edge, it's the same. And as I preach in my yoga classes and in the Project, "it isn't what happens in your life that matter, how you respond to it is what matters."

So, what's next for me? Ultrarunning, or what is also known as an Ultramarathon. Any distance beyond 26.2 miles is considered ultrarunning. Years ago I read about guys like Dean Karnazes and races like the Western States 100 and was totally blown away at the concept of running 50 miles, 100 miles, or beyond; at the time, I wasn't even into running! As I trained for my half marathon I had an inspiration/teaching which lead me to commit to ultrarunning, or at least testing myself to see if I had what it would take. That is another post for another day.
My intention for next year is to complete a 50K race (around 30 miles) and a 50 miler at the end of the season and probably several ultra events that I will do solo (not a formal event or race). Ultimately, I'd like to complete a 100 mile event, yet I know that would be at least 2 more years down the road, so we will see.
There you have it, folks! A little insight into my experience, how I used the Project principles to train and complete, and what I've had "up my sleeve" for the past few months.
Again, I want to thank all of you and let you know how much I appreciate you. I also thank you for hangin' with me and reading the blog and for supporting my upcoming adventures in body, mind, and spirit fitness.
A huge thanks, much love, and a shout out to:
Jody and Family
All of you who sent text messages, emails, phone calls, thoughts and prayers of support and who joined me in the training runs and adventures
Steve Ilg/Wholistic Fitness®

Corbin and Chris post-race; doning the "robes" of a "Fitness Monk"...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Confronting Fear

Below is my reply to an email that I received last week. The seeker who wrote the email expressed her concerns over sending in her application. The specific words of her email are not important, so I have left that out. I have answered several other emails and phone calls from others feeling the same way as the one who I responded to in the email. While the specifics are different, the root emotion/feeling is the same - fear. Thus, I address each of you dealing with the hindrance of fear of making the leap of faith and sending in your essay.

May this help you in your decision and empower you to follow your spirit.

Understand that I would never attempt to force or to "sell" someone on the Project, it doesn't work that way. It must be something that you want and that you are willing to let go and/or sacrifice in order to make the change you know you need.



Thank you for writing to me and for being so open and honest. Like you, there are others who have shared their concerns and fears about making the jump and sending in their application. Though the reasons vary, at the root, it's the same - fear. Fear comes in many forms and sometimes it can be a positive force to keep us from being harmed, other times it is not of the Light and can hinder us in finding true happiness, joy and peace. The latter is what you are feeling. Correct?

In large part, the Project helps us to find balance in life, so it becomes a win/win by helping us to be at our best so we can be at our best for others. Thus, it is far from self indulgent, it's actually no different than someone getting free from anything that holds them back in life: addictions, attachments, self-sabotage, overworking, laziness, you name it. Getting free in order to be a better human is a very selfless endeavor, when done correctly.

If I had to guess there are other, underlying feelings and concerns that contribute to your feelings and I'm confident that by participating in the Project, you could get past those feelings as well. Not that this is a "cure all" program, but it really does help us to find peace and balance in all areas of health, fitness, and well-being.

I am confident that should you make the decision to let go of your fears and devote yourself to completing the Project, you will VERY happy you did. Why sit on the sidelines and be a spectator when you can jump into the game?

Great question! Thanks for asking.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Checking In

