Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Back In Training

It's been quiet around here at, but that's about to change. I'm back in training for my next event - the Rock -n- Roll Los Vegas Half Marathon. It's not until mid-November, so I have plenty of time to get back on track and ready to run.

Vegas, here I come!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Relays: More Than Just Running

I've just finished running the Ragnar Relay Series Del Sol event in Phoenix, and I am still on a high from my adventure. I spent thirty-six hours with my team, Kilty Pleasures, and we had such a great time that I have difficulty even finding the words to describe it.

Looking back on the relay, I realized that when I've described it to other people, I've focused on the running exclusively. "Oh, you run thirty-six legs, three per person." But that really only scratches the surface. There's so much more to running a relay race than just the running. So, I thought I would take this opportunity to explain the different roles people play during the event.

Of course, there are runners. Twelve of them, usually. And each runner does run three legs each. So runner 1 goes out and runs anywhere from two to ten miles, on average. Then runner 2 does the same. Then runner 3. And on it goes until runner 12 finishes. At that point, runner 1 starts again and the cycle repeats twice. Some runs are easy while others are difficult. Some are flat and some are all uphill or downhill. Some runs are during the heat of the day and others are in the cool of the night. But rain or snow, sun or shade, all the runs must be done.

While the runner is on the course, the rest of the team is either off the course inactive (six members) or in the van leapfrogging. As the runner goes out, the van will pass him, wait to check on him and make sure he is okay, then drive ahead, then wait on him, etc. This happens until the runner is close enough to the exchange, at which time the van drives ahead and the next runners gets ready to go out. Being a driver at a relay can be incredibly stressful. You have to watch for regular traffic, other vans, and all the runners out on the course. You have to stay awake when others are napping, stay alert behind the wheel, and stay focused on everything around you. It's a lot of pressure but it has to be done.

Navigators/Safety Officers
The driver is assisted by the front-seat passenger. This person acts a navigator, making sure the driver knows where they are going. This can be extremely confusing, as there are potentially three different routes - the runner's route, the directed van route, and the most direct route offered by GPS. Sometimes it's easy when the runners all go down a long, long highway. Other times, it's made difficult by lots of turns and different roads. This person is also the designated Safety Officer, tasked with helping keep the driver, the other passengers, and the runners safe.

Keeping time in a relay race is super important. The first part is paying attention to the time your runner has been on the course. You need to know when to expect them to run by during a check-in stop and when to expect them to come into the exchange at the end of their run. You don't want to screw it up and miss your runner. The other important element of timekeeping is when you are switching from one van to the other. The inactive van needs to keep up with the active van so they know when to get to the exchange and take over. Screw up the timekeeping and you end up with a runner coming in and no one there to replace him.

Social Media Team
Be honest, half the fun of running a relay race is the chance to show off your adventures on social media. But that takes time and energy, so it's good to designate a person to keep up with Facebook/Instagram/Twitter, etc.

On Deck and Recovery Runners
While one runner is on the course, there are two other runners to deal with. One is the person who has just finished. She needs time to recover after her run, so she will usually settle in the van and spend time cooling down, getting out of her running gear, and often grabbing a quick snack and a drink. The other runner is the On Deck runner, who needs to spend time getting ready to run. That means they are fidgeting with their earphones and music, GPS watch, running shoes, etc. They are focused on themselves and need that time to get prepped to run.

This may be the most important role of all. While your runner is on the course, you want to make sure that you stop alongside the road, wait for them to pass, and then cheer and encourage them. You might also meet them with water or snacks, depending on how long they have been on the course and what they need. You also want to be at each exchange to cheer your runners in and out.

If you're counting, you'll see that makes eight distinct roles, but each van only has six people. And that means that people often have to cover more than one job at the same time. Teammates will shift around and take responsibility for different tasks based on the needs of the van at any given time. And each job is important.

So, if you want to run a relay race, be prepared to do more than run. This is truly a team event, and there is something for everyone to do at any given time.

Okay, now who wants to run a relay race with me?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Project One Five - Day 001 (Actions 001-005)

With a single Tweet, this project has now gone from "I wonder if I should" to "so this is happening." And that increases my likelihood of sticking with it.

