A few goals….

I have mixed feeling about sharing goals.  I’ve read that it’s both good and bad to share them publicly.

So….I am going to share them here.  Technically, this is a public platform, but hardly anyone (if anyone at all) reads it, so it’s not as public as if I posted on Facebook or even Twitter or IG.

I turn 40 next July 14th.  While I am in no means afraid/worried/stressed/etc. about turning 40 (I truly think I am aging well and each year I seem to be stronger, faster, and healthier), 40 is a big milestone.  So I have been searching for some ways to celebrate.

I’ve decided on a few things:

  1. I am going to complete 25 miles a week running/jogging from now until I am 40.  That will get me to mile 1,172 on my AmeriThon map  (A goals to run across the country.)
  2. Successfully complete a 100 miler before my 40th.  Race to be named.  I am going to find and register after January 1st, once the holiday craze is over.  I did 60 with little to no training so I am hoping with some legit training, I can not only complete but thrive (well as much as one can thrive on an ultra.)
  3. It’s about a month after my 40th, I want to crush (and by crush I mean finish with time to spare) the 29029 in Utah in August.  I made a really bit investment on this one.  Even though it is a ton of $$$$, I needed that to light my fire.  It’s really made me focus on care about goals 1 & 2.

So those are some goals of mine.  They are very fitness oriented and they are very endurance focused and very on my own events.  My heart calls and my soul thirsts for this.  I can’t wait to be alone in the dark, crying because everything hurts, questioning whether I can do it, and still push myself through to the other side.

Growing My Yoga Practice – Relax?

“I have been left wondering after class “I didn’t have that emotional epiphany.  What is wrong with me?”  I never tied this to the fact other people may feel the same way about relaxing.”  

I am the worlds least flexible yogi.  I can’t do all the fancy poses.  My IG posts are never going to get tons of sponsors.

But I love Yoga.  I love teaching Yoga.  I think Yoga is one of the best things you can do for your mind and body.  I am a 200 Hour certified instructor and I have had the pleasure of teaching at the University I work for as well as some classes for friends and fellow fitness nuts at Fuquay Co-Working.  My teacher’s (Brett Larkin) Uplifted program has kept me plugged into new developments in yoga and helped me connect with motivating fellow yogis who push me and help me continuously learn.

Teaching has helped me come into my own practice and get closer to feeling comfortable in my skin (yes, even a yoga instructor can feel insecure or lack confidence…) and it is time for me to take my practice to the next level.  I have always desired to focus on my teaching on those who are new to the Yoga world and those with disabilities and injuries, especially wounded veterans.

As part of this desire, I am taking the Level I Teacher Training with Warriors at Ease (WAE).  Their mission, values, and vision, all align with who I am and what I desire to do with my practice, both solo and as a teacher.

So, to get to the point of this post, please follow along as I complete the training so learn along with me and hopefully find some joy and inspiration in my journey.

The first lesson that I want to share:  Many people think of relaxation as one of the ultimate goals of yoga.  This is part of the reason that I practice and is always one of the goals that I bring to the classes I teach; I want to help my students relax.  During the lecture tonight, it was discussed that we must be careful about “forcing” relaxation on people.  It can set up an unreachable expectation for students who don’t feel like they are relaxing.  This can actually raise their stress, not lower it.  This was VERY eye opening to me – I have experienced this myself in practices.  When fellow yogis have shared the emotional breakthrough or beautiful experience they slipped into during class, I have been left wondering after class “I didn’t have that emotional epiphany.  What is wrong with me?”  I never tied this to the fact other people may feel the same way about relaxing.  It has to be maddening to hear some of my phrases about feeling totally relaxed when you just can’t.

I will keep this in mind for my classes from now on.  I will tweak my language to make it clear that relaxation is not the ultimate goal and that there are other head spaces that you can go into that are just as beneficial and are steps on the road to being able to relax (and that the definition of the term relax can vary from person to person.)

This is my first major lesson from my next level of training and I look forward to incorporating it into my classes.

Freaking GeoCaching Etiquette

GeoCaching:

1) What happens when Nerds go outside.

2) Using million dollar military satellites to find Tupperware in the woods.

3) www.geocaching.com

4) One of my favorite things in the entire world.

Long and short, people volunteer to hide containers (the sizes vary from teeny tiny to HUGE) then post the GPS coordinates of said container. Other people then go find said containers using descriptions, hints, and GPS devices. The containers can be hidden anywhere and everywhere and the type and contents are limited only to the owner’s imagination.

It’s a great way to get outside, stretch your mental muscles, and meet some great people. I am super passionate about it and spread the geocaching word whenever I can (my Cacher name is WarriorScholar….friend me on the geocaching.com website).

So, just like everything I’m passionate about, I get a little upset when people do things that either go against the spirit of the thing I love or are just plain lame. Hence, this guide was born.