I know several of you have dropped in to read about the Tecumseh Trail Marathon and I still don't have anything posted. No Excuses! Here are a few reasons why it will be Friday before I post my pictures and report:
  • Sunday - After investing soooo much time on training over the past few months and being gone the entire day on Saturday, I chose to spend all day Sunday with my family, including my parents who were in town.
  • Monday - My most-awesome wife arranged for me to add to my ever growing tattoo collection. So, I spent several hours in the tattoo chair getting my newest piece from Monte (http://www.montetattoo.com/). This was my 40th birthday present from Jody, and it's exactly what I wanted. And, no, I'm far from being done with getting tattooed. I couldn't be more lucky to have an amazing and supportive wife like Jody. She is cool with me doing crazy stuff like a 7 hour marathon or getting inked up. Thanks, Babe! As a side note, Monte was just listed as Indy's Best Tattoo Artist in "Indianapolis Monthly" magazine (it's in the current issue).
  • Tuesday - Arose early and spent the morning catching up on Project related work and responding to several new applicants. Then, I spent the rest of the day putting up our Christmas lights and teaching a class at Cityoga. Another side note -- it isn't too late to apply to the Project, just know that I've already received over 20 applications! So, if you are still considering sending in your application, git er done!
  • I'm still processing the race and all the lessons/teachings that arose; they were many and, not to be dramatic, it was a life-changing experience for me so I'm still reflecting.

There you have it, no excuses, just where I am. I'm working from home on Friday and will have all the pics and report ready to roll for your reading enjoyment : -) There is a good chance I will have Project related stuff up over the next couple days as well. Until then, hop over to Project Grad Corbin's blog where he posted his thoughts on the Tecumseh Trail Marathon: http://corbinsworldoffun.blogspot.com/



Saturday, December 6, 2008

Race Report Coming Soon

Hey Gang,

Thanks for the emails and text messages sent today and for all the support. I know some of you are anxious to hear how it went, so I'll see if I can get some pictures and a race report up tomorrow.

All I can say is that, for me, it was the single most challenging thing I've ever done. Which is exactly what I signed on for. I didn't finish anywhere near the time I was intending on, yet I did finish and that truly is all I wanted to accomplish. 7 freaking hours! Talk about a long day. I'm certain I would have come closer to my goal of 6 hours, yet I was dealing with a few minor physical challenges, and the great unknown of the route/course, and the unrelenting hills of the first 20 miles. I was near the breaking point a couple times, yet persevered to finish. No Excuses for being painfully slow, heck the winner finished in 3 hours 12 minutes! Project Grad, Corbin Baird finished in 5 hours 35 minutes (believe that's what he said) and had a really good run. I was just slow, but I really don't care and I'll explain why I don't care once I post my report.

Again, thanks for all the well-wishes, prayers, and intentions that you were sending my way.


Friday, December 5, 2008


"A real love for the hard battle knowing it offers the opportunity to be at your best when your best is required." "Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you are capable" -- John Wooden - Forwarded from Pam "The Blam" Liston

I wanted to pass along a very heart-felt "Thank You" to all of you who have shared your well-wishes for tomorrows marathon. Looking at the countdown widgit on the blog, there are less than 23 hours until go-time.

Below are a few of the emails I have received this week, but before I get to that, I wanted to also ask that your thoughts and prayers be with a couple of friends from our little community. Johnny "Playa" Watts is running a marathon in South Carolina tomorrow. Though he did tell me the weather is supposed to be perfect and the course flat, so I'm a little envious and thinking I maybe signed on for the wrong race : -) Good luck John, I'll be thinking of you!

Project Graduate Corbin Baird is also running the Tecumseh Trail Marathon tomorrow. I know he has been doing his best to train around a hectic work/travel schedule, and he's as ready as ever for this run. This is Corbin's second attempt at Tecumseh, last year he injured his ankle around the mid-way point and had to call it quits before the finish. Good luck, Bro! I'm sure you will be waaaaaay ahead of me. Save me some of that homemade soup, will ya?

Chris, Just wanted to send best wishes today to you as you get yourself in the zone for tomorrow. You are now, and always will be, a winner, Just be safe and make good decisions as you are running the course. Listen to your body. Know that many of us will be thinking of you tomorrow and cheering you on as you are on the course. Play nice with the other runners. Pam


Here is a great suggestion from Project Graduate, Joyce Hertko. Pam made a similar suggestion to me for the October 1/2 marathon...

