Posts

Run Into Your Grave: Stanislaw Kowalski

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers Stanislaw Kowalski!

Always in Stride,

Jack

10 Values of Running: Kilian Jornet

By now you all know how much I look up to Kilian Jornet. He is an amazing athlete and an even better person. When writing my Summits of California post I headed over to Kilian’s site to see what was new. There had been some updates since I had last visited, but one stuck out to me automatically. It was his list of values.

Kilian-Jornet

I have always been a huge admirer of Kilian, but this takes it to a whole new level. He is a fantastic athlete and person to aspire to and take some lessons from. Here is his list of values from his page:

1. No one told us what we were. No one told us we should go. No one told us that it would be easy. Someone once said that we are our dreams. If we don’t dream we are no longer alive.

We’ll fight for our dreams, we’ll pursue our passions, because we believe that the meaning of life is not following anyone else’s path. The meaning is in forging our own paths towards what we love. And despite the difficulties, every fall teaches us how to carry on.

2. We walk in the footsteps of instinct leading us into the unknown.

Taking a risk isn’t gambling, it’s evolving, it’s changing the people we are. Being free is being ourselves, not following anyone. It’s making our own decisions. It’s choosing. Choosing whether to start a family, whether to climb a mountain, which career you want. On the mountain, we’re the ones who choose our path, we’re the ones who decide whether or not to go down into a gorge, whether to tackle one summit or another. Sometimes we’re right and sometimes we’re not, but either way we’re breaking trail in a place where there are no paths.

3. We don’t look at the obstacles we’ve overcome, but at those we’ve got ahead of us.

We learn from the past without having lived it, take the experience we’ve gained and add respect and fear to build a solid future. The past isn’t the life we’ve lived. What we do today gives no guarantees for tomorrow. We live every instant in the present, facing what’s in front of us.

4. It’s not about being faster, stronger or bigger. It’s about being ourselves.

Walter Bonatti wanted to know the extent to which extreme difficulties justify extreme
measures. Humankind has shown that with technology we can build whatever we set
our minds to. But does it make sense? We have to learn to live with less, with what we need to be as human as possible, as well adapted to our environment, to nature, as we can be. Our strength is in our feet, our legs and our bodies; it’s in our minds.

5. We’re not runners, alpinists or skiers…we’re not only sportspeople…we’re people.

Emotions shared aren’t simply piled one on top of another, they’re multiplied. A summit isn’t a geographical point, a fact or a stopwatch. A summit is memories, it’s emotions stored within us, it’s the people who come with us or who await us at the bottom. We ourselves are all the people we love and admire, who are with us even when they’re not.

6. We can’t be sure we’ll find it, but we’re going in search of happiness.

Failing is not trying. Failing is not enjoying every step along the way. Failing is not feeling. There will be punches, there will be pain and goals far from met, but in no way can we fail if we make our own path, even if it doesn’t reach the top.

7. With simplicity.

We’ll go to the mountains without others, without assistance, without external help, with humility, without wanting to dominate the mountain, because we know that it’s much stronger than we are and it will take us where it wants us to go. We’ll learn to  coexist with the real world, the world of rocks, of plants, ice, the world beneath the cement. With what was here before us and will be here long after we’re gone.

8. In silence.

We’ll tread softly, unnoticed, respecting our environment, leaving nothing more than our footprints to be erased by the wind. Real life is what we carry inside us and only in silence can we truly explore ourselves.

9. Responsibly.

Because on the mountain there’s no helping hand when we’re in danger, we can’t lose our way because there is no set way, but there’s also nobody to congratulate us when we achieve what we’ve set out to do. Because the mountain is far from hypocrisy, because the mountain is honest. We’re responsible for all our actions good or bad.

10. What are we after? Might it be life?

What is the ultimate objective of all enterprise? Of all adventure? Of life? Is it achieving goals or moving towards them? Is it reaching the horizon or discovering the landscapes we cross to get there? Is life crossing the finish line or the emotions and feelings inside ourselves? We are people forged from dreams, emotions and feelings.

I hope you enjoy Kilian’s values as much as I do. He is a remarkable athlete. If you want more of Kilian, check out his book or movie:

Kilian-Jornet-Run-or-Die1-280x421dvd-a-fine-line

Always in Stride,

Jack

 

Top 10 Running Books & Novels for Inspiration

After 14 years of running, you could say I’m a bit of a running junkie. To add to it, I’m also a big motivation junkie if you couldn’t tell by the name of this website. I don’t care if it’s cheesy, I’m a bit of a cheese ball myself. In my spare time, I enjoy reading books on running that inspire me and motivate me. This list is my top 10 favorite motivational books. Feel free to comment with your own personal favorites as this is obviously not an exhaustive list.

