…Through the virtue of training, Enlighten both body and soul — Morihei Sensei

Archive for January, 2012

Be Different

We try so hard to change those around us.  The closer we are to people, the more we try to change them.  The closer they are to us, the harder they try to change us.  With so much effort put into changing people, why is there so little change?

Each year we renew our resolve to change ourselves, to turn a new leaf.  By March, we have a hard time even remembering what those resolutions were–Spending the rest of the year focused on what other people are or are not doing.

Therein lies the problem.  We cannot change other people.  All the effort put  into changing folks is utterly wasted effort.  We can only change ourselves.  Once we can effect real change in ourselves, and maintain it consistently for a period of time (three months?  two years?  eight years?), only then will we see a reflection in those who around us.

Changing oneself is the classic “easier said than done”.  Everyone around us is utterly invested in us being as we are.  We are utterly invested in being as we are.  We are utterly invested in everyone around us being as they are.  Consequently, everybody works very hard to keep everybody else from changing.  Pushing buttons.  “Going there”.   Bribing.  Extorting. Doing what we must to pull us and everybody else back into familiar ruts.

If the people we interact with (love, work with, struggle against) change, then either how we interact with them must change, or we must stop interacting with them.  Hence a change in them, causes a change in us, however slight.

And therein lies the key.

If your relationships suck, you must change.  If the world around you needs work, you must change.  If your business is not awesome, you must change.  It’s your only other option.

It is imperative that you be different.

The only way to change others is to be different.

The only way to improve the world is to be different.

Be different.

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— Jalal

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Please comment below.

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Quote

Happy Birthday, Queen

In the midst of Winter
The camellia blooms.
Spring is near.
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Jalal
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–Old 454

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Your comments are welcome and appreciated.


On Missing Training Days

This week we had a birthday celebration, one day for family, one day for friends, and two days on the road for college visits.  The resultant effect:   I missed two whole days of training, and had three highly modified days.  Missed training days are extremely bothersome to me.  I obsess over how to adjust my schedule, and how to make up for the losses.   Truthfully, I probably needed an unload week.

All of which underscored the extent of my attachment to training and things training-related  (e.g., logs, nutrition protocols, gear improvements, results).  If Training is a Practice (as it is for me), then one very insidious, and deceptive attachment is to the Training itself.

Coaches generally advise viewing missed training days as needed recovery.  I try to get in every session I can, knowing I will miss some, and then those become recovery days, instead of lost progress.  But that is all very intellectual.   On a gut level, the missed days still feel like loss.

This feeling of loss gives us an opportunity to deepen our practice by reflecting on the nature of our attachment to training.  If Training is a Practice, then it is not the goal.  Only the goal is the goal.  (Goals and Zen have their own ironic relationship.)  Practice is a vehicle we use along the Road.  Or as Suzuki mentions in Beginners Mind, it is the boat we use to cross a stream that crosses the Way.  In this light Practice is further removed–not even the Road to the Goal.

I have no answer here, nor any real conclusions.  Only that it is an interesting phenomenon.  An experience I am thankful for, as it helps peel back another layer, another curtain between me and Reality.

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— Jalal

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Museum of Aviation Half Marathon 2012: Race Rep

Museum of Aviation Half Marathon 2012 T Shirt and Medal

Museum of Aviation Half Marathon 2012

Yesterday, I finished my second Museum of Aviation Half Marathon, on Robins AFB, in Warner Robins, GA.  It was a cold day, but not quite as cold as last year.  I was hopeful, as last weekend was almost balmy, but then the weather took a turn mid-week, and I knew the weekend would be blustery.

My goals for this race were:

  1. benchmark the 5k to 50k (modified of course) running program I’ve been following.
  2. test out my pre-race & race nutrition changes
  3. test out some equipment.

From those perspectives, it was a successful run.  I was about 30-40 seconds off pace from last year, but given my training volumes, some recent ankle twinges, I am happy with the result. (more in a future post)

Location:  Warner Robins, Georgia

Gun time:  8 pm

Distances:  5k, Half-Marathon, Marathon

Course:  13.1 mile loop around airfield

Registration:  $20-5k;  $40-13.1;  $50-26.2.

Host:  Robins Pacers

Race Results

Weather:   Sunny, Clear & Cold (26 deg) Running shorts, Mid-length sleeve compression shirt, Short sleeve technical Tee, Arm warmers, Double layer Gloves (took outer shell off at mile 6), Fleece headband (took off at mile 6), Bandana, Nike Frees.

Terrain:   Fairly flat, a couple of rollers, and a couple of creepers (inclines that don’t actually look like inclines).  All asphalt with some nice looks at the airfield, for those with that connection.

Competition:   It is a Half-Marathon, so most folks are going to be in decent shape.  But it is a good mix with good company the whole way.  Top men’s time was 1:16, top women’s was 1:27.  Last year times were 1:12 and 1:23 respectively.

General Impression:   This is a nice race.  Definitely show up early because there is no early packet pick up due to security considerations, thus 1200-1500 people picking their stuff up at once can create some bottle necks.

Packet pickup and post-race recovery food is in the covered and heated Museum–very nice.  Good recovery food.  Nice folks.

Room for improvement:   Water stations were a little behind the power curve.  Would be nice to have bottled water at the finish line, just from a volume perspective.