Not everyone is on board with something like this, so why engage with them when I'm trying to focus on doing something good for myself? Nope, no need. So it's time to clean up my social media feed and make sure it's positive and affirming.

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Working while standing is a great way to increase my energy levels, burn more calories, and feel better all day. It's a win/win.

I'm not pretending to swear off junk food completely, but today, I'm choosing a better lunch option.

This is the start of this one hundred day journey, so I'm making an exception to my once-weekly planned weigh-in. This is embarrassing to admit, but the truth is the truth. This is what I weigh. Catch me again a week from Saturday and we'll see some changes. Count on that.

And that's Day 01.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Project One Five? Yes, Project One Five.

There is a craziness about doing the same things over and over despite knowing they don’t work. I mean, repeat the same behavior and you get the same results. It’s that simple. And when the behavior is bad or ineffective, the results will be poor.

What hasn’t worked
Quick fixes. There is no way instant solution that fixes everything. Expecting that to happen leads to disappointment and I ultimately fail.
Extreme shifts. All or nothing behavior isn’t sustainable in the long run. I change drastically, then cave back to my previous behaviors and ultimately fail.
Scale-based challenges. As much as I want to see my body weight numbers fall, I know that physical health is more than digits on a scale. Sooner or later, the scale stalls, sending me into a tailspin and I ultimately fail.
Myopic changes. Being focused on just one piece of my overall health means that other areas are neglected. I become unbalanced and ultimately fail.
Small goals and short-term plans aren’t cutting it. They all lead to failure.

What has worked
Back in 2012, I signed up to run the Pasadena Marathon. But at the beginning of the year, I knew I was in no shape to run it. I had put on weight since running the Marine Corps Marathon in October 2011. I was (not) dealing with depression. And I felt completely adrift from training and preparation. I was just stumbling from day to day, honestly.
But I found a way. I created Project One Five, a hyper-focused training program to prepare me for Pasadena. I made a one-hundred-day commitment. Each day, I would find five different ways to help me get ready for my upcoming marathon. Items would include physical training, emotional recovery, spiritual study, and mental planning. Anything counted, provided it moved me from where I was to where I wanted to be.
It was a total success. Without working on a specific weight loss goal, I still managed to drop to 182 pounds. I raised more than $2500 for Semper Fi Fund Injured Marine Fund. And I ran a 4:40 marathon, beating my previous PR by nineteen minutes. By all measures, Project One Five helped me get completely back on track and reach all of my goals.

All that said, it’s clear to me that I need to kick off another Project One Five if I am to be successful again.

It sounds intimidating, I know. Five hundred actions between now and June 16, 2017. But when I break it down to one action at a time, five actions per day, it becomes possible. And when I look back on my previous experience, I know it is more than possible. It’s absolutely doable.
Wednesday morning, March 8, 2017, is day one. Feel free to follow my progress on my blog (Runner12) or on Twitter (@JohnHulsey).

I can do this. Again.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Ten Things That Were Different When I Was 40 Years Old

I've been 50 years old for a month now, and I'm feeling pretty much the same as before I turned 50. I'm still just me. But I have been thinking about my life these days and how it's different than, say, a decade ago.

So here, for my own amusement, are ten things that were different when I was 40 years old.

I wasn't a runner. Sure, I had run when I was in the Marine Corps. But that was back in my late teens and early 20's. As a 40 year old, I wasn't running anywhere. That changed on Sunday, October 3, 2010, when I ran my first 10k in less than an hour.

I had never run an eight-mile obstacle race. That changed on Saturday, February 26, 2011, when I ran the Super Spartan.

I had never run a half marathon. That changed on Sunday, March 13, 2011, when I ran the Safari Park Half Marathon.

I had never run a 200 mile relay race. That changed on Friday, April 16, 2011, when I completed my first ever Ragnar Relay.

I had never run a Tough Mudder. That changed on Saturday, May 28, 2011, when I ran the event in the San Bernardino Mountains.

I had never run a marathon. That changed on October 30, 2011, when I ran the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.

