Yes! I will run Boston again!

My life expectancy

So like every good coach, I submersed myself in data until I found the data that I liked the most and here it is. Forget Avi’s stellar 2:51 Boston Marathon finish where he knocked off 19 minutes from his former personal best, while at the same time setting two half marathon PR’s in the same race, with a 1:26 in the first half and then a 1:25 in the second. I have found out that I will die when I am 89.9 years old, barring getting hit by a car while running or cycling. More importantly, I’m going to be healthy until I’m 74.1 years old which means that I can almost walk the marathon and still qualify as the qualifying time for a male between the age of 70 – 74 is 4 hours 30 minutes. Whoooohoooo. I might even get JetPack and Rambo to run it with me at that pace.

This test also told me that I’ve banked 11.4 years although I’m not quite sure how that works since it says that I am right now the equivalent of a 37.5 year old, which is roughly 6 years younger than my actual age. They also tell me that I can add 5.5 more years to my life, but since I’ve already banked 11.4, I’m saying “No Deal” Mr. Banker. I can get more than that 5.5 years all on my own just by watching less reality television. I firmly believe that watching The Hills sucks life out of you. Rock of Love, on the other hand, can only help to stimulate healthy living.

My one concern is what will I be like between age 74.1 and 89.9? Will I be drooling or in a wheelchair? That’s a long time for my life to suck, which is another reason, I’m not anxious to live longer, I’m anxious to live healthier longer. I guess the moral of the story is that as long as I stay under 5 hours for a marathon, I’ll once again be able to run in that great race. Time to go swim with the BQers at the JCC. There’s probably a few wrinkly guys over there I can coach down to that 5 hour time limit.

I out-teched myself

People, process, technology and structure. These are all elements of an effective strategy. They are also how we tend to live our lives, or at least how I live my life, albeit, I don’t think of things in these terms on any regular basis. Many businesses filled with really smart people tend to jump directly to a solution only to find that the solution is inadequate or doesn’t effectively address the issue or issues at hand. The rapid deployment, implementation, and use of technology is a example of this. In my personal life, I’ve found myself doing much the same, enticed by the promises of new technologies. In the past twenty or thirty years of my life, I’ve evolved from my first walkman to my current iPod, enjoyed them all, and yet ultimately found myself doing what I was doing in the first place, listening to music. But I paid no matter to this small detail and have continued to buy the latest technology as it became available. This is why I found myself so perplexed today while walking through Atlanta’s Hartsfield airport, struggling with the realization that I had outsmarted myself or more specifically out teched myself.

I’m very much a creature of habit. I eat at the same four restaurants, run many of the same routes and follow a similar routine whenever I travel. Traveling provides me with an opportunity to listen to podcasts that I’ve accumulated and haven’t had a chance to listen to, mainly because I’m working longer hours or during certain months of the year, cycling or swimming more than I run, which is when I tend to listen to podcasts most often.

While traveling, I also like to rent movies from In Motion, which can be found in most major airports around the country. Sometimes I watch these movies on my laptop while in flight or, well, in motion – at least I always have the intention of doing so. Often, however, I get onto the plane and immediately immerse myself in my work or at times simply fall asleep as soon as I sit down. That’s another one of my in flight routines, waking up long after the pilot’s announcement that we are above 10,000 feet and able to use approved portable electronics.

So it was this evening that I found myself with a few minutes to spare wondering around the In Motion store in Terminal A. While looking to see which movies I’d really love to watch, it dawned on me that my brand new Lenovo ThinkVantage x61 lightweight laptop doesn’t include a DVD Player. The DVD is attached to the docking station sitting on my desk back in New York. Therefore, no movie watching for me. I then thought about purchasing a new music CD – maybe the newest P.O.D. release – but then again, what the heck would I do with it? I’m traveling with an iPod shuffle and about all I could do with the purchased CD is to sit with it in my lap. Without the DVD/CD player in my laptop, I have no way to listen to the music. I began wondering if In Motion might rent movies or allow me to purchase music on a memory stick. That would allow me to drop it into my high speed USB2 port and enjoy my own in-flight entertainment rather than that provided by Delta. Unfortunately, it was not to be, although I figure as laptops get smaller and smaller, and even disappear in favor of road warriors solely carrying around Blackberries, the ability to transfer music or movies directly to a wide variety of devices is probably not far behind. Until then, it’s back to work for me, which after all is probably what I should be doing anyway.

