Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Flipping incredible!!

Very short post today - because I hope you will spend 7 minutes watching these two videos :). I am not going to say anything about them, as these guys say it better than I could anyway. They are about parkour but, more importantly, about LIFE. Enjoy!

Have a GREAT day, and stretch yourself somehow!!

Thanks for EVERYTHING...

I am feeling grateful for some weird things this morning ...

  • My daughter woke up late and was snarky and unappreciative when I drove her up to the school for an early run through with her French project group. I am grateful for that. She was up late last night at a dress rehearsal for a production of Little Shop of Horrors and stayed in town with me, so I got to spend this extra time with her. She is a magnificent, "rapidly growing/involved in everything/figuring out who she is" young lady - so some morning grumpiness is just fine with me.
  • My elbow hurt at the gym this morning. I was recently diagnosed as having bony growth from an old improperly healed break and will require surgery in the fall. This morning's pain was actually great news in that I realized that it has not caused me any grief in over a week - after 2 months of solid woes. Until today's little zing (that I caught in time and adapted to), I had taken for granted that it has become marvelously manageable.
  • I am missing an unbelievably great lineup at the Ottawa Blues Festival this summer! This world class event has expanded way beyond "blues", and this year includes a mind-blowing collection of some of my favourite artists ... Girl Talk, John Butler Trio, Soundgarden, My Morning Jacket, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, Skrillex, Sphongletron Experience, Ben Harper, Black Keys, Billy Talent, Flaming Lips, Joe Satriani ... as well as literally hundreds of classic acts and new finds. For a music festival fan like me, where could there be a blessing in this??? Well, I am missing the Ottawa festival because I am already committed during that stretch - to Camp Bisco (with Jack!) the first weekend and to coaching a youth wrestling camp in Timmins for the latter part (with Carol Hunyh - GOLD medalist from the 2008 Olympic Games - and Katy will be training with her!). Ahhh - Life's rich pageantry :)
  • I have a ridiculous pile of tasks, on my desk in front of me, to get through this morning. At first glance it is almost overwhelming. But what a great problem to have in recessionary times, with people all around clamoring for any work at all. I have loud music on and a home-made latte half-finished, so will cut this post short and get at it!
There really isn't much that can happen to you in which you cannot find something to be thankful for. I will leave you with a few of my favourite thoughts on that topic ...

  • "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." ~ Dr. Seuss
  • "There is nothing either good nor bad, but that thinking makes it so." ~ Shakespeare
  • "There is no such thing as gratitude unexpressed.  If it is unexpressed, it is plain, old-fashioned ingratitude."  ~ Robert Brault
  • "Gratitude is an art of painting an adversity into a lovely picture." ~ Kak Sri
  • "If a fellow isn't thankful for what he's got, he isn't likely to be thankful for what he's going to get." ~ Frank A. Clark
  • "The unthankful heart... discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!" ~ Henry Ward Beecher
  • "What a miserable thing life is:  you're living in clover, only the clover isn't good enough." ~ Bertolt Brecht
  • "Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted." ~ Aldous Huxley

Sunday, April 24, 2011


So, today I am licking my wounds - the ones on my feet and the ones on my ego. All are self-inflicted of course, and all will heal. So I am trying to learn what I can from them while the pain is still fresh.

Friday afternoon I set out to hike 240km (140mi) in 48 hours with a 60 pound load (weight vest, backpack and dumbbells). It was an arbitrary assignment I had given myself. Knowing the predicted length of The Death Race in June, I figured I had better see how I would hold up to that duration of intense physical work. As I am apt to do, I broadcast this intention on Facebook - and received a ton of encouragement. The route was between the south end of Orillia and the north end of Barrie, on the Oro-Medonte Rail Trail. It is a fairly flat route, 28km (18 mi) in length. I figured I would do the first and last legs solo, and had friends lined up to join me on the middle six.

Looking back, I vastly underestimated this task. I have run a couple of marathons (with zero training, might I add) so how hard could walking be? Well, maybe not all that hard. Until you add a 60 pound load. That load consisted of a 20lb weight vest (thanks for the loan Mike Kitchen), a 20lb backpack (food, water, clothes, etc) and 2x10lb dumbbells. As soon as I started I knew it would be a great test of my ability to "gut it out" but that was the whole point, so I welcomed the strain on my shoulders and back. 

