I’m Alive In The Age Of Worry… Are You?

Yesterday I was out for a run. Had my headphones in and my iPod on listening to songs that would keep me moving a little faster than I felt like going.

In my list are a few John Mayer songs and I had just put some songs in my list from his newest album Born and Raised… which I love. The lyrics I put below are to the 2nd song on the album. It’s called The Age Of Worry. I had listened to this song a lot but didn’t pay as close of attention to the lyrics as I did on the run.

A couple of things I thought of when I listened more closely to this song.

  • I love how John Mayer has been writing songs that show us what he has been learning and experience in his life as he gets older. He has come a long way from Your Body Is A Wonderland to War Of My Life.
  • The Age of Worry is a huge reminder that we are always going to have some worry in our lives, but we shouldn’t let it consume our lives. Some of us will have more than others. I know people who worry so much that it cripples their ability to think reasonably and keeps them from living a full life. They worry so much that the stress of it all impairs their health and relationships and leaves them completely unfulfilled in life.

This song wraps it up so well… yes, we are in an age of worry and we put ourselves in situation that cause worry. As long as there is worry in our lives lets call it for what it is, face it and let worry know… why should I care about you? I’m done with you… get out of here. If you haven’t heard this song… go download it. Read these lyrics and know… we can over come the worry in our lives and turn it around. We can make better decisions that lead us to less worry and put ourselves in situations that decrease worry along the way.

 “The Age Of Worry”

by

John Mayer from the album Born And Raised

Close your eyes and clone yourself
Build your heart an army
To defend your innocence
While you do everything wrong

Don’t be scared to walk alone
Don’t be scared to like it
There’s no time that you must be home
So sleep where darkness falls

Alive in the age of worry
Smile in the age of worry
Go wild in the age of worry
And say, “Worry, why should I care?”

Know your fight is not with them
Yours is with your time here
Dream your dreams but don’t pretend
Make friends with what you are

Give your heart then change your mind
You’re allowed to do it
‘Cause God knows it’s been done to you
And somehow you got through it

Alive in the age of worry
Rage in the age of worry
Sing out in the age of worry
And say, “Worry, why should I care?”

Rage in the age of worry
Act your age in the age of worry
And say, “Worry, get out of here!”

Meeting Goals Through A Series Of Challenges

I don’t know about you but the older I get, the more I need to set goals and challenge myself more in the process of meeting my goals. When I’m setting goals through out the year, I tend to think of my year in seasons. Yes… I know we have four seasons of the year but I mean season like this…

For work… the fall touring season leading into Christmas, spring touring season and summer. Fall and Spring tour seasons are packet with travel out on tours and summer is the slow time.

For Family… School season, Holidays, Spring break and the summer break. Our families year revolves around school schedule.

For Triathlon… May thru September is race season for me. October – April is some form of off season and half marathon or 5k/10k season.

So as the seasons go, I set up different goals for myself in these different areas of my life along with a few challenges that help me get to my goal. When I get to my goal…I feel like I’ve conquered an impossible climb up a mountain.

Honestly, this could be in any area of my life. Family, spiritual, relationships, work, hobbies… no matter, all of these areas in my life seem to ebb and flow in their own seasons.

The physical foundation of this for me is in endurance sports… triathlons, long distance cycling or running.  After doing this for years, I’ve finally figured out how I want to challenge myself during what most people would refer to as the off season of triathlon.

Here’s what I’ve come to learn.

I can set goals for myself, but if I don’t challenge myself in meeting those goals then what’s the point of the goal in the first place? I don’t learn anything along the way and I most certainly will fail in meeting my goal.

Sounds logical right?

Lets take a deeper look. I want to improve my 5K, 10K and Half Marathon times over the next 7 months. By the 8th month I want to have established a more firm foundation in my running and overall health. That way when I get into triathlon season, my weakest sport of the three, which is running, will be much stronger and will help me with my race goals for that season.

That’s my overall goal. But to get there I need to challenge myself in a few areas.

