One thing that I find incredibly tough is being present in the current moment. It seems I’m always looking at what I have to do later on, tomorrow or the weekend. My focus is far off in the distant future or in the negative. Regardless, when I do somehow lean into the moment , no matter how mundane, I feel a sense of well being.
The trouble is when there is too much going on in your life and or your head it Canberra a real challenge
Focusing on the more boring and tedious aspects of our lives is not something we normally consider. I ran into this thought funny enough while running. I was thinking about flow and how to achieve this sometimes elusive feeling.
Think about running and not thinking about running same time
This is how I usually start this particular day. Loaded with excitement and anticipation (which for me is rare most days). After getting everything I may need for an almost always raining trail run, I eat the usual stuff, go to Starbucks and it’s off to the races. In this particular case it’s the greenbelt trail out in plainview Long Island. I always like to get to the starting line early because of my excitement and that I’m not one to procrastinate. While there I usual walk around, read, and just try and chill out while taking in the overall vibe. Reading seems to really help right before racing and reading How bad do you want it, seems timely and appropriate.
So after the 50K start those of us who signed up for the 25K began at 8:30A.M. The beginning of the race is always literally an uphill battle until we enter the trail system in which the uphill battle becomes that much more of an uphill battle after the initial bottlenecking. Going down the trail is the same as in years past. Follow the markers, try not to reck yourself, and devour all the watermelon and fuel you can at the rest stops.
Every year in the fall I sign up for a local trail run called the tesla hertz run. It is a run that starts on a Saturday early and continues for many onto the following day. This ultra run bring A lot of unique characters out, me being one of them. I never did a 100 miler nor do I really desire to right now. So like usually I signed up for the 50k.
This is a tradition like no other. Every year I do my usual before driving to the rocky point waldbaums which is the makeshift lot the runners park in. Once there I have always went into waldbaums and got I coffee from one of those machines. It’s cheap and bad but it’s a tradition. Well this year it was gone so I had my morning all screwed up. Nothing screws me up more than not having coffee. So I ran to the deli nearby and settled for what they had.
As you can see coffee is just important to me as running. So that’s what I did for the Majority of the rest of my day was to run. Run and walk I should say. I didn’t really train for this considering I ran twice a week for 2 hours or so each session. I did swim a bunch and tackle so big hills on the bike on Sunday’s. So it was obvious to me it would hurt, and it did. Especially when I went in the basement the next morning and pulled out my neck doing incline bench. Silly. The funny thing is my legs feel great. Sore but no real problems. Neck happens to be the real pain, even typing this right now it’s annoying the heck out of me. That’s what happens when you get cocky and try and lift the next day after a race.
Besides the still nagging neck pain it was a great and exciting day. My plan was to go around once and see how I felt. This was because I strained my left ankle a week and a half before the race. I’m just a mess I guess. So after the second loop I still felt ok and I thought ,”what the hell its a nice day and I want to stay outside for as long as I can.” Wish I would have done just two cause my left knee started really yelling at me. So much so I had to electrical tape it at the 25 mile mark and did a lot of run walk run. I’m still glad I finished what I set out to do cause every other time I’ve ran this I never finished my current goal.
I remember at some point during the run looking at some of the red leaves on the trees and just being fascinated by it. That’s the best thing about long endurance stuff, the runners high, besides the sense of accomplishment. So I’m still not sure if I will do it again next year, I’ve really been liking weight lifting and ultra running and heavy weights are hard to mix with all the other stuff I do. Just have to wait and see.
One of the greatest things about summer is the more time we get to spend outside. This being especially important if you work inside for your daily source of income. When the warm weather hits Long Island one of the things that really brings joy and much needed stress relief is getting on the bike and just getting out in the sun. My preferred summer riding consists of road riding starting early on Sunday’s. There is typically less cars on the road which is an added benefit to my early morning endeavors. Over the years I’ve developed several routes always starting but not always ending at my house. I’ve had out and backs, loops, and out and backs with loops. The really fun thing to do occasionally is going on a known route and at some point just going down those roads you usual just pass by. Getting lost is always an adventure. One thing that I have not changed over the years is my first rest stop, Starbucks. I’m there pretty much every Sunday so the baristas know the cyclist in the primal jerseys and shorts. I don’t really waste too much time there cause I’m in a rush to go get lost. Drink of choice, dopio. The double espresso shot is a nice extrinsic reward for journey thus far. So for me the thoughts of biking and espresso goes hand in hand with summer and sun. A time to refresh and enjoy the ride.
It’s funny how certain things remind us of when we were a child. I was never really a runner until later in life but play was always a part of my childhood days as well as currently. The actual type of play might have changed as everything does but not the overall sense of play.
During one of my recent runs I slid under a fence and hopped over two other ones. When I hopped and slid these fences I was immediately brought back to my childhood in a sense. It reminded me of playing manhunt with friends. When we played I would usually climb trees as all boys will do. It seems that even as men we are all still boys. Having the mindset of a child is not a bad thing, in fact in today’s world it is a rare blessing and sometimes hard to obtain.
