THE END IS THE BEGINNING!

Life is a journey!

the end is the beginning

“Be decisive. Right or wrong, make a decision. The road of life is paved with flat squirrels who couldn’t make a decision.” – Anonymous.

In his second letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul made a metaphor between his life and career in the first century church equating it with a road race.  

” I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” – Paul the Apostle (from 2 Timothy 4:7)

This was one of the many ways the early leadership of the church created bridges between people to connect unfamiliar concepts to various individuals. As I began running road races last year in 2019,  I quickly came to realize how appropriate this comparison was. Before I even attempted my first 5K, my goal was to run a marathon. 5K is 3.1 miles, and a marathon is about nine times that at 26.2 miles. I was inspired by Nathan Maxwell  @socialshark , a friend on Twitter who was an ultra-marathoner. Nate and I connected through a love of coffee. When the internet was in its infancy, it was referred to as The Super Information Highway. Now we have social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. The thing about social media is that it allows individuals to share ideas, images and information of all sorts at a rapid-fire pace, with little or no filter. This double-edged sword has both brought some people closer, while at the same time destroying some relationships.   I am often amazed at the number of people around the world who check in regularly to read my weekly Sunday opinion piece. It is quite humbling.  

Running is a lifestyle choice. Like many things, you do it for as long as you can, on a regular basis. Once you quit, often there is no going back.

 “The end is in the beginning.” – T.S. Eliot

The First Key to success in life is proper planning executed at an early time. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. I am currently using a lot of racing and health metaphors because of the interconnectivity of health and wealth. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, “Your health IS your wealth, and your wealth IS your health!” As I prepare for my first marathon at the end of 2020, today I run my first official race of the year, a 10K in Muhlenberg PA. Last year I ran a dozen races, from 5Ks to half-marathons. In 2020, my plan is to run twice that, both in distance and frequency. Each of these races has an entry fee. Had my finances not been in order, I could not afford to do this. As an athlete in training for competition, I have certain nutritional requirements. Dietary supplements , special meal plans, and better quality organic produce all cost money. Again, had I not taken steps years ago to fix my finances, I would not be in a position to afford these added costs. Not to mention I also need to buy quality running shoes and gym clothes.  

The Second Key to success in life is you have to want it. That should be obvious, but saying you WANT it and actually wanting it enough to do the work to attain the goal are two different things. When you really WANT something, the effort you are putting into attaining that goal should be outwardly apparent to anyone observing you. Actions speak louder than words, but RESULTS shout from the rooftops! 

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The Third Key is not giving up. The road is long and hard, and there are many stumbling blocks.  My most grueling 5K of 2019 was a night run obstacle course, The Zombie Fun Run. The ‘fun’ stopped when I wrenched my knee as I slipped on a muddy hill. I was terribly concerned with each painful step that I would not be able to finish, but I managed to limp my way to the end. In a couple of days, I was right as rain again.  The first half-marathon I ran two months prior also was fun, until I hit the 9th mile, and was breaking personal distance records. That was when I started getting leg cramps.  I also limped to the end that time.  DNF (Did Not Finish) is currently not in my vocabulary. I have completed every race I signed up for. ONLY once (during the Chobert Challenge 15K trail run) was I DFL (Last), but I did finish.  Often when I am in such trying periods, struggling to reach the finish line, another quote from the Apostle Paul comes to mind.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Paul the Apostle (from Philippians 4:13)

Just like Nate’s Twitter posts inspired me to begin running, other folks I have connected with have inspired me to continue. One fellow runner who is truly amazing is Bruce Cronrath. Bruce is 76 years old, has a replacement knee and still runs half-marathons.  Whenever  we race,  he’s usually a few minutes faster than I am. I currently run about a  12 minute mile, and outweigh Bruce by over 100lbs. Bruce is a Vietnam  Vet and a credit to our country. He is the perfect example of never giving up, and demonstrates what is possible when you devote a lifetime of dedication to a healthy lifestyle  . I hope that when I reach his age, I have his level of stamina and endurance as well.

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Hopefully I have encouraged you through my blog to rise to new heights in whatever pursuits you wish to engage in. You can accomplish it as long as you give it everything you’ve got and never quit!  As always, I wish you success and happiness!

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THE CHALLENGE OF WINTERTIME!

You got this!

THE CHALLENGE OF WINTERTIME

Money invested in your health is money well-spent.

Peloton is the ‘Rolls Royce’ of exercise equipment. If you’re willing to spend thousands of dollars on a single exercise bike or treadmill for your home gym, you want the best quality possible. Peloton’s gimmick is that once you buy their machine, you also must pay a monthly membership fee of $39.99 to access their EXCLUSIVE, on-demand live streaming exercise classes.   

