Keeping My Emotions In Check


I should never be complaining about anything. I’ve got my health, an amazing wife, good friends, a great job, a growing relationship with Christ and a Pug that’s about as awesome as they come. But, for some reason that doesn’t stop me from getting down on myself sometimes and feeling like I’m doing it all wrong.

I don’t even know why and how it happens, but it does. In my head my emotions are telling me that I’m not doing enough, that other people are doing things that are better and that my relationships should be something different than they are. It’s hard to stop these thoughts from getting into my head and unfortunately it’s a reality that I have to deal with.

Depending on what’s going on in my life sometimes my emotions can be better or worse, higher or lower. One day my emotions can motivate me and another day they can make me feel worthless. My emotions can be all over the place and I guess the thing I’ve learned is that they’re always going to be changing. I think this happens to a lot of people and it’s a major driver why so many people are on antidepressant or other mood-altering meds (which admittedly I was on a few years back).

Here are some things I do to keep my emotions in check:

– I make sure I’m getting the sleep that I need for the week. The number one way for me to get in a bad emotional mess is lack of sleep. This might be different for you but you need to learn what you need in your life and what you don’t. Here’s some more detail about how I set these types of boundaries in my life.

– I share how I’m feeling with other people as much as possible. This is something that’s new for me and it still doesn’t feel natural but it always helps. No one likes to seem like they’re vulnerable but letting someone else know how you’re feeling is the first step in healing.

– I make time for prayer as much as I can. As a follower of Christ I rely on prayer and it’s not always easy to make the time. I’m working on proactively making time in the mornings for some silent prayer time so that I’m able to get my day started with some quality time with my man Jesus.

– I exercise a few times a week and now that my toe is healed up after breaking it I’m starting to get to the point to where I can crank out some decent morning runs. I run in the morning because it’s when it energizes me for the rest of the day and I don’t have to squeeze it in later, but that might be different for you.

– I’ve started to plan more things on a proactive basis instead of just hoping that they’ll fall into place. I’m all about being spontaneous, but nothing will cause more problems than not planning out your week and workdays at least a little bit a little in advance. You don’t have to get too granular, but at least know what’s going on at a high level.

I could keep going on but this should give you a good idea of the amount of time and effort it takes me to keep my emotions in check (and sometimes they’re still really hard to deal with). I just never want to be in a situation where I feel like they’re getting the best of me. That’s how larger problems get started and it’s all a downward spiral from there.

Listen to what your emotions are telling you and do your best to understand them, but don’t let them control you.


I’m Ready To Be A Runner Again

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been three weeks since I first broke my pinky toe. Breaking your pinky toe isn’t a major injury by any measurement but it was enough to kill my hopes of running the San Francisco Marathon and has kept me from running since it happened. Although missing out on the marathon is a bummer (I really wanted to run it) I’m much more affected by the fact that for nearly a month my daily running routine has been non-existent. Really the only reason I was running the marathon was to make sure that I stayed consistent with my running (and running a marathon just sounds cool). It was my means to an end and that means has been nowhere to be found since kicking the leg of my coffee table while only wearing socks on that fateful Sunday.

So how do I feel? To be honest it hasn’t been too hard on me considering that I went from running like a maniac to completely stopping. I definitely miss the natural energy that running gives me in the morning and I’ve tried to substitute in Mountain Dew for the endorphins, but it’s a cheap, weak and temporary option. Oh, and I’ve been staying pretty busy keeping up with Mo so that’s helped me keep my mind off it. More on what’s up with Mo later.

The one thing that running does for me is give me some structure and outside-of-the-workplace responsibility that’s important for anyone to have. No one is paying me to run and no one is going to care if I stop (at least no one has for the past three weeks). Running is something that I do for myself and although the benefits of me knocking out a few miles on foot five times a week can touch others besides myself it’s ultimately me who determines whether or not I’m doing it consistently. It also motivates me to get to bed earlier so I can get up and run before work which is how I prefer to start my day. In case you can’t tell, I like the challenge of running and and really miss it.