Kristen Armstrong (Lance Armstrong's former wife) started to run during her divorce as a way to help herself during that painful time. She wrote an article about her long training runs and first marathon. Kristen chose to pray for one person during each mile. She stayed focus on the run but also thought of others. I thought this was inspiring and wanted to share it with you. You have a lot of family members and friends who can help you through this run without physically being at the race. Maybe more importantly, through prayer, they will be with you spiritually. Good luck and no excuses!


Best of Luck on your adventure, Coach Chris! We'll be thinking of you and sending any chi we generate your way. john


Chris, before this week slips through my fingers, I wanted to wish you well for this Saturday's trail run. What an amazing challenge you have taken on - distance, the outdoor elements, terrain, age (I'm older than you, so I can note this), etc. Your hard work towards this goal is an inspiration to your fellow yogis. I am proud of you and am grateful every week when your presence leads me down a better path. Enjoy your moment of achieving "26"

ps - Mike and I went hiking in Eagle Creek Saturday morning - the adventures plant the seed


There you have it! With so many of you thinking of me, sending chi/energy and positive thoughts and prayers my way, how can it not be a perfect day? Regardless of how things go tomorrow, it doesn't matter. As in a yoga pose, as in life, all that matters is what I experience tomorrow, and how I respond to it. There are infinite ways and directions this event can go. I just have to find one Way which is most appropriate to what my spirit needs to experience tomorrow. That could mean doing better than I envision, that could mean suffering all day, and that could mean dropping out before the finish. I trust that I will experience exactly what I need to experience tomorrow; no attachment, no aversion...

Thank you all for your support, for hanging with me these past months of training and for all your prayers. I know I will feel all of you out on the trail with me. I will share the race experience with all of you as soon as I can.

In Peace,
p.s. -- depending on how things go tomorrow, I may have an announcement as to what my next "adventure" is going to be.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Meeting Follow Up and More...

I wanted to offer a moment of thanks and gratitude to all those who made the effort to attend last nights Project Informational Meeting. There were 16 aspiring and eager folks in attendance and by the end of the meeting I felt that nearly everyone was inspired to go home and get there application submitted. In fact, by the time I got home I had 3 applications in my email inbox, each from people attending the session.

I also want to acknowledge and thank all the Project Graduates who were able to attend last night and show your support as well as share your experiences; it was invaluable and I owe you! Some of you wanted to be there, yet had other obligations, things coming up, or out of town; no worries. I know you were there in spirit and we could feel it.

Check out Project Graduate, Loretta Cooprider's blog today. Welcome back Loretta! And I mean that in more ways than one. http://lorettasbtwgblog.blogspot.com/

Finally, Pam "The Blam" Liston surprised me last night with a couple "prototypes" for our first items in the BTWG apparel line/merchandise. I felt like a kid at Christmas I was so surprised and excited. Great stuff, Pam. I love it! And so does Jody. More on this coming soon... (though everyone at the meeting got a sneak peek).

If you were not able to attend the meeting last night and you have questions, please let me know and I will be glad to address any questions or concerns you may have.

In Peace,
p.s. - looking at the widgits on my blog and it says only "2 Days" and "0" hours until the Tecumseh Trail Marathon. Holy Cow! And looking at the weather widgit it looks like Saturday's run is gonna be coooooold and there is a good chance for snow. Bring it! I'm ready for whatever Mother Nature has in store : -)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Excuses Holding you back from Applying?

If you truly want to participate in Project: Bridging the Wellness Gap® yet feel some sort of personal or financial resistance keeping you from applying, let me know! Often, the resistance that shows up is a pattern of excuses or self-sabotage which will continually hinder you from embracing the life you desire. Overcoming these obstacles could be your first step towards change and creating a lifestyle of true well-being.

When it comes to personal resistance, without consulting with you, there isn't much I can do to help, so please contact me and we can talk about your concerns or fears. If it's "time" related, let's talk about how we can re-arrange some things in your life to make room for the Project (by the way, if you don't have 30 minutes a day to be active, we REALLY need to talk!). If it's concerns about the $249 price tag, contact me, we can make arrangements. Let me make this loud and clear, I WOULD NEVER TURN A TRUE SEEKER AWAY DUE TO FINANCES. We can discuss payment options, or whatever it takes to make it work in your budget. Flat broke? Let's talk...

