The Greatest Amount of Pleasure

This Saturday will mark the beginning of the Western States 100 lottery signup period. I will be putting my name into this lottery with hopes of being granted admission to compete in the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100 mile trail race. The race travels from Squaw Valley, California down to Auburn, California covering treacherous terrain ascending 18,090 feet and descending 22,970 feet. The race began in 1955 as an endurance horse race but transformed into an ultramarathon in 1974 when Gordy Ainsleigh decided to compete on foot when his horse pulled up lame the year before. He completed the journey in just under 24 hours and a legendary race was born.

neotrail.blogspot.com

neotrail.blogspot.com

Most people’s response to this decision to enter the lottery is a combination of “What is wrong with you?”, “Why would you do that to yoursef?”, and “You’re going to hurt yourself.” Somehow, I hear these responses but don’t really hear them. They float in one ear and out the other without a second thought. To be honest, I don’t really have more than two reasons why I want to run this race. It pretty much comes down to a mindset similar to that of Alaskan sled dogs where “It has to be the one thing in life that brings the greatest amount of pleasure.” – Eric Morris. I also am ever curious to see how far I can go and what I can discover about myself. Outside of that, I just simply enjoy it, the scenery, the people, the environment, the atmosphere, and spending time in my beloved state.

I think it is very important to have a passion that elevates you and gets you going like nothing else. It is far too easy to settle into a ritual of work, eat, tv, sleep, repeat. A routine like that leaves a lot to be desired and lacks meaning. Seek out that which strikes a burning passion in your soul making you excited to wake each and every day. “Be not the slave of your own past – plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep, and swim far, so you shall come back with new self-respect, with new power, and with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4a26xp28jm0]

wser.org

wser.org

Jack

The Child Custody Battle

I’m in the midst of an ugly child custody battle as we speak. Luckily there are no lawyers involved and both sides are being somewhat reasonable. Ironically enough, you, yes you reading this, are in a child custody battle of your own. The custody battle for your inner child.

When we first start out as little fledglings we are full of dreams, hope, passion, and vigor. There are very few bounds and the possibilities are limitless. However, slowly but surely, the “real world” makes an effort to beat it out of us until we become a compliant drone. There are endless rules that don’t really make all that much sense when you step back and look at it all. “Wear this, do that, listen to that person, you have to get this type of job, work for the man, work isn’t supposed to be fun” … the list goes on. Somehow we have been convinced that life should not be enjoyable for at least 40 hours a week, that all posted rules must be followed, the way things are should just be accepted, and that we should be saving ourselves for retirement. We delay fulfilling gratification and convince ourselves that we need to consume the latest and greatest gadgets. So the vicious cycle continues…

Life doesn’t really, or shouldn’t really, work this way. Nothing is guaranteed with the exception of the very moment you are currently in. Even if only for several minutes a day, you should seek to release that inner child and do what you truly want to. Running is a great way to do so as it is such a rudimentary form of play and relaxation. While running there are no bosses, silly suits, or reports to be created. There is you, the trail, and being the best version of yourself.

The lyrics to the latest Avicii song “Wake Me Up” capture the sentiment rather well. “Feeling my way through the darkness, guided by a beating heart. I can’t tell where the journey will end, but I know where to start. They tell me I’m too young to understand. They say I’m caught up in a dream. Well life will pass me by if I don’t open up my eyes. Well that’s fine by me.” I live in a world where decisions are not made based on money, but passion. A world where silly jargon and outfits used to show intelligence and rank are laughed at. The world where “life is a game for everyone, and love is the prize”. If I am just living in a dream, certainly don’t wake me up. I’ll always win the battle for the inner child because it is a fight worth fighting.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5y_KJAg8bHI]

Why Do You Do What You Do?

The question the title poses is simple and straightforward. What is your motivation for doing what you do? Are you doing it so you can look good for someone else, doing it for status, doing it to be recognized, doing it for a promotion, doing it to fit in, or any other myriad of reasons? In my opinion, there is only one true reason to do something and that is because you believe in your heart it is the right thing to do and it aligns with your passion.

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When you do something because it aligns with your passion, it shines through and others feed off of that. Too often you see people making purchases to “keep up with the Joneses” or to impress someone else around them. Perhaps a workout routine was started only because you wanted to impress that cute girl or guy in class and not for because you enjoy how it makes you feel?

I find some aspects of our society rather gross with how some people will go into debt just to make it look like they have “made it”. I also find it gross when companies are doing something simply because it is profitable and will do whatever it takes to ensure it stays profitable. I find it far nobler to pursue something because it is what you believe to be the correct thing to do.

