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Downfalls of Motivation

I absolutely love motivation of all kinds, as if you couldn’t already tell that by the name of this website. It pushes me to do things that I couldn’t before and also teaches me to believe in myself. I find strength in other’s success, words, experiences, etc. I find it fascinating, I’m amazed at the impact it can have on me and others. Heck, lately I’ve even found the Home Depot “Let’s Do This” commercials to be motivating and I don’t even own a home or live in an apartment that requires maintenance. Still, I’m rearing and ready to install a new floor for some reason?!

Recently though, I heard an interesting take on the detrimental side of motivation, something I hadn’t quite considered. I’m unsure of who the quote belongs to, but it goes something along the lines of: “It’s like going to school to study to be a lawyer, going through all the classes but failing the bar, therefore you can’t practice what you’ve learned. If you don’t apply it, what are you doing?” I really like this perspective and it opened my eyes up a bit.

You can spend all day watching motivational videos, listening to motivating music, getting yourself pumped up, but if you don’t actually act on it, there was no point and all you did was waste time. It is essentially a form of high tech procrastination. Les Brown says “judge a tree by the fruit it bears, not the fruit it talks about”. Your results and actions are all that matters. Sure, the prep work leading up to it has a part to play, but it is meaningless if you don’t actually follow through. It’s important to have an end game to the motivation and also have the drive to act on it.

Just some food for thought. Now get off the computer, put away your phone, and go do something.

Always in Stride,

Jack

http://gfx.dlastudenta.pl/photos/warto_przeczytac/warto_przeczytac_2010b/stanislaw_kowalski.jpg

Run Into Your Grave: Stanislaw Kowalski

If you’re a runner and you’ve been on Facebook in the last week, you’ve more than likely seen the viral video about the 104-year-old Stanislaw Kowalski breaking a record in the 100m dash as the oldest to do so. Rather remarkable if you compare it to the general 90+ population and what they do on a regular basis (Jeopardy anyone?). It makes one question what makes this possible? How can you defy old age and continue doing what you love?

http://gfx.dlastudenta.pl/photos/warto_przeczytac/warto_przeczytac_2010b/stanislaw_kowalski.jpg

http://gfx.dlastudenta.pl/photos/warto_przeczytac/warto_przeczytac_2010b/stanislaw_kowalski.jpg

Now, if you type in to google age-defying, or how to beat old age, etc there are plenty of so-called miracle cures, tips, and advice. Some have merit, others are most likely snake oil. I personally believe it comes from mentality and patterns.

Let’s look at the first aspect, mentality. Abraham Lincoln once said “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” I think this is pretty spot on in happiness and in a lot of cases, physical ability. Timothy Noakes has done a lot on the topic of  the central governor and the brain being able to control how long we can go at what speeds for endurance running. I believe that the central governor translates over to aging as well. You can be as active as you make your mind up to be. Yes, there are limitations and medical issues do come up, but in general, the responsibility is on each individual to keep themselves moving. The CEO of a company I used to work for said he “wants to run into his grave”. This is the perfect mentality for any runner and leads to entering old age in good physical shape with a quick mind. If you don’t use it you lose it to atrophy, which makes getting active again that much harder. It’s a slippery slope.

Pattern also plays a major role in how we age. It is pretty easy to fall off the wagon once you stop your healthy patterns. Recently, I took 3 weeks off after a year straight of training and racing to recover and rebuild. The first few days were a struggle and I missed my routines of working out but after 3 weeks I had grown comfortable having extra time in my day, not working out, and letting the diet slip a bit for holidays. The past two weeks have been a struggle getting back on the wagon and getting motivated to work out, however, I’ve started to hit the addiction stage again where I look forward to every run.

Aristotle said “we are what we repeatedly do”. Keep a strong, confident mind and maintain the patterns that are leading you towards health, vitality, and running into your grave one day;)

Cheers Stanislaw Kowalski!

Always in Stride,

Jack

http://www.eteknix.com/soldiers-running-4-minute-miles-thanks-to-darpas-exoskeleton/

Running Exoskeletons: Future of Sport or Rehab?