So, what now? I’m planning on running for the first time in three weeks before this week is over. It’s not going to be far and it’s not going to be fast but it’s going to be a run and that’s all that matters to me. My toe is still healing and has a little bit of swelling here and there but I don’t have any pain at all when I walk. I’ve also busted out some short jogs with Frank to test it out and it feels fine. As far as I can tell I’m ready to go for a run and I can’t wait.

I’m ready to be a runner again.

How To Splint, Tape and Heal A Broken Pinkie Toe

So this happened on Sunday. I broke my pinkie toe and it’s not very awesome.

My pinkie toe moved and the steel leg of the coffee table didn’t and now I have to deal with it.

The good (and somewhat hard to believe) news is that the doctor told me I’d still be able to run the SF Marathon at the end of July with no issues. She said I should be able to run in less than two weeks and It’s only a little over a month away so I’m not sure if I’m so confident in my superhuman powers of healing, but I guess we’ll see.

Going through this process I figured out some answers to questions that ran through my head initially after accidentally kicking the leg of a coffee table and I thought it might be helpful to lay them out for any of you who might happen to find yourself is the same situation. If you have any other questions you need answered, let me know in the comments — I’m more than happy to help.

How do you know if you broke your pinkie toe?

Oh, don’t worry — you’ll know this answer within 5 minutes of hitting it on something. I’ve hit my toe into things many, many times but this one was different for a few different reasons.

    1. It started throbbing and felt numb when I touched it.
    2. It physically looked broken as my pinkie toe was separated much more from the second toe than it should be.
    3. It just kept hurting and within 10-15 minutes the swelling was starting to show up and the pain was only getting worse. It actually didn’t hurt that much after the initial pain when I was just sitting there with no pressure on it, but when I tried to walk on it there’s no way that was happening.

Do you need to go to the doctor for a broken pinkie toe?

Most people you talk to would that you don’t need to go to the doctor for a broken pinkie toe and they would mostly be right. But, I had read that some people needed to have their bones reset to get the back in place so I didn’t really want to risk it. All you can do once you’re bone is all lined up is to splint your toe with some tape and wait for it to heal. If you can see the doctor for cheap then I say go for it, but if not there’s a pretty good chance you can just splint it and your pinkie toe will heal up just fine. If you have any questions or feel like you broke it really bad, go to the doctor asap.

How do you splint a broken pinkie toe with tape?

Being shown how to tape up my pinkie toe is the best thing I got from going to the doctor. She used a thicker, stretchy, one-sided tape that I haven’t been able to find online anywhere that really worked great for splinting and has no problems staying on all day long. The splinting method is simple and it looks like the photo below. That was the splinting job that was done by the doctor during my visit to the hospital so it’s a good example of how to do it.


How long will it take to heal a broken pinkie toe?

I’m not sure about this answer (since it just happened two days ago), but the doctor told me that the bone should be healed enough in 10-14 days to be able to jog/run. She said within 5 weeks it will be really strong and pretty much back to where it was (although there might be some pain to deal with). I’m two days into my healing process and I am already to the point to where I’m not needing to limp anymore. It’s bruising up, but the swelling is really the only thing that’s slowing it down. I’m elevating it as much as I can and that’s really the key to making it heal faster. In other words all you should focus on is splinting it, staying off of it and keeping it elevated as much as possible.

I really hope all of this helps you out and if you need anything else let me know. It’s never fun going through these things, but they happen. All we can do it take care of the injury as much as we can and get healed up as soon as possible.


Training For A Marathon And Learning The Value Of Pressure Over Time

If you didn’t know this about me, I like to run. Most people I talk to hate to run. They sometimes say things like “I’m not running unless something’s chasing me.” and other witty remarks when I tell them about my multiple mile adventures on foot. There’s just something about putting yourself through pain on a regular basis for a significant amount of time that some people just don’t get. I guess when you put it like that it’s kinda hard to blame ’em, huh?

Running is a complicated thing for me, but it’s also very simple. It’s become a part of my life that I can’t imagine living without yet it’s also something that I struggle with the most. Running, if given the right opportunity, can become as addicting as any drug out there. But go a couple of weeks without it and you’ll drop it like a bad habit. You put in the months invested and the miles ran and it’s like you never started running in the first place. Running is awesome and can give you energy beyond belief, but let it go and it can be unforgiving.