This is part of the reason I love running so much, because it most often comes from a very pure place. It is a pursuit of consciousness, of being, and of self growth. At it’s most basic form there is no profit involved except what you personally get from your run. It costs nothings and offers smiles, relaxation, enjoyment, and endorphins.

Think about it with all the decisions you are going to make today and also with all the purchases you are going to be making soon. Is it because it is truly aligned with who you are or are you fooling yourself and attempting to fool everyone around you? Why do you exist, what is your purpose, what do you believe in, what inspires you?

“The more you inspire, the more people will inspire you.” ~Simon Sinek

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qp0HIF3SfI4]

Always in Stride,

Jack

Earmuffs and The Beauty of the Irrational

The airwaves have been dead for a while. The muse and wit to write have not come to visit lately, though that is not to say I haven’t had a few ideas. The time has come to fire it back up and proceed with the next stages to come. It’s about to be a very interesting ride with many unknowns, so might as well jump right in.

Beauty of the Irrational

This past year was my biggest year in endurance racing: Leona Divide 50 Mile Ultra Marathon, Ironman Coeur d’Alene, and Ironman Lake Tahoe. It was the most I have ever trained/raced over the course of a year and afforded me a variety of rewarding and enriching experiences. However, it was simply not enough, nor will it ever be. I am full of wanderlust and am a vagabond soul. My sights will always be set on what is next and exploring how far the human body can go.

I have had talks with some people about what is to come and for the most part it has been a negative response. This has led me to question my desires and coming challenges. Not surprisingly, my conclusion is to pull on the earmuffs and pursue the passion as I always have. My gut has never led me astray to and I am not about to ignore it now. Endurance racing is one of my greatest gifts I have to offer and gives me immense amounts of joy. Only a fool would turn away from that.

Ryan Sandes’ quote from a video called The Beauty of the Irrational is my fuel to keep going: “This is more just kind of feeding my soul. I don’t have ten reasons why I should run, it’s just I want to run and it’s something that excites me. I think generally we always question ourselves, we always feel like we have to be rational about things instead of just actually doing it for pure enjoyment, our gut feeling, and the sake of doing it.”
[vimeo http://vimeo.com/47355798]
Stay tuned for the 2014 race schedule, it’s going to be epic,

Always in Stride,

Jack

This page contains the most comprehensive list of Motivational Running songs to date! They are categorized by genre and the links lead to iTunes (a few don’t exist in iTunes). Please leave a comment with songs that I have forgotten so we can continue to grow this as the largest list on the net!

Pop

Rock

Rap/ R&B

Classic Rock

Instrumental

I’ve Never Used Cocaine, I’ve Never Given Birth

“I’ve never used cocaine, I’ve never given birth but these experiences I think are like that. Where everyday is like the day you experience the birth of your first child and then your child dies in your hands. Every day is so vivid and so colorful and so emotional. To live in those experiences is a powerful thing, it’s an addiction.” – Charlie Wittmack

I am often questioned why I choose to enter extreme endurance events such as the marathon, Ironman, ultra marathons, and more. People want to know the mentality behind the madness and where it comes from. It is an inner drive I have had in me since going to college. I am an addict. I am intensely addicted to the rush and adrenaline that comes with pushing the limits of the human body. For those within the sport, they understand the bliss and truth that are attained through these feats.

It is both an addiction and a fear. I have a fear of living a life that I might deem mediocre and uninteresting. The perfect way to combat this fear for me is to enter into these events that allow me to experience the whole range of human emotion and all the world has to offer. For me, life becomes so vivid and so beautiful when I am in these events and when I am outside of the comfort zone. As Krakauer once said “The core of man’s spirit comes from new experience.”

The next level of my addiction will be my first Ultra Marathon, The Leona Divide 50 Miler in Lake Hughes, California on April 27th. I am anxious to see what the race will teach me about myself and to enjoy the beauty of my beloved California.

 

LD50M_v07a

As with all my events, this one will only be another beginning. Greater goals await in the distance. It is my goal to one day complete the World Triathlon that is shown in the video of the week. Swim 275 Miles (Including crossing the English Channel). Bike 9000 miles. Run 950 Miles (Including scaling Mt. Everest). If history has anything to say about it, I won’t stop there. Why would I? Life is for the living. 

The World Triathlon Course

The World Triathlon Course

Always in Stride,

Coach Jack

Song – Feel Again – One Republic

Quote – “I’ve never used cocaine, I’ve never given birth but these experiences I think are like that. Where everyday is like the day you experience the birth of your first child and then your child dies in your hands. Every day is so vivid and so colorful and so emotional. To live in those experiences is a powerful thing, it’s an addiction.” – Charlie Wittmack

Video – [youtube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahz0nMmwAbY”]

Kill Your Heroes

Most every person reading this has some type of hero that they look up to; someone that they are in some way striving to become or attempting to emulate. Heroes can serve to give us hope and teach us to hold on just a few moments longer. A hero sets an example for others to live by, grounded firmly in sound morals and values. At times, heroes transcend humanity and become almost godlike.