About 8km in, I stopped to remove a pebble from my right shoe. It had been wearing at the ball of my foot since the previous concession and I didn't want to take any chances. But once I got unlaced there was no sign of a stone. Not in my sock either. There was, though, the start of a good blister. Already?? WTF??? I put sock and shoe back on and marched forward. Two miles later, the blister was much worse and others were developing on my left foot and the outside of both heels. Obviously the extra weight was causing me to push off much harder than usual. I swapped my cotton socks for wool ones (packed in case things got wet) and soldiered on. Things seemed a bit better.

At the halfway mark (the 1/16th mark of the whole hike) I assessed my pace - and it was awful. I had figured my first few legs would be 5 hours each, leaving lots of cushion for a quick replenish/refresh at the turn and the inevitable slowing in the latter stages. It had taken me a full three hours to go 14km. I called Karen Graham, who was meeting me at the Barrie end for 8:30pm and told her to count on it being 10pm instead. 

Here is where the real "fun" started. I noticed that my stride was way off - with a significant limp. The blisters had not become much worse, but that's because I was compensating so much for them. Now, it was the familiar pain of plantar fasciitis that was flaring up. I stopped, dropped to one knee and stretched my calf and Achilles then switched legs and repeated. Up and walking again I started running through scenarios. There was no way I was going to make the 224km in 48hrs. Which would be a more acceptable adjustment - finish the distance but take much longer? Or get in as much as I could in the 48 hours and call it a "qualified success"? With this playing out in my head, the clouds started rolling in.

KG called me back. Concerned at the tone of our last conversation, she suggested I consider dumping some of the weight to allow me to pick up the pace. How could it be that I wasn't even done one leg and already I was making compromises?? But the reality was that I had to do something differently, as my feet were getting worse with every step and I had people counting on me to keep to the schedule. Fine! I met her at the 5th Concession crossing and unloaded the dumbbells and the backpack, keeping just the weight vest and some water. I took some time to stretch really well. Then I put my head down and continued South, switching on my headlamp as the evening gave way to night.

With so much less weight, I was able to pick up the pace significantly and started feeling good about my prospects again. "No worries, Johnny, you are just getting started! Pain is mostly in your mind. Left foot. Right foot. Repeat!". An hour and a half later I was at the South end of the trail, where KG and her trusty pooch Hailey were ready to join me for the return trip to Orillia.

Really, I was just an hour behind schedule and would surely travel much faster with company, right? I took a few minutes to put some moleskin on my blisters, then donned a fleece jacket and some gloves as the temperature had dropped quickly, the rain now snow.

KG and I are old friends, and our conversations are always lively and animated. She did her best to keep up her end of that bargain, but it was clear to us both that my replies were coming through gritted teeth. Within a few miles I was already slower than my fully encumbered pace. Every few hundred yards I stopped to stretch before wobbling on. We dutifully ignored the obvious topic - how far could I go? And at what cost?

In my mind I was still going to finish...

"I am not a quitter!"
"Remember Joe's lesson - you don't "try" to finish something, you finish it!"
"Mind over matter."
"Suck it up and giv'er" - sings Steve VanKessel.

As we passed the Third Concession, KG "joked" that she did have cab fare should we need it. I pretended I hadn't heard, though by now I knew that simply finishing this leg was the new target. Every step felt like it could be the last, with pain shooting though each foot every time they touched down. I remembered my friend and chiropractor, Andy Westelaken, telling me that plantar fasciitis would be my number one enemy training for The Death Race. "You can tough out most things Johnny, but PF ain't one of them. If you don't keep that in check you will NOT be doing The Death Race." 

The mile between the 3rd and 4th probably took close to an hour. We may have been moving towards Orillia, but it was actually getting further and further away. Finally, I parked my ego and threw in the towel. "SON OF A BITCH!!!" I HATED quitting. We decided the best plan now was to backtrack the 5 or so miles to the truck. With that tension broken, KG worked hard at boosting my spirits - joking about her crazy dog zipping in and out of the marsh, asking me about other training plans, pointing out that I now had a "found" weekend to get stuff done. I hoped that my other hiking accomplices would be as understanding when I told them their plans were being changed - and remembered that my next trailmate, Amanda, would be expecting me soon at the Orillia end. I pulled out my BlackBerry to send her a text so she would stay in bed when her alarm went off - and saw a very recent message from her asking for an update.

