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=””]

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,


9 Ways to Get Your Head On Right

All too often, our biggest roadblocks are ourselves. This can be a harsh truth to grasp for many. Yes, it is far easier to point the finger of blame at a number of outside influences and people, but most likely, it has the most to do with that organ that sits between your ears.

So how can one conquer their own brain? Here are 9 tips and methods to help you out:

1. Recall Past Successes – You’ve done it in the past, you can do it in the future. Think back to all the times in your life when you conquered over your adversity. You will conquer again. Believe in that truth.

2. Look to the Success of Others – Think it is too hot for your run today? Try Badwater Ultra. 135 miles in 120 degree heat. Now the 5 miler in 95 degrees doesn’t seem too bad does it? Moral of the story, it can always be worse.

3. Visualization of Future – Take the time to visualize yourself succeeding and achieving what you are seeking. Contrarily if you visualize failure, you will most likely get it. Think positive thoughts.

Don’t Worry About the Future – from

4. Let Go of What You Can’t Control – In both life and running there are many things you can’t control. In running you can’t control the weather, tree roots, talented competition, or a course that is too long. In life you can’t control the stock market, the actions of others, your boss, family members, or many other variables. Let it all go and focus on what is within your control.

5. One Step at a Time – The future is terrifying. Especially when there are many unknowns which can lead to a multitude of stresses. Much like #4, let it go. Take everything one step at a time and focus on making forward progress, regardless of how small it may seem.

One Step at a Time – from

6. Seek Advice of a Counsel – Having a counsel around you comprised of a variety of people can provide a great sounding board for your thoughts, fears, concerns, etc. Try to have people from all aspects of your life with varying backgrounds so you can get a wide breadth of opinions, which will enable you to come to a well-rounded opinion of your own. Sometimes talking it out is all you need to do.

7. Relax – Try a variety of relaxation techniques to get your mind to just quiet down for a little. Some of my favorites: yoga, music, reading, running, sitting on the beach, napping, hiking, or escaping into nature.

Yoga for Relaxation –

8. Find Your Motivation –  A nice repository of motivation can go a long way to picking you up when you are down. It can come from a variety of mediums: YouTube Videos, Songs, Quotes, Blogs, Articles, Movies, Pictures, the list goes on. Find yours and have it on hand for the darker days when you need it most. We keep ours here: The Motivated Runner Motivation

9. Gotta Keep Your Head Up – Andy Grammer says it best: “You gotta keep your head up.” Listen to the song here.

When it comes to the mind, I think that Kai Greene put it best: “The mind is everything, if you don’t believe you can do somethingthen you can’t.”

It’s as simple as that. Implementing is the hard part.

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 –


Well-Done Wednesday (8/1/2012)

Happy Wednesday to you all! Here’s this Wednesday’s picks, be sure to read the subtitles on the Kilian Jornet video!

1.Greatness is NOT Just in London, England – Greatness is wherever somebody is trying to find it.


2. Running Inspiration in Tough Times – from Genki Kitty’s Blog

from Genki Kitty’s Blog

3. The Big Question Mark of Your Day– Think you have a good excuse not to run today? Not a chance. – from Running Myles

4. Summits of My Life – Kilian Jornet fascinates me.  from Chris’ Ultra Blog


5. A Life That Leads – “You are living a life that leads, dear runner. And you will serve society well by stepping confidently into this role…” – from

Overheard – An inspiring story of courage from Ronald McDonald House Charities – from Team RMHC

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,


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=””]

Well-Done Wednesday (7/18/2012)

Happy Wednesday to you all! Here are this week’s Well-Done Wednesday Picks! I hope you enjoy them:)

1.Doesn’t Get More Honest Than That – from Real World Jess

Click to visit the original post

from Real World Jess

2. The Underdogs, Always the Longshot – Good YouTube video with a unique, catchy song.


3. Change is That Simple  – from Life is Beachy Keen


from Life is Beachy Keen

4. Finding Legs and Body: Running the Marathon – “Because that’s why I run: you have to keep going.” – from Meg Heery

5. Consistent Training, The Secret to Success – from teamjohnnyusa

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,

Coach Jack

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

Top 10 Tips You Wish You Were Told BEFORE Your First Marathon

The tips provided in this post will not be the typical ones that you find everywhere else. These tips have been learned from personal experience and are a few things that I wish people had told me before my first marathon:

1. Pinch Your Water Cups – The best way to get water on the go is to pinch your cup right in the middle. Nobody told me this before my first half marathon and I ended up with water all over my face, and very little in my mouth. When you pinch the cup, it prevents the water from splashing out and provides a nice funnel to your mouth.

2. Bring a Roll of Toilet Paper – There will be races when the toilet paper runs out in the port-o-potties. Packing an extra roll makes sure you always have some TP. This also can come in handy if the port-o-potty line is too long, leaving the woods as the only option before the start.

Toilet paper Free Photo


3. Pack a Disposable Hoodie/Sweatpants – Many marathons will require you to drop off your race bags and head to the line an hour or so before the gun goes off. This means that you’re stuck with whatever you have on, or you have to discard your extra layers, never to be seen again. It’s much better to discard the used hoodie/sweatpants from the GoodWill than it is your prized race jacket.

4. Bring Extra Socks – Your feet will love you at the end of the race if you have clean, fresh socks to change into. They will feel extremely refreshing after you’ve logged 26.2 in your old ones.

5. Buy Cheap Gloves – Race days are always going to be unpredictable. The morning frost for the first 9 miles or so of an early morning, fall  marathon can be quite nippy. $1.99 gloves can go a long way to fight this chill and can also serve as a place to store gels.

Zero degrees Free Photo


6. Use Body Glide – Over the course of 26.2 miles there will be plenty of friction to be had. USE Body Glide! Unless you enjoy red rashes and searing pain for several days, I highly suggest you use Body Glide at any point where you have skin on skin contact. Examples: Armpits, Inside Thighs, Chest, and Inner Calves.

7. Bring Extra Safety Pins – Extra safety pins are a godsend if you have lost yours to pin your bib on or if you need a way to store your gels. I pin gels to the inside of my running shorts as I tend to be a minimalist when I run.

8. No Sudden Speed Bursts – The marathon is a very long race and sudden speed bursts will only serve to sap your energy stores. I made this mistake during the Boston Marathon when running past the girls of Wellesley (5:12 mile). I paid for this mistake dearly. Every mile after mile 18 was torture. Only use speed bursts after mile 22, if you’re feeling good. The 1st mile of the race is also a place where many use speed bursts and you will pay dearly for this over the next 25.2 miles. Take ‘er easy and go out steady and smooth.

9. Stop Stressing Sleep the Night Before – Studies have shown that the night of sleep that matters most is 2 nights before the big race. If you are having issues sleeping the night before, don’t stress it. You are still getting rest by simply being horizontal and most of the energy for your race will be from the previous night’s sleep. I have yet to meet anyone who sleeps all that well the night before, so you’re not alone.

Bedroom Free Photo


10. Sit on a Shoulder – If you are feeling tired during the race, try drafting off of someone who is running a similar pace to yours. This can be especially beneficial when it is windy and can help you to save up energy before making your next move. It’s also nice if you repay the favor:)

Well that’s it for our Top 10 Tips You Wish You Were Told BEFORE Your First Marathon! I hope that at least one of these helps you to a great race day!

Always in Stride,

Coach Jack