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.


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. 


Always in Stride,


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.


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.



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=””]

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.


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=””]

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.


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

Well-Done Wednesday (8/8/2012)

Happy Wednesday to you all! Here are this Wednesday’s picks!

1.Support System – We can’t always do it all on our own. Sometimes we just need someone waiting at the finish to get us through. – from risscon

from PostSecret

2. Perseverance is a noun. – “Souls are like athletes, that need opponents worthy of them, if they are to be tried and extended and pushed to the full use of their powers, and rewarded according to their capacity.” – from OzBooks Weblog

3. Don’t Have Time for Your Run? Prioritize – from Live.Travel.Eat.Run.

4. Greatness Jogger – There is a good chance you have already seen this, but just in case. Nike Running’s new campaign.


5. Mark Cavendish, Find Your Greatness – My favorite cyclist outside of Lance.


Happy Wednesday All:) Tune back in for next week’s picks and feel free to send me any you may have found to!

Always in Stride,


Never Too Late To Begin

Growing up I played just about every sport that was offered: Baseball, Basketball, Football, Soccer, Track, Indoor Track, Cross Country, Tennis, Triathlon, Rowing, and probably even a few more that I am forgetting. While the sports may have rotated in and out as my passions changed, there was always one constant. This constant would sit in the bleachers or stand along the course through the heat, humidity, cold, snow, rain, wind, and whatever else nature threw her way. She enjoyed and cherished every minute of these events and never missed a single one, despite having three kids and a job as a nurse. She is the forever faithful fan, she is my mom.

The Forever Faithful Fan

My mother and I have had a unique relationship over the years as we tend to challenge each other on ideas and philosophies and oftentimes disagree. I am strong willed and strong minded, quick to form beliefs that I believe define me. She on the other hand takes a more cautious route, evaluating all sides of the issue before jumping to any conclusions. Even after she has come to her own conclusion, she keeps an open mind to other’s opinions and thoughts. While her cautiousness in these situations proves to be a blessing, I believe her use of it in other aspects of her life can hold her back. Over the years, I have called her out on it and it seems there has now been a breakthrough.

My mom recently retired this past November and has come into her own. A new version of her has emerged that I had only seen flashes of before. I call it “the kid”. The kid in my mom comes out when she is in a state of complete happiness and a beautiful smile comes across her face as pictured below. I used to only see it when she went on trips or other rare occurrences, but it now defines who she is. My mother is coming into her own. She now takes every chance that comes her way and fully embraces life. Since retirement, she has been away from home more than she has been at home. She has taken trips to Egypt, NYC, California, Delaware, Indiana, Montana, New Jersey, and many more. She has also sought out new hobbies and passions and there is one in particular that I could not be more excited about.

“The Kid Smile”

I can now proudly say that my mother is runner. I had always pestered her about the idea in the past but she was always worried about looking funny, awkward, weird, or any other number of excuses. Over the past few weeks she has set aside her doubts and has laced up her Newton Lady Isaacs to become a runner. The roles have reversed and I now know the pride that swells in a parent when watching their child do something they love. I am beyond proud of her for having the courage to take up a new sport at the age of 54, having never done it before.  I’m also excited to share a run with her, most likely at our favorite place, North Park. The Park will always be her and my special spot and and I imagine us circling the lake at a nice conversation pace. It appears its time to trade places and for me to be the forever faithful fan now, cheering her on to the beautiful victories running bestows upon us each day. Just remember, it’s never too late to get started.

Mom and Dad Forever Young at Heart

Always in Stride,

Coach Jack, a.k.a JH

Song – Rod Stewart – Forever Young

Quote – “As every runner knows, running is about more than just putting one foot in front of the other; it is about our lifestyle and who we are.” – Joan Benoit Samuelson

Video –


The Play After the Play

Me at a young age on the pitcher’s mound.

I was born an Iowa child not far from the Field of Dreams. Being an Iowa child, baseball is a way of life and stitched into the fabric of who you are at birth. I played the beautiful game for 14 wonderful years. To this day it is the only sport I have competed in longer than running, though running will be passing it by next year. I learned many of life’s early lessons from baseball, many of which I still carry with me today. Baseball holds my fondest memories of growing up, most of them thanks to the greatest Little League coach one could fathom, Coach Winklevoss.