So, swallowing the very last of my pride, I called Amanda and asked her to pick Karen and me up at the 3rd Concession. She didn't ask any questions - she knew how disappointed I would be - and agreed right away. KG and I sat down under a streetlamp and waited. When Amanda arrived, she took me to my truck and I returned for KG and her very wet dog, dropping them back to Karen's car in Orillia. Shortly after 2am, I limped down my stairs and into a hot bath before crawling into bed and passing out until 11am.

When I woke up, I started the post-mortem. My stated goal was to walk for 48 hours and cover 224km. I had walked for less than 9 hours and quit after less than 40km.


Brutal. Massive fail. Actually very embarrassing.

Could I have continued? For a while, maybe. Would I have jeopardized the next two months' training and even The Death Race itself? Absolutely. So there was no doubt that stopping was the right call. Why, then, did it feel so utterly shitty?

Mostly ego. I am training for one of the hardest races in the world. And I can't #&% walk to Barrie??

At Noon, I posted on Facebook that I was "off the trail" and conceded my defeat publicly. Then I started making the calls to let my hiking partners know that they had some free time ahead. To my relief, but not my surprise, everyone was hugely supportive and encouraging.

All that was left to do was find the lessons in this aborted adventure. What are they?

  • I need better socks! I did not bother to prepare for the difference in hiking under load, and blistered astonishingly fast. 
  • I need to practice walking/running distances under load. The Death Race pack will be between 40 and 60 pounds, so I had the weight right. But I need to build that ability up over the next two months, especially on steep hills ... Horseshoe Valley here I come.
  • I am nowhere near as ready for The Death Race as I thought. Which just means I need to make the most of the next two months to prepare. I can't take anything for granted - in terms of conditioning OR equipment.
  • I have amazing friends.
  • Sometimes you have to surrender a battle to stay in the war. My ultimate goal is not to hike back and forth to Barrie - it is to complete The Death Race in June. My eyes are still firmly on that prize!
So, with that said I am off to bed. And back in the gym in the morning for strength work (taking a few days off from running or plyometrics). Then a Tuesday massage, Wednesday chiropractic appointment ... and the McNaughton Ultra May 7th in Vermont. 

What do they say about getting back on a horse ;)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What is a POGO? (and what does it have to do with The Death Race??)

POGO is the Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario. In plain English, it is an organization that helps kids with cancer. While the health care system covers cancer treatment, these children and their families must often travel great distances, at enormous personal expense, for the required care. On POGO's website, it states that they work to "deliver the right care at the right time and in the right place for children with cancer and their families." Elaborating, they continue, "Through healthcare innovation, survivor care, financial assistance for families, population data, policy development, research and education, POGO has created a highly integrated and seamless pediatric cancer system that supports children and families throughout the spectrum of illness, recovery and survivorship."

Ok, but what does that have to do with The Death Race?? When I was originally interviewed about my participation in this insane event, I was asked the inevitable "why are you doing this" question. I replied that I was committed to living my life fully, embracing new experiences and challenges every chance I got. My exact words were "I don't want to be dead at 40 but buried at 80". I often think we put too much emphasis on making life longer instead of thoroughly seizing it for however long we are lucky enough to be here.

Recently, a great friend suggested I harness the publicity around The Death Race to benefit a children's cancer charity. OF COURSE! While an adult can certainly be held responsible to a large degree for the quality of their life, or lack thereof, a child with a cancer diagnosis has not been given that same chance yet. And when their life becomes an all-encompassing ordeal of treatment and travel, they deserve all the help they can get.

POGO provides this assistance in several ways. There is financial and personal support available for families. There are education programs. There are also satellite treatment centers around the province. Right here in Orillia, Soldiers Memorial Hospital has a pediatric oncology program where children can receive treatment without travelling all the way to Toronto. In fact, through the generosity of The Kiwanis Club of Orillia, there is even a high-speed imaging link allowing a doctor in Toronto to assess a pediatric patient in Orillia, remotely in real time.

So, I am very excited to be working with POGO to raise funds and awareness for their program. Please take the time to visit the link above. And very soon I will be posting a link at the top of this blog page, allowing you to make an easy online donation. Whether it is $10, $50, $100 or $1000 you will be making a tangible difference in the lives of children in our community, at a time when they need it the most.

