My treadmill sits right next to the dusty Bowflex machine in that unused space in my house. I named my treadmill Reed because it’s a Reebok treadmill and that name just seemed to fit. And if your name is Reed, I’d like to apologize up front because Reed and I are not friends.
I leave Reed in the corner of the little room because I really don’t want to see him. I really don’t like Reed. In fact, I have a love/hate relationship with Reed. Reed doesn’t like me either. He doesn’t want to start up some times and I have to unplug his power cord and smack his side to wake him up.
But sometimes Reed and I must coexist. He comes in handy on really cold days and rainy days and days that I get behind and need a quick workout. And although Reed is loud and ornery and smelly, he’s not completely useless.
I’ve learned that there are things that the treadmill can do that will make me a better runner and even though we don’t see eye to eye… Reed is often my ally.
Here are some positive benefits of a treadmill workout:
Focus on form – Even though the treadmill doesn’t allow you to propel yourself forward, the motion is all the same. The key to efficient running is good form, the way your body moves, the mechanics. The treadmill is a great place to focus on where your feet are landing, how your arms are swaying and what your posture looks like.
Speed – Quick leg turnover means faster speeds. And to have quick leg turnover we have to perform intervals. Performing intervals requires that we speed up and slow down within a certain time period. And there is no easier way to change our speed than with the touch of a button. Fortunately, the treadmill has easy access to a wide range of speeds.
Maintaining heart rate – The treadmill keeps you moving and simply moving keeps the heart rate up. And when the heart rate is up, we gain and maintain fitness and burn calories.
The treadmill is not my favorite thing and Reed and I don’t always get along but we make it work and make the most of it.
What do you think of the treadmill? Love it or hate it?
It didn’t take long for me to see the competitiveness of the Burton brothers. I had heard of their legendary will to win and how serious they take competition. On that overcast, Friday afternoon on the golf course, I witnessed their passion to win and their desire for perfection first hand.
The Burton brothers take their sports seriously. They play tennis, golf, softball and volleyball among others and the only time they relish in the joy of these sports is if the results earn them a notch in the win column. From physical sports to Iphone games, the only foreseeable end for them is with a victory.
Golf is a leisure sport. But not for the Burton brothers. From hole one to eighteen, they embody the eye of the tiger. They analyze every lie and every break. They judge the wind and argue the accuracy of yardage markers. A round of golf for them is not leisure. It’s business.
It’s when things didn’t go their way that I saw their true passion. A bad decision or a hitch in their swing leads to expletives and outbursts. It was only until I saw the shiny nine iron flying over my head followed by the eight iron that I knew that one of them had missed the mark.
A bad day of golf leads to lots of flying golf clubs when you play with the Burton brothers. And by the end of that day, their throwing arms had to be sore.
If you joke with them about their golf balls landing in the woods, their passion turns towards you and you have nowhere to hide from their wrath. In the heat of the moment, their skin is thin. You don’t haze the Burton brothers unless you’re their father.
“I thought I raised boys!” their dad says when one of them leaves a putt short. Their faces turn red and their brows furrow. But they don’t return their fathers chastisement. They never would.
Before playing golf with the Burton brothers, I always thought that I was overly passionate about competing. I’ve been labeled a sore loser, an ungracious loser. I’ve lamented over a run that didn’t go my way. I’ve pounded my fist on the poker table when the cards didn’t fall my way.
But I learned something about my passion when I played with them that day.
I learned that pitching a fit may make you feel better but it doesn’t make things better. There is a better way to deal with failure than throwing clubs and screaming four letter words.
While playing with the Burton brothers, I learned that I didn’t want to lose that way. There can be grace in failing.
How do you handle failure?
I remember an old trophy case in one of the hallways where I used to go to church. Church members walked by it every sunday but never really paid it any mind. It contained dusty plaques, ribbons and trophies from years gone by. Mostly won by golf groups and bible verse memorizers.
It was a monument to the men and women who competed in the name of the church. All of the awards in that case had a special meaning for someone. But there was one trophy in that case that stood out to me more than the others. It was the 1998, church softball league championship trophy and it was something that I and my teammates fought hard to win.
It seems like a lifetime ago since we made it to the show and won that championship. That season was wonderful. We were virtually unbeatable. We made it to the title game with ease but it was a long road to get there.
For years prior we toiled in mediocrity. There were seasons that we finished in the cellar and then there were years that we barely made it to a five hundred record. And when we did do well, we were always one or two games short of being in the title game.