I had never been a featured participant in a documentary film. That changed in January 2013 when we filmed From Fat To Finish Line.

I hadn't run the same marathon more than once. That changed in October 2013 when I ran the Marine Corps Marathon for a second time. And it was just as spectacular as my first experience years earlier.

I had never walked a full marathon. That changed when I walked the majority of the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon and then walked nearly all of the Long Beach Marathon. Both times, I chose to walk to accompany another runner, and I have zero regrets about either event.

And most significantly... more important than any other item listed... I wasn't part owner of a health & fitness company.  But that changed this year, because I now own stock in From Fat To Finish Line. Who knew that a guy could go from couch potato to part-owner of a fitness company? It's crazy, right? But it's true.

So much has happened over the last decade, far more than I ever could have imagined. But if I've learned anything in the journey from 40 to 50, it's that life can always get better, things can always improve, and the future holds more amazing surprises.

Here's to 50 and beyond. It's going to be a wild ride.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

So, How's That "Back In My Groove" Thing Working Out?

Short answer: Great

And now for the longer answer...

I'm feeling good about what and how I'm doing. I'm getting back in a routine and hitting my daily goals. So far, so great.

But let's talk about those goals, because I've made some very specific changes. First, I've changed my Daily Step goal from 10,000 down to 5,000. That might seem counter-intuitive, since I'm supposed to be making my physical fitness MORE of a priority. But there's a method to my madness.

I changed my goal down because I am going to focus more on strength training, and I don't want to obsess every day about missing steps. And on my running days, I will more than cover the daily goal of 5,000.

Does that make sense? I mean, why set myself up for failure by having a large step goal on days I am planning on focusing on strength training? It just gives me an excuse to fail elsewhere, too.


I'm happy with how things are going so far. I've hit nearly every goal for the last five days. And after today's four mile run, I expect I'll hit every goal today, too.

This feels good.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Start Anew Sunday, or "How Captain Awesome Got His Groove Back"

My fitness tribe, From Fat To Finish Line or FFTFL, has created a new hashtag called #StartAnewSunday. It's a way to recognize those who started a fitness journey, made great progress, perhaps even reached their weight goals, but then struggled and lost their way.

Right now, that's me.

It's a tough thing to admit, to really put the truth out there. I mean, even my blog is named Runner 12 in honor of my involvement with the documentary, From Fat To Finish Line. There's a certain public expectation that I am going to maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle. It's almost embarrassing to have to say, "Captain Awesome has totally lost his way." But it's true. I have. I have gone from leading the pack to hiding away from everyone. And that's not who I want to be at all.

But I'm only human. And like everyone else at some point or another, I have lost my way. And sadly, it's been a long, slow descent. I could have stopped it at any point but each step in the wrong direction seemed to lead to another.

Skipping a workout led to junk food for dinner, which means I felt like crap and didn't go to my next workout. Worse, I stopped even planning to go. I was still signing up for big events, but I didn't train for them. And my results showed that. I wasn't finishing well at all. I was barely getting across the finish line before the course closed. That's not something to be proud of if it's because I failed to train properly.

Eating crap. Drinking too much. Not working out or running. It's exactly how I put on all the weight year after year, so it's no shock that those same behaviors caused the same result again. And here I am now, seriously overweight and feeling miserable.

This sounds familiar. Haven't we heard this before?

Well, here's a fun fact, while we're talking about this. I have written several different blogs about me losing my way and "finding my way back." But still, I never really turned things around. I just stumbled around for a few days and then started back on the wrong path.

Some might wonder just what is wrong with me? I mean, I know what to do to help with my own physical fitness and health. So why don't I do it?

Fair question. And I really have no single answer. I think a lot of it has to do with my mental health battle. I have shared openly about my struggle with anxiety and depression, and even though I have finally found my way through it, the physical fitness struggle hasn't really turned around. But that changes now.

Why should we believe you, John? Isn't this just another attempt that will last a day or so and then fail?

It might be, yes. It would really suck, but it's certainly possible. And if it happens, I hope that I find the strength to start again. And again. And a hundred times, if that's what it takes. Because it matters. I matter. And I want to live my life as a healthy, active, physically fit person. So I will keep trying even if I fall.