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The moment a hero becomes godlike is the moment I disdain the hero motif. I stand in a different corner when it comes to heroes. I see heroes as a tool but also as a limitation. Too often heroes are put on a pedestal as someone who is super human and capable of things that nobody else is. As soon as you buy into this notion of the godlike hero, you have set your own limitations of how far you can go. Heroes are just as human as you and I. Heroes will fall and it now happens far more often than we would like in today’s information age. Take a look at Lance Armstrong, Marion Jones, A-Rod, Barry Bonds, the list goes on and always will.

Heroes are imperfect. You must never believe that it is impossible to surpass your hero in at least some way. Perhaps it’s being better at your job, or as a parent, or at a certain race distance, or any other countless measures. With each and every person you meet, you are better than them in some way and they are better than you in some way. You should seek to learn from them, as they should seek to learn from you. Push each other to evolve, the most basic aspect of human nature.

You must evolve to become the hero of your own life. You must figuratively kill your heroes in your mind and realize that you can be better than them in many ways. You need to quit playing the role of victim hoping to be saved and take control of your own life. As our song of the week puts it: “Never let your fear decide your fate. I say you kill your heroes and fly, fly baby.” The way I see it from where I am sitting: Game On World, Game On.

Always in Stride,

Coach Jack

Song – Kill Your Heroes – AWOLNATION

Quote – “We need a hero. Courageous, sacrificing people. Setting examples for all of us. Everybody loves a hero, people line up for ’em, cheer for them, scream their names, and years later tell how they stood in the rain for hours just to get a glimpse of the one who told them to HOLD ON a second longer. I believe there is a hero in all of us, that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble. And finally gets us to die with pride. Even though sometimes we have to be steady and give up the thing we want most.”

Video – [youtube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8U8w9AzLvnM”]

I Quit My Job: This Soul Knows It Needs to Run

I have been fidgeting in my mind with how to write this post for the past 4 weeks. This is the fifth attempt, and at this point I’m just going to go with it. The fidgeting and skepticism is no doubt a mirror of the uncertainty I am facing in my life. So here it goes, stream of consciousness:

This soul knows it needs to run. Plain and Simple. This is the single phrase I have found in the world that can best define me and my personality. To run means so many things, and to me it means life. Outside of family, it has been the only constant in my life. I have an absolute passion and desire for it, it drives the major decisions in my life. It simply is who I am. It represents my unquenchable thirst for forward progress and great achievement. It has shaped me into the man I am becoming. It has instilled in me my morals, values, belief in myself, and ultimately my life’s work.

Running is the joy in my life.

Running also helped to lead me to my most recent major life decision. I quit my job as of 2 weeks ago. I hated it and “hated my place in the world” to quote Jerry Maguire. So I made the brash decision to quit without knowing what the future would hold. The job was the epitome of all that I hate and the exact opposite of what I wanted to do with my life. I dreaded going into work everyday and could feel myself slipping into a depression from it. Then the answer came to me on a December evening in the form of a YouTube video.

The video was Salomon Running Season 2011, featuring a song called “Who Needs a Road” by a South African group named Signpost Sound. This song immediately became my favorite running song. It is also the roots of my phrase: “this soul knows it needs to run”. When I first heard the song I misheard “this soul knows who needs a road?” for “this soul knows it needs to run”. A motto was born. A motto that has given my life purpose, passion, and focus.

[youtube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOfkwA26hrY”]

After hearing these hauntingly beautiful lyrics it inspired  a life reevaluation. I was living in my dream location and was miserable for at least 10 hours a day. A change was in order. My job was quite simply bullshit to put it bluntly. I was being paid to do nothing and felt completely worthless. Another great line from the song is: “I’m not here to hide, I’m here to grow”. Working at this job was stagnant, required zero brain function, and was not making a positive impact on the world. My life will not be defined by simply getting a paycheck and paying bills. It’s uninspired, unimaginative, and in my opinion a horrible way to go about living a life. Call it youthful arrogance or unrealistic enthusiasm, or whatever else you like, but it’s who I am. My career will serve to make the world a far better place and reflect my passions, of that I can be sure.

I have always paved my own way and will continue to do so. The future is extremely uncertain at this point as I don’t know where I will be living or working 40 days from now due to a multitude of choices and decisions that must be made. I am at a crossroads that will most likely decide much of the rest of my life. I have faith everything will work out the way it is supposed to. As my father puts it: I’m like a cat, “throw me up in the air and somehow, someway I land on my feet.” I will make a way, with running to guide every step.

