Thursday, September 30, 2010

Beating "That Guy"

I would love to be the bigger man and tell you the main reason I love to run in all of the 5K’s, 10K’s, and Half-Marathons is for the physical exercise, the camaraderie of my fellow runners, and the donation I get to make to charity. Those may all be true statements about some of the reasons I love to run in these races. However, the honest truth is that I’m still an overly-competitive guy who craves a challenge.
I can honestly say that I have no hope of winning any of these races, and very few times have I even placed in my age-bracket. But there is still one thing I can count on doing at any race I run…

I have to beat that guy.

Now, that guy can come in many shapes, forms, and sizes but he’s always there at the starting line of every race I run. (In fact, according to my wife, that guy can even come in the form of that girl…but I digress.) I’ve learned over this past year of “competitive” running that in order to challenge myself, I have to find someone at the starting line who I have to beat.
One race it might be the slightly older gentleman who is wearing the way-too-short running shorts in some form of neon color. I’ll see him and immediately think…

I have to beat that guy.

Another race, he will take the form of the guy who is doing far more stretches than any other runner. Seriously, do you really need to stretch out every individual toe? Sure enough…
I have to beat that guy.

In yet a different race, he will appear (sometimes in a group) wearing a costume or ridiculous outfit. I may not be the swiftest of foot, but there is no way I’m getting beat by a dude wearing a Batman costume….

I have to beat that guy.

One more common form he can take is the look-like-I’m-running-a-triathalon-when-it’s-only-a-5K guy. This is the guy that shows up for your local charity 5K with every contraption you can buy from the nearest running store. He’s loaded up with far more than your normal headphones and running watch. He’s also got a brace for every joint on his lower-body. To complete the look, he’s got the utility belt complete with two bottles of water (hey, it’s only 3.1 miles and there are like 3 aid stations on the course) and enough snacks to feed a boy scout troop on a 4-day hike. You know where I’m going…

I have to beat that guy.

This past Sunday at my most recent 10K, he took the form of the loud, obnoxious, random-conversation-starter. To make matters worse, he managed to start every sentence with “Dude,…” You’ve probably met this guy. He walks up to complete strangers at the starting line and, instead of starting a casual conversation, begins to immediately invade your personal space. “Dude, this race is going to be awesome.” “Dude, the hills on this course are going kick our a**.” “Dude, last race I hauled a** to place 3rd in my age bracket.” “Dude, what’s your age? Just checking to see if you’re my competition, dude.” At this point, the only thought running through my mind was Dude, I’m about to take my bib number off my shirt and shove it down your throat. Oh, and…

I have to beat that guy.

Sure enough, my sole focus became making sure I finished ahead of that guy. Of course, he took off way too fast with the lead pack and I was able to pass him even before the 2-mile marker. That gave me a lot of satisfaction until I realized I needed to find more motivation to get through the next 4.2 miles.

Maybe the rest of you runners out there can tell me if I'm just that shallow of a person to pick out someone at the start of every race to try to beat. Maybe it's just me, I don't know. I just find that if I can get my juices flowing at the start of each race, I can channel some of that competitive spirit I've had my whole life.

And if you happen to be at the starting line at my next race and you're wearing shorts a little too short, stretching a little too much, wearing a costume or saying "Dude,.." a lot, you might notice me giving you a little stare down. It's nothing personal, but just know...
I have to beat that guy.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Fitting it All in!

It's been awhile since I have posted here and I've been feeling a little guilty about falling off the #temt wagon. I had anxiously predicted that the beginning of school would be a challenge for me with my longer commute, tutoring job and learning all of the ins and outs of being at a new school in a new grade. Overall, I haven't failed miserably, but I have only been averaging 2-3 workouts per week over the past few weeks, compared to 5-6 during the summer.

I know that many of us on #temt work in education and sometimes we can get caught up in an "all or nothing" thinking about exercise. If we don't have at least an hour to devote to a run or walk or gym workout then we decide it's not going to happen. What if we arrived at a solution that was "in-between?" Here are a few examples:
  • Each morning( or at least 3-4 of the days) when I arrive at school, I grab my hand weights as I put my things down on my desk. I do this before anything else!  I do sets of bicep curls, tricep exercises, squats and lunges. This entire process takes 10-15 minutes and I can feel my heart warming up and my muscles awakening.
  • After a meeting sometimes is the worst time to drive home since it's right at the beginning of rush hour. What  if I take 30-40 minutes to do an exercise video in my classroom? All I really need to do is keep a pair of workout shoes and clothes at school for those occasions. Can I do this? Yes! Have I done it yet? No, but I promise to try it out this week!
  • Although I only have 40 minutes for lunch, I could try at least 1-2 days per week to take a walk for 30 minutes. I know it would clear my head and feel great, yet I have not done this yet. I think I will invite the teacher next door to join me. Our school is on beautiful grounds and I can enjoy and get some exercise. 
  • One place where I tutor on Mondays is surrounded by great hills where I could walk and run for 30 minutes after the session. I tried this right before school started and it was awesome to miss a bit of the traffic and go home feeling more relaxed. 
In listing these options, I feel much better about my commitment to exercise and keeping it up during the school year. What kinds of solutions are helping you stay firmly connected to taking care of yourself? Thanks in advance for sharing!