Let people watch you fail. It helps you both.

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First Run at my first National Championship

 

One of my favorite parts of being a committed athlete is the social value that I get to pay forward.  You might ask, “what is social value, as it applies to an athlete?”  Let’s start with a colloquialism we all have heard.

“If at first you don’t success, try, try again.”

How often do we see our friends and family stop an activity when they fail in a grand way?  For sure, the one place where I watch it play out in real time is the façade of dieting and exercise.  Parents start fad diets and workout regimens, and they get results…but only for a time.  The hands of time take their toll during the battle, and their willpower is replaced with the patterns of the past.  Voila-they return to failure mode.  Failed dieting and exercise regimens are the true unwanted occupants in our kitchens and on our neighborhood walking trails.

On the flip side, I read some news that seems intuitive while also helping the next generation avoid the abomination of obesity that my generation is trying to normalize.  MIT published some research on Sept 21, 2017, in Science that demonstrated that parents who struggle and suffer in real time in front of their children are really doing a great service to those children.  By struggling and fighting a battle in front of our children we teach them that hard work pays off.

“There’s some pressure on parents to make everything look easy and not get frustrated in front of their children,” says Laura Schulz, a professor of cognitive science at MIT. “There’s nothing you can learn from a laboratory study that directly applies to parenting, but this does at least suggest that it may not be a bad thing to show your children that you are working hard to achieve your goals.”  Further, the study claims that “children’s persistence, or “grit,” can predict success above and beyond what IQ predicts. Other studies have found that children’s beliefs regarding effort also matter: Those who think putting in effort leads to better outcomes do better in school than those who believe success depends on a fixed level of intelligence.”

They designed an experiment in which 15-month-old babies first watched an adult perform two tasks: removing a toy frog from a container and removing a key chain from a carabiner. Half of the babies saw the adult quickly succeed at the task three times within 30 seconds, while the other half saw her struggle for 30 seconds before succeeding.

babyandtoysThe experimenter then showed the baby a musical toy. This toy had a button that looked like it should turn the toy on but actually did not work; there was also a concealed, functional button on the bottom. Out of the baby’s sight, the researcher turned the toy on, to demonstrate that it played music, then turned it off and gave it to the baby.

Each baby was given two minutes to play with the toy, and the researchers recorded how many times the babies tried to press the button that seemed like it should turn the toy on. They found that babies who had seen the experimenter struggle before succeeding pressed the button nearly twice as many times overall as those who saw the adult easily succeed. They also pressed it nearly twice as many times before first asking for help or tossing the toy.

We must struggle in front of others if we want to teach the next generation about grit.  Sure, there are feel-goods associated with showing off weight loss and body shape changes, and all those positive accolades can stroke an under stimulated ego.  Just look at Instagram or Facebook for evidence.  The real social value is not to you and your desire for attaboys.  The social value comes from fighting the battle, recording your efforts, documenting your setbacks and fighting hard the next time, when those you love are watching.

I love competing with family and friends watching, even when I lose.  The act of publicly going at 100% and preparing to go at 100%, teaches others other that hard work pays off.

Go fight.  Go fail.  Let your family and friends watch.  Just don’t give up-then, they will grow up and do the same thing.

 

Loyalty, Athletic Training, and the American disconnect

As the year comes to an end, I find value in looking back at Trainingpeaks.com record of my activities.  I like to compare what I did against what I planned on doing.  Was I loyal to my workout commitments?  Or did I make up an excuse that equated to saying, “I wasn’t loyal to myself.”  Was I loyal to my race commitments?  What races did I plan as my A races, and did I treat them as such?  It is a valuable endeavor that I recommend we all do, in our work lives and with our personal goals.

Then, I got a real world opportunity outside of athletic training to apply what experience has taught me about loyalty.  Last week, I lead out scout troop on a discussion of the application of loyalty, in modern America.  The 100+ year old vision of loyalty predates anyone currently living, and when Baden Powell and his successors wrote down what it means.  They said,

“A scout is loyal to family, leaders, friends, school and nation.”  Lots of kind words here, but some examples to clarify seem appropriate.

Loyalty is when the older brother helps the younger brother with homework, because Mom and Dad forgot how to do it.

Loyalty is when a fireman goes into a burning building to save someone’s life.  It isn’t the paycheck that he is being loyal to.  It is humanity.

Loyalty is when you visit someone in a nursing home when you would rather being doing something else.

Above all, loyalty is what causes young men to give their lives, in battle, both on domestic soil (police) and on foreign soil (military).

