Sunday, October 30, 2016

More Lessons from the 50/20

Last year I wrote about Thomas, a young man who completed the 50/20, a grueling 50 mile walk/run that takes about 20 hours.  The only other person in his group to complete the 50/20 was his leader  Keith.

Last year Keith completed the 50/20 in just over 21 hours.  His feet were covered with blisters.  Every toe was covered in blisters.  Many of those blisters popped with 10 miles still to go in the race.  Nevertheless, he kept going.  During those toughest miles he had a "revelatory moment", a realization, a desire to change, and he developed a rock-solid determination to finish the race.  It was the beginning of a momentous change for him that would carry him far beyond the race.  His determination helped him to finish the race, though those last 10 miles were excruciating.  He described to me how he literally crawled into his house and up the stairs when he got home.  He wore slippers to church the next day because he could not wear shoes.  He was sore for 2 weeks afterward.

A few days after that first race Keith decided that he was going to do the 50/20 again.  Why???  Why put yourself through that?  He said it was because he wanted to prove to himself that he could change and do better.  He realized that he had been completely unprepared for the event.  He had had no clear goal going in the first time, no preconceived idea about finishing.  He thought he could walk forever on flat ground.  He had not used the moral support available to him like he could have, not realizing he would need it so much.  He was not physically or mentally prepared.  What he realized afterward was that he did not understand that he needed to prepare, or how to prepare, or what he would need.  He decided that he needed to do the event again, and this time be prepared.

He began by losing 20 lbs, and then getting an experienced trainer who helped him with a training program strategy, nutritional outline, and accountability.  Keith began with short workouts at first to toughen up his feet and skin, gradually increasing his workouts as the event drew closer.  He also figured out the calories per hour he needed, as well as hydration requirements.  He passed his knowledge on to the youth who would be doing the event with him.  Sometimes he would get discouraged because his workouts were not coming along like he had envisioned, or he was not able to meet all of his training goals.  He learned to look back and see the progress he had made, and felt a determination to continue.  It also helped him to be accountable to his trainer who would ask him about his workouts on a regular basis.  He didn't want to tell his trainer he had not done his work.  By the time the 50/20 came he had logged 500 hours in training miles and was much better prepared than he had been the first time.

Although there were some set-backs the second time around, the race was delayed by 2 weeks throwing him off his training schedule, and he had to go out of town shortly before the race, which knocked his sleep schedule off, Keith knew he was much better prepared than the first time.  This time he had trained, figured out nutritional and hydration requirements, developed confidence, knew what to expect, and had the moral support he needed.  Keith finished the race 8 hours faster the second time, completing it in 13 hours and 12 minutes.  He had only 2 blisters on his feet at the end, one of which was very small.  He walked into his house instead of crawling when he got home, and wore his church shoes to church the next day.  He was not sore for even a day, let alone 2 weeks.  What a difference!

As Keith told me his story I could not help but wonder at the parallel lessons to life his story represented.  Keith himself shared his own thoughts on the subject.  Here are a few of the parallels.

1.  Just as a marathon gives your body a pounding, so life itself gives your soul a pounding.
Just as training physically toughens your body and increases your stamina, spiritual training toughens your soul to withstand the rigors of life better so that you can walk, not crawl to the end.

2.  The event was the same, but Keith's changed approach to the event made his experience completely different.   Being prepared made all the difference.  Being prepared in life also makes all the difference.  Often we cannot change what we face, but we can change our approach and our attitude, and do all we can to be prepared.

3.  Keith sometimes got discouraged during his training for the 50/20, but then he would look back and see how far he had come.  This helped him to stay positive and motivated.

Sometimes in life we get discouraged because we have not accomplished all the things we thought we would by this point in life, or things don't seem to be working out the way we had planned, or our progress seems too slow.  Look backward and see your progress!  See how far you have come.  This will help you to stay positive and motivated.

4.  Knowledge is power.  Just as Keith learned about toughening his feet, hydration and nutritional requirements, moral support and training strategies which ultimately helped him succeed, so we have great access to knowledge in our pursuits.  As we fail and then get up again, we can learn from the past and make better choices for the future.

5.  Instead of keeping his knowledge to himself, Keith shared what he was learning with others around him who would be doing the race, which helped his whole group be much better prepared and more successful.  As we share what we learn with those around us we will build and lift and help those around us as well.

6.  Don't give up when the going gets tough.  Though at times life can be full of blisters and pain, keep pushing to the finish.  It is worth it.

6.  Start small.  Just as Keith started with short training's instead of taking on a huge goal, often we can be more successful when we start small instead of trying to accomplish something huge out of the gate.  Weight loss for example - decide to lose 5 lbs to start with, not the whole 25 you want to lose.  Smaller goals get you where you want to go incrementally.

7.  Be accountable to someone.  Keith was accountable to his trainer.  He talked about how much that helped him to be successful.  I suggest being accountable to a higher power, a spouse, a friend, or a combination of these.  This is an important key to being successful.

8.  Moral support.  On Keith's second race he employed the moral support he needed.  This same moral support was available to him the whole time, and could have been more utilized during the first race had he only accessed it.   Let us use the the moral support around us as well.  When we all help hold each other up we are stronger together.

What other lessons did you pick up about life from this story?  Of the many listed here, or others you thought of, pick one to think about this week, and to work on through your own journey through life.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Morning Routine

Would you like to be more clear and focused, and have more mental energy?