Here is a quotation for local pediatricial, Dr. Alan Hudak,
  • "I became involved with POGO more than 13 years ago around the development of the POGO Satellite Program. It may seem obvious now that children with cancer in our community can be cared for close to home, that the teams of professionals caring for them are appropriately trained and supported, and that these teams are communicating with the children’s hospital that provided the original diagnosis and treatment – but that was not always the case. This is an example of the forward thinking that POGO embraces."

Thanks for reading. My POGO donation link will appear here within a day or two - please check back! This blog will also feature occasional updates on my training, fundraising and news about the race.   :)

P.S. Peak Races, the organizer of The Death Race, has coincidentally partnered with an American Pediatric Cancer campaign. Their more recreational race series, The Spartan Race, is raising money for "Be Brave" ... here is their video, that will give you some idea what I am doing. At the end of this video, 7 year old Max says "I just want to say to all the kids out there who have boo boos like me, that I hope they get better and they just get treated good and be alive for the rest of their lives." I like Max's philosophy and that is what I am committed to as well!!

The future's so bright ...

Windsor (Detroit, for my American friends) is not an area that leaps to mind when one thinks "Where shall I go to feel enormously inspired?". It is a manufacturing city hard hit by successive recessions, never really bouncing back in between.

This week, though, there is a special energy in town. Windsor is hosting the Canadian Cadet/Juvenile Wrestling Championships - the national finals for high school aged grapplers. Hotels and restaurants are overflowing with 900+ fit, excited, motivated young men and women here to compete at the highest level in their sport, along with their coaches, trainers, families and friends.

Today was registration and warmups, and the University of Windsor's "St. Denis Athletic Centre" was jumping! Eleven mats were already set up and crawling (literally) with kids loosening up, working technique and sweating out the last few ounces (pounds?) before weigh-ins. Beginning tomorrow, there will be thousands of matches fought over three days. There will be blood, sweat and tears. There will be pins and throws and highs and lows.

Coaching youth wrestling is a huge privilege for me. I started with my own kids, and have had the opportunity to work with hundreds more over the past several years. They are some of the most inspiring athletes you could ever imagine. Some are naturals and some are anything but. In either case, those who stick with this brutally demanding sport have enormous heart. Traveling with them to tournaments across the country is always an adventure and I never stop learning from them.

As we came back to the hotel this afternoon, loaded down with groceries to eat AFTER the official weigh-ins, I walked past the television in the lobby. Like most TVs in most lobbies in most cities around the world, it was tuned to "the news". By "the news" I mean the BAD news. Nowadays, there is so much bad news, and the networks are so eager to report it all, that the screen is split into several windows. Today, the main box had a reporter breathlessly describing the latest earthquake in Japan. The text scrolling across the bottom was reporting the imminent collapse of the American government's finances due to a budget bill stalled by bi-partisan bickering. The "upcoming news" window implored us to stay tuned for news on a grisly murder. It would be easy to lose hope and decide we are all going to hell in a handbasket.

Then I turned away from the misery box and looked, instead at a lobbyful of young athletes. Happy, fun, hard-working, eager kids. Laughing and jostling and sharing. I have no control over geo-tectonic forces. I can't do a damned thing about US politics (I took a shot at Canadian politics, but that's a big blog post on its own). What I CAN do, is keep working with these amazing wrestlers. Contributing to them and allowing them to contribute to me through their example and success.

They are our future! So, where are my shades?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

This is IT!!!

Years ago I heard the great line "Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans." It was in John Lennon's song "Beautiful Boy". (He wrote it for his son, Sean, though I picture my son, Jack. You can listen in the background while you read.)

Everyone I know is "so busy", myself included. There is so much that we mean to do that never gets done. And now I have added "blog" to that self-inflicted treadmill.

After posting my weekend potpourri of plagiarism (links and quotes), I figured I had better come up with a zinger of a blog post for Monday. A brilliant one. Original. Game changing! But, instead, I did a whole bunch of other stuff. It was a great day (as usual). A busy one. Generally, a productive one. Still, there are several things I would have liked to have done that I didn't.