  • Nutrition. My diet still needs to change so that I’m taking in mostly proteins, fruits and vegetables along with cutting out processed foods and unnecessary carbs. Not very easy for me. So I know this is going to be a challenge. If I conquer the challenge, I will be one step closer to hitting my goal.
  • Consistency. Since moving to Colorado, my running schedule has been inconsistent. This has been a challenge for me with moving to a new city, getting married and becoming a step dad all in the same year. If I conquer this challenge, I will be one step closer to my goal.
  • Cross Training. Luckily for me, triathlon feels like one big cross training sport. Swim, bike and run. It doesn’t get much better than that. Where I Have failed in all of this is not adding strength training into the mix. Stronger core and overall increased muscle strength not only shed the pounds but add to having a solid foundation for endurance. This has always been a challenge for me. If I conquer the challenge, I will be one step closer to hitting my goal.
  • Race. Not just one big race but a few races along the way. When it comes to triathlon. I typically will have an “A” race. This is the big race I’m training for but along the way, I will have several smaller less important races to get me there. Setting up a few races along the way help me to gauge my progress and set smaller goals to hit during the race. Each race meets a specific purpose in the scoop of the bigger picture. This has been a challenge for me as well in that every race also comes with different situations to overcome. If I conquer the challenge, I will be one step closer to hitting my goal.

As I look at the rest of my life. I see many goals I need to achieve, but also many challenges to get there. Positive challenges… but they are still challenges I need to work through. Right now, what I’m learning about my goals for a faster and healthier me are helping me to plan goals and challenge myself personally and professionally. I need to feed myself healthy habits I can be consistent with in a diverse life that allows me reach my end goal.

How are you setting your goals up for success? Do you feel challenge and what do you expect to learn about yourself in the process?

When Quitting IS an Option… But Giving Up On Life ISN’T

A few weeks ago I raced Ironman Boulder 70.3… A half Ironman distance triathlon race. 1.2 miles of swimming, 56 miles cycling and a 13.1 mile run = 70.3 miles in one race.

I knew what I was in for… a really long tough day, but I was determined to take it on. Mentally I was prepared as well. I’ve had my share of tough races and have even completed a full distance Ironman race in Louisville.. 140.6 miles. So I knew coming into this race would be more about what I could mentally handle instead of what my body could handle.

As the race started I was feeling pretty good. The swim felt comfortable and the bike felt great until around mile 40. This was where the day started going south quickly. GI (stomach) issues and a strong head wind that last 10 miles of the bike was a double whammy.

As I got off my bike and transitioned into my running shoes, I typically run out of the transition area. But not this time… something wasn’t right and I could feel it. I walked out of transition and saw my wife, Krissy. She looked at me and asked if I was alright… all I said was “I’m tired. See you in a few hours.”

I usually run out of the transition area smiling and yelling “Yeah this is fun!!!”.

Not so much this time.

Once I saw Krissy, I grabbed something to drink, walked a few more yards and tried to run. My stomach felt heavy and my legs felt weak. I could feel something on the back of my right leg tightening up so I walked some more. Every time I tried to run, I would go a little bit and then walk. I felt as though I just couldn’t get my legs working like they usually do. My races this past summer have been great on the run. I jump off the bike and start running with no problems. This time was different.

With the heat pounding down and everything thing on my inside feeling unsettled, I decided to call it quits at mile 7 of the run. After 25 triathlons, I figured there is a first for everything and this would be my first DNF (Did Not Finish).

I learned a lot on this day and was reminded of a lot.

Even though I was prepared mentally and am such an advocate of not quitting when your mind says please stop now, it was my body giving out this time… not my mind.

Here are a few things that went through my head.

Quitting doesn’t have to be a negative word, if done well and for the right reasons, it can have very positive outcomes.

Quitting is an option when you have given it your best and exhausted every option and still come up short with where you want to be. It’s better to be able to say “I will live to race another day” than to risk injury to yourself or do something that will have serious consequences in the end.

There are situations in life where it’s time to shut things down, take a break and re-evaluate what just happened and figure out a way to do it better next time. Either way… it’s ok quit.

But it’s not ok to give up.

I thought you just said it’s ok to quit.

I did… But giving up is a whole other matter.

You see, if I gave up triathlon all together because of one bad race, that wouldn’t be right.

Or let’s put it another way.

If I quit a relationship because of a disagreement or misunderstanding… that wouldn’t be right either. There are going to be disagreements in relationships. They cause us to re-evaluate our position, take a look how to approach or do things better and keep going.

But not giving up on life. Life will serve up situations that give us the chance “to do better next time.”

I think giving up on life is too easy for some. It’s a lazy way out of solving bigger problems that prevent us for living life fully alive and in the end actually makes life harder. Harder on relationships, harder in the work place, harder to get out of bed in the morning, harder to face life.

