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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?

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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

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. 

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Always in Stride,

Jack

Javelina Jundred, Don’t You Worry Mother

Don’t you worry mother, don’t you worry now (Yes, I’m a big Swedish House Mafia fan and like to change lyrics to make them fit my circumstances). On March 1st, 2014, the Javelina Jundred 100 Mile Ultramarathon in Fountain Hills, Arizona opened registration. Not long after the opening of registration, I received my email that said I am now registered for the 2014 Javelina Jundred, let the journey begin.

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As many of you know, I have chased adrenaline rushes since graduating college. The 100 mile race is the next step in my adrenaline chasing. I had attempted to get into Western States 100 via the lottery, but was unsuccessful. So, my plan for 2014 turned to finding a qualifying race for Western States 100. The Javelina Jundred fit the bill perfectly.

Runners at Sunrise, Javelina Jundred

I’m sure that as my mother is reading this she is fidgeting and semi-annoyed. She and my family in general have a love-hate relationship with my adrenaline chasing. They love that it brings me happiness and they love sharing in my accomplishment. However, they hate the anxiety that it brings them, especially when they are 3000 miles away watching a computer screen, hoping the blip they are tracking doesn’t stop moving.

In these endurance races it is often memories of families and friends that gets me through as well as the thought of them fretting over my race. I’m positive they worry about it far more than I, as I typically see it as another fun adventure. Last year I had many of my close friends and family members send me songs with memories attached to them. I then uploaded these songs to my iPod Shuffle to listen to during my first 50 mile ultramarathon, Leona Divide. It was amazing. Every song that came on brought with it an emotional memory that helped pull me through.

The most memorable moment was at mile 42 when I was completely spent. I rolled into one of the last aid stations where my sister’s in-laws were awaiting me, my loyal crew. They had huge smiles on their faces and it brought me back to life. What elevated me further was them telling me of well wishes from family far away. As I left the aid station, Be Still by The Killers came on my iPod. My mother immediately came to mind. At that same moment, 3000 miles away a Mumford and Sons song came on and she immediately thought of her baby boy traversing the Pacific Crest Trail. I went from walking/barely jogging to 8:00min/mile pace uphill. I put the song on repeat for the next hour and fifteen minutes and finished just under 10 hours. It was amazing.

I know that Javelina Jundred will hold similar experiences, trials, joys, and tribulations for me. I look forward to embracing the struggle and pain as that is what I cherish the most. It’s never about the finish or the time, it is what I learn about myself that matters most. Javelina Jundred will be another learning experience and way for me to express the joy I find in running. To all my friends, family, and readers, I’d love it if you could send me songs with memories attached to them to keep me going through the night in the Arizona Desert.

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Always in Stride,

Jack

What Do Your Actions Say About You?

Everyday is a Vote

Every second of the day, you have the opportunity to vote. You get to vote for what you want your life to be, how you want to spend your time, and who you are with. Think about it. When you get home at the end of a long work day, you have a plethora of choices before you. All of them say something about what really matters to you and how much willpower you have.

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Simple Patterns or Goal Chasing, You Choose

Let’s look at the choice to watch reality TV. By making that choice, you are saying to yourself that reality TV is more important than any of your goals. More important than working on a six-pack, a Boston Qualifier, writing a book, catching up with an old friend, working towards financial independence, or being adventurous. Yes, it may seem dramatic, but how you choose to spend your time will determine your future. You can’t write a book by watching reality TV all night, every night. It requires you to sit down, write, and hammer out that book.

Remaining Conscious

This isn’t to say that every time you watch reality TV you’re an awful person and that you don’t care about any of your goals. It’s more to call attention to the importance of each decision and how it determines the trajectory of your life. We all could be more conscious during the day, thinking of how our decisions are shaping our lives.

It is difficult to be conscious of our decisions, but there are ways to hack our programming. Most humans have a tendency to fall into repeated patterns of action that are simple such as: watching TV, playing on a cellphone, or browsing the web. These activities are mindless and familiar.

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Hack Your Mind

To hack these patterns, write down what you want to accomplish each day in a notebook and keep to it. Plan out your day the night before, detailing what you want to do, hour by hour and stick to it. Writing something down is a promise to yourself, always keep those.

So what are your actions saying about you and your goals? Are you taking steps each day to achieve your goals or are you just fooling yourself and repeating patterns? Check out this YouTube video for some great motivation on the topic:)

[youtube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfLamzgWPf4″]

Quote – “Success is doing what you want to do, when you want, where you want, with whom you want, as much as you want.” – Tony Robbins

Always in Stride,

Jack

8 Big Life Goals for the Next 5 Years

Well it’s about that time again for me to lay out some big life goals for myself over the next 5 years. Last time I did this, I was able to stick to it and achieve exactly what I was hoping to. However, I do not believe it is within the nature of man to remain stagnant and satisfied, that is reserved for death. My mind has been racing a lot as of late and it’s time to identify and call out a new direction.

1. Financially Sound and Out of Debt

At this point in time I have $32000 worth of debt left from college (easy ladies, don’t all jump at once). This debt is a pain in the ass to be completely honest. It comes with an interest rate that is larceny and contributes to my conspiracy of how our whole generation was fucked over, but that’s for another day. I want nothing more financially than to be out from under the thumb of this and back to zero. I’d like to not send Ed Financial Services $250 a month, $150 of which goes to a ludicrous interest rate. I’d like the financial freedom to invest, grow, and make purchases. I want financial freedom not only from student loans but also from working as well. I want to make enough on my own to cover my costs of life and to “work” on the side for “fun”. I’m far more productive that way.