One way I’m making sure to keep up with my running is by signing up for the San Francisco Marathon that’s on July 29th. Buying a spot in the 26.2 mile race around the city locks me into something far enough into the future that it makes me follow a training schedule and a long enough distance to where if I don’t train I won’t be able to run it.

I’ve never ran a marathon before, but I know a lot of people who have and they’re no joke. Running for nearly 4 hours straight is nothing to take lightly and if I’m not to where I need to be by July then running it would be dangerous if not impossible. I’ve run plenty of half marathons in my day, but if you can run 6-8 miles you can make it through one of those. A full marathon on the other hand takes some serious dedication and you can’t just hope you’re in good enough shape for it, you need to be sure you are.

I’m following a training schedule from a guy named Hal Higdon and he’s keeping me on pace to own this marathon come July. I’m usually not one for planning and following schedules like that but when I do it’s amazing how well it works. Sometimes I think the results I need will just happen naturally and I’ll be able to get to where I need to be without any type of planning or critical thinking and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Can I make some good things happen through gut instinct and good ideas? Sure, but it’s nothing that will be sustainable for the long run and it won’t get me to where I need to be long term.

The one thing that training for a marathon shows me is that when I put a plan together and actually stick with it good things will happen and I’ll be able to achieve the goals I set for myself. The day-to-day grind of following the plan isn’t always going to great and there will be times where I miss a day, feel bad or something else unexpected comes up that could throw me off. As bad as it seems at the time, none of those day-to-day issues will really matter in the long run. As long as I can follow through until the end and do my best with following the plan the results will speak for themselves.

Case in point, I used to struggle to get my runs in during the month and it was hard to stay motivated. Now that I have a plan I’ve ran farther in one month than I ever have in my life and I still have a full week to go (check out my mileage in the above image). Before this month is over I’ll have put in over 100 miles, which is nearly double what I’ve ever done before in the same amount of time. It’s kind of amazing and while I’m going through the daily routine it’s not that exciting, but when I can look back at the results of sticking with it I’m blown away.

I call this act of following a strict plan over a longer schedule “pressure over time” and usually I really suck at it, but I’m doing my best to wrap my head around why I need to create and stick with plans in all areas of my life, not just running. Since this same idea of pressure over time could work my job, marriage, friendships, etc. I’m hoping there will be some crossover. Here’s to creating a plan and sticking with it. May the force (and patience) be with you.

p.s. if you’re wondering why I’m running a marathon in the first place it’s because of my  friend who’s always kicking some ass (and running a lot, too), Jason Shen.


The Magic Of Running 5 Miles

photo credit: Sarah Windham

Running is a funny thing that takes some getting used to. For most people running is something that should only be done when being chased by someone/something and others (like my homie Jason Shen) runs whenever he can because he loves it. I’m more like Jason, I love to run and I can’t get enough of it, but that doesn’t mean that it’s always easy or enjoyable.

For me, running is really hard (and usually pretty painful) until you get to the point to where you can go out and run 5 miles without stopping. I’m not sure why this is and if it’s just a thing that’s specific to me and my running, but there’s always been something magical about getting to the 5 mile mark.

I’ve thought about this a lot and I’ve shared it with a few different people, but for some reason once I get over the hump of being able to throw on my running shoes, head out the door and put in 5 miles without worrying whether or not I can make it, I feel like I’m a real runner.

Here are a few reasons why I think this happens:

>> Once I’ve been running for 5 miles/30+ minutes it’s long enough to be considered aerobic exercise, which means that my heart has been beating at a relatively high rate for a given amount of time. This means that I’m burning more calories (almost 600 in total), kicking up my oxygen intake and really working some of my major muscles.

>> Hitting 5 miles allows me to cover more distance and gives me more options when I run outside, which makes running much more enjoyable. I like taking different routes and seeing different things and the more distance you’re going the more flexibility you have as far as where you can go and what you can see along the way.

>> I feel like once I make it to 5 miles it only gets easier for me to add on additional mileage to my long runs and usually before I know it I’m out running for an hour (which is another awesome milestone).

>> The simple fact that being able to tell other people that you just ran 5 miles is pretty awesome.