This Soul Knows It Needs To Run.

Always in Stride,

Coach Jack

This Soul Knows It Needs to Run. Where did this come from? What does it mean?

The phrase came from a song that I heard thanks to a Salomon YouTube video that I found via Reddit, however the credit isn’t entirely to the author of the song, Signpost Sound. The name of the song is called “Who Needs a Road?” In my opinion, it is one of the most beautiful songs ever written and my all-time favorite running song. It is hauntingly beautiful and the lyrics are masterfully crafted. However, I recently found out I misunderstood the lyrics and in that the motto of The Motivated Runner was born.

When I first heard the song, there was no name attached to it and no lyrics available. I interpreted the lyrics as “this soul knows it needs to run” as opposed to “This soul knows who needs a road?” I’m very happy with this misinterpretation as I love both of these phrases as they apply to running.

This brings us to our next question, what exactly does it mean? For me, It is a rally cry, a way of life, a definition of who I am. For the past 13 years I have always been on the run in every sense of the meaning. Running has always been my constant and what gets me through every tough situation that I have been through. It also is my way of life of always moving, progressing, and chasing dreams.

I get stir crazy rather easily when I am doing something that I don’t believe is advancing me. This is why I don’t go to movies, can’t stand traffic, avoid dinners, and a major reason behind my decision making. It has also led me to my most recent, life changing decision.

I quit my job.

I was in a job that made me depressed, annoyed, frustrated, stagnant, and held me back. I detested it. I had gone on for 2 years of it only getting worse

Dear Company XYZ or HR Person,

I am writing in response to job XYZ that I came across while searching the LinkedIn job board. With this letter, I am not going to attempt to match every job requirement to an experience I have had in the past as has always been taught by the cover letter “experts”. I knowingly do not meet every qualification that you are looking for and also do not believe those type of cover letters give much insight into who I am and what I can do for COMPANY XYZ. Instead, I am opting to tell you a little more about me and why I think you should take a chance on me.

My name is John McPheron though I usually go by Jack. I graduated from Penn State with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and minors in Engineering Mechanics and Engineering Leadership. I also attained my green belt in lean six sigma while at Penn State. I chose to major in engineering because of my upbringing and passions. Growing up, our family did not have a finished basement with a big screen TV, we had a workshop with every tool imaginable. Ever since I could hold a wrench, my father had me under the hood of a car or working in the workshop. I chose engineering because of the natural inclination I have for it and my fascination with the study of moving things. It is something I thoroughly enjoy and have a real passion for.

However, degrees, minors, certifications, and past work experiences alone do not define me and my abilities. I believe my greatest assets are my people skills, desire to learn, work ethic, and the confidence I have in my abilities. I have found these to be far more helpful to me than what any formal education could have taught me. Every job I have performed, I have been taught what I need to know and have always exceeded all expectations. I am able to excel because of my desire to learn everything about the new job and my tenacious work ethic that accompanies it.

I am sure that within the application stack there are candidates that have better degrees, higher GPAs, and more experience than I. I also realize that hiring a new employee is taking a chance. I’ve been taking chances on myself for 24 years now and as it turns out I’ve always proved to be worth the risk. This past May, I signed up for the Ironman without knowing how to swim. The result: I completed the Ironman despite 40mph winds, 86 degree heat, 7000ft of climbing on the bike, and the highest drop out rate in Ironman history. In college during regional championships for cross country, I injured my ankle at mile 1.2 in a 5 mile race to the point where I was taken to the ER immediately after and was on crutches for 15 days afterwards. However, that was after I hobbled the last 3.8 miles to make it to the finish line.

I am the type of person who always finds a way to make it happen. To quote one of the Ironman promo videos, I’m the “type of person that makes the world work, and thrive, and live. The type of person that walks into work, lights up a room, and makes things happen.” If you take a chance on me, you’ll be getting one of the most tenacious, dedicated individuals who knows how to make the best of any situation. My skills go far beyond engineering as I have grown into a well rounded individual with a wealth of talents across a variety of areas. For a short list I’m capable of writing, blogging, engineering, lean six sigma, presentations, Microsoft Office, requirements documentation, project management, leadership, health and wellness training, entrepreneurship, business startups, coaching, inspiring others, running organizations, and many more.

I know I can be a great addition to COMPANY XYZ, capable of being fit and molded into any role. As said before, it may be a risk, but one that I have proven is always worth taking. I’d love to have a phone call or interview to further show you what I am about and why I’m worth taking a chance on.

Thank you for your time and I hope to hear from you in the near future.

All the best,

Jack (John) McPheron