Loyalty is the center piece of an endless cycle of giving and getting that in scouting has repeated itself for decades, as men have continually helped boys to become better men.

Stand for the flag

And, at the center of the symbol of this loyalty is our country’s flag.  Since before written language, there have been flags that represent a people group.  To disrespect the flag in some countries (China, for example) is deemed a crime with mandatory jail time.  Same goes for the national anthem.

Currently, the US media has created a spotlight directed at those demonstrating disloyalty to the flag.  They are using these events to seek attention for their cause.  It parallels both in action and intent when a toddler starts breaking things as part of a temper tantrum as he tries to get his way.  Those who do choose this specific attention seeking path are a route to tear down a universal value.

At the core of the value of any flag is the desire to have something that represents all of us when words can’t do that.  In central North Carolina, there is nothing going on to warrant the attention that the media is putting on the current confusion that a handful of people are experiencing, Most Americans still get the contents of the picture above without the need for an explanation.

The flag represents the country we call our current home.  It doesn’t reflect your opinion of your your home, nor does it reflect anything that you have earned or are entitled to.  Others earned the right for this to be your flag, and some of them paid the highest price for you to be able to have that flag.  If you live here, it is your flag.  The only way to change that fact is to move.  For the record, I suggest that you stay.

We are grateful that this is our flag.  It has survived many wars, intermittent assaults on both is value and its longevity, and it is part of the uniforms that many of us wear, myself included.  I love what it stands for and respect those who have graced me with the ability to call it my flag.

The cross, though, represents perhaps the only symbol that is greater.  The Cross is the way to our original and true home.  Without the cross, no such path to eternity exists.  It is for the cross that we kneel.  Our hand goes over our heart for the flag.  We kneel for the cross.

There is a reasonable chance that some folks just don’t know this.  For you, I hope this serves as some education.  For those that know it, it is your reminder not get to get caught up in momentary justifications or words from people whom you trust that are deceiving you into believing something contrary.   For those that disagree, it is your warning and our plea-don’t tear down that which others have built with their lives.  The Chinese get this.  Most Americans get this. You should, too.

Finally, John Wayne said, “The very word ‘loyalty’ is life itself, for without loyalty, we have no love of person or country.”  Loyalty is inseparable from our identity.  Don’t get lost.  Be loyal, instead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balance-not something you find…it is something you make.

This year represented my 4th opportunity to compete in a World Championship level event in Duathlon.  Since there is no Intergalactic Championship to take part in, this year’s race in British Columbia, Canada represented the end of the road for competitive Duathlon in 2017.  Nothing bigger than a World Championship…at least, not yet.

World Championships are always memorable.  The Parade of Nations makes you feel like an Olympian, albeit with only half the number of countries represented.  Putting on the National Team uniform and knowing you represent the USA for all to see is humbling yet empowering to the spirit of adventure that lives in all of us.  The overwhelming sense of funk that all athletes exude when their race is over and they socialize with other athletes is the source of great olfactory assault, yet mildly reaffirming that you just finished something that is difficult and special.

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Running with Mike and Rob

 

The best part of the 2017 World Championship was getting along with other TeamUSA athletes.  Run 1 turned into a fun run with my friends Mike and Rob. We ran side by side for the first 5k, averaging about a 6 ½ minute mile and we all reached the transition point within 10 seconds of one another.  We talked to each other, often, keeping each other encouraged.  Rob said that our banter was the only thing that kept him going during those first 40 minutes of tough running.  The bike was super-fast, as the terrain was flat.  Run 2 was more of run 1, and I hit the finish line, setting a personal best for that distance, despite a few cramps.

 

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3 athletes and the coach from Liberty University

I got to meet some great people and connect with some old friends.  I traded clothing with a Team South Africa athlete, and I got to meet the coach of Liberty University Triathlon and connect him with my youngest son.  Can’t tell you how proud it would make me feel to have both of my sons attend Liberty!  Rob and I attended an essential oils party with a couple of girls on TeamUSA, Melissa and Kerry.  We laughed so hard that it hurt!  Lastly, getting to experience the solar eclipse, minutes after crossing the finish line is an event I don’t ever see replicating.

Each year’s World Championship has had a unique focus in my memory.  Year one, the top of mind item was trying to reconcile my desire to compete with a lack of training due to injury.  Year two, I was overwhelmed by the distance and effort required to complete Powerman Zofingen and was grateful to finish the race.  Year three challenged me in that I was trying to become a better Ultra Marathoner while simultaneously getting stronger on the bike.  This year, I attempted to have a greater balance of training, life and work, with Spirit a part of every task.