Are Skinny Jeans the PR's of our society?

Pulling on a pair of jeans

Can we replace “fit back into your skinny jeans” with PR in many conversations? As in:

“Hey I saw you at the race yesterday, you looked great. Did you….[fit back into your skinny jeans] / [PR]?”

For the completely unidoctrinated, PR means personal record and it is used to quantify when you have raced a certain distance faster than you ever have before. By definition, your first race at any distance is a personal record, so the term is usually reserved for the second and future attepts where the record is broken – where you swim, bike or run faster than you ever have before.

In reality, taking endurance sport out of it, for most people, PR’s hang like those favorite pair of jeans in your closet that no longer fit you for a variety of reasons but you don’t want to donate to the shelter, because you truly believe that some day you’ll be able to fit into them again.

How you’ll ever get back into those jeans again is an entirely different matter. For some it requires focus and discipline, for others all this does is create endless frustration as you see yorself slipping further and further away from your ability to EVER fit back into those jeans. As Bill Murray said “And then depression sets in.”

Well the good news is that you don’t necessarily need to join the Army to find PR or fit salvation. Sometimes, for the oddest of reasons you simply put the jeans on and they just fit. You didn’t necessarily focus on them, you may have even forgotten that they were in your closet. You didn’t get all anxious and you really didn’t overtly do anything significantly different than you did before, it was just that for some reason, your behaviors changed, perhaps and maybe because of having nothing to do with a desire to fit back into those jeans. And then one day you come across them while cleaning out your closet and think, “Hey, what the heck, let’s give those a try” and wouldn’t you know it, they just fit.

Skinny jeans diagram

What an amazing feeling!

One of our Race with Purpose runners recently PR’d at the half marathon distance during the More Marathon in Central Park this past weekend. K.C. is a runner that I have had the honor of actually pacing through a half marathon. She is a very good runner that quite possibly could be a great runner. She’s already running a 1:37 half marathon. She’s quintesentially focused, and driven, and determined and all of the other essential characteristics that go along with all of those self-help or how to run your best marathon books, based on the hard work will pay off philosophy. But this past weekend, she PR’d and her first response when asked how she did it was: “You’re not going to like it; I haven’t been running all that much and I just sort of went out and ran without focusing on the outcome.” Wouldn’t you know it, she PR’d in the process. She just reached into her closet and pulled out those pair of skinny jeans, tried them on and found out that not only did she fit into them, but she had room to spare.

Now for the procrastinators out there reading this, this may sound like great news. It’s right up there with the selective interpretation of the 90′s where everyone was saying, “Don’t work out so hard, you’ll just be burning carbohydrates.” “If you want to maximize fat catabolism, slow down.” Taken to the extreme, you had people saying, “the best and most efficient way for me to burn fat is to lay in bed or watch television.” Yes, by doing this, you will be most certainly burning a high percentage of fat, but 90% of nothing over a 2 hour investment of time is still nothing. All that is efficiency in pursuit of ineffectiveness.

There is a public company that we work with who’s HR department has been trying to implement healthy lifestyle and wellness opportunities into their benefits programs. They are pretty progressive and they have a mostly blue collar workforce. Some of their programs are successful, other’s not so much, which is why they asked us to help them. The people managing the program have a test of relevance and impact for the various programs they implement. The test is very simple and is described as whether or not the program contributes to their employees’ GOYFA, which if you don’t know already stands for Get Off Your Fat Ass. If a benefit program results in a positive GOYFA, they keep it, if it doesn’t, then they discard it. Bet you didn’t know your company’s HR department was thinking of you in these terms. Bottom line, no pun intended, this is a very basic measure that doesn’t need sophisticated tools or science; you either are or you’re not GOYFA.

So for the uninspired, for those that lack follow through, or dedication, if you want to fit back into your skinny jeans, or achieve a PR, maybe the first thing to do is forget the science, forget the theories and simply GOYFA. For the already OCD members of our endurance community for whom GOYFA is clearly not a problem, perhaps you should consider the lesson learned from K.C., that maybe the best way to fit back into that PR, or into those pair of skinny jeans in the closet is just to forget about them both for awhile. Enjoy life and live in the moment. How did K.C. put it? “It’s all about the Power of Now!”

More to follow…