Saturday, April 8, 2017

Support and Encouragement

Let's talk about support and encouragement for a minute.

It seems to be human nature that when someone is going through a difficult time, or trying to accomplish something challenging, we offer support and encouragement. This support can come in many forms -- it could be as simple as kind words and encouragement to continue the battle, or it could be sending a card, or even making meals and helping with household chores; depending on what exactly a person is going through.

During the time that I was struggling to lose weight, I found the encouragement of friends, whether in person or on social media, really buoyed my resolve to keep going. I can honestly say that I don't think I could have done it without the occasional, "You're looking great, keep it up!", or even posting a comment on Facebook saying, "Go get it!". It was these positive thoughts that filled my head as I ran that first Volcano Half Marathon, and it was those people that I immediately wanted to thank as I yelled, and typed, "I did it!". 

This entire experience of discovering fitness, combined with recent thoughts on the importance of exuding positivity rather than negativity, has really taught me the value of encouragement. But just as encouraging others during struggles seems to be a natural response, so does complaining about things like your job, yard work (I struggle with this one), the weather, your town, your boss, your pastor, your local places of business, etc. It isn't easy to stop yourself from complaining about something that bugs you, but I truly believe that it must be done -- or you risk letting that negative mentality affect all of your thoughts. It is my goal to build others up, whenever possible, rather than tear them down.

I will admit that I have fallen for "the dark side" of thinking in local Facebook groups in the past, but I have made a concerted effort to only make positive posts. It takes real discipline, especially when there seems to be a perfect setup for a snarky, sarcastic comment. I have to slap my own hand and say, "No".

As I look at my friends' posts on social media, I see a vast array of interests, hobbies, and vocations posted -- you name it; dogs, cooking, gardening, home improvements, CrossFit, running, what they are doing at work, volunteering, their kids, vacations, brewing beer, drinking coffee (even roasting their own coffee), and on and on. How often do we think to ourselves, "Oh great, there goes so-and-so posting again about such-and-such"; rather than maybe offering words of encouragement and support. It really doesn't take any more effort than the negative thoughts, once you've trained our brain to stop with the negativity.

One of the things I have really enjoyed about the running community is the mutual support and encouragement. I first discovered it with that very first half marathon, and I have experienced with every race since then, as well a with the Molalla Running Club (especially with the running club). 

Sure, there are runners who only care about beating everyone else, or being close to the front every time, but the vast majority are middle of the pack runners who choose to race because of the supportive community that is there. These people remain and encouragement to me to this day. It's attitudes like the following saying that are prevalent in the running community, and the ones that continue to inspire me.

It's doesn't matter how slow you run, just don't stop moving forward.

Encouraging others is something I am still working on. For some people, like my wife, it seems to come more natural than it does for me. But I have seen first hand what encouragement can do, and I am committed to continuing to make a positive contribution to my community, whether it's social media or real life. Who's with me?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Food For Life

One of the most difficult parts of trying to live truly "glutton free" is keeping processed and artificial foods out of your diet. I have done my best to eliminate the big offenders from my diet -- things like high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, and genetically modified organisms; but I will admit that I have a long way to go in making my daily diet consist completely of natural, organic, whole foods.

Why do I mention this? Well, yesterday I made a connection through Molalla Running Club (and the Run Molalla Series) -- a connection with a group in the Molalla area called Food For Life, which focuses on community education of whole food diets, locally sourcing real food, and living a healthier life through your food choices. I have not yet attended any of the meetings, but I'm excited to make the connection.

Here's a link to their Facebook page:

One of the main points of "The Glutton Free Diet" is watching portion control and calorie intake, and you can't do that in a healthy way if you don't eliminate the empty calories that come from things like soda pop and prepackaged snack foods. You have to make sure that the food on your plate is full of the nutrients your body needs to get you through the day -- preferably with as little help from supplemental medications as possible.

I look forward to learning more about Food For Life in the coming months. It's great having a resource like this in our area that is committed making a positive contribution to the community around them. 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Molalla River Trail Race

Sasquatch. Mud. Rain. Natural beauty. Ferns. Big trees. A challenging course. Molalla River Trail Race. Fun.

#molallarivertrailrace #mrtr #bigfootrace 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Have you considered a running club?

When I first started running, it was a completely solitary endeavor, and I was perfectly fine with that. As I started to add more mileage, some of my runner friends suggested that I sign up to run a race; but by that point I was so comfortable running solo, the thought of breaking from routine and running with a bunch of other people had no appeal at all. I did enter a race anyway (that was my first half), and the rest is history. 