Our team consisted of a handful of weekend warriors. Normal men who had normal lives. There were no all stars. Only ordinary guys who had only a hint of athletic ability but an insatiable desire to win.
The core players on our team, the ones who came back year after year, knew what it took to win. We showed up for every game because we knew every game counted. We played with an intensity of a major league baseball team that was three games out of first with four games left to play. We played with urgency.
In the summer of 1998, our true team finally came together. Gone were the players who were only in it for the fellowship, the ones who didn’t care if we won or lost. We filled our holes with players who could match our competitive fire. Those who brought it during every game. We became a team in every sense of the word. We gelled together. We fought together and we won… together.
There is much to be said about a group of people who want to accomplish a singular goal. They become a force to be reckoned with. We aren’t equipped to make it through this life alone. God didn’t make us that way.
In order to succeed, you require a team, a support system. People who can help you. People who believe. Encouragers, cheerleaders, a tribe. It’s impossible to turn a 6,4,3 double play by yourself.
Who is helping you get to where you want to be? Who are you helping?
It’s that time of year again. It’s March and that means it’s time for March madness. It means that you and everyone in your office or circle of friends has filled out a bracket. It’s this time of year that we all become college basketball experts.
March madness has made me a little mad. My brain works in weird ways. Ponder this, if you will.
Forget that basketball wasn’t invented until 1891. What if we could make a dream basketball team from characters of the bible? A team that is so good that they could make it to the final four without breaking a sweat?
This would be my starting line up:
Center: 9’6″, Goliath. Do I need to explain this decision?
Power forward: Samson. He is strong. Probably a good rebounder. Samson could probably drive the lane like nobody else but his ball handling skills may be suspect and his weakness for women may distract him from the game.
Forward: Simon Peter. I imagine that Peter would be the team captain. He is loyal to the team to a certain extent. His passion and fire could motivate his teammates. His temper however could be seen as a liability. I’m sure he would see his fair share of technical fouls and ejections.
Shooting guard: David. Who better to shoot the rock than a guy who can sling the rock. We learned that David is pretty accurate with a stone. I think he would be just as accurate with the ball. He could potentially lead the team in scoring as long as he can get along with teammate, Goliath.
Point guard: Zaccheus (Spud, as I imagine some people called him). Maybe the shortest guy in the bible. However, he is probably the best ball handler of the bunch since he is so close to the ground. And since he was a tax collector, he is probably the smartest and most organized guy. Who’d be better at calling plays and running the offense than him? Does it matter that he can’t dunk?
Bench players and why they aren’t starters:
Thomas – lack of confidence
Cain and Abel - ball hogs
Judas - not a team player
Head coach: Noah. If the man can build a giant boat, he can build a championship team.
Who would your dream team consist of?
For non runners, the sport of running is no fun to watch. You won’t see many running broadcasts on TV unless it’s an Olympic year and even then the ratings aren’t very high. Running isn’t action packed. It’s just not that big of a spectator sport. There isn’t enough drama.
The reason that there isn’t any drama in running is because there isn’t a villain.
Every story you read has an antagonist. The one person that is the exact opposite of our hero. The two are at odds with each other. One wants to achieve a goal while the other wants to prevent it. That is the essence of drama.
There are plenty of heroes in running. Runners like to give back. We have all ran in charity events. Most of the races that we participate in support a cause in one way or another. All in all, runners are nice people and that’s a problem. Running needs a heel.
We need a bad boy or girl. A person who talks trash and occasionally breaks the rules. We need a runner with exceptional talent along with exceptional cockiness. A runner who can run with the best but act like the worst. Running needs its own Dennis Rodman.
Every sport has a villain. The NBA had Rodman. The NFL has Ndamukong Suh. Baseball had Barry Bonds and hockey has… that big bearded guy. And those sports are full of drama. Drama that we love to watch. Running? Not so much.
If running wants to emerge as a watchable sport, then a villain needs to rise.
Of course, this is all hypothetical. I’m not encouraging anyone to be mean while they run. We don’t want people who are going to go out and trip people and knock other runners over. Running just needs a little more attitude. A little less Tebow and a little more Rodman.
Who is your favorite sports villain?
This post is dedicated to my friends who are competing in the Tough Mudder this weekend. Let me tell you about it.
About a year ago, my running buddies asked me to participate in a different kind of endurance event. It’s an extreme event that test’s your mental toughness as well as your physical toughness. The creators of this event claim that it is probably the toughest event on the planet and after participating, I have to agree. So when my buddies explained all the details of the event to me, my initial thought was: “We’re going to do what?”