Slow Carb–First Look

Now a few weeks into the “Slow Carb” diet, a check-in seems appropriate.   Setting up my 2012 training (peak

loaf of white bread with measuring tape around its waist

Fat White Bread

goal being Ironman Florida), I incorporated some specific programs.  One of these is the so-called Slow Carb diet–basically a low-glycemic index diet.  Generally, I follow my own modified version of the “Abs-Diet”  with certain other elements mixed in.    My approach has been to make the Slow Carb diet an addendum to my existing plan.

The plan is promoted (designed?) by Tim Ferris in his book The Four Hour Body.  The idea being to prevent blood sugar spikes, the subsequent insulin spikes with its accompanying issues, one of which is fat storage (other goodies include blocking fat burn, risk of diabetes, risk of cancer).  Ferris has added some other specific ideas surrounding protein intake, not generally found in generic low-glycemic index approaches.

The Slow Carb diet is significant in that it not only emphasizes reducing fat storage, but also looks to increase relative muscle mass.

Key points:

  1. Avoid anything that can be white (with a couple of exceptions, e.g. cauliflower).
  2. Make protein the focus of each meal, especially breakfast eating protein rich meal 30 minutes after waking.
  3. Eliminate refined sugars, corn-syrup.
  4. One cheat day where food type & quantity are unrestricted–cheat day is mandatory.
  5. A good list of the rules and review of the diet can be found at Fitnessblackbook.com

The first thing I did was stop sweetening my coffee.  I drink a fair amount of coffee, generally strong, black and sweet.  If I’m drinking bad restaurant coffee, or on the road (e.g. one particular weekly morning meeting), I would mask it with sugar and sweetener.

The shift to straight black at home wasn’t so shocking, as my coffee is quality and strong.  Coffee on the road is another issue, but now instead of drinking sweetened, creamed, bad coffee, I just drink bad coffee.  It has been tolerable, and certainly hasn’t killed me.

The immediate effect of this one simple change was to level out my emotional peaks and valleys throughout the day, especially the crash I would typically feel around 2pm.  I still have a dip around 2pm, but it isn’t the crash it used to be.  Additionally, I smooth it out with my siesta plan.

I’ve also had fewer headaches.  But this could be the result of several changes I’ve instituted.  However, many of my headaches are blood sugar related, and with more stable insulin releases, come more stable blood sugar levels, and I’m sure this is a part of the equation.

The fat loss portion has been there, but not super.   Check out Fitnessblackbook.com for some good thoughts on this as well.  I’ve lost about a percentage point, and I’ve stopped adding pounds from my Augusta Half-Ironman low.   This has been pure fat loss, based on body weight percentages I’ve maintained muscle mass.

However, I’m still in the adjustment period, so we’ll see. The hardest aspect has been adjusting to not eating bread and cereal.  I still occasionally eat these, but it is far less than what I used to.  This has created a couple of challenges:

  1. What to eat for breakfast, if cereal is out of the equation.
  2. An endurance athlete in training has a real need for and benefit from dense carbohydrate sources.
  3. Bread and cereal were mainstays in my fiber sources (fiber being a key part of my existing plan)
  4. What to eat so that I actually feel full.

I’m working on some solutions and tweaks, which I will need to post in a future update.

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–Jalal

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Race Report: 2012 Resolution Run

Four years now at the  ATC Resolution Run (my son and & I)–The Queen and Princess graced us with their presence this year.  The race is basically in the same area as the past several years, but with a new route.  I personally feel the new route is an improvement.  Still true rolling hills, but with more variety in the hills, and interest overall.  The biggest benefit is you don’t have to watch all the super fast runners coming back while your still going out on the old out-and-back section.  I also feel the hill variety is better.  However, both the start and finish are uphill–not super grades, but enough to notice on cold or tired legs.

My first race of the year (obviously), having this race on the calendar keeps one motivated during the dietary and activity disaster zones that are Thanksgiving through New Year’s.

Location:  Kennesaw, Georgia (exit 269 Barret Pkwy)

Gun time:  11:10 pm (11am–5k, 10:30–fun run)

Distances:  5k, 10k, kids fun run

Course:  Two separate 5k loops throughout office parks.  Twice round for 10k.  True rolling hills.

Registration:  $25–5k & 10k;  one-mile fun run–$10;  Tiny Trot–Free

Host:  Atlanta Track Club

Race Results

Weather:  Perfect weather.  About 56 degrees at start.  Showers had just passed before we showed up at 9:45 or so.

Terrain:  New route has more variety than last year.  Rolling hills.  Often courses are described as rolling hills but are really Hilly.  This one is actually rolling hills that some may not notice much.  One or two hills to motor up, but not bad.  Office parks and industrial lawns.  Some insignificant traffic.

Competition:  A little for everyone.  Walkers, midpackers, and the usual speedy ATC crowd.

General Impression:  Port-a-Potties were abundant, with a moderate line only just before the 5k start.  Not a soul in line just before the 10k start.  The wave start was good in the respect of removing the initial crush between pure runners, joggers and walkers.  New route is an improvement.

Room for improvement:   Recovery food was better than last year (thanks), with good bagels, Powerade, and some type of fruity granola bars.  Still would have liked bananas.  The largest issue (as it is in many races) is I think more emphasis can be made on asking people to observe some race etiquette–not seeding yourself up front if you know you’re going to go slow, check over shoulder before you step out to pass someone, check behind you before you decide to come to a dead stop in the middle of the road.

I love this race.  Will be back next year.

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–Jalal

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And your comments are always welcome below.