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!