Not to get to sales-y, but when you look at the big picture, here is what we are talking about - $249 over 12 weeks is less than $3.00 per day. How many of us blow that much on coffee, sodas, snacks, etc. every day? Trust me, many participants actually save money due to the lifestyle changes they make!

As with the old saying, "where there is a will, there is a way", so it is with the Project. If you have a strong will to be in the next Project, and you can share this with me, you will be considered for participation.


Monday, December 1, 2008

Getting On Board The "No Excuses" Express...

I just received the below email from one of my students and thought I'd share it here, in hopes that it might inspire you to continue to walk or run outdoors this winter. As a side note, last Monday I did my final long run before next weekends trail marathon. It was around 30 degrees at the start yet felt much colder than that. The sky was dark and gray, and a steady drizzle was falling; it had been raining and sprinkling most of the previous night. About 2.5 hours into the run, it began to rain in earnest for about the next 30 minutes. All-in-all I ran for a total of 4.5 hours and covered around 19 miles. Was it cold? Yup. Was it wet? Very. Was it muddy? Duh! Was it fun and empowering? Heck yes!

In about an hour I'll be heading out for an hour long run. The weather widget on my blog says it's currently 30 degrees and feels like 18! Not to mention the 20mph westerly winds! I can't wait to get out there...

On to the email I just received:
I wanted to let you know that I finally bit the bullet and started my outside running program.

I started out on the morning of Turkey Day and have not looked back. So far, so good.
Mentally, I’m jacked up about it. The weather has not hindered my efforts. In fact, its kind of motivating me in a weird, warped sort of way. And physically, I have not had any trouble putting in 3+ miles at a time. I am VERY pleased that my cardio endurance had not disappeared since I stopped riding the Monon at lunch.

Anyway, I wanted to share and say thanks for the advise, suggestions and motivations.
Another step towards better health!


Way to go, Ron! Right there with ya...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Let the Games Begin!!

As of midnight tonight the application process begins for the next round of Project: Bridging the Wellness Gap®. I am looking forward to receiving and reviewing all the applications as they come in.

Over the past few weeks, I have spoken to several people who are already working on their application and planning to submit it first thing tomorrow. For this round of the Project, I have expanded the number of "Recruits" that I will accept. However, keep in mind there were several in the last round that did not get in due to spots already being filled. These folks are planning to apply this time and I've given them top priority. Just know that there will be several people applying, so be sure get your essay in as soon as you can!

Selections will not be made until the application process ends and all applications are reviewed. As with the last round of the Project, I have certain criteria that I look for in an applicant. I also look for certain qualities and how well the applicant expresses their interest in the Project, their desire, and what makes them a good candidate. Selections are based on each applicants overall score and when the order they applied (the sooner you apply the higher your score!).

If you have questions, be sure to contact me, or join us this Wednesday at Cityoga. I am hosting an informational meeting from 7:30-8:30pm. Along with me will be a couple of Graduates from the previous round of Project: Bridging the Wellness Gap®, so you can get their first-hand insights as well. Hope to see you there!

In Peace,

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Navigating the Holidays

'Tis the season to get fat... NOT!
The holidays provide an abundance of opportunities for excuses to blow your diet and training. Poor choices during the holiday season generally result in negative consequences such as weight gain, diminished fitness and performance, and a boat-load of guilt, shame, and disappointment. At least that's the path many will chose between now and the first of the year. Yet, it doesn't have to be this way. Making poor choices is just that, a choice. No one holds a gun to your head and forces you to make poor wellness choices. Conversely, making proper choices is also a choice and making appropriate choices leads to enhanced health, fitness, and well-being.