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Kerry and Melissa-too much fun.

After all, balance isn’t something you find.  It is something you create.

This year started with a far-fetched goal of competing and finishing the Badwater Cape Fear Ultramarathon in early March.  I hyper-exceeded goals there, coming in near the top in the standings, both for age and for overall.  The end of the year includes 3 Ultra Marathons in a 7-week window, including one in Nepal to raise money for school building and another with our scout troop to help boys develop into men.  Although neither event has happened yet, I am sure that joy will come while running with Nepali natives and with our scout troop.  Both events shall be my “highs” of 2017 with regards to fitness.

After all, seeking fitness for fitness sake is selfish.  Using fitness to build the Temple of God while helping others hits at the core value of the human experience.

It is my heart’s desire that each of your reading this, regardless of where you are in your fitness journey take a few moments to answer the question, “how can I use my fitness achievements to help others?”  No matter how many medals I hang on my wall, none of them are worth as much to me as the smile I see when I help another athlete achieve something new.

That is the balance that I want all of us to create.  That is the selfish application of fitness that can make you happy.  Give it away, and you will have more wealth in your heart than you can imagine.

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Before the Start of the Badwater.  Seems so long ago!

My bike now sits in the basement, with only a day or so a week of riding happening between now and the winter.  My running shoes are now my weapon of choice, and the finish line now has images of people I am running for, not of places to see and things to accumulate.  Follow the story on http://thenepalproject.org for ongoing updates of the impact of the Annapurna100 on the people of Nepal.

Because She Can’t

Athletes often get special treatment, paid to do what they love and show off their successes in front of a crowd that they would not otherwise have access to.  Athletes get to embrace glory and keep ornaments from their events like the starry dome that they think surrounds them.  Even those athletes who demonstrate unsportsmanlike behavior get accolades and affirmation from the audience they are meant to inspire.

My father recently passed along a bronze medal he earned at an event during the 1930s down to my son, sharing his moment of glory when he was a young athlete, with vision and mission in his heart.  My son kept that medal in his drawer, along with some other mementos from his family that he treasures.  It has a meaning beyond the effort that happened on that day that contains an intangible effect from being a part of a special moment.  My father’s worth was tested that day, and he grew up that day.  And, yes, the outcome is important, as our current culture of participation trophies and “every kid gets equal playing time,” will be our doom.

I argue that our spirit needs more than fun times, medals and glory to justify all the training and nutrition needed to run and bike at threshold.  I need a sustainable and humility based answer.  I must perform during training and on race day with others in mind, if I am to make a difference.

In my heart and soul, I know that taking care of my body is Worship.  A vocalist who writes and performs music has to determine if the focus is the crowd or their Creator.  I, too, must be aware of why I am putting on my uniform when those special days arrive.  A long time ago, I determined that if my answer to “why am I doing this” included phrases like, “get a bigger trophy” and “get my name in the paper” I have missed the point of why I am on this Earth.

11 WaterfallOur time on this Earth is weaved in series of relationships, like a Escher painting.  Before I do a “world championship” level event, I pick an individual to race “with me” who won’t be standing next to me at the starting line.  Sometimes, I know who it is for when I sign up a year in advance; other times, like this time, I didn’t know who it I was for until a few weeks before the starting gun.

This race, I dedicated to Betty Gaetan, my mother in law.  She has always been one of my biggest supporters and has told stories of my athletic “glory” to people whom I will likely never meet.  She is a groupie who happens to really love me.  Since July, she has been experiencing medical problems, and she still has another surgery in her near future.  Not only could she not perform the events that take place in a 55km duathlon, she can’t even come see me, either.

When I called her to tell her that I was going to push at this year’s World Championship for her, she was happy.  What I have not yet told, or anyone for that matter, is how she was there with me, on race day.

When the gun sounded, three of us on TeamUSA ran together for the first 10k, all finishing a few seconds apart.  We all ran quickly and were proud of our numbers, but what made the moment special is that none of us could have ran at that pace, for that long, without each other.  Thanks to Mike and Rob, for helping keep the pace.  Special thanks to Betty, for being there in spirit.  My friends saw us as a group of three.  In reality, I carried Betty with me.