It’s not easy to make it to the magical 5 mile distance, but once you get there you’re going to feel like a totally different runner. You’ll be in better shape, you’ll feel good about running longer distances and before you know it you’ll be running for distances farther than you ever thought possible.

To make it to 5 miles I have just a few simple tips:

>> Run 2-3 times during the work week and plan for one long run on either Saturday or Sunday.

>> Completely take off the the day after your long run — your body needs to rest.

>> Never run more than two days in a row during the work week.

>> Do whatever you can to never miss a work week run. Even if you only have the time to get a short run in, still get dressed and get out the door so that you’re not losing your momentum and habit building.

>> Track your runs with something like Nike+, CardioTrainer, MapMyRun or RunKeeper so you know what you’ve ran and what your pace is.

That’s all I have for today, but if you have any questions about anything please let me know and here’s to making it to the magical 5 mile mark.


Jason Smith Cowboys Up And Thinks You Should, Too

[box type=”info”]This is a guest post by one of my friends Jason Smith, who also happens to be one of the most interesting people I know. He’s a triathlon maniac and has some of the best stories when it comes to never giving up and taking a challenge to a ridiculous level. In this story he talks about how he “cowboyed up” and finished a triathlon after breaking his collar bone just two weeks before. Like I said, he’s a manic.[/box]


Being tough in my family has always been a rule of thumb. “Suck it up, boy!”, “Don’t quit, boy!”, “Keep your head up, boy!” my dad would always say. I don’t know where dad got the toughness from but I think it was his job (Head Trainer of the Indiana University Football team) and/or grandpa who molded him into this driven/“no pain”/“Rocky” mentality as he is today. My dad had has had four hip replacements and still is riding his bike like Lance Armstrong — for real. I’ve seen the man slip on the ice and crack his head on the pavement so hard that I felt the vibration through the soles of my shoes but he got right back up, brushed the snow off his pants and acted like nothing happened. NEVER have I EVER seen my dad cry. Well, I take that back, his eyes filled up with enormous amounts of salty liquid when grandpa died (does that count??). But even then, he still stood tall and made sure the rest of the family was okay.

So I guess experiencing all these character building traits of my dad I feel I have to be the tough guy as well. Well, maybe “stupid” is a better choice of words. For example, after getting my wisdom teeth pulled I “had” to do a track workout. I thought if I didn’t get my workout in I was going to lose fitness. Or maybe receiving eighteen stitches in my leg from a mountain bike wreck and then after I was compelled to finish my ride because I didn’t get that last hour in. And most recently, I competed in a triathlon 2 weeks after breaking my clavicle. Swam, biked, and ran with one arm. Hey, if paraplegic can do it, I can do it, right?


So speaking of a broken collar bone, on November 1st, 2010 I moved to Santa Barbara, CA for many reasons. 1) is to start my new life with my girlfriend, 2) start a new job and 3) to compete in triathlons professionally. Unfortunately, within a month of living in California I broke my clavicle (collar bone) in three places from a bike accident. It was a rude awakening to start my new life in California but surprisingly this was my first bone I’ve ever broken so I guess that was pretty cool. Well, kind of.

Smitty’s first broken bone was a doozy and it couldn’t have come at a worse time

It was cool because I could show all my friends the x-ray of the shattered bone on facebook. It was not cool because apparently, as a triathlete, we need our shoulders to swim, bike and run (well running is doable but I’d advise not to if you break any bone in your shoulder). After showing off my broken collar bone the reality started to set in. This actuality of not being able to go 110% is hard to take. The break made me super upset because now it’s going to take me two weeks to get back on my bike, three to four weeks to run again and two months to even think about getting back into the pool. The next day (after sleeping a whole 2 hours in a chair due to the pain) I thought about getting on my bike. Immediately a little voice in my head said, “ya know, riding my bike probably isn’t the best thing to do right now”. So, I decided to skip it – for that day.