If you tend to struggle with your diet and wellness program during the holidays, tomorrow presents an opportunity, an opportunity for change and for a new approach and perception of the holidays. There are tons of things you can do to ensure you have a healthful and mindful holiday experience, and you can get loads of ideas from various magazines, newspapers, internet sites and so forth. Below are a few of my top suggestions based on a workshop I have presented in the past, titled "Navigating the Holidays".

Plan Ahead and Be Prepared:
Have a plan which, ideally, includes time for some form of physical activity (see suggestions below), and a plan for your diet. Are you going to have a "free day" and eat whatever you want? Do you want to ensure there are certain foods for you to eat? If so, be prepared to provide it yourself. Don't let the day be an excuse to play "victim" to nutritional choices.
Free Day:
This is one of my "12 Dietary Principles" from the Project. On this day, allow yourself to eat whatever you want, guilt-free. Indulge in the foods you look forward to all year long and do not feel bad about your choices. The one caveat to the free day is that you stick to the "Hunger/Satisfied Scale", another technique I use in the Project. In essence, you can eat what you want, but only eat until you feel satisfied, not full or stuffed. A few hours later, if you are feeling a sense of hunger, then by all means enjoy more of the holiday yummies.
No Leftovers:
This one can be tough, however if discipline of the palate is a challenge for you, it is a crucial step to your progress. Keep all the turkey, veggies, fruit and other healthful foods and send the rest home with your visitors. Or, if others offer you high calorie/sugar/fat dishes to take home, politely decline.
The key is to make sure that after the special day, get all the "off limits" food out of your home. One day of eating holiday food will not pose a problem, extending it into two or more days can create serious damage to your health, fitness, and well-being.
Get Active:
Physical activity on a holiday is actually a high priority when it comes to Navigating the Holiday and it has a direct impact on your health, fitness, and well-being. If it is literally impossible to be active on the specific day, then make it a priority to be active the day prior and the day after the holiday.
Check out local fitness opportunities such as the "Drumstick Dash" in Broad Ripple. Or, check out a great idea from Project Graduate, Matt Fallin. He and Margaret, his wife, came up with a fantastic idea to fit in their workout as well as include their friends and family. I couldn't be more proud of Matt and Margaret, and I couldn't be more inspired: http://projectroadwarrior.blogspot.com/

Remember that I am teaching the "After the Turkey" 2 hour yoga intensive at Cityoga, this Friday from 9-11am. I feel it is vital that you are physically active the day after the holiday as well, that is why I chose to teach this particular class every year. What, you don't think I would like to be sleeping in and eating more pumpkin pie too??? No way! Get moving and get back on track with your fitness plan.
Here is my plan for tomorrow, feel free to give it a shot for yourself.
Project Triathlon:
Adjust the times to meet your current fitness level as well as the time available to you. This is structured to provide a 1-hour workout and is what I will be doing tomorrow; short, simple, and oh-so-effective. Do not perform this workout if you are not already engaged in a consistent workout plan, get your doc's consent. You know, all that typical warning stuff you read at the beginning of an exercise video? Same deal here...

1) 30 minute walk or run at an RPE of 8. RPE = rating of perceived exertion, what I use in the Project as a gauge of workout intensity, based on a 1-10 scale. For an aerobic workout, this would equate to roughly 80% of ones maximum heart rate. Cardio activity performed early in the day not only delivers tremendous cardio-respiritory and health benefits, it also helps to stoke your metabolism for the day. In essence you will be burning more calories throughout the day than you otherwise would. As an added "side effect", you may feel less guilt knowing that you "earned" a few of the calories you will be consuming.
2) 20 minute yoga session. Roll out your yoga mat and spend some time performing a few yoga postures. If you are not sure what to do, that is totally fine, just go with the flow and do what feels interesting or right for your body. I often take this approach in my own practice, I refer to it as "freestyle yoga" (probably not an original term). Your session doesn't have to be anything structured or formal. Again, just do what inspires you without regard for anything other than stretching your body, feeling good, and breathing.