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Lake Okanagan

Most of the bike ride take place on the shore of Lake Okanagan in central British Columbia.  Turning around at the checkpoint to begin this last leg back to transition, I set a visual focus on a Danish competitor in front of me, and I decided to chase him down and pass him.  It was an exhilarating feeling to run my power up to 300 watts and leave it there, to make my pass.  Once I got by him, I powered down to a more human number and looked at the beauty of the lake and how majestic it is.  My heart rate was holding at 150 and my body was in sync with what I was asking it to do.  I was purring on the bike saddle, and I had Betty’s spirit with me.  A few minutes later, the Dane passed me, looked over, and nodded his head, acknowledging that we were “game on” and would be passing each other for the rest of the race.  He tucked in front of me and ran his effort levels up, trying to hold me back.  No joy for him!  For the next 15 minutes, we passed each other two more times before racking our bikes and putting on running shoes.  I raced and paced that Dane, because Betty couldn’t.

When there was only 500 meters left till the finish line, I was greeted by a TeamUSA representative who handed me a US flag and cheered me on.  I upped my pace to nearly a 5:30 mile and held it all the way to the finish line.  As I approached the finish, the announcer called my name, and I held the flag high, thinking about Betty, knowing she couldn’t do that.

I did that race with her, for her.  And, the next time I see her, I am giving her that flag as a token on that day.  It isn’t the flag that will weave us together, but it does give us a token of our event, just like my father’s bronze medal is a token that my son treasures.

Although I don’t know what that flag will mean to her, it will mean more to me, as I am the one who gets to give it away.

Because she can’t.

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Betty Gaetan and my son, Michael, after a football game in 2011

An old man, a bicycle and Corinth

During May of 1987, I met an older American man, who had recently retired.  His wife had died, his kids were grown and gone, and when I met him, he was on a bicycle, wearing spandex shorts and a shirt that matched.

It is only now becoming clear to me why I remember so vividly meeting John 30 years ago.  It wasn’t his strength, his commitment to taking on the difficult or even his facial features.  I have no memory of his mannerisms, either.

What sticks out are exactly 2 things.

First off, we met in Corinth, Greece, deep in the ancient mountains of the Peloponnese, surrounded by Greek architecture.

Second, he was riding by himself and was on his way to London.

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How to get from Corinth to London

Yes, that is a trip of 2,000 miles, all on bicycle.  Between Corinth and London are more than just a few challenges.  He had to traverse mountains and roads of Greece without any practical knowledge or experience reading Greek road signs.  Next comes Kosovo, Serbia and Slovenia, three countries that are anything but flat.   Follow that up with the Alps of Austria and Switzerland.  Just when his legs are familiar with climbing, he hits France and rides flat roads to get to the French coastal town of Le Havre, where he puts his bike on a boat and crosses the English Channel before the final push towards London.  He knew which roads he wanted to take and how far he wanted to go each day, but he didn’t have any hotel reservations.  He had great rain gear and spare bike parts to keep the Greek military in business for years to come.  But, he didn’t have a clue what or where he would have his next meal experience.

We met him as he pedaled up to the Corinth Youth Hostel at the end of a long day in the Greek mountains.   We talked for just a minute or two before he said that he wanted some company and offered to take me and two other friends out to dinner at a local hole-in-the-wall.  We asked him just as many questions as he asked us.  Ask we complemented him on his “cool trip,” he gave us a tidbit of wisdom that still survives.

“You have to plan for these things, not just execute them.  All the money and time in the world don’t make up for a lack of fitness.”

As my friends age, they typically have more free time and more disposable money, especially once the children are out of college and are married away.  However, they lack the ability to take on the wonder and magic of the trips of their dreams, as their chronic lack of investment in their health accumulates.  Obesity, knee replacements, lack of energy, high blood pressure and an overall lack of strength and endurance take a cumulative toll, and they can’t join us.

Now that I am in my mid-50s, I see the current rendition of the dilemma this one-day-in-my-life man encountered 3 decades ago.  I would LOVE to cycle all of Europe, but there just aren’t many, if any people who have the fitness to tackle this challenge.

For those of you who are young and reading this, please take your head out of the clouds and ask the question, “when I am 60 and I don’t have the time and money constraints of my youth, what is it that I dream about doing before my head strikes the bed at the end of days?”  I am not talking about going to car shows or golfing more.  I am talking about the dream trip to the south pole, the multi-day dive in the great barrier reef, or the trek across Norway and Sweden.