On my morning drive up the coast to work, I was listening to the Joe Rogan Experience with guest Zoltan Istvan. Zoltan is a transhumanist advocate and is intending on running for President on the platform. Interesting idea, but not quite sure it translates to an entire political platform. The part of the podcast that really caught my attention was that of exoskeletons. Recently, there has been increased development and buzz around exoskeletons crafted for the human body.

So what exactly is an exoskeleton? If you’ve ever seen the movie “Ironman”, then this is a good example of an exoskeleton and what it can do. The uses and features vary depending on the application, but I’m most interested in it as it applies to running. Exoskeletons are being developed that will aid a runner in recovery, endurance, and strength. This link from MIT shows an exoskeleton that acts as an artificial knee, increasing the endurance and power of the runner.

http://biomech.media.mit.edu/portfolio_page/load-bearing-exoskeleton-for-augmentation-of-human-running/

http://biomech.media.mit.edu/portfolio_page/load-bearing-exoskeleton-for-augmentation-of-human-running/

DARPA also is developing exoskeletons for the military in order to enable soldiers to carry more, run faster, and fatigue less. Essentially, human robots.

http://www.eteknix.com/soldiers-running-4-minute-miles-thanks-to-darpas-exoskeleton/

http://www.eteknix.com/soldiers-running-4-minute-miles-thanks-to-darpas-exoskeleton/

While this technology is rather rad, I think it brings up some interesting questions, potential problems, and a rethinking of the sport.

I see exoskeletons being really good for the following:

1. Physical Therapy – These devices can help patients relearn how to walk/run safely by allowing the body weight felt to be decreased all the way up to 80% off (similar to Alter-G Treadmill). This allows a patient to rebuild strength and the exoskeleton could also be used to relearn gait. It is my understanding that the exoskeleton can be programmed to help walk or run which could be extremely beneficial for someone who has decreased motor control as well as to teach proper running biomechanics.

2. Lifting Ability – There are a lot of back breaking jobs out there that can potentially put people at risk such as firemen, movers, construction, military, etc. The exoskeleton can help by taking the brunt of the weight so as to allow the moving of heavy objects more safely by less people.

3. Weight Transfer – The exoskeleton by DARPA has the ability to detect injury and weakness in the body and shift the weight accordingly. This allows for continued running despite fatigue and injury over long distances making for a safer sport.

I see exoskeletons posing a dilemma in the following areas:

1. Atrophy – We all know that if you don’t use it, you lose it. Example being astronauts who are not able to stress their tissues, muscles, and bones in space the same way they are able to on earth. As a result, they return to earth with atrophied muscles and bones that can very quickly lead to injury under the standard loading of gravity. If people become too dependent on running exoskeletons for movement, they may be unable to move themselves under their own power.

2. Running Records Dilemma – Lately, I have had a difficult time deciding what is “evolution of sport” and which is unfair advantage. It is something I think the endurance industry is struggling with in general whether it be EPO, Altitude Training, Supplements, or other types of performance enhancement. However, anything that increases performance, is indeed a performance enhancer by definition. It is a blurry line determining which advancements are evolution of sport, accepted as the new landscape and which should be illegal. Example carbon fiber bikes are far superior to steel bikes and are accepted as part of cycling now. On the other hand, EPO is illegal (which I agree with as I see the potential dangers). So who is to decide which is evolution and which should be banned? Where should running exoskeletons fall or will it be a new category? With the DARPA running exoskeleton, soldiers can run a 4 minute mile with a pack on. With those types of abilities the 2 hour marathon would be a joke.

3. Safety – With super-humans running around on their exoskeletons, there comes the issue of safety. Exoskeleton humans would have a huge advantage over non exoskeleton humans in fights, competitions, daily life, and many more areas. There would be a lot of responsibility with having a running exoskeleton and there would also need to be a regulation on the technology and how it is used.

I think the evolution of human movement is very exciting and there is a lot to look forward to in the future. As with anything we need to be cautious about how it is used and regulated. What are your thoughts on running exoskeletons?

Always in Stride,

Jack

FreeDigitalPhotos.net Tom Curtis

I Think I Can: Jump On The Placebo Train

The mind is a very powerful thing as we have all learned by now. If you set you mind to achieve or believe something, then that will become your reality. I recently read a Steve Magness article titled “The Placebo Response- belief, expectations, and why it matters in the world of sport” that goes into the science behind the placebo effect, how it applies to running, and how we see it show up in modern medicine.

