Stressors

Yesterday I wrote about a revelation I had regarding mental stress and the need for it in my training plan. I mulled the subject over for the rest of the day and jotted down several likely sources I could implement. Today was a bike day and as I settled in to an hour of seated climbs and standing sprints I looked down and realized that the tension knob on the spin bike was a true definition of the word “stressor”. It’s perfect, a few clicks to the right and I’m in big gears struggling to maintain a certain RPM. A few clicks to the left and life is easy again. Responding to my brain’s cries for a break by twisting the knob to the right or simply just not giving in to the desire to turn the knob to the left added a layer of mental stress to the workout. Exactly what I was looking for (you can find my Instagram post about it here).

I left the gym and began running errands. As I turned for home just now I found myself contemplating said Instagram post (still learning the sequence of cross-posting so, officially I haven’t put either of these posts up yet) and what other sources of mental stress I have readily available to me–yes I am that focused on succeeding at this 100K run. A small mea culpa here, I’m about to discuss the stress of my personal life and I fear I may offend anyone who reads this by unintentionally sounding like I am under more stress than anyone else. Not true, everyone’s life carries stress, we all know that. I only mean the following to be an exploration into common stressors in my life that, by challenging myself to overcome, may benefit me and my family.

First and foremost, my son is Autistic. The stress this adds to our family is intense and pervasive. He is a lovely child with a bright personality, but his language struggles and whatever it is that interrupts his thought processes makes him seem unruly or defiant at times. Having one child on the Autism spectrum (and a Mama’s Boy) and another child who is neurotypical (and a major Daddy’s Girl) has created a divide in our house. My wife and I are constantly doing separate activities with the kids and we are drifting apart slowly.

If I focus on my own reactions to these stressors…I think the end result is a more resilient mind but a softer heart. That would be a bigger success than just running 62 miles in a row.

Sooo…this clearly isn’t the motivator I thought it would be.

I don’t really even know where to begin a post. I have a back-log of completed projects I had the best of intentions of posting here on my shiny blog but I have yet to find the motivation to sit down and write. I think I’m only writing here today for the fact that I’ve had a sudden epiphany about one of the most persistent, nagging questions: what the hell do I really want to be doing for work? At the outset of this blog I thought that if I tinkered around in as many areas I could the answer would present itself. Of course I was only messing around in a few subject areas and, to be honest, I lack the basic mental capacity to comprehend many of those subjects, thus the time-to-mastery may very well be exponential. That’s kind of a bummer since my mind likes to fantasize and romanticize on being a “maker”, or a “programmer”, or just flat out being able to conceive of something I want to build and then straight up building it.

Today I went for a run. I am training for my first 100K (that was also supposed to be a {} post here) and as I warmed up to the idea of running and went through a mental checklist of gains to be had at the venue I was running I realized there was a giant gap in my preparedness for the 100K. Specifically I recognized I am mentally unprepared to run 62 miles. I have competed at ultra distance events in the past with above-average success and during the lead-up to those events I was clocking 4-hour runs and huge climbs to hone my mind as well as my body. This time around I decided not to log massive mileage, to give myself my weekends rather than flirt with burn out from rising at 4 am on Saturday and Sunday only to come racing home to the family 3 hours later as they just START their day. Too much. So I’ve been going super low miles, beating up my legs on the bike and hitting the weights 3x of week instead. My brain is happy with this, my recovery is excellent, but I know I am not ready to go 100K yet.

On the run this morning I forced myself to make a long climb at the very end of the run. For the majority of the two laps leading up to the climb I was in a mental debate. One side of my brain knew the necessity of climbing, the other side wanted to call it a day after two laps and tried to argue that I had so much to do today. I made the climb. At the summit (so to speak) I stopped to snap a picture which I posted to Instagram while I pondered what I needed to do to be fully ready for my race. Stress. I have to introduce mental stress into my workouts from now on to ensure I have the fortitude to make it through 62 miles.

That was my morning. Upon arriving home and starting to get all that stuff done my brain was whining about I have found my creativity level totally reenergized but not for those fancy subjects I wanted so badly to explore. No, for one of my true loves in life: training and coaching. So, back to the beginning and my search for “what would you do for work if money was no factor?” One half of the answer is: train and coach people to rise to their true, innate potential.

Yay! I figured it out! Now WTF am I supposed to do about it?