Sure, life mandates you work your butt off from age 25 through 55, but the act of neglecting the Biblical mandate of fitness creates a blend of shame powerlessness.  My wife’s parents are aging and dying, and my father in law told me this last weekend that he has had a line item in his retirement for travel, but he hasn’t been able to use it for years.  My sister had originally committed to running the Annapurna Ultra-marathon later this year, but her failing health has led her to withdrawal.  We can all add stories of people whom we love to this list.

In the South, we socially get to inspect the failed investment on Sunday, at local restaurants after church. Folks who have both time and money, gather with family to a post church meal.  What goes unspoken is their lack the ability to really “do” life with their family, so instead the get together, sit around and talk at a restaurant.  They have lost the ability to adventure.  Wheat belly, diets too rich is processed sugar and a lack of structure in taking care of the temple of God all get replaced by a place at the table where they embark on activities that make the situation worse.

Their circumstance is preventable.  Yet, the cost to prevent their physical degradation means neglecting other areas of life.  There is an unspoken social pressure that exists that tells us time spent away from accumulating wealth has potentially unforgivable consequences, as we may go broke in retirement.  Without using words, we allow this myth to shelter us from God’s command to treat the our bodies as the temple of God. However, the investment of 3 or 4 structured hours of exercise each week  back into your long-term well-being comes full circle at retirement.  When those who have given up head to the buffet, you can head out on an adventure.  For too many, their huge payday in retirement comes from the railing of a cruise ship.  I want to be like Mr cyclist, who can do the cruise ship but can also ride for a couple of months, with adventure a part of every day.   He has freedom, when having freedom is most valuable.

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Harvest time, with all the fruits looking at you…even as you look at the mountains in the distance

Let this last graphic help you write your retirement planning song.  Invest now in what you will REALLY need when you retire-a body that works and let’s you explore and tap the inner child who is antsy to get out and play, meet new people and learn new things.

 

Windshield vs. rear view mirror

 

rear-view-mirror

After getting an inspired message at a men’s group meeting this week, I came home and measured the size of the windshield in a car.  I then compared it to the corresponding rear view mirror in the car.

The front window average 54” across and 36” top to bottom. That is a total surface area of 1944 square inches.  The rear-view mirror measured 9” by 3”, a total of 27 square inches of mirror.

To put into perspective, only 1.3% of the total area to stare at is for looking backwards.  The remaining 98.7% of space in front of me is meant to see forward.

The forward direction represents where we should be looking nearly all the time.  That is why it represents such a large portion of the field of view.

This applies to nutrition and fitness.

When we seek to change to healthier eating patterns, nearly all of our efforts should be focused on what is ahead of us-the next meal or snack, the next day, etc.  Too often we find ourselves consumed by thoughts about what certain foods from the past we are craving, instead of being focused on the task at hand.

Nats3With athletics, it is important to review efforts from the past.  But once we have reviewed those lessons, discussed and learned from them, we must move forward with the next workout/training cycle to get better at our craft.

This last weekend, and Duathlon Nationals, my bike broke on the 2nd climb up a mountain.  I was stuck in 15th gear for the entire climb….my cadence during that climb was 31 rpm.  That hurts!  Might as well have pushed a wheel barrow up that mountain.  Fortunately, when I crested at the top of the climb, I jumped off my bike and successfully fixed the issue before getting on my bike and descending back to transition.  My placement in the race dropped a couple of spaces since last year, but it was still a good day, and I earned a TeamUSA slot for 2018.

Nats7My son saw a young man in front of him fall.  His emotional response to the accident caused him to forget to take off his helmet.  He did run 2 wearing his helmet.  That cost him a few seconds, but he also did well enough to finish in the top 6 and get a TeamUSA slot for the Sprint distance.

The windshield for both of us is large now.  Alex begins Cross Country season, and will not see nor wear a cycling helmet until the fall, at our next race.  I have ITU Worlds in Penticton in 8 weeks, and my focus is on preparing for an even greater challenge than Nationals.

We have no time for the rear view mirror.

Rednecks and Cherries…they have a lot in common!

During my stint as a Peace Corps Volunteer, I lived in a remote village in the Kingdom of Nepal.  Sure, the scenery of the surrounding Himalaya was great, but it wasn’t nearly as memorable as the people whom I lived with for 2 years.  I remember how some villagers would put fresh manure in their wounds, claiming that it helped to stop the spread of pain.  Two weeks later, when they still had festering wounds and were confronted (by me!) about how stupid that cow-shit-on-a-cut idea really was, they said that it was part of the process called life.  It was a rite of passage to be able to live through the cut and the corresponding recovery.  Lastly, they just got used to it.