At some point during that conversation about entering a race, it was suggested that I join the local running club (Molalla Running Club) sometime for a group run. That sounded even more preposterous! First of all, I'm a slow runner. Second, I run by myself with earbuds in, blasting music; how am I supposed be social while doing that? Lastly, I'm an introvert; and that just sounds scary. 

So, I avoided the group run idea for a while, but I had begun to see the appeal of doing races, so I ran two more half marathons and a 10K. 

In October of last year, I heard about a trail race (Molalla River Trail Race) that MRC was putting on, and I really wanted to go volunteer in some way, but had plans that Saturday. The next event was a Thanksgiving morning "Turkey Trot", an untimed fun run through the Molalla area, and also a benefit for a program that provides lunches for local families. It was basically a really big group run, and it was for a good cause; and it was fun. 

Did I really just say that? Yes. It was fun. 

I still wasn't convinced the group run was my thing, but I wanted to give it a few more tries; so in early spring of this year, I joined the running club when I could. Faces soon began to look familiar, and many of my fears began to fade away. The group even inspired me to tackle a race that I had always considered my nemesis, the Goat Mountain Gallop; as part of the "Run Molalla Series". 

A little over a month ago, my 14-y.o. son, Noah, had a chance to join us for a group run. The gang decided to do a fairly hilly 7.4 mile route, and the longest Noah had ever gone was 6.2 miles (a week or two before that). The group set off like normal, forming several pace groups, with Noah and I at the back. I tried to lead us at a decent pace, but Noah was really dragging, because he thought he needed to save energy for the longer run. About 3 miles in, the front group doubled back and picked us up, making sure to engage Noah in conversation. Gradually they were able to pull him ahead faster and faster, until I informed him we'd reached the halfway point -- he thought we were still on the first mile! From there on he ran near the front of the pack, and really had fun with the group on the way back. 

As a father, it's hard to express in words how much I truly appreciated the support and encouragement offered to my son that day. 

Now here we are in October, and I would definitely consider myself to be a part of the Molalla Running Club, and the club a part of me. I can't make it every week, but I try to be there whenever possible. After looking at the mission statement of MRC, I realized why it seems to be working so well for me; it fits right in with why I started this weblog in the first place. 

"We strive to build a healthier community through inspiring people to walk or run, developing tourism in our town through hosting races, and provide an environment for people to form healthy relationships."

Yes, I want to be a part of that, and it's happening right here in my own community. Sure, if you think about it on a basic level, it's just running. But it can be so much more than that. 

Running with a consistent group can be motivating and inspiring, and the new friendships that come out of it can be pretty cool, too. This year I'm not just helping mark trails for the Molalla River Trail Race, but I'm also running the 10K. Running the route two days in a row may seem a little crazy, but I know I've got a great support group right there to push me along. 

So, have you considered joining a running club? It doesn't hurt to give it a try... 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Let Freedom Ring

The 9/11 terrorist attacks, which took place almost 15 years ago, left an indelible mark on my life, and had a direct effect on the person I have become. Before 9/11, my wife and I weren't sure if we ever wanted to have kids, as we seemed perfectly happy living life by ourselves; but the attacks made us rethink some of our priorities, especially the importance of family. It was in the weeks that followed that terrible day, that we decided it was time to start our own family.

What I did today would not have been the same without that rethinking of priorities -- I ran Molalla's Freedom 5K run with my 13-year-old son. This was our first time running an actual race together, and it was one of my most satisfying moments as a father, even if he did smoke me in the last quarter mile. I hope that he is able to use his natural running gifts and talents in the years to come; whether it's on some kind of track team, or just running to stay in shape.

Running on Independence Day seems appropriate to me, as it is one activity where I truly feel free when I am out doing it. There aren't many experiences that can give you the same sense of "freedom".

This race was especially fun because it took place right before Molalla's big parade, so the streets were lined with lots of friends shouting out words of encouragement along the way. Here's an action shot from one of our friends:

My son's performance was better than two minutes under the pace we trained at, and the race-day adrenaline seemed to really give him a boost. We were together right up until the end, when he wanted to kick it into another gear and finish strong -- he finished 23 seconds ahead of me. We hope to make it an annual tradition, but next year I'm going to try and beat him! ;-) But realistically, unless they turn it into half marathon race, I really don't think I stand a chance against his young legs.

To top it all off, my wife and daughter got up extra early and helped with registration before the raced started; and then we all watched the parade together as a family after the race. This sounds like a great family tradition to me.

Happy Independence Day from The Glutton Free Diet! I hope you got to celebrate your freedom in a way that was meaningful for you.