Spending time performing yoga will offer you a great post-run stretch and help your body feel even more invigorated and energized. Additionally, yoga helps us to be more mindful of our body and it's innate form of communicating with us, which is through sensation and feeling (both physical and emotional). Tuning into your body and being more mindful of how you feel can help you make more appropriate choices at mealtime and help you avoid abusing your body too much.

3) 10 minute meditation session. Among other benefits of spending time in meditation, you can truly set the tone for you day; a tone of calm, peace, compassion, non-judgement, and connection to God. I'm sure you would agree that these are all beneficial qualities to bring into each day and especially on a day of "Thanks"giving. Meditation also helps us to be more connected to mindfulness, which we can carry with us into mealtime, during conversations with others, or perhaps bring you a sense of well-being if you happen to get stuck in traffic or at the airport.

Embrace the Holiday for what it is and focus on "The Reason for the Season", rather than the food or potential stress and family drama. If it's Thanksgiving, make a list of all that you are thankful for and maybe share this with those to whom you are thankful.

Finally, remember that, for some, the holidays are not always a happy time of the year. There are many who are suffering. There are many who are homeless or hungry. Some people must spend the holidays alone, or their family member is deployed to the war. Some of our yoga buddies are spending their first holiday without a loved one, such as Ginger Schonberg and Johnny "Playa" Watts (both lost their Mother this year). There are literally millions of people who have recently lost their jobs and are struggling to make ends meet. Thus, it is a time of year to include, in your prayers, all those who are suffering. This is also an ideal time of year for action, to reach out and help those in need, especially those near to you or in your own neighborhood or city. Look around and ask around, the opportunities abound. Check with you local food pantry and see how you can help, or ask around at the homeless shelter. Ask at your local gym or yoga studio, many of them are providing opportunities, such as Cityoga's "Toy's for Tots" drop box, etc. Jody and I are engaged in various actions through our church, so if you don't know how or where to direct your energy and resources, ask me, our church has tons of opportunities to get involved (and no, you don't have to be a member to help).
I trust you will have a happy, safe, healthful, and mindful holiday season.
In (Holiday) Peace,

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cold Weather? "No Excuses!" - Part 1

Cold weather and shorter daylight hours are no excuse to bail on your walking/running outside. In this article, I share strategies to help you stick to your training plan through the winter. Why sacrifice your fun and fitness when you don't have to?

When it comes to "dressing for success" on cold days, there are a few basics that can make all the difference and there are a few general "rule of thumb" ideas to keep in mind. As with all things in fitness, there is also a great deal of personal preference when it comes to donning cold weather gear and a few factors to consider:

  • How long are you working out? Most people can deal with the cold for a 30-60 minute run if you plan ahead. There are a few of us crazy enough that we will be running for several hours in the cold. This requires more practice and more planning, yet it can be done!
  • How cold is it?
  • Is it windy? Wind stripes heat from the body very quickly, so it's important to plan ahead.
  • Is the sun shining?
  • What kind of terrain are you on? Running on hilly terrain generates more heat. Running on flat, open roads makes it tougher to stay warm.
  • We all have different metabolic systems and lean body mass, both of which contribute to how much heat you generate during exercise.
  • How much "natural insulation" a.k.a. body fat, are you carrying around with you?

This month marks my one-year anniversary of getting back to running as my primary vehicle for aerobic conditioning. Over the past year, 100% of my runs have taken place outside. I've gone running in the rain, in 90+ degree weather, and I've gone running when it's dark and drizzling ice. The only weather related condition that has caused me to postpone an outdoor run was on two occasions when there was ice on the ground. And this year, I've come up with a plan to work around that. I've purchased a set of the "YakTrax® Pro".