Sure, they didn’t know any differently, as science was not a mainstream idea used in decision making, as it is in the West.  That said, it pointed out some fundamental flaws that all of us have when it comes to enduring something that hurts us.  It is called Redneck Thinking (with Capital Letters).

  • We believe that the way we have been doing things is an effective way. It may or may not be the best way, but it is a safe way, because we survived it.
  • When confronted with better ways, we will occasionally change. Most of the time, though, we don’t.
  • When our ways cause us to suffer, we look to make sense of it all, saying that it is good for us…we say that it builds character and toughness.
  • Here is the real kicker. The older we get, the more we fall victim to the “old ways work, why change it?” sort of thinking.
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Redneck dogs even have fewer teeth that regular ones…

No place does this happen more that during conversations with people who are interesting and show leadership.  I can’t count the number of times someone has said, “this is a great recipe.  You ought to try it!”  I agree with them, both in heart and in mind.  The conversation ends, often with a recipe in my inbox, only to sit there until I delete the idea.  I redneck it.

I KNOW that if I had just cooked it and tried it, there is a good chance that the dish would have likely to make it to our dinner table repeatedly.  I KNOW that I would be better off for trying something new.  But, more often than not, I don’t.

Truth is, we are all rednecks.  We generally do what we did the last time, even if it wasn’t that great of an idea.  What really seals the deal with our hard-earned title of redneck is how we view our poor results as “part of life.”

As an athlete, this is measurably true!  Often, I reject good ideas backed with good science.  Yet, this last weekend, I went out on a limb and tried a new idea to address an anticipated pain from an upcoming event.

Last weekend’s event was a 103-mile bike ride up Mt. Mitchell, NC.  The ride is much like a day in the Pyrenees in France, with a bit more climbing.  Like most bike rides that include both more volume and more intensity that I am used to, the expectation was that I would be both tired before I was done and I would HURT the day (or two) following the event.

Science has a name for this hurt phenomena-Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS.  You know what it is-that feeling you get the first time you play basketball as the start of a new season that makes you think that in the two days afterwards it would have been more pleasant to have been hit by a truck.

Part of the dread of DOMS is knowing that it is coming.  Knowing that you will be hurting the next day.  It is not just a physical phenomenon; it is also mental.  Knowing that what you are about to do is going to hurt will prevent people from trying.

A few days before the Mt. Mitchell ride, I heard an episode of The People’s Pharmacy, a syndicated radio show where a married couple helps take complicated medical studies and learnings and simplifies the learnings so folks like me can understand them.

This episode currently on the radio as I drove down the road was titled “What is the science behind fabulous foods for health?”  The first segment of the show was about the effects of foods on either delaying or eliminating DOMS.   The researcher being interviewed took a very complicated question and simplified it. He had heard that cherries and cherry juice (but not cherries from concentrate, mind you), could reduce if not eliminate DOMS if eaten in correct volumes, over the right period.  The science sounded solid, and he had enough unanswered questions to convince me that he was still humble enough to do more good science.

cherriesWanting to tackle my Redneck crown and take it off, I decided to try out his idea.  Cherries and cherry juice, 2 days before the event. Cherry juice the day of and 2 days after.  I hit the grocery store and bought both fresh cherries and juice.

The big day came.  103 miles of riding later, no pain.  The next day, no pain.  The following day, 80 minutes of running and still no pain.  I am currently on Day 4 after the event, I haven’t had to miss a workout.  I never felt the slightest bit of pain (although I was tired after expending 8000 calories in about 7 ½ hours). Last year, after this same event, I was fighting to reach down far enough to tie my shoes.  This AM (day 4), I woke up early and did a 10K run as if the event had never happened.

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Climbing all day hurts!

Just this AM, I thought, “what other clever ideas have I rejected that have led to a pain that I just didn’t need to experience?”  What other cherry juice alternatives are out there that could give me power, speed, endurance, flexibility and strength that I have been missing?”

The only thing that has prevented me from learning them is my addiction to redneck thinking.  I suspect that I have already either read or heard many great ideas that could help me perform at higher levels, but I have rejected them in favor of the items that I perceive as my source of comfort.

Getting used to pain is often deemed a rite of passage for an athlete.  Push through the discomfort and you get better is the mantra.  So, so glad to learn that isn’t the truth.

And one day soon, I hope to get this redneck hat off of my head!