Conversely, there were wonderful things happen that I could never have planned. Serendipitous visits with old friends. Unexpected client calls returned with promising results. A missed exit resulting in 15 lost minutes that I turned into a found quarter hour of mindful silence.

Please don't misunderstand this idea - I am not preaching a completely laissez-faire approach to life. Go back to Do The Work to see that I am a big fan of action. Or to My Weekend at Camp to read Joe DeSena's "let's get this tire up the hill" story. When you set your mind to something, get it done.

But don't beat yourself up about every little thing that you didn't do today. It is over (literally, "today" is over as I type this at 12:09am "tomorrow"). Wake up and start again.

One of the most valuable lessons I ever heard was from Stephen Covey, who told the following story.

  • One day, as an expert on the subject of time management stood in front of a group of high-powered over achievers, he said, "Okay, time for a quiz." Then he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed mason jar and set it on a table in front of him. He produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar.
    When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, "Is the jar full?" Everyone in the class said, "Yes." Then he asked, "Really?" He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks.
    Then he smiled and asked the group once more, "Is the jar full?" By this time, the class was on to him. "Probably not," one of them answered. "Good!" he replied. And he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in, and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, "Is this jar full?"
    "No!" the class shouted. Once again he said, "Good!" Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked up at the class and asked, "What is the point of this illustration?"
    One eager beaver raised his hand and said, "The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!"        
     "No!" the speaker replied. "That is not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don't put the big rocks in first, you'll never get them in at all."

So, what were my big rocks today? 6AM workout - check! Breakfast with my daughter - check! Return all my clients' calls - check! Three hours focused work on client files - check! Healthy lunch - check! Coach my son's elementary school wrestling team - check! Two hours business planning - check! Coach my daughter's wrestling club practice tonight - check!

My gravel? Coffee with a friend. Phone conversation with my mom. An hour of organizing my files for year-end taxes. Sat quietly and listened to Explosions in The Sky's incredible album "The Earth is Not a Cold, Dead Place"

My sand and water? Posted some fun links to Facebook. Listened to the NCAA Men's Basketball final while reading some great blogs. Stayed up later than I intended.

And the things I didn't get done - well, now I guess "blog" is no longer on that list (though, as mentioned earlier, I am technically doing that "tomorrow"). But there are lots of other little things that may get done tomorrow (or "today" ... WTF?? Am I on "Quantum Leap" right now?). Or may not.

As long as you are getting the big rocks into the jar, you are doing OK. And if you are not, then start today. Don't beat yourself up over yesterday or even a minute ago. That is just throwing good energy after bad. Start right now. And as soon as you are getting the important things done first, you will be amazed at how much more energy and time you have for lots of other "stuff".

To wrap up (and go to bed, as I am back at the gym in 5 hours - yikes!), I want to share a thought from my meditation mentor, Dr. Bill Knight. He practices and teaches Mindfulness Meditation, as introduced to the West by Jon Kabat-Zinn. He explained that whatever is happening - good, bad, indifferent - that IS your life. You can be as busy as you'd like making other plans but, as Bill said, "This is IT". This is your life.

Though he would certainly not have chosen to model such a dramatic example, Bill was diagnosed with skin cancer halfway through our 3 month program. He was ordered to undergo surgery immediately and begin further treatment right after. In sharing this news with us, Bill explained that this would, of course, disrupt much of his day to day life for the foreseeable future. This was not one of the plans he was busy making. But it was his life.

So, surgery became a big rock. Chemotherapy (or radiation, I honestly don't recall which) became a big rock. Other big rocks that stayed in place - time with his wife, teaching our course and his own daily meditation practice. He did not fall apart. He did not spend any of his vital energy bemoaning his fate. He faced it head on - focusing on the things he could control and enjoying his life for exactly what it was.

So, look at your life. Control what you can. Put the big rocks in first. And enjoy it all.

Because "this is IT".

Once again, my quick "sorry I didn't write anything" has turned into quite a rant! But that's OK. This is my life and I LOVE it :)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Weekend Wonderfulness Vol. 1

Every day I receive dozens of emails from friends and clients with links to inspiring, enlightening and entertaining tidbits from all over the 'net. So, I have decided to start a Saturday tradition of sharing some "Best Of" with you...

First, please make sure to read "Lots of Time to Do Nothing When You are Dead"...