One of the areas that I see this most applicable is into training the brain into what we believe we are capable of. One of my co-workers from an old job talked about how he would do workouts at paces faster than he thought he could handle in order to “train his brain” to realize that these speeds were possible too. Magness calls out how coaches will lead their athletes to believe they are running faster than they really are on the track in order to convince them that they can indeed run faster than what they originally may have believed. This leads to confidence that they can now run these new times.

 

FreeDigitalPhotos.net Tom Curtis

FreeDigitalPhotos.net Tom Curtis

This coaching/training philosophy can be a dangerous road, especially if an athlete catches on. Then it can be confusing to know what to think/trust. However, in small doses I am a fan. My high school coach would play head games with me all the time and it led to my best times on the track, I loved it. However, for others it might lead to frustration and disappointment. The key is knowing your athlete and what they respond best to.

The main focus of the article is that if you believe in something, then that in fact is reality to a point. Whether it be injections, pills, copper infused garments, or any myriad of other methods or products, then to a certain extent it does in fact work. A positive mindset can make a big impact on your workouts and performances. Set your expectations such that it will lead you to your ultimate goals.

Always in Stride,

Jack

http://www.runnersworld.com/general-interest/how-does-your-state-stack-up

How Fast is Your State Running Wise?

Runner’s Worlds’ Robert Reese posted a curious article about how the states stack up again each other when it comes to running titled “How Does Your State Stack Up?”. Being the competitive Type A personality that I am, I of course clicked on it to see how California compares to the rest of the country:

 

http://www.runnersworld.com/general-interest/how-does-your-state-stack-up

Overall Rankings, The Darker the Purple, The Higher the Rank

California

Miles Per Capita: 5 out of 50

Runs Per Person: 7 out of 50

Miles Per Run: 17 out of 50

Pace Per Mile: 39 out of 50

Overall Score: 8 out of 50

Now a few things to note:

  • The data was taken from RunKeeper, which only logs mileage when you run with an iPhone.
  • The data does not account for treadmill miles.
  • Take this with a grain of salt as this doesn’t account for the vast majority of runners, especially more serious runners who leave the iPhone at home.
  • RunKeeper has 30 million users.
  • I don’t know of anyone who uses RunKeeper, nor had I heard of it until this study.
  • This is highly unscientific and meant more for entertainment purposes.
  • Mississippi ranks dead last overall. Not too surprised.

Despite the limitations, it is still an interesting data set to consider and see how your state compares.

Always in Stride,

Jack

 

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Retrain The Brain: Breaking Bad Motor Patterns

When it comes down to it, our brains can be just plain lazy. The brain will always seek the path of least resistance which works both to our benefit and disadvantage. It works to our advantage by allowing us to quickly recognize patterns and act accordingly. This is very helpful in split-second decisions and also whenever we need to go on autopilot. However, it can be a road block when we are trying to break a pattern or bad habit.

At the Rausch Physical Therapy & Sports Performance Lab that I work at, I see many people come through the doors with poor movement patterns that they adopted at a very formative age in life. The brain has become so accustomed to these poor movement patterns, that it is now all that it knows.

Breaking these patterns can prove quite difficult as the brain is not one to embrace change for something it has done for so long. I see this come up a lot in running gaits where people were taught how to run a certain way many years ago and have just kept with it. However, recent research has shown us that there are more efficient ways to run that can also lead to less injuries.

So this begs the question on how to break these bad motor patterns and establish new motor pathways in the brain? One of the best ways I have found is thanks to Podcast #59 by the Gait Guys talking about the motor pathways as it applies to running. Their suggestion was to change the run gait drastically in order to “wake up the brain” to a new pattern. When something is drastically changed, it becomes a new task that the brain must learn, so it pays attention.

One way that we get the brain to pay attention is by cutting the upper body out of the running equation in order to retrain the lower body. When the upper body is restricted by crossing the arms or running with your arms above your head, the brain recognizes this as a new pattern that it must work to learn. This allows the opportunity to retrain the lower body into healthier, more efficient motor patterns.