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2. Own a Home in California

If you do the math of goal 1 and goal 2, it adds up to quite a lot. There is not place in the world that I have felt more at home in than California. I love the views, the beauty, the people, the cities, the climate, the diversity, the attitudes, and pretty much everything about it. California is my muse and I would always like to have a bungalow here to come home to for at least some duration during the year. I fought so hard to get out here and stay here, I want to make sure I can always come back here.

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3. Remain Unmarried

I am sure that this will be the goal that has the most people up in arms and will create a nice little Facebook comment firestorm. Ever since some rather interesting relationships in college, I have realized that I absolutely love being single and what it allows me to do. I don’t answer to anyone, about anything, at any time. At the drop of a hat I can do whatever I like with whoever I like. I love meeting a wide variety of people without having someone looking over my shoulder. I like getting to know who is compatible with me. I also like having plenty of me-time considering 65 years of being with the same person is a long time, it can wait a while longer. Of all the couples I know in-between the ages of 20-30 who are married, I think maybe 2% of them have a marriage that is even close to resembling something that I would want. Honestly (and don’t ask if you are that couple). Most of the time what I hear from married persons is complaints about lost dreams, petty fights, and god knows what else (I zone out sometimes). It’s just not for me at this point in time. I’m an independent asshole who likes doing what he likes doing. I’m not in a mindset that works for a marriage and I know it. I think it’s smart and responsible to not enter into a legally binding contract when I am not ready. Especially when there is a 50% chance of success. Hell, I think every marriage ceremony should have a ceremonial coin flip: heads means you get married, tails means it’s off. Yes, I’m a cynic but I also know what makes me happy. It’s not to say I’ll never be married or never consider it, but I know what works for me right now. I won’t marry unless I find someone with whom my goals, passions, and desires align with almost perfectly. I do agree there has to be some sacrifice for small things, but no way am I sacrificing my dreams and what makes me happy. If I get married, the girl will probably be similar to the one in this CitiCards commercial. Besides, I couldn’t even afford marriage at this point:)

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4. Live Abroad

I have gotten really good at following my gut since college. I get an idea in my head and I stay true to it no matter what. California was that way, quitting Accenture was that way, and most of my dreams and passions are that way. For the past few years I have had a desire to live in Australia, Spain, South Africa, and Vancouver. I’ve never been to any of these places and I can’t quite explain why, but my gut is telling me it’s right and the path I need to be on.

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5. Published

I have been working on a few different books over the past few years with varying degrees of success. Resistance gets in the way and I worry of what the critics will think, which is silly. In the next 5 years I want to have at least 1 book published, regardless of how bad it is. I need to get the monkey off my back and let the muse take over from there.

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6. Western States 100

The Western States 100 is one of the most prestigious endurance events in the world. It started off as a horse race and evolved into a foot race when a horse pulled up lame one year and the owner completed the course the following year on foot in just under 24 hours. The course travels from Squaw Valley, CA to Auburn, CA and features around 19,000 feet of elevation gain and 21,000 feet of elevation loss. It is another one of those things calling me.

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7. Blog Success and Payment of Rent/Mortgage

This blog started out as a passion project to express myself and get out frustrations while working at a job I really didn’t belong at. It has evolved into my voice and a way for me to establish myself in the industry I love. It was recently monetized and is becoming profitable. However, I have bigger goals for it to reach a wider audience. I want to connect people to each other and to ideas that advance the running community. I also would like the blog to cover my rent and or mortgage on a monthly basis:)

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8. Get in Better Shape Every Year

Since 18, each year I have been in the best shape of my life. I want this to continue and at the very least be in the Touch of Gray commercials at age 55. I see no reason to get out of shape and to let eating habits slide. I’m going to keep running and working out each and every day, staying fit and able for whatever comes my way.

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Feel free to argue or criticize. It’s fun that way:)

Always in Stride,

Jack

Paralyzed by the Critics

In ramping up my website and personal brand, I have grown unnecessarily concerned with what the critics may think. It is unusual for me, as I typically don’t care but I guess for some reason it’s different for me when taking myself far more public than I ever have before. With YouTube videos, increased blog presence, a Podcast on the way, and much more; I am going to be spreading my name and ideas all across the interwebs. I do believe I have a lot to say and share that others can benefit from.

That being said, from time to time I have partially paralyzed myself with fear of the critics and fear of not being perfect. I’m worried that a running science blog post will be torn apart because I don’t have a Master’s and only have a Bachelor’s. I’m worried that a blog will be torn apart because I didn’t edit it enough. I’m afraid of the backlash from expressing ideas that go against the grain or from exposing poor industry standards. From the step back view, it’s quite silly and I laugh at myself. I’ve always been a risk taker and it is something I love about my personality. At this point it’s just a matter of taking the leap and putting it all out there.

No one when they first start something is perfectly polished. It would be impossible to expect that. There are growing pains and learning curves that must be experienced on the way to something great. In creating a personal brand and a place for myself in the running biomechanics sphere, it will no doubt be the same types of trials and tribulations. There will be many who disagree and tear me apart as well as many who love what I have to say and agree with me. At the end of the day the conversation will be pushed along and biomechanics debates will be better for it. A degree can help, but so to can the direct experience I get on a daily basis. I read as much as any student from a variety of textbooks and books by top PTs, doctors, researchers, shoe manufacturers, and anything else I can get my hands on.

When comparing it to running, it would be similar to not going to the start line for fear of not finishing. You must leave it all out on the course and see what you are made of. Give your gifts to the best of your ability and die/finish with nothing left inside. It is the only true way to live a life.

Get ready for The Motivated Runner to take off:)

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Teddy Roosevelt

Always in Stride,

Jack