Some Inspiration

I had an uncle who owned a motorcycle shop when I was young. The shop was a wonderland of parts and tools and the smell of exhaust. But the thing I remember most was my uncle’s hands. They were rough and no matter how “fancy” the occasion, he could scrub all the stains from the cracks and callouses. I admired him and I wanted to grow up to have hands like his.

That was almost 40 years ago now. For the last 18 of those years I have worked a job where I come home smelling of two-stroke exhaust, campfire, sweat. My hands are rough and scarred.

I may not have the skills my uncle had nor do I own my own shop but I can tear down a chainsaw or re-wire a pump and I like to think that, if he could see them, he’d admire these hands.

The {reading list} project

About 15 months ago while on a work assignment I picked up Simon Sinek’s book “Start with Why”. I had watched Mr. Sinek’s TED talk and referenced him during our annual refresher training. At the time I remember being quite in love with my job and having a fierce ambition to succeed as a leader, so I finished “Start with Why” and began a deep dive into other leadership texts. That led me to an introspective phase where I dove deep into who I am and why I am the way I am. So…personal development books took over.

Over the course of winter 2017-18 I fell (definitely) OUT of love with my job. Introspection led to near-misanthropy and the amount of time I spent reading diminished. That unhappy phase lasted until June 2018 and ended with a spiritual haymaker.

I was reinvigorated, not with my job and being a leader but just simply finding joy and fun in life (kinda why I started this blog in the first place, to keep me motivated to do the things I find fun and stir my soul rather than punch a clock and go comatose as soon as the kids go to bed). I started practicing speed reading a la Tim Ferriss’ method and I am curating a reading list that spans as many topics as I can discover.

Here is a shot of what I have read in the past 15 months:

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Some of these titles are absolutely outstanding. Some I was not ready for, others I couldn’t comprehend (“A Brief History of Time” or “How Proust Can Change Your Life” to name two). I like looking back on them all and remembering where I was geographically (I travel a lot for work) and mentally/emotionally. Sadly, I had to pull them all out of their boxes in the garage to take the photo but holding them all again and reminiscing, I think I’m going to find a place for my beloved library to live in our new house.

Anyway, if you happen upon this blog read this far and would like to banter about any of the titles I WOULD LOVE THAT!

The {catch up on the Rich Roll Podcast} project

I started listening to the Rich Roll Podcast (RRP) in the spring of 2014. I had a plan to make 2014 “The Year of the Ultra”. I stumbled onto the RRP by way of Rich’s book “Finding Ultra” by way of Scott Jurek’s book “Eat and Run” that I read as I transitioned to a plant-based diet. I listened diligently to the RRP through the summer and as my mileage increased and I found myself out on-trail for hours, I decided to go back the beginning and listen to every episode. Thankfully (and to my dismay), Rich is a prolific creator. It has taken me nearly 4 years of long runs, road trips, and shop days at work to catch up to the present.

Today I listened to the most current episode (edit: as I write this, Rich has already published a new episode) of the RRP featuring Josh Lajaunie and I started to reminisce on how thankful I am for Rich and the effect the RRP has had on my life: training, diet, family relationships, activism. While I doubt he’ll drop in to read this, for what it’s worth, thank you Rich!

The {start a blog} Project

There are several ways I have thought to introduce this blog and myself and I haven’t settled on any one in particular, prepare for rambling and run-on sentences.

I am a husband and father of two beautiful little humans. My job forces me into a tightly confined mental space for approximately 6 months a year and, consequently, during my “off-season” my brain roams far and wide through topics of discovery. I find a multitude of subjects that tickle my fancy every fall. Some I’ve stayed with over the years (running, cooking, fitness, reading) others have passed by, either victim of a lack of skills to comprehend them (Raspberry Pi and learning to code) or the necessary time to develop the skills was more than my schedule could bear.

I started this blog because I have so many ideas of “things I want to do/make/learn”. It’s my way to keep me motivated to follow through and I way for me to document the challenges and successes.

I make zero claims to being an expert and I guarantee you that, as is my way, I will often find the hardest way to do something and then fiercely continue along that path until I have my own personal “Eureka!” moment (I don’t like asking for help much but I’m the first to admit when I don’t know something).

I hope you visit often and find something meaningful, or humorous, or maybe even inspiring.