Had he been my coach all through my baseball years, I have no doubt I would still be playing the game today. He inspired in me a love for the game. He also knew exactly how to handle the young, impressionable minds he was charged with helping raise. He instilled values in us and taught us life lessons that I will forever carry with me. There is one lesson that sticks with me more than any other, I call it the play after the play.

Little Leaguers are very prone to making mistakes and errors as they learn the complex game of baseball. It can be easy for one to quickly get down on himself after an error. However, Coach Winklevoss never once allowed this to happen. After any error, he would always call out his simple phrase “Hey now! Play after the Play!”. The meaning behind this phrase is nothing new or groundbreaking, but the magic was that it was worded in such a way that an 8-year-old was capable of understanding and applying it.

It was the simple adage that what matters is not the situation you are in or how you got there, but how you act afterwards, for that is the only thing you have control over. If we made an error, it didn’t matter, the play that followed mattered far more. With this coaching style, I can’t recall a single time where I ever really got down on myself or lacked confidence thanks to Coach Winklevoss. As it applies to baseball, it applies to both running and life. Should you start a race too fast, slow down, recover, and regroup. Any mistake you make can be dealt with rationally and intelligently. With any negative event in life, how you respond is infinitely more important than whatever you did to get there. Your next chapter always starts at this very instant in time that is “now”, how you choose to write it, is all up to you.

Thank you Coach Winklevoss for being such an amazing coach and giving us some of the greatest childhood memories we could ever imagine.

Always in Stride,

Coach Jack

Song – Smash Mouth – All Star

Quote – “You possess a unique combination of gifts, some already realized and some as yet untapped. Rewriting your life simply means reassessing your strengths and preferences, and putting them to work for you in a new and fulfilling way.” – Maud Purcell

Video – [youtube=””]

Infectious Enthusiasm

Every once in a while we are so lucky as to have someone come into our life who sparks our enthusiasm for our passion. They foster and grow the flame into a burning desire. This is the story of one of the men who inspired the passion of running in me. To this day, I can still remember his near perfect stride lapping the track as his blonde hair flew back as he hit the backstretch of our high school track. As our track team would descend the stadium steps down to the surface of the track for afternoon practice, we would see him completing his own workout before practice. We could immediately see the pure joy on his face. As soon as he stepped onto that track, the man lit up. Simply circling that track brought to his face the most genuine of smiles, he was in his element. His name was Coach Gar.

Home of the Seneca Valley Raider Track & Field Team (

Coach Gar was coming off of his Master’s from Slippery Rock University and had returned to his high school Alma Mater, Seneca Valley Senior High School to be an assistant track coach. One does not become an assistant track coach for a lavish salary or great benefits, they take the position because they have an absolute passion for the sport and love every little thing about it. When I first met him, I was a slacker and had the “goal” of running as a social activity and hoped to get a “pity letter” for my letterman’s jacket. Goofing off in the woods during long runs was far more appealing to me than logging quality miles. These were not exactly ambitious goals to say the least, however, this changed drastically upon meeting Coach Gar my Sophomore year of High School.

Coach Gar was unique because he was capable of producing something that very few people in this world can, infectious enthusiasm. Many are capable of becoming passionate about a sport, but to have the ability to inspire others takes a special person.  Everything Coach Gar did was with unbridled enthusiasm. He is one of those people that truly lives life. From an outsider’s point of view he may at times seem a bit over the top, but this is the way life should be lived and one of the many reasons his athletes loved him so much. He would sprint all over the track for us during both meets and practices, encouraging us every step of the way, screaming at the top of his lungs. His favorite phrase was “LETS GOOOOOOO!”, one he would often yell after sprinting ahead of us during workouts he would run with us. You couldn’t help but get a big smile on your face when you saw him. Through his infectious enthusiasm he molded the happiest runners and hardest workers.

Nothing makes Coach Gar happier than to see his athletes succeed.