I've known about YakTrax® for years, but never had a need for them, this year is different. I plan to run all winter, regardless of the conditions. I ordered my YakTrax® Pro online, because I couldn't find them locally. Several local outlets carry the YakTrax® Walker which would work great for shorter runs or hikes. If you plan on running, I'd go for the Pro. Here is the link for the YakTrax® web site: http://www.yaktrax.com/.
Layering -
When it comes to "dressing for success", there are a few things that can make all the difference. First on the that list is layering. Most people are familiar with the concept of wearing multiple layers of clothing to stay warm, however, not everyone clearly understands how to layer properly. Layered clothing creates thin pockets of air which are sandwiched between each article of clothing. This air is then heated by your body, helping to keep you toasty and warm. The two main enemies to this strategy are using non-moisture wicking fabric (especially cotton) and failure to use a wind-breaking outer layer when it's windy.

Base Layer - Wicking Fabrics:
"The best dressed corpses on the mountain are always dressed in cotton."
The above quote is popular among mountaineers. I heard it several years ago, when I was selling outdoor apparel. Though a little macabre, the saying holds an important teaching about dressing properly for cold weather.

Wicking fabrics should ALWAYS be your base layer. Some people go with a long sleeve option, some go with a short sleeve shirt, you will have to experiment and see what works best for you. Either way, a good quality wicking fabric moves moisture away from your skin and out to the surface for evaporation. Other fabrics, such as cotton, trap moisture against your skin and will quickly lead to a loss of body heat. In a serious situation, this can lead to hypothermia and death, thus the lovely saying about corpses dressed in cotton.

Another thing to consider with your base layer is the thickness of the fabric. You will come across everything from very thin fabrics, which work great as a base layer or it can be worn with nothing else on your torso on a moderately cool day. Others are much more thick and can also be worn alone on colder days, or as a layer that has a little more warmth to it.

Insulation Layer:
After your base layer, if it's cold enough, you should add a layer of "insulation". If you are a fan of natural fibers, wool is one of the best options you can choose for this purpose. Wool allows moisture to continue moving away from your body for evaporation and temperature regulation. Modern technology has given us the ever popular "fleece" which is used in everything from pullovers and sweatshirts to hats, gloves and boot liners. Much like base-layer fabrics, fleece comes in various thicknesses to provide differing amounts of insulation. I have a couple different fleece shirts of different thicknesses that I use, depending on how cold it is. I also suggest purchasing fleece that has a zip-up neck that goes at least 1/4 - 1/2 the way down the front. This option allows you to zip or unzip to regulate your temperature.

As mentioned above, some of us have a greater amount of natural insulation, or body fat and therefor don't need as much additional insulation as our skinny counterparts. Personally, I generate enough heat that even on really cold days, a light-weight fleece is more than enough for me. Others, may need to go with two light-weight fleece shirts. This works great, especially on longer runs where the temperature may rise along the way, you can simply peel off the extra shirt, tie it around your waste and continue on. Or, chose a medium weight fleece if you need more insulation. Unless it is extremely cold out, I suggest leaving the huge, bulky fleece at home. These shirts are designed for sitting around the campsite, or looking snazzy and "outdoorsy" at the company Christmas party but really are not all that functional unless you are going into below freezing conditions. The problem with wearing a single, thick insulation layer is that once you get too warm, there isn't much you can do to about it.

Outer Layer - Wrap it up!
Finally, if it happens to be windy or particularly cold, you should finish your torso layering with an outer shell made of wind-proof, or wind-resistant material. Trust me, if it is windy out, it doesn't matter how many layers of fleece and wool you throw on, you are still going to get chilly. An outer shell deflects the wind and helps to retain the heat you generate.

A couple things to watch when seeking out your shell include getting a jacket that is well ventilated. Ventilation is crucial. Look for back panels that vent and, ideally, either "pit zips" which are zippers under each arm which you can open and close to allow heat to escape, or at a minimum ensure there are vents in the arm pit area of the jacket.
On days when it isn't as cold, a shell vest works excellent as it retains torso heat, ventilates extremely well and allows heat to dissipate from your arms. Personally, this is what I do until the thermometer dips down in the 20's. I also favor fleece vests which are very functional as well.