The next day, after getting another 2 hours of sleep in a chair, my OCD kicked in and I HAD TO GET ON MY BIKE! I asked myself, “Is it really that bad?” Again I thought of all the stories to where people have sucked it up, kept their head up, and cowboyed up. For example, Tyler Hamilton riding the Tour de France with a broken collar bone. “See it can be done”, I thought to myself. Steve Prefontaine broke and won the American 10k record which lead Oregon to a Track and Field National Championship on a foot that needed twelve stitches. Or (my favorite) when Professional Bull Rider Lane Frost got his balls riverdanced on by a 1,200lb bull and wanted to quit the competition until his best friend David “Tuff” Hedeman told him to COWBOY UP! While all these stories are circling around my head I decided to put my bike on the trainer and began to cowboy up myself, so off I went. As I was riding I thought, “Why in the hell do we do this to ourselves?” I guess it’s the love of the sport that makes us do crazy things. It’s a test within. As a competitor, I guess I was testing the guy inside. I was also hearing my dad say, “A day wasted is a day you can’t make up.” How many times have we heard that?


Four months later my clavicle was healed and back to normal. Swimming was finally back up to speed and running and biking were the same. Two weeks till my first competition and I was feeling good and felt like I was ready to rock! This race was important for the fact that it was a professional sanctioned race. You see, in a professional sanctioned race if an amateur athlete places high enough he can advance his status to a professional athlete (receiving his “pro card” as one might call it). To prepare for this triathlon my coach had me signed up for a 10 mile race. I was excited about it, but life had other plans…again.


The night before the race I was riding my bike home and a car pulled out right in front of me. After quickly swerving and barely missing the car I started pedaling as hard as I could to keep up with traffic and my chain snapped. Not good. When this happened thought that the car behind was going to literally run me over, so I closed my eyes and embraced the hit. After hearing the rubber of the car tires drift right inches from my body I felt a wave of relief come over me. I was alive and I was pretty happy about that.

But, when I got up and grabbed my bike I immediately felt this crazy pressure in my shoulder. Oh yeah, the same shoulder I broken before. I’m not really sure what exactly went through my head at that point, but I think it was something like “F&$%! I DID IT AGAIN!” Sure enough, I had broken the same exact bone in the same exact place that I had broken only 4 months ago. Talk about life giving you a nice kick in the balls – well, actually, more like a kick in the head, pelvis, ribs, knee, elbow, and shoulder from drilling the pavement.

After I pulled myself together I was so mad that I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs, but I was in so much pain I couldn’t even do that. I was hopeless helpless and walking home like a dog with his tail tucked between his legs. It definitely wasn’t one of my finer moments. Of course the thing that really sucked was that my girlfriend was out of town so when I got home I couldn’t even get undressed and take a shower. So I ended up sleeping on top of my covers with an ice bag that leaked all over me in the bed all night long. Not comfortable.


The next morning (day of the race that prepared me for my big triathlon) I sat in bed not wanting to move, all of a sudden I hear that damn voice in my head again, “Suck it up, boy!”, “Don’t quit, boy!”, “Keep your head up, boy!” and of course, the phrase that I love the most “COWBOY UP, BOY!” was flashing in my head brighter than a neon sign in Vegas! So, I dragged myself out of bed, went straight to the medicine cabinet, popped some Advil and ran the 10 mile race. It wasn’t pretty but I ran it. It was hard but didn’t stop. The entire time I was running I was thinking, “If I quit now, I’m not going to be ready for my triathlon competition in two weeks. KEEP GOING!!” I cowboyed up and that was that.


Two weeks later was the Triathlon. My shoulder still broke as can be and there was no way that I was getting my pro card at this point. Still pissed off, I went to the race anyway to support my girlfriend and the rest my team. The morning of the race I actually packed my racing kit, picked up my number and headed down to transition just to see what it was all about. Since I had already registered for the race I might as well get my free T-shirt, right? Well, subconsciously I knew exactly what was going to happen. My mind was telling me to compete but I told myself I was just going to be more of a cheerleader from the sidelines. Personally, I didn’t really like what my body had to say…so I started to ignore it.

All of a sudden, partly out of habit and partly out of sheer ridiculous determination I noticed myself starting to set up all of my gear. After that I started warming up. After I finished my warm up I started to pin on my race number. Something was happening and it felt like it was almost out of my control at this point. My mind was set on running this race and it was getting my body ready for it.