I always hope that when I see some shenanigans it is simply because it’s a newbie or the cacher just didn’t know. I hope that this guide will help generate some discussion and help people cache a little nicer. It is written sternly, in hopes that it will hit home for cachers who just don’t care so if your new or just don’t know, I’m not yelling at you (I’m yelling at them ;-))

geocache
Here is a sample of one might look like (But there are SOOO many variations…don’t just look for something like this)

No One Wants Your Used Q-Tip

One of the many fun things about caching is the ability to put small trade items into larger sized caches. These are little trinkets that you can take from a cache and keep as your own (DIFFERENT from trackables – see below). These are typically kid or kid-spirit friendly or revolve around the caches theme (for example, an all purple cache or a cache to trade out those support bracelets or just little cheap McDonald’s style toys).

So….knowing this, who puts dirty Q-tips or random toothpicks in a cache that isn’t themed that way? Kids (ok, and some adults *cough, me*) take joy in trading out fun items. It’s no fun to come upon a big cache only to find old soda can tops and used grooming products.

You are supposed to trade kind for kind and if you don’t have something equivocal to trade, take nothing.  Again, embrace the spirit of caching and be fair!

Along with that, clean up your trash.  GeoCachers are very big on the Cache In, Trash Out (you’ll hear it called CITO) movement.  Embrace it yourself.

Do You Work In Adult Films?

I’m glad to say I’ve only seen this a time or two, but please watch your cacher names. Super filthy is not ok. This is a hobby that a lot of children take part in.

When you pick a cacher name that is dirty or blatantly inappropriate, that name is seen on the websites and logged in pen on cacher logs. I am FAAAAAARRRRR from easily offended and even I’ve seen a couple of names that gave me pause.

Just be reasonable.

Pick up a Trackable? LOG. THE. DARN. THING.

One fun part of caches is the ability to purchase what are called “trackables”. They are also referred to as travel bugs or geo coins. They have a unique code on them that allows them to be moved cache to cache and be mapped during travels. They usually have a goal (i.e. – visit all 50 states) and usually have a theme or a friend attached. (See one of mine by clicking here.)

When you come across one you can either leave it in the cache you saw it in or take it with you. Either way, you can go to a website and enter the code to “log” it. It’s nice to log it even if you leave it there (called Discovering it). It’s a nice way to let a trackable owner know it’s still there.

It is a MUST to log it if you take it. A trackable is easily spotted and simply cannot be confused for a standard tradable item. LOG IT ASAP. Then move it on. Don’t keep it forever and if you can’t drop it right away, take the time to log your plans with it so the owner knows where it is.

Someone spent money on this item. It usually means something to them or to their kid. It is their possession and they sent it into the world to brighten their, and other cachers days. Treat this property like you would treat any possession that you borrowed from a friend, because that it was you are doing when you take a trackable.

Owners – Maintain or Delete

This is for the more advanced cacher – the person who places their own caches.  For the love of Pete, either maintain, adopt out, or delete your cache.  It is so disappointing to not be able to find a cache and then learn the owner has neglected maintenance requests or Did Not Finds for months.  I will leave it at that, for if you are placing caches, you need no further explanation.

Well, there you go.  Caching is fun and really cool (yes, cool).  It is great to do alone and it is great to do with friends and loved ones.

Please just be respectful and follow basic common sense and courtesy and we can all get along just fine!  Remember, find me on Geocaching.com as WarriorScholar!

Fellow GeoCachers – What did I forget?  Newbies – What you would like to know?  Comment/Ask away in the comments.  You may inspire another blog 🙂

geocache
My triumphant find!  (I’d been looking for this one forever)

 

 

Virtual Events (Yes, you actually have to run/walk/crawl/ruck)

 

Virtual events are a hot new trend in the racing world. I wholeheartedly support it and look forward to its continued growth.

So, what is this whole concept?

You sign up (shockingly, online) and are e-mailed or mailed a bib and whatever other goodies the race offers. (Some send the medals ahead of time, others only when you report your time).

You are given a start and end date to run your chosen distance. You then run it however you want during that time. Most of the longer races let you decide of you want to break up the race or not. The shorter races (5ks) typically say all mileage in one shot.

Again, I wholeheartedly support them for several reasons: It’s a fun event to get people out there working the pavement (or the treadmill, trail, etc). It’s also great for people who are frankly nervous about running/walking in an in-person race. You compete with who you want, even if it’s only yourself and I think that can really help people who don’t have the racing bug to find it.

I personally run them for several reasons: 1) motivation…. it gets my butt off the couch! 2) raise money for a cause 3) FLEXIBLE fun. My schedule is nutty so participating in a virtual race gives me some flexibility.

I’ve heard people gripe that it’s bad that it’s on the honor system, etc. but if you cheat, you’re really only cheating yourself. If you’re the guy whose buying medals instead of earning them (seriously?!?), you’re the one who has to live with that.