I recently read an article about the morning routines of some top professionals around the country.  It was interesting to note the patterns that I began to see as I ready through how they spend their mornings.  I started to make a list of the patterns I saw.  What I learned was that  nearly all get up early. For many, though not all, their mornings include exercise, eating a healthy breakfast, meditating and spending time with family.  Everyone's routine was a little different, but they all had similar patterns.  One of the most inspiring was a man named Jase Wilson, CEO of Neighborly, who makes a list of things he is grateful for every morning, as well as a list of things he wants to have happen that day.  He also says declarations (sometimes also known as affirmations), which are positive statements that train your brain in the direction you want your brain to think.

Surprisingly, I also noticed that many of these professionals also spend time on social medial and news in the morning, which I would not have expected.

I learned about having an intentional morning routine less than a year ago, though I had done some form of this for years.  Because I am a religious person, mine includes prayer, scripture study, focusing on goals and exercise.  Though this routine only takes a small part of my day, I feel more clear and focused throughout my day.

Though everyone is in a different place in life, some with little children who wake before they do in the morning, some who are night owls and not morning people AT ALL, some who run so fast they cannot imagine doing one more thing, I would like to suggest that having an intentional morning routine really does set the tone for the whole day and makes a big difference in having increased mental energy, and feeling more clear and focused throughout the day.  A morning routine can be as short as one to five minutes, or as long as you want it to be, but making that incremental improvement is so worth it to gain the great benefits available to you!

Adapting a morning routine to fit your life is key.  If you have little ones who wake up early, you may need to do your routine during nap time.  If you are a night person, morning might be at 11:30 a.m.  Adapt it to you.  As one who has practiced the morning schedule for almost a year now, I am here to tell you that an intentional morning makes a big difference in how you feel and what you can accomplish!  Give it a try!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The 1% Factor

I recently learned about a very technical sounding, but very cool concept.  It is called the "aggregation of marginal gains".  I think I will call it the "1% factor".  James Clear explained this concept as  “the 1 percent margin for improvement in everything you do."

He said, "It’s so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment, and underestimate the value of making better decisions on a daily basis.

Almost every habit that we have — good or bad — is the result of many small decisions over time. And yet, how easily we forget this when we want to make a change. So often we convince ourselves that change is only meaningful if there is some large, visible outcome associated with it." No matter the ambition or goal, "we often put pressure on ourselves to make some earth-shattering improvement that everyone will talk about. Meanwhile, improving by just 1 percent isn’t notable (and sometimes it isn’t even noticeable), but it can be just as meaningful, especially in the long run."

"Most people love to talk about success as an event, but the truth is that most of the significant things in life aren’t stand-alone events, but rather the sum of all the moments when we chose to do things 1 percent better or 1 percent worse". The small 1% improvements makes the difference.  

A wise educator, Paul Barth added that "Most often our greatest successes will never be recognized with a trophy or plaque. No one will stand at a banquet to applaud our multiple triumphs." Most often our greatest successes come "when we choose to try again after failing at something or when we give our best effort in making progress toward accomplishing a goal. It is found in the small decisions that we make on a daily basis as we continuously improve ourselves."

graphic by Jeff Olsen

Amazing isn't it!  Working to incrementally improve something in our lives by just 1% consistently can lead to incredible long-term success!  I invite you to join me in choosing just one or two things to improve by 1%.  You can do great things, so count all those little decisions you make that head you in the direction you want to go, 1% at a time!

To read the entire article by James Clear, here is the link:

Sunday, October 9, 2016


I am definitely a list person.

When I was a young mother I would make lists of our family routine and post them on the fridge.  I had our family day scheduled down to the minute.  I also had to-do lists of things that needed to be done, preferably in priority of importance and urgency.  I admit, I was a bit over the top.  I have become more balanced, but I still keep lists.  I keep a running grocery list on my fridge at all times.  I admit that at times I get such great satisfaction out of crossing things off my to-do list that I even write things on my list that I have done that were not originally on the list just so I could cross them off and feel the satisfaction of having accomplished even more! (I haven't figured out the psychology behind being a task person yet, but maybe someday.)

Yep, I am a list person.

While keeping lists is not a bad idea, and can keep you organized and accomplishing things (which is a good thing), it is important to remember that the key is BALANCE.

I was definitely out of balance!  I would work my tail off all day long, just to fall in bed exhausted at night with my to-do list never completely crossed off.  The next morning I would make a new list and be off and running again.  Sometimes I would even make the to-do list the night before so I would be ready to hit the ground running.  It was like chasing a dangling carrot that could never be reached.  I could never completely accomplish my list, and always went to bed somewhat discouraged at my lack of accomplishment.  I would think, "What is wrong with me that I can't seem to get everything done?"

Oh, how I wish I knew then what I know now!  Instead of looking at what I was not getting done, I have finally learned to look at what I have accomplished and celebrate that!

Becky Edwards, a friend for whom I have a great deal of respect and admiration, came up with a great way to celebrate what we do each day.  Becky is also a list person.  She writes a to-do list each day, but she also writes a ta-da! list.  This is a list of every-day things that we do that we seldom take the time to acknowledge.  How many diapers did you change today?  How many children did you run places?  Did you drop what you were doing to help or listen to a child?  Did you cook for your family or prepare snacks?  There are many, many things we do each day that we do not acknowledge or celebrate.  These every-day things, these little things deserve to be acknowledged and celebrated! Make a list of those things at the end of the day, and you will really feel good!   Instead of focusing on what we did not get done, lets focus and emphasize on all the many, many little good things that we do that make up our day, and that keep life going!  Give yourself credit for all that you do!

So write your to-do list, but keep it in balance.  And at the end of the day, or sooner if needed, write a ta-da list as well to realize and celebrate all that you REALLY do, because........... YOU ARE AMAZING!