The Tough Mudder is a relatively new event that put’s you through the ringer. It’s a ten to twelve mile run with military style obstacles thrown in along the way. Here are three key things you should know about the event. I’ll try not to scare you.
First. You will swim in ice cold water. When I say Ice cold, I mean that there is, literally, ice in the water. I’m talking about breath taking, mind numbing, teeth chattering, somebody -shoot-me, kind of water. Expect it to be about 36 degrees and expect it multiple times. Nervous?
Second. It is an endurance event. To complete the Tough Mudder, you must be able to run longer distances. You’ll run up steep hills and through thick mud. You’ll log some serious miles on top of the military style obstacles. Still want to do it?
Finally. You’ll be shocked. Not by all the obstacles and the miles. Not by the ice cold water. You will be shocked… by electricity. The final obstacle of the Tough Mudder is called “Electro shock therapy”. While running towards the finish line, you must run through a gauntlet of hanging live wires, some of which send out 10,000 volts of electricity. When you get hit with one of these… you know it. It has been known to knock people unconscious. I’m speaking from experience. Are you scared?
Normal running events like 10K’s and marathons are fun. But if you really want to test your toughness, try something a little different, like the Tough Mudder. Are you up for it? Does this sound like your cup of tea?
My friend Joel and I were running on the Silver Comet trail this past Saturday. The Silver Comet is a local public trail that used to be a railroad track. It’s a scenic, somewhat flat stretch of asphalt and concrete that’s lined with trees and streams. It’s really beautiful in the fall and spring. The community loves it.
Runners love it. Families love it. Cyclists love it. Oh, those cyclists.
After our run Joel says, “If a cyclist comes near me again, I may clothesline them.”
Half jokingly I replied, “Jesus loves cyclists.” But I know how he feels.
I’m sure cyclists are great people. I know a few personally and they’re normal people like you and I but some of the cyclists on the Silver Comet are not very friendly. In fact, they’re downright rude.
They’re possessive of the trail. They give you little room. Some get as close to you as they can without hitting you even though they have plenty of room. And some won’t hesitate to drop an expletive on you if they think you’re in their way.
They see it as their trail and that we’re on their turf.
My natural inclination would be to shove a stick in their spokes when they are rude to me but that wouldn’t be nice. I could really make them mad by running with my arms spread out like Leo Dicaprio on the front of the Titanic shouting, “I’m the King of the trail!!” but that would be bad running form and someone would call the police. (Yes. Titanic was on TV the other day and I watched part of it. Here’s my man card.)
So when the cyclist nearly clips me, I have to remind myself that Jesus loves cyclists.
When they shout at me, “On your left! (Insert expletive)!!”
Jesus loves cyclists.
When they give me that look of disdain.
Jesus loves cyclists.
I find myself doing this in every day life as well. It’s how I try to keep myself from getting angry although it doesn’t always work.
When that lady is driving 35 in the fast lane.
Jesus loves her.
When the guy at the ATM is taking out a loan and I’m fourth in line.
Jesus loves him.
I know people have thought, “Jesus loves Stewart”, when I’ve done something stupid or when I’ve caused frustration.
While running on the Silver Comet I’ve given walkers bad looks when I’ve had to loop around them when they spread themselves four wide across the path. I’m sure they thought, “Jesus loves that dude.”
I’m not perfect and nobody is.
Jesus loves everybody and reminding myself of that is how I stay out of those frustrating moments.
How do you think of people that frustrate you?
It’s super Bowl weekend and chances are you are either going to a party or hosting a party. It’s the biggest sporting event of the year and we like to celebrate it with friends. But if you weren’t invited to a super bowl party, you’re in luck. Your local church is probably having one. Let me tell you what to expect if you attend a church Super Bowl party.
At the church Super Bowl party there will be lots of food. Church goer’s love food. They particularly love pot luck food. In fact, it may be the only food they know. Don’t expect pizza or chicken wings. You’ll only get certain pot luck standards like:
Mystery meatballs in a crock pot.
Cracker and cheese trays bought from the local grocery store.
Chick-fil-a nugget platters with various sauces.
And most importantly… Football shaped cupcakes or cookies with a cross or fish drawn on them instead of football laces.
And, of course, plenty of tea and lemonade.
The second thing to note about the church Super Bowl party is that it will likely be held in the Gym/Fellowship hall. Yes, this is a one of a kind space that is used for many church functions. Not only is it a place to hold sporting events but it usually has a stage built in. One with a permanent podium. It’s perfect for setting up a TV to watch the big game. You’ll know you are in the right place if you see the basketball goals cranked up to the ceiling.