Then c'mon back and enjoy this eclectic grab bag o' stuff. There is something for everyone, and no one will like it all :) ... So, share whatever you enjoy and forget whatever you don't ... and have an awesome weekend!!!

From Stephanie at SEA AND BE SCENE ... "How To Be Alone" (beautiful spoken word by Tanya Davis) 

From David "Ornj" Graham of Youth Leadership Camps of Canada ...
  • ‎"Many of us spend half our time wishing for things we could have if we didn't spend half our time wishing." Alexander Woollcott

From Carrie at "" ... GREAT picture!!

From inside my Magic Hat beer cap!!
  • ‎"Surrender to life's splendor."

 From Rob Frost of KOOL FM ... Chromeo!

From my old friend Mark Buckland ...
  • What have i to do with this life?
    I have a choice to suffer or enjoy.
    Where will suffering lead me?
    To nothing. But i shall have suffered.
    Where will enjoyment lead me?
    To nothing. But i shall have enjoyed.

From Spartan Race ...

From Don Miguel Ruiz (author of The Four Agreements)
  • "Love coming out of you makes you happy. The whole world can love you, but that love will not make you happy. What will make you happy is to share all the love you have inside you. That is the love that will make a difference."

From Jackie M :)
  • ‎"Man sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived" Dalai Lama

The funniest video I have ever seen ...

From "The Globe and Mail" ...

Winning the mind game: Can I run farther than I think?
Last updated Monday, Mar. 28, 2011 9:19AM EDT
Lead image
Amberly McAteer takes a break from her 5K run in Toronto's High Park, March 27, 2011 (Wayne McAteer for the Globe and Mail)
“One critical aspect missing from your training program,” writes one concerned (and brutally honest) reader, “is suck it up and get ’er done.
I am, dear reader, attempting to heed your advice. But there is a voice in my head that grows louder by the kilometre. It starts as a whisper at about 20 minutes, and by the one-hour mark, it crescendos to a scream. “Stop now, take a breather. Grab a latte and relax, you’ve gone far enough.”
I’ve always subscribed to the idea of listening to my body. When I’m hungry, I eat, and when I’m tired, I sleep (both of which I’m doing a lot more of these days, now that I’m training five times a week for at least an hour a day.)
The thing is, I do feel like I’m pushing myself more than I ever have. Just the other day I jogged Toronto’s Belt Line, a long, peaceful trail that slices the north part of the city, and I was so infatuated with the sunny spring day and my surroundings that before I knew it, I’d tracked 6K in 52 minutes. I know it doesn’t sound like much to distance runners, but it was a shining achievement for me.
But as soon as I realized how far I’d gone, I caved to that voice and I made a beeline for Starbucks.
Last week, a 400-lb. sumo wrestler in L.A. set a world record for the heaviest person ever to complete a marathon – albeit in 9 hours, 48 minutes. You’d think his body would have commanded he stop before the finish line – but he obviously pushed past it. Why can’t I?
Clearly, I needed professional help: Should I listen to that voice in my head, or can I run farther than I think?
Turns out, I can – and I should.
At Absolute Endurance fitness centre in Toronto, owner (and avid marathoner, Iron Man enthusiast and fitness guru) Alan Chud repeatedly pricks my finger as I run on the treadmill. He’s testing the lactic acid levels in my blood, to find out how far and how fast I’m actually capable of running.
After studying my chart, he tells me something that is still blowing my mind.
“Physiologically, you’ve really got the body of an endurance runner.”
Stunned, I ask him to elaborate.
My “aerobic zone,” the pace at which runners can comfortably stay for an incredibly long time, is roughly the four mile/hour mark on the treadmill. I can, he says, theoretically “go on forever” at this heart rate – as long as I’m refuelling along the way.
The voice that tells me I need to hit the showers after 30 minutes, Mr. Chud says, isn’t my body telling me to quit. It’s the result of being unprepared, lazy and bored. Ouch.
He admits he hears that creeping voice every now and then – but he drowns it out by forgetting about all the data – his pace, calories burned, heart rate, and mileage. He doesn’t think about how far he’s gone or how much trail he still has left.
The voice dies when he surrounds himself in what he calls a here-and-now metaphorical cylinder, hearing his feet hit the ground and legitimately enjoying the moment.
Now that I know I’m physically capable of much more, I hope to follow in his footsteps.