Another childhood thing myself and many other kids did was to play in the leaves. My parents used to make us help with the fall and spring clean up and as all kids will do found ways to play. Recently I have just been going out and raking leaves as its own form of play. I just think of it as a workout. But the added bonus is that it’s is a workout with purpose and the results are plain to see.
Another good winter workout Is snow shoveling. It’s great because it’s similar to a lift but it’s outside and has purpose. The workout is just a benefit. Again this is something some of us did as children for our parents and also for making a couple bucks for comics and candy ( two other things that remind me of being a kid). This winter maybe I’ll try to help people out and shovel family and friends driveways instead of going to the gym.
It basically comes down to being outside with a task and purpose. Using your physical abilities also enhances your mood and overall mental well being. It’s not just being outside but the more important thing is to have a child’s mindset. A child would not hesitate to go outside and play not matter the conditions be it raining, sleeting or snowing. Play is all about your perception. I can think of play as going to work and sitting at my desk all day. as long as I think with this child’s mindset it will be fun no matter the task.
“Your beliefs don’t make you a better person; your behavior does. —Anonymous”
The third Great Lake I have attempted to swim the length of was that of Lake Michigan. The total length is approximately 307 miles (540,320 yards). I started this lake after the Lake Erie adventure on Wednesday may 21, 2014 and finished on Friday December 5,2014. I’m going to again try and give some details about some great swims I had in he process as well as whatever else comes to mind.
So this morning I woke up after a night of midnight snacking, mostly on tomato sauce rich stuff which destroyed my stomach. I still did my normal Friday swim before work but it took me a while to not feel bloated. I didn’t even use my Clif bar at the normal point during the swim cause of the bloating and feeling guilty for over eating the night before. Anyways, I reached the 307 mile mark this completing my Lake Michigan swim.
One thing that is important in life is to have routines and swimming has been engrained in mine. Even when I really didn’t want to go I went. Occasionally I would swim less but the important thing is that I got in the water. I am not fast nor do I even consider swimming a ‘hard’ workout anymore. I’m used to it and am more efficient than when I started. That being said I really consider swimming as more of a relaxing, meditative activity.
While in the water I can let my mind wonder for a little bit before I start counting my strokes. I would plan the day’s activities, wonder about what to fuel my body with, or other none important matters. It’s funny sometimes the things that come to mind when the blood starts flowing. More than once I actually laughed underwater. Yes, it is possible. When I wasn’t overthinking about mundane matters I would be counting strokes. Either 1,2,3,4 or 1,2,3. I have a whole system where I go easy sometimes and other times breathe to this side or he other.
Besides counting I have grown to love the variety that comes with using paddles and fins near the end of the swim. It keeps things interesting and adds another layer of fun to the, ‘workout’. They extra equipment has helped me to really feel the water a bit better. The paddles are the biggest ones I could find and have helped me with my hand entry. The fins remind me that I have legs and they also need to work in order for me not to sink. That has always been my main goal, trying not to drown while in the process find fun.
Brendan Francis said ,”At the innermost core of all loneliness is a deep and powerful yearning for union with one’s lost self.” That’s one of the things you discover when you are not bombarded with the details of life. Being in the water, running or cycling you will discover your lost self. I think swimming is the best way to do it because it is a total immersion of your environment. You in a way become part of the water. There is nothing but you and the sound of splashing. I plan to continue to find myself by swimming because we need to. We change as we grown each day. Here is to living life and not letting it control you.
“Just keep swimming”
Break up tasks into bite size chunks 900 = 300/300/300
Longest swim was Mon may 26, 2014 13000 yards.
Sun june 22, 2014 8am west neck swim 5K 1:22.43
Everything is an art form. It all depends on how you look at it, your view. You know, the whole “glass is half full” saying. The glass can be half full, optimistic, or half empty, pessimistic. Some people may look at someone chopping wood as a seemingly mindless act with no value or significance. To me however it is one of my art forms.
There is more to chopping wood then meets the eye. It seems like all that’s required is some anger and muscle power. I cannot disagree that both of those help in the task of taking down the enemy. The label enemy given to the piece of wood helps in focusing on what the goal is. It is the enemy and needs to be burned.
Sometimes the enemy is tougher than normal. In my short time doing this art I have discovered that oak can be much more difficult to defeat than say white birch.
The simplicity of splitting and sorting wood is one of the major reasons I find pleasure in it. Besides it being a great exercise it also takes you away from the complications that have arisen in this fast paced world. It’s funny, Life is so stressful so to help relieve the stress we have to do something stressful. It really all comes to life balance. We need to have balance in life in order to be a functional, productive human being.
Life is always a balancing act and juggling it without having outlets to blow off steam will result in a loss of balance. The trick is to just get started. Tell yourself to do something for 10-15 minutes. Once you get past that initial period it becomes easier and you can relax and enjoy it.
“When was one dishes just wash dishes” is a quote I heard a long time ago. It means to get he most out of anything your are doing regardless of the task. You may hate to wash dishes but if you change your viewpoint and just ‘wash the dish’ to the best of your ability and stop complaining about it joy will follow from the simple task. Same goes with cutting wood and anything else in life.
“When enlightened, chop wood. After enlightened, chop wood”