I urge you to seek out that which inspires infectious enthusiasm in you whether it be running, cycling, gymnastics, calculus, or any other myriad of activities. There is nothing in your life that will make you happier than following that passion and enthusiasm. Once you find it, seek out the sages, those like Coach Gar, who will serve to foster and grow that enthusiasm in you. Do not waste your time on those who deter you and those who do not understand your pursuit. As a coach now myself, I can only hope to inspire in my athletes what Coach Gar inspired in me. Thank you Coach Gar for spreading your infectious enthusiasm to our team and for helping me to realize the greatest gift I have been given in my life, running. You have helped to shape my path and life more than you will ever know.

Coach Gar in all his smiling glory.

Always in Stride,

Coach Jack

Song – Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen

Quote – “Enthusiasm is the electricity of life. How do you get it? You act enthusiastic until you make it a habit.” – Gordon Parks

Video – The Finish Line – The Jim Tracy Story

The Man Maker

This is going to be the first post in a 4-part series on several of the various types of coaches that come into our lives and the lessons they are charged with teaching us.

He walked into the packed classroom on the third floor of the Willard building on a crisp Autumn night. He donned a well-worn Detroit Tigers hat, a gristly beard, and a weathered crew jacket. It was easy to tell that this man had done this dance before and had seen it all. There was an aura about the man that captured the attention of all the athletes in the room in an instant. He was rugged, blunt, and to the point. He was everything an early twenty-something needed in a coach in order to become a man. I call him The Man Maker.

The Man Maker

The Man Maker is not there to give you the warm fuzzies and coddle you when things are bleak. The Man Maker is there to do just that, create men. When a boy is sent off to college he must find himself over the next 4 years in order to become a real man. He must learn to be self-sufficient, resilient, and thick-skinned. He must pave his own way and come to realize that if he wants anything in life he is going to have to go out and earn it just like everyone else. Coach Pete was my crew coach in my final semester at Penn State and taught me how to do all of this and more.

Coach Pete didn’t put up with anybody’s crap. It was very black and white with him. The workouts were what they were and you did them without any questions asked. The sport of crew is a precise endeavor which requires complete trust in the coach and in your teammates. There is nothing easy about any part of it once you get into that boat. You will feel tortuous pain throughout every workout and must learn to deal with it on your own. Coach Pete was not going to sit there and ask if you were feeling okay or anything along those lines. He was there to make sure you learned the sport and learned how to handle the pain. His instructions were simple: “sit-up more”, “stop looking at your oar”, “dig deep”, “explode with the legs”.

My favorite part about The Man Maker was that you had to earn his respect and even more so, earn a compliment from him. He doled out compliments very rarely, but when he did they carried an immense magnitude. These compliments would catch you by surprise and leave you on a high for the next couple days. They also served to further motivate you to your best so you could earn yet another compliment should you be so lucky. He also had a sledge hammer that was awarded every 2 weeks or so to the athlete who had worked the hardest. To win the sledge hammer was an immense honor and at that point you knew you had earned the Man’s respect.

I will be forever grateful to Coach Pete, The Man Maker and the rest of the team as well. Those six months did more to shape me into the man I am today than did all of the previous four years of college combined. I came to crew weak, shattered, and a shell of the man I could be. I left self-sufficient, resilient, and most importantly having learned what true hard work was. There is no way I could have ever attempted to make it through Ironman training had it not been for the daily 4am wakeup calls, 2-a-day workouts on the regular, and a phenomenal coach to teach me so much about both life and rowing. Thank you Coach Pete for being The Man Maker.

One of my most prized possessions.

Always in Stride,


Song – Plunkett- The River

Quote – “Reflect on your experiences and accomplishments. Remember the dedication, the pain, the jubilation, the camaraderie — your family. Remember the feel of the oar in your hand, the swing, the perfect catch, the pull, the drive and the run of the boat beneath you. But most importantly, never forget that the glory is not in you or any individual. Instead, remember that the glory is always in the team.” – Joe Blasko

Video – Best Sports Speech Ever from Any Given Sunday