At this point my good buddy, Craig Spreadbury (an amazing triathlete), saw me and said, “Dude, you already warmed up and your stuff is set up in transition. Don’t be a pussy now, you might as well race.” Feeling the love/pressure from Craig was all I needed to officially push myself over the tipping point to grabbing my chips and going all in. So, I strapped on my brace and sling, pulled on my wet suit and off to the start line I went. Considering the situation I was in and how I was feeling mentally my only real goal now that I was going for it was not to finish last. I thought that seemed like a legitimate goal at the time.

And they’re off! A one-armed Smitty is in there somewhere

As Craig and I were standing in the endless swarm of swimmers (talk about feeling like David taking on Goliath) the gun went off and we were heading for the water to start the swim. For some reason I found myself caught in the middle of a bunch of crazy guys who were serious about getting after the swim and I had to keep up with the pack. I really didn’t have a choice at the time, but in hind sight I can confidently say that starting in the very front was a bad choice on my part. Quickly I figured out that I’d rather run with the bulls in Spain on any given day than try and swim with humans only using one arm. Seriously, it was really that bad.


Be that as it may, I swam as hard as I could with one arm at my side and the one other doing all the work. After getting kicked in the face about fifty times I thought about quitting but then thought to myself, “COWBOY UP and Keep Going!” Rounding the last buoy in the lake I thought this had to be the longest 26 minutes of my life. Wait, I swam that in 26 minutes?? As I quickly did the math in my head I thought to myself, “I actually might have a shot at not getting last!” Granted, clocking in at 26 minutes for a 1500 meter swim is VERY slow but if I knocked out a fast bike and run then I would be able to catch up to the rest of the pack and then some.


After the swim I stripped off my wetsuit and hopped on my bike. Starting thirty minutes behind the first wave of swimmers I was thinking to myself “Just do what I can and have fun.” And by the time I was finishing up the 25 miles on the bike I noticed that I was passing some of the athletes in the first wave! “WHAT?? REALLY? You mean I’m not going to get last?” I had caught up with most of the guys and I couldn’t believe it.

Biking with one arm and still killing it

Caught up and ready for the run


Knowing that I had caught up at that point I ran as hard as I could for the last leg of the triathlon, which was a 6 mile run. I crossed the finish line exactly at 38 minutes (a 6:09 minutes/mile average) and received 11th place. Again, not an unbelievable accomplishment but it was okay – especially for a guy with only one arm. Getting 11th place was great and all, but I was more proud of the fact that I put myself through a ridiculously tough test and pushed my way through it to the end. I think dad would have been proud, that’s for sure.

Smitty finishes the triathlon in an incredible 11th place


In any situation, when the chips are down, we have to ask ourselves if can we can cowboy up, get back on the saddle and have the drive to follow through? In this situation, I think I did and I feel pretty good about it. Call me crazy, but I hate excuses. If someone asked me about my race, there are two ways I could answer the question. “Yes, I challenged myself and finished!” or I could say “no” and whine about how my shoulder held me back, blah, blah, blah. No one wants to hear a person give excuses. I believe in life there are no second chances. Every moment is a test you can take and you can only take it one time (ie. a job, a relationship, a race etc..). If you have a shot at victory make damn sure you take it and don’t be afraid to fail.

Even with one arm I knew that I wasn’t going to win, but I was going to get after it and give it my all. In other words, I cowboyed up and I’m sure I’ll do it again. Will you cowboy up when the time comes? I sure hope so.

Getting On A Training Schedule And Enjoying My Long Runs

Long runs in San Francisco are kinda like the bomb

As you’ve probably noticed, I have been running a lot lately. It’s been getting me up early in the morning and it’s something that I really look forward to. Since college I’ve always enjoyed runs but for some reason I’m now liking them more than ever and I think that’s pretty cool.

When I first started to get more serious about running (which wasn’t very long ago) one thing that I made sure to do was to get on a set training schedule so that I knew what I was supposed to run and when. Just like with anything else you’re going to participate in and manage over time getting yourself on a schedule and into some sort of routine is a big part of sticking with it and eventually seeing the results you’re expecting.

I say this because it’s nearly impossible to make any real progress and to feel like you have any control over what you’re trying to accomplish if you don’t set up some type of schedule. Without one you’re just making guesses and going by your own feelings and circumstance, which might seem like it works for a while, but in the long run is never a good way to achieve any type of goal.