My one piece of advice is to look for the races that require some form of reporting-portals, mapmyrun, photos, etc. I think those types add a level of accountability and motivation.

Feel free to ask me any questions and I’d love to hear your impressions of the concept.

 

Cure by Jo Marchant (A Review)

If you have ever had a discussion about health or fitness with me, you have most likely heard me wax poetic about the mind/body connection.  Phrases like “sometimes you have to eat that candy for your mental health” and “if a placebo works, is is really a placebo?” come out of my mouth in a slightly embarrassing frequency. So, when Blogging For Books offered me a review copy of this book, I jumped on it.  I was genuinely excited about reviewing a book that looks at my google educated perceptions.  I was not disappointed.

Cure: A Journey Into the Science of Mind Over Body by Jo Marchant was a really good blend of scientific evidence presentation and personally gripping stories and it was a pleasure to read.

To say Ms. Marchant is a scientist is an understatement.  Words like microbiology and genetics sprinkle her bio and her writing history includes a vast amount of very technical subjects.  So when you use terms like “spiritual healing” and “mind power” you can only imagine that she would roll her eyes.  But as she tells it, she simply could not ignore the steps that were being made into legitimate scientific research into the mind-body connection.

This is where this book was born.  The author completes a very skeptical, yet open-minded at the same time, review of several areas of medicine that are working on non-traditional ways of healing.  There is a gut-wrenching section on treating war veterans with virtual reality, reviews of religious miracles, and close looks at how the mind-body connection is being used to help athletes break records.  She calls the bad science where she sees it, and lauds the good science just the same.  It is an apparently very unbiased look at what is helping people legitimately, what needs more review to prove it’s legitimate, and what is lacking in legitimacy; but all of it is done with respect.

The highlight of the book is that she tells the science through the stories of real people.  It moves this subject from being something cold and data driven to something warm, people driven (albeit sometimes in a heart breaking way), but fully backed by good scientific review.

If you have any interest in the mind-body connection, health improvement, “new age” medicine, “traditional” medicine, or just love to read compelling stories of real people, this book is well worth your time.

Please note that I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review but have received no other compensation.

 

Bruks Bars – One of My Favorite Things

I struggle with eating enough every day, mainly because I get busy and forget.  I don’t meal prep well enough.  I have come to terms with this and as one of my strengths is self-awareness, I am not going to pretend I am magically going to shift my whole brain and schedule and instead find a workable solution.

So I decided I needed to keep some quick and easy food on hand, but most of what you find on the shelves of stores is, frankly, crap.  [My definition of crap = can’t understand the ingredients on the list, refined sugars, low to no nutritional value]

Thus began my mission of finding the perfect food to fit the bill.  I have been trying EVERYTHING.  I ask everyone I know….though social media, in person, on blogs I trust.  Someone suggests it, I find it, order it and try it.  It’s been fun.  I am about ten different brands deep in this little quest.  I’ve only found two worth writing about so far.  My front runner for my favorite is the Bruks Bar company. (Sorry, Bruks, I cannot figure out to get the umlaut working on my keyboard…..)

They are Freaking Delicious

I am not going to eat something that doesn’t taste good. That’s just reality.  These taste delicious.  My personal favorite is the Apricot Chocolate.  I even have purchased the subscription of said Apricot Chocolate.  Apple Pecan and Cherry Espresso are also great.  The fourth flavor, Original, is not on my ‘to buy again’ list.  Just didn’t dig the taste.  (I also find it side-splittingly hilarious that they have sweet, tasty names like Apricot Chocolate and Cherry Espresso and then they hit you with “ORIGINAL”.  What the heck flavor is original?)

The Nutrition is Top Notch

Check out their nutrition page.  Take note of what is in the bars, and probably more importantly, NOT in them.  Around 200 calories each and packed with high nutrition value, they make the PERFECT, oh crud it’s 2 and I haven’t eaten yet but I don’t have time to go get something and I forgot to pack something and my energy is plummeting, snack.

The Packaging Is Cute

Yes, this matters to me.  We eat with our eyes first and since this is delivered to me, I love to get cute packages.  (Come on, who doesn’t.)  It is shipped in a hand stamped box and just feels homey and natural.  It appeals to my visual senses.

Good Customer Service

I have had two orders sent to me and both times the shipping was quick and issue free.  The website is easy to use.  I didn’t have to talk to a single person to get my order.  This is all very, very good in my book.

Price

They run about $3 each, after shipping.  Totally, 100% worth it.

This is What They Look Like

Bruks Bars

Try these bars.  Just do it.

***Disclosure – I have not been given any product or discount to write this.  However, they are a “local” company (Anything NC is local to me) and I am a big fan of staying as local as possible.  Yes, I acknowledge the fact that I have them shipped to me makes it a little less local.  Oh well 😉