In a widely mocked 2019 Peloton Christmas commercial, a husband surprises his thin attractive wife (played by actor Monica Ruiz) with a Peloton Bike for Christmas. The wife then spends an entire year documenting her use of the bike for her social media accounts, ultimately watching a compilation highlight video with her husband where she thanks him for the gift that ‘changed her’. The ad has been labeled as sexist, alarming and cringe-worthy.     

Actor Ryan Reynolds who is also the owner of Aviation American Gin immediately hired  Monica Ruiz to ‘reprise’ the Peloton wife role for his gin commercial.  In the follow-up Aviation Gin ad  (which spoofs the original ad),  she is now divorced, staring blank-faced and sitting in a bar with concerned girlfriends. They give her multiple martinis to guzzle as they tell her she’s ‘safe now’ and she ‘really looks great’.  I don’t know which of the two ads is worse, but I am leaning towards the second.

Over the course of a person’s life, they will earn millions of dollars IF they work hard, and invest their money wisely. In that same period, they will only have ONE body, so staying fit and healthy is of the utmost importance. No one wants to spend their life feeling weak and sickly.

Physical fitness is a personal decision. The ONLY one who understands the trans-formative journey towards better health is the person on that path. I began running at the beginning of 2019, and this past year has been a year of personal transformation. I am in my best physical condition in years as a result of my personal commitment to my physical improvement.

Are you in, or are you out?

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Winter’s chill adds a new challenge to a person who has taken stock in their own health and well-being.  Frigid temperatures tend to keep the fail indoors huddled around a heat source. IF and only IF you are truly committed towards improving your physical health, you only have two exercise options. Indoors or outdoors.

I do NOT own personal home gym machines. It is my opinion that unless a person has a very good reason for buying home gym equipment, their money could be better invested elsewhere. Gym equipment depreciates in value faster than automobiles.  In addition to the expense, these exercise machines take up space.  There are many gyms chains nationwide (such as Planet Fitness) that have the latest machines,  local branches open 24 hrs, and some offer memberships as low as $10.00 per month. Plus if the equipment breaks, it’s not your problem!

I train indoors, but I run outdoors for competitive races which are offered almost every weekend including WINTER. As each of these  races have entry fees, I limit myself to not more than three a month. Usually it’s once a month, sometimes twice. Running is a lifestyle choice understood only by fellow runners. The running community is a great source of encouragement and motivation. When you run with the pack, you run with the pack. When you join a local running club, you will make new friends and see familiar faces  at local events.  The key takeaway to remember is that athletes must always be in training for their next event.   

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Baby it’s cold outside.

Winter weather is highly unpredictable. When running outside you MUST dress appropriately for the conditions.  There are days in December in the area of South-Central Pennsylvania with temperatures of 50° F (10° C) or higher, and days with temperatures below freezing  (32° F, or 0° C). Wind gusts can cause temperatures to suddenly plummet.  Exposed skin can become damaged from repeated and prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, so it may be necessary to wear protective gear such as a balaclava and gloves if you are spending long periods of time outdoors. After returning indoors, be sure to treat your hands and face with a nourishing skin cream to help skin heal.

Investing in proper exercise garments is always highly recommended. Clothing designed for outdoor exercising should be thin enough to exercise in, while being thick enough to retain enough body heat to keep you warm. You should dress in layers to be able to remove some clothing if you  become too warm. I have personally worked up a sweat running 10K in subfreezing temperatures.  The ‘track suits’ of today are much more advanced than your father’s gray jogging-suit.   Wonders have been wrought due  to the creations of both Thinsulate  and Polar Fleece in 1979. If trapped body heat is still not enough to keep you warm outdoors, it’s even possible to purchase electric heated garments.  I have seen people run outdoors in winter wearing shorts, while others looked like they were dressing for an expedition to the North Pole. During themed winter races like The Santa Run, The Jingle Bell Run, or the Kris Kringle Run, people have dressed like Santa Clause while running.   Only you know what clothing is comfortable for you to wear, so dress accordingly.

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It’s cold and DARK out there.

As the daylight hours tend to be much shorter in winter, outdoor runners need to be visible to passing cars. I am always amazed by the number of people who ware black clothing at night and cross the street in the middle of the block.  Add icy streets and tragedy is all but assured. If running, jogging, or speed-walking outdoors is not possible for you during daylight hours, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Cross at crosswalks, with the light.
  • Always look for cars which might not stop.
  • Carry a runner’s flashlight which can be worn on sneakers, belt, wrist or headband.
  • Wear a reflective safety vest, or harness.
  • Run on well maintained trails or streets.
  • Run with a buddy, or in a group if possible to insure safety.
  • Always pay close attention to your surroundings.
  • DO NOT run in bad sections of town, or in public parks after sunset.
  • Always carry your mobile cell phone so that you can call for help if something  happens.

Just because it’s wintertime doesn’t mean you can’t maintain your active healthy lifestyle. Obsessed is a word lazy people use to describe dedicated individuals. Your health is in your hands! You got this! As always, I wish you success and happiness!  

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