I’ve mentioned this name before in other posts, but a great example of a training schedule to use when thinking about running a 5-K, 10-K, 15-K, half or full marathon or any other race you can think of is what you’ll find over at Hal Higdon’s website. He’s put together all kinds of training schedules that will get you ready for the race you’re wanting to run and he even goes as far to break up the training schedules into novice, intermediate and expert levels so that you can find the training level that’s right for your specific situation. If you ever plan to run a race and you don’t know where to start, Hal Higdon is always a great place to start.

No matter what you use, the one common thing among most training schedules for running is that during the week you will do shorter, but progressively longer runs as you get closer to the day of your race and on the weekend you’ll do a long run. For example, when I was using Hal Higdon’s training schedule for a half marathon (novice), the most that I would run during the week would be 5 miles, but I would get up to a 10 mile long run on the weekend.

These long runs can be pretty scary sometimes and even though the goal isn’t to push yourself to the max when you’re doing a long run, most of the time you’re running farther than you even have in your life. No matter what kind of shape you’re in, going on for a run that lasts longer than an hour (or more) can be intimidating at times, but once you knock one out you feel great about knocking it out. You’re usually exhausted, but you still fee great about knocking it out.

I bring all of this up because I’m now getting some training help from one of my best friends of all time, Jason Smith (who I’ll call ‘Smitty’ from here on out), who is what I like to call a freak of nature when it comes to running, biking and pretty much anything else that has to do with being in shape. He’s done so many races it would blow your mind and some of the stories he has about them are literally some of the most amazing things I’ve ever heard. He’s a freakin’ maniac and one of these days I’m going to write up a post about him so that you can better understand why.

As I have gotten more into running these past few months it only made sense for me to go to Smitty for some training advice. I figure that if I’m going to get more serious about it then I should probably talk to someone who knows what they’re talking about and since Smitty knows his stuff I asked him to write me up a little somethin’ somethin’ so that I can get on a set routine that will continually help me run better, faster and farther.

After I asked him to hook me up with a training schedule it literally took him about an hour to have something sent back to me that was amazing. It had a running schedule and a few paragraphs of notes that helped me better understand what he was thinking and how I should go about training at the stage that I’m in. Yeah, like I said, he’s a freak.

I’ve been following the workout now for over a week and it’s been great. I even cranked out my first long run on Saturday. I ended up running right around 9 miles and I did it in about an hour, which was actually faster than I thought I was going. When I first took off for the run I was a little intimidated by the fact that I was about to run, by myself, for an hour, but it ended up being one of the best long runs I’ve ever had. There were a few killer hills, some unexpected stairs and a lot of trails on the route that I ran, but it was so much fun I didn’t even care.

I think that I’m finally getting to that magical point when my body has finally gotten used to the wear and tear that comes along with getting into shape. It’s the point when your body goes from “What are you doing to me? STOP!” to “Bring it on — is that all you got?” and it’s a great milestone whenever you’re training. Now that I’m at this point in my training I can actually start to enjoy my long runs instead of just simply making it through them, which makes running a lot more fun. Without a training schedule I would have never made it to this point and now that I have I’m really excited to see where I can go from here.

If you want to check out the long run that I ran this past weekend, you can check it out over here on MapMyRun or you can watch the cool Google Earth 3-D fly-through below. Also, speaking of enjoying the run I even stopped a few times along the way and snapped some photos so that you can see some of what I saw along the way. As you can see, San Francisco is a great place for a long run.

a nice view from Lands End Trail

some of the super-expensive houses on Lake Street

running down a trail in the median of Park Presidio Blvd.

check out my last long run

If you or someone you know would like some advice on how to get a training schedule together, let me know and I’ll be sure to help you out. Leave me a comment below and we’ll connect up so that we can talk about it.

Don’t Be Afraid To Stand Out

Can you find me? (hint: I’m wearing orange)

In life you’re usually taught to keep to yourself and never to do anything that might potentially disturb others or catch them off guard. This is a very safe way to go through life and it usually results in you hanging out somewhere in the gray area when it comes to having fun and getting to experience awesome stuff. Having this mindset means that you’ll never get in too much trouble for pushing the limits and you won’t have to deal with any majorly uncomfortable moments, but you also won’t do things that people will get excited about or that they’ll always remember.