Finally. Don’t expect a halftime show at the church Super Bowl party. In these days of lewd celebrity behavior and wardrobe malfunctions, the church just can’t take the risk of airing the halftime show. They will unplug the TV during this time. Instead of the halftime show, expect an exciting game of bible trivia where winners receive church license plate covers, key chains or mugs. If that isn’t enough, the church will probably have an interpretive dance performance during the halftime show. Why? Because nothing screams football like interpretive dance.
Enjoy the party!
The modern day runner never has to run alone. There may not be a human being beside them as they run, keeping up with them stride for stride but todays runner is always connected. Unless you are a Zen runner. More on that later. This is the newest gadget that Nike just announced.
I am not a Nike salesman but I love gadgets. Especially sports or running gadgets and Nike makes some good ones. So when I saw this ad, my immediate thought was, “I have to have one.”
With today’s modern technology, the runner can be connected. We can track our every mile. We can see our pace. We can see our route with all it’s elevation changes and twists and turns. All of these stats can be collected on an internet site or computer program where they can be examined and analyzed.
I’ve tried a lot of gadgets over the years. Let me take you back.
I’m in the camp that has to have music or something to listen to while I run. When I first started running, there was no such thing as an MP3 player. They hadn’t been thought of yet. Instead, I had a half pound CD player. It was a science to learn to run with one of these things. I couldn’t strap it to my body because every step made the CD skip so I had to hold it in my hand the whole time and sort of balance it and keep it level. Sure I could have used a walkman but then I didn’t have a choice of what I wanted to listen to. The giant CD player had to do.
Needless to say, the iPod changed my life, although the early models couldn’t hold up to the bouncing. I killed two of them. Then Apple and Nike came up with a foot pod device that sort of kept track of your running. It was a small, bean like device that you put in the sole of select Nike shoes. It came with an adaptor that you hooked to the bottom of the iPod and the two talked to each other, at least in theory. I tried it. The foot pod and the iPod rarely connected and when they did the stats were never accurate.
The iPhone changed my life again. It can take a beating. Not only is it sturdy and resilient, it has all the technology I want, built in. There are numerous running apps for the iPhone. I prefer using the Nike GPS app. It keeps track of all my stats. It tells me where I am, how fast I’m going, when to turn around. Another thing I like about this app is that my friends and family can keep track of me via social networks. You can track me here: stewjitsu. My iPhone plays my music and is there for me in case I have an emergency. I rarely run without it.
I still have my Garmin but I primarily use it on race day. I find it has the most accurate GPS but it lacks the connectivity and bells and whistles of my iPhone.
Do you run with gadgets? Which ones do you use?
The marathon changes you. You are not the same after you complete 26.2 miles. You become a different person. You become someone new because you accepted the challenge. You paid the price. You accomplished your goal and you completed the journey. Thats right. The marathon is a Journey. It’s not just a single race. It is a change of lifestyle, whether temporarily or permanently. To undertake the marathon requires you to change what you do, to change what you think and to change how you live for month’s at a time.
If you are training for a spring marathon this year then you are probably right in the middle of some hard training. The miles are getting longer. The runs are getting more intense. The weather is getting colder. You are probably starting to feel the positive and negative effects of all the training on your body. Muscles are strained and fatigued. Joints are screaming. Blisters are forming. It would be easy at this point to give up and scrap the whole idea of running a marathon. It’s at this point where you have to decide to bail out or go all in. I know how you feel. I’m not telling you this as a casual observer but as someone who has been there.
In September of 2009, while I was training for Chicago, north Georgia experienced the worst flood in twenty years. The rain started a couple of days before one of my 20 mile long runs. The day of the run started out partly cloudy. There was a small reprieve from the monsoon. The rain began again when I approached mile 5 and it came down in earnest. I had never seen it rain so hard. I had no where to hide. There were no buildings to run into and the tree’s offered no relief. I was on an open trail and the rain came down so hard that the path went from trail to small creek. The water was up to my ankles in some spots and it was filling my shoes. I could have turned around at this point but I didn’t. I could have headed back and saved it for another day but I didn’t. The rain was a viable excuse to stop but I didn’t. This was where I decide that I was all in. This is where my journey truly began.
This rare Nike commercial best explains the point of when the change occurs and where a runner becomes a marathoner.
I know you are hurting right now but you are also getting stronger. You may not see how strong you are because of how sore and beat up you feel. After all the training tips, advice and motivation that you have been given, remember, there is only one person that can decide if you want to continue on with this journey… and that person is YOU.
Don’t give up.