So what's your plan? How are you going to succeed?

I've spent some time looking back over my fitness journey, and I can see that having a solid plan made the difference for me. I am big on charting out specific goals and then tracking them to completion. That's how I lost the weight originally and got down to 180 pounds back in 2010. And that's how I'm going to succeed again.

My plan is simple but, I'm confident, will be successful. It focuses on fueling my body for training, rather than diet and exercise. Healthy food in is the most important part, since we all know you can't out-train a bad diet. I'm tracking my nutrition through my FitBit, and when I track consistently, I eat better and I lose weight. Simple as that.

My plan also includes a long-lost piece, strength training. In fact, later today, my husband is accompanying me to the gym and is going to help me plan out a weight training program for the next month. I'll know exactly what I am supposed to do and how to do it. That's big for me, since my earlier attempts at strength training felt awkward and confusing. I just sort of wandered from machine to machine with no real clue about what to do. This time, though, I'll work from a fully-developed strength training plan.

And, of course, there's running. I'm going back to what worked before. It's a basic plan, but I'll be running a warm-up mile each day that I strength train and then I'll have three run days each week.

So my schedule looks like this:

Mon - 1 mile warm-up run, strength training, 30 mins bike (easy pace)
Tue - 3-5 mile run
Wed - 1 mile warm-up run, strength training, 30 mins bike (easy pace)
Thu - 3-5 mile run
Fri - 1 mile warm-up run, strength training, 30 mins bike (easy pace)
Sat - 5-10 mile long run
Sun - Well earned rest day

It seems like a lot, and it is. But it's something that I know I can do for one month. At that time, I'll reevaluate the program and decide if I need to add more or cut back.

I can do this. I will do this. And I hope that people watching realize that they can do this, too. They can fight their way back no matter where they are now. It's all about starting where you are and doing the right things to get you where you want to be.


Let's do this!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Message for the Resolutionists

Hey, Resolutionists!

We see you. You're the ones who decided to make 2017 the year you finally fill-in-the-blank (lose the weight, start working out, become a runner, finish a 5K, etc). You've spend the first few days of 2017 eating veggies, turning down junk food, and finally bringing your lunch to work instead of going out.

We see you. We see all of you. And truth be told, you're the reason we can't find parking when we go to our gym. You're the reason there's a line of people waiting to use each of the equipment inside. You're the reason folks are standing around hoping to find an unused treadmill. And you're the reason our usually half-empty fitness classes are now overbooked.

Let me be honest here. Statistically, the majority of you will only hang in for a few weeks. A month, tops. You'll backslide on your diet, just a little at first but then a little more each day. Soon enough, you'll be back to your junk food and too-large portions. And another resolution will fall by the wayside.

Or maybe you'll be okay with the nutrition, but you'll be embarrassed at the gym. You'll feel like everyone is staring at you, mocking you in your shiny new workout clothes as you struggle to figure out how to use the machines. Soon enough, you'll just give up because you just feel so damn uncomfortable there.

Well, here's some things you should probably know:

  • We were ALL beginners at one point. We all had to find our way, and we made plenty of mistakes of our own.
  • Ignore the naysayers. I don't care if this is your first attempt at a healthier lifestyle or your fiftieth, don't listen to people who say you can't do it.
  • Those of us who have been here at the gym for a long time are so proud of you for having the courage to begin. We know it isn't easy, and you inspire us.
  • Progress is slow, but it will happen. You'll notice little things first, like how your clothes fit a little looser or you feel less winded when you climb a flight of stairs.
  • Don't give up. You have to believe that you are worth every bit of effort. Because you are.

Look, I get it. Some people are just critics. They'll complain that too many of you are in their way at the gym and they are tired of the crowds. Too bad for them. Other people in your life will tease and belittle you. They'll be jealous of you and feel the need to knock you back down.

Don't let any of those people come between you and what you really want in this life. If your goals are to be healthier, stronger, and more fit, don't give up.

We're all cheering for you, because we've all been you. We know how it feels to be at the start of a very long road. But here's the good news. You're already on your way. Just keep going!