It’s a trade-off and believe me, for every time you take the risk to stand out and do something that turns out great you’re probably have three or four other times that end up failing completely or being much harder/turning out much differently than what you initially wanted or expected.

From my experience, the people who can keep on cranking through the three or four tough ones to finally get to that one, awesome experience are the ones who get noticed and who continue to push themselves to new levels.

With me, it’s kind of funny how I now almost look forward to the tough times. The times that things don’t work out how I want them to or that require me to put more thought into making them better. That’s when I learn the most about whatever I’m trying to do and that’s definitely when I learn the most about myself.

So what I’m saying is don’t be afraid to stand out and never completely avoid things due to  fear of them not working out the way you initially expect them to. Regardless of how things end up when you take the chance to stand out you’ll surprised with how good it can feel and what all you can learn from an experience that might not turn out the way you wanted it to.

Here’s a small example of me standing out during the Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini Marathon that I ran a few weeks ago. See if you can find me among the rest of the crowd. Yeah, I’m sure some people thought I was crazy at the time, but I also made a lot of people laugh and feel better during a tough part of the race and I now get to watch this over and over whenever I want (which makes me crack up every, single time). Enjoy.

I’ve Been A Runner All Along

To be honest, I’m not sure why it’s taken me this long to figure it out. It’s been there all along and I just chose to ignore it for some reason. All those times when I was the fastest person on my college basketball team whenever we ran our yearly two mile endurance test and the fact that I actually liked training for it on my own time. The runs during the warm Indiana Summer nights when I felt like I could go on forever. All of the miles and miles I used to run on treadmills after my daily workouts at the gym. The races that Stephanie and I have ran together since moving to California (like this one). I mean, hello — how have I not noticed this before?

I’ve been a runner all along.

Did you just hear what I just said? I’m a runner.

This might not sound that mind-blowing to you, but for me it’s something that I would have never thought I’d say. I’m a basketball player, not a runner. The only times I used to run is when I had to and I never liked it at all. But somehow, someway it’s slowly become apparent that I’m more of a runner than I ever realized and now that I know that about myself I think it’s pretty awesome.

So what finally made me realize all of this?

It all started a month or so ago when Stephanie and I decided that we were going to run the Indianapolis Mini Marathon while we were home in Indiana. That’s when I started training and running consistently for the first time since my shoulder surgery. Stephanie and I followed the wise words of Hal Higdon and were feeling good about running the half marathon in Indianapolis. The key to improvement and working towards a goal is to have a set strategy that you can go by and running a half marathon is no different. After a few weeks of getting on Hal Higdon’s training schedule I was ready to take on a half marathon and was getting excited about running it.

Then, like with most things in my life, something randomly awesome happens and I end up telling my friend Ryan Mollenkopf that I would run a half marathon with him in Nashville the week before the one I was running in Indianapolis. so I had booked two half marathons on back-to-back weekends and was all about it. Some other people though that I was a little crazy, but I was excited to take on both of the races.

I ran both of those half marathons while back in Indiana and I liked them so much that I felt like I needed to run another race the next weekend so I bought a bib for Bay to Breakers, which is part 12k and part walking Mardi Gras here in San Francisco. It was the 100th running on the race, which was cool, and over 55,000 people had already registered for it. Stephanie and all of our friends were going to walk it and party with thousands of other people in costume, but I had my mind set on running it so that’s exactly what I did.

Running Bay to Breakers was even more fun that the half marathons even though I about died during the race (more on that soon) and being able to run straight through the streets of San Francisco is super cool (even if there are some serious hills involved). After Bay to Breakers I realized even more how much I really love running and these types of competitive races so I guess at this point I’m sold — I”m now officially a runner. How awesome is that?

Oh, and it’s probably worth mentioning that I’m getting pretty good at this whole running thing, too. For Bay to Breakers I ended finishing right at 53 minutes for the 12k, which is about right at a 7 minutes per mile pace. Not bad for a guy who was coming off two straight half marathons and who has never really thought of himself as a runner. I can’t wait to see what I end up running next and don’t worry I’ll be sure to keep you all updated.