When using a technique like this, I recommend doing it in a controlled environment such as in an Alter-G treadmill where you will not have to worry as much about balance and coordination.

http://www.alterg.com/

http://www.alterg.com/

Always in Stride,

Jack

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Outsmarting Your Evolutionary Psychology

Evolution plays a major role in how we act and interact on a daily basis. Thousands of years of evolution have led us to where we are now, equipping with us with the tools we need to survive and thrive. However, evolution moves slowly and changes can take a while to be noticeable. Some of the traits that are no longer necessary can take a while to be discarded and made irrelevant.

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Outsmart Your Monkey Mind

I find the fear of failure to be one of the most interesting evolutionary stories. The majority of human beings have a fear of failure that prevents them from trying new things or taking chances. Many believe that this instinct is deeply rooted in the tribal mentality.

Before modern civilization, your tribe was extremely important. All members of the tribe depended upon one another in order to fend off predators, hunt and gather food, and for reproduction. If one was cast away from the tribe, it was almost as severe as being given a death sentence. Surviving as a lone wolf was extremely challenging and rarely ended well.In struggles for power and establishing the alpha positions, fights and struggles would take place. These fights would end with winners and losers. The losers would either end up dead, be cast out from the tribe, or be far less respected within the tribe.

Luckily for us, times have changed. A failure is no longer a death sentence. In fact, it is just another opportunity and a chance to learn something. There is no longer a reason to not take a chance. If you ask yourself what is the worst that can happen, it is almost guaranteed to be better than in the days of our ancestors.

I was inspired to write this post after watching Jim Carrey’s graduation speech at Maharishi University. Surprisingly enough, the comedic actor has many gems of wisdom and information to impart to all of us. I highly recommend you watch it and take in what he has to say.As Carrey puts it, it is important to realize that “you can fail at something you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance doing what you love”. There is nothing to lose and the repercussions of failure reside only in your head. Don’t be afraid to make your dreams and aspirations come to life. Others will be inspired by you and feed off of your light.

The fear of failure is no longer evolutionary necessary. Put yourself far ahead of the game by basing your decisions on what you truly want. “The decisions we make in this moment are based in either love or fear. So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality.” – Jim Carrey. Make your choices based on love and passion. 

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V80-gPkpH6M]

Always in Stride,

Jack

This Soul Knows Who Needs a Road?

“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” – Steve Jobs

As of August 10th, I left the firm I have been working for since graduation from college. The past two years there were “interesting” and it taught me a lot about what I don’t want, not unsimilar to failed relationships. I had come to the point where showing up meant anger, distaste, depression, and the feeling of wasting away, all being key signs that it was time for a change. To put it bluntly, I hated my place in the world.

After 8 months of groundwork and preparation, I find myself here. Jumping off the deep end. I will be going to work for Road Runner Sports as a Fit Expert initially, with a plan in place to be moved up based on expertise and performance.

Many may not see this as a wise career move given the economy and other factors, but for me there was no hesitation. It came back to my personal and company motto “This Soul Knows It Needs to Run”. Many have asked where this phrase comes from and it comes from the Song and Video of the week that was released via a Salomon Trail Running video this past December. My motto came from a misinterpretation of the lyrics which are supposed to be “My Soul Knows Who Needs a Road” as opposed to “This Soul Knows It Needs to Run”. Regardless, my motto was born.

This motto applies to me bother literally and figuratively. The literal version being obvious, nothing makes me happier than running. Figuratively, I know I must always be in a state of forward progress working towards my life’s goals. My last job was sending me away from my goals and making me less of a person. It was time to run. I have always lived my life with a forward looking vision as well as paying mind to my past. I came up with my own little rule for working called the 5/95 test. Do what the 5-year-old-you would enjoy and what the 95-year-old-you will be proud of. My most recent position failed these criterion in every sense of the word failure.

My life, well-being, happiness, and financial security are now in my hands and my hands alone. With that comes both benefits as well as consequences. This has led to emotions of joy, exultation, amazement, and promise as well as distress, anxiety, and unknown. I

So now I move forward working for a company I truly believe in and one I believe truly cares about my interests, goals, and life. I do not know where the path will go and if I am even on the correct one yet. All I can know for sure right now, is that it is a far better path than the one I was on before.

Now who needs some coaching or some new running shoes? J

Always in Stride,

Coach Jack

Song – Sign Post Sound – Who Needs A Road

Video – Road Runner Sports Has a Good Feeling

Salomon Trail Running Team