1. Once a Runner – John L. Parker

There is no book out there that spoke to me the way that Once a Runner by John L. Parker did. The book is phenomenal. It is a fiction piece that focuses on the protagonist, Quenton Cassidy and his struggles with training, school, girls, and life. I first read this book in college and felt as if the story was about me (as I’m sure most guys my age did). Quenton puts himself through the “Trial of Miles, Miles of Trials” via grueling 400m repeats and a host of other tortuous workouts. Following Quenton is inspiring and exhilarating. Once a Runner will always have a special place in my heart as my favorite running novel.

once-a-runner

2. To Be A Runner – Martin Dugard

To Be A Runner is a very close second to Once A Runner. Martin Dugard’s book is a personal account of his relationship with running over the years. Dugard is very honest about his experience and delves into personal details that every runner can relate to. He highlights the high highs and the low lows. He lets you know that it is okay to have those off days, but gives you the motivation to get back out there. When reading To Be A Runner, I could hardly set it down it was so good. I highly recommend that you pick it up.

To Be A Runner

3. PRE America’s Greatest Running Legend – Tom Jordan

No running book list would be complete without a book that looks at the beautiful life of Steve Prefontaine. As the title says it, “America’s greatest running legend” taken too early from us, before his full potential could be realized. Cross country and track runners grow up on the lore of Prefontaine and strive to emulate that powerful passion and drive. Even many years after his death, Pre continues to inspire us to see our sport as an art form.

PRE

4. Run or Die – Kilian Jornet

In the steroid-era of sports, so many heroes have come and gone. They reach the pinnacle of the sport, only for us to find out it was a farce and that we have been duped. At this point, I only have one athlete I look up to: Kilian Jornet. In my opinion he is the most pure, amazing athlete that has walked the earth. Period. I love his spirit, enthusiasm, and passion. He simply loves trail running, mountaineering, exploring, and living life to the fullest. He has inspired me to embark on many of my own journeys because of what he has accomplished. Run or Die is a phenomenal read, especially the Skyrunner’s Motto which now hangs in my apartment. Pick this book up ASAP.

Kilian-Jornet-Run-or-Die1-280x421

5. Running with the Buffaloes – Chris Lear

Ever hear of Kara Goucher? Well, she has a ridiculously fast husband by the name of Adam Goucher who ran for the University of Colorado at Boulder not too long ago. Running with the Buffaloes is the story of his team’s championship season and the trials they endured to emerge as champions. If you have ever run on a cross-country team before, this book is a must. The bond developed between teammates is hard to explain, but Lear does a pretty good job at capturing that magical season for the Buffaloes. Read Running with the Buffaloes before your XC season and you’ll be rearing and ready to go.

Runningwiththebuffaloes

6. Bowerman and the Men of Oregon – Kenny Moore

You can’t have a list with Pre in it and leave out legendary coach Bill Bowerman. Bowerman is arguably the greatest running coach of all time. He was a student of the sport, pioneer, and one hell of a manly man. Moore’s Bowerman and the Men of Oregon gives insight into Bowerman’s childhood and what molded him. He was a modern-day pioneer and just might be “the most interesting man in the world”. This book was gripping each and every page and I loved it. A fantastic account on the life of Bill Bowerman.

Bowerman-and-the-Men-of-Oregon-9781594867316

 

7. Running & Being – George Sheehan

When I first picked up Running & Being in college, I will have to admit that I wasn’t a fan. To be honest, it was a little too “hippy-trippy” for my 20-year-old brain and I wasn’t quite ready to process the wisdom that Sheehan can give. Five years later, I absolutely loved Sheehan’s masterpiece of Running & Being. Sheehan is an amazing running philosopher and eloquently expresses the true meaning of running in ways many of us are incapable of. I now gift this book to friends and family, it is that good of a read.

sheehan

8. Why We Run – Bernd Heinrich

I did not discover Bernd until a Salomon Running YouTube video called “Why We Run“. Salomon Running and their videos have changed my life in so many ways and this video was no different. It led me to Heinrich’s book of Why We Run which is the perfect blend of running stories, evolutionary biology, science, and passion. With all those things combined it is pretty easy to strike a chord with me. He’s a brilliant man with a huge heart, definitely give Why We Run a read.

why-we-run

9. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – Haruki Murakami

This book takes the cake for the worst titled book on the list, but don’t let that fool you! Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is a great read, dipping into the psychology of runners and what makes us tick. He chronicles the highs and lows of his own running, my favorite part being the chapters about his ultra marathon where he found strength he did not know he had. I love books like this because I can relate to them so well and it just makes me happy to read them.

haruki

10. Going Long – David Willey

Going Long is a running novel put out by Runner’s World that is a collection of running stories that all of us can relate to. These stories will move you and motivate you and some will even bring you near to tears. Running is such an emotional activity and this book does a good job at providing a variety of running stories to tug at our heart strings.

Going Long

 

Remember, this is not meant to be an exhaustive, end-all list of running books. Please share your favorites so I have more reading material!

Always in Stride,

Jack

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