"What about 'my other half'"?
When it comes to layering for your bottom half, I use the same strategy that I use for the upper body. I start with a base layer of wicking fabric, such as a pair of compression shorts, over which I add a pair of long tights. For me, this usually does the trick unless it's below 30 degrees. If this is the case, I may add a second pair of tights, or I'll go with a layer of insulation such as fleece-based long underwear under my tights. Other times I just go with compression shorts and a pair of thicker tights. Only on really cold and windy days do I need a pair of wind breaking pants over my layers.

The important thing is to be smart and avoid wearing shorts on really cold days. Below temperatures in the mid-30's, exposed legs will cause you to lose heat too quickly, making it difficult to remain warm. Plus, it is crucial to keep you joints warm otherwise you become more prone to injury to your knees and hips. Research actually supports that running in shorts in cold weather diminishes overall performance. So, don't try to be a tough guy/gal. Cover up for Pete's sakes!

Heads Up!
Just like your Mother always told you, "put on your hat and gloves!" Science shows that we lose 50% of our body heat through our head and another 30% through our hands and feet.
Depending on how cold it is and what type of run I am doing, I usually start with a headband/ear warmer made from fleece. I also have one made from windstop fleece which works great on cold and windy days. Once it gets colder, I go for a nice warm fleece skull cap, like the one pictured to the left. What ever style you go with, just make sure it is made from wicking material.

One of my favorite pieces of cold weather training gear I own is a balaclava, such as the one pictured on the right. I've had one of these for years and find it to be one of the most versatile pieces of winter workout gear that I own. A balaclava can be worn, as pictured, which keeps your head, face, and neck warm. Of course you also look like a S.W.A.T team wanna be, but it gets the job done. On warmer days I roll up the bottom half and wear it as a hat, or you can also pull it down and wear it around your neck as a neck gator. Like I said, its a very functional piece of gear. And yes, it should be made of wicking fabric.
Give cold weather the finger.
When it comes to gloves, I start with a thin pair of cheap nylon, knit gloves or similar light-weight material. As it gets colder or more windy, I shift to thicker fleece gloves or add a nylon, wind resistant shell if needed. Another excellent option for gloves is mittens. Mittens hold the advantage of using your own body heat to help keep all your digits warm since all your fingers are next to each other, skin to skin. There are actually "combo" gloves out there that offer gloves with a mitten cover that allows you to wear them in either mode.

The agony of da feet...
Depending on the shoes you wear you may not need anything special to keep your feet warm enough for a 30-60 minute walk or run. Some shoes are overly ventilated, so you can get cold toes within a matter of minutes, and spend the rest of your run in pain. In addition, running on cold concrete or pavement will get your feet cold faster than running on trails as the hard surface is colder and transfers the cold to your feet more quickly.
If cold feet is a challenge for you, you can experiment with shoes that are less airy, shoes with Gore-Tex liners (which are not only water proof, they also tend to be warmer), or you can go with thicker socks. One strategy that works well for winter running is to purchase a pair of shoes that are 1/2 to 1 size too large. This extra space allows you to throw on two pairs of socks (think layering, here), or you can wear thicker performance based socks, such as those geared towards hiking. Sure it's an added expense, but if you use these shoes only during the winter, they can last you a several years, depending on how many miles you put on them.
Practice, Practice, Practice...
At the end of the day, you will have to do a little trial and error and experiment with different tactics in various weather conditions. Yet, just like I tell all my clients and students, if you want to get better at anything, the secret is PRACTICE!

So, get out there and hit the road. By using my suggestions and doing some experimenting you will find that walking and running through the winter can actually be fun and exciting. Plus, you will feel better and you will feel empowered!

Please contact me if you have questions or need additional guidance with your winter training. And feel free to share your outdoor training stories with me. I'd love to hear from you and you might just inspire others to get outside this winter!

In "Part 2", I will share my insights on why I feel it's important to keep your workouts outdoors rather than walking or running within the comforts of the gym. Stay tuned...