For those of us who have gone through divorce or a difficult break up. Most times every option to save the relationship has been exhausted and somewhere in the process the decision was made to “quit”.

BUT.

People who go through divorce or a very difficult break up have the opportunity to step back, re-evaluate what happened and where things went wrong and decide at some point to get back into another relationship. (of course, some people don’t want to be another relationship and that’s fine). The point being.

We don’t give up on life just because we quit something somewhere along the way. We put ourselves in a position to learn, grow and keep going no matter what happens.

I think it’s how we are made to cope with life.

So just keep this in mind when you are at a crossroads of should I quit what I’m doing or keep going…

Weigh the pros and cons of your situation.

Is this a crossroads that has the potential to injury me physically or cost me my life or someone elses?

What can I learn from this decision to do it better next time… or is it something I don’t need to do again?

Who am I hurting in the process and why?

Who benefits from this besides me and why?

How can I get through this hurdle and not give up on life?

If quitting something in your life means you could be in a more safe and healthy place, what does it do for your outlook on not giving up on life?

Why Do Fear And Insecurity Hold Us Back So Much?

Have you ever wanted to try something for the first time, but you were afraid to do it? Afraid of what people would think? Afraid of what you would look like?

Oh… I have. Plenty of times. Enough times that I’ve missed out on what were once great opportunities. Enough times that I have felt paralyzed by my own fear. Paralyzed by my own insecurity.

I will never forget the first time I decided to go swimming with a group of triathletes. Here’s the truth… I was scared.

Most people have a hard time swimming anyway. Not me, swimming wasn’t my fear. I grew up swimming. I just hadn’t been in the pool in a long time.

I feared knowing that if I showed up in the kind of swim trunks you wear to the beach I would get funny looks. What also scared me was knowing that every guy there wears what we call Jammers. They are basically skin-tight speedos that look like bicycle shorts. Meaning, when you are carrying extra weight, there’s no hiding anything… enter insecurity.

I was si insecure about being very out of shape. Me… not a lot of muscle tone. A little heavier than I wanted to be and very self-conscience of how I looked in jammers. I may look lean at times… but I hide it well.

As I was researching what I should be wearing, my fear of getting into the pool with all of these experienced athletes grew even stronger.

However, I was in a place where I was tired of not doing something because of what other people thought or how scared I might be to try it. It was time to put fear and insecurity behind me, put on my big boy britches and get in the pool.

So I showed up… Jammers, swim cap, and goggles. No wait… I didn’t wear a swim cap either for the longest time. But I got in the pool – Just getting in the pool was a big fearful step. There were about 40 people swimming that Wednesday evening and I was put in the slowest lane possible.

As I was listening to our coach walk me through re-learning my swim form, I looked around and saw a bunch of people like me. Out of shape, soft, extra pounds… some who had A LOT of extra pounds… and then there were a few who were in enviable shape. I wanted to be like them.

But I wasn’t.

Once I settled in to the water and noticed I wasn’t alone… then my fears and insecurities slowly started to wash away… a came back for a second visit and another, then another. I stayed for three years and eventually did an Ironman race because of it.

The experience taught me a couple of things.

  • Fear keeps us from our future. How many times have you looked back at something your were fearful of and thought “now that wasn’t so bad was it.. I wish I had done that sooner!” Sometimes fear is so paralyzing that it keeps us from living life to the fullest. Some people’s fears are so strong that their life is centered around what they are afraid of. Another easy example of this… I know so many people who can afford to travel but will never see the world because they have a fear of flying. It’s a legitimate fear. But imagine living in Florida and wanting to see the Bahamas but it will never happen because of fear. It’s a 30 minute flight from Miami.
  • Insecurity diminishes our strength. How many times have you compared yourself to someone else and thought “if I only had what they had or looked like they look or was talented like they are..”. We are all unique in our own ways. It’s the way God designed us to be. Sure… even today as I get in the pool, I’m very aware of what I look like and what I want to look like. But I’ve learned to be comfortable in my own skin. There are so many people worse off than me and I need to appreciate what I do have. Plus… I may not always look strong. But I can swim, bike and run a long ways now.  My strength is knowing who I am and what I’m capable of doing… and knowing it’s up to me to get it done. No one else… just me.

So the next time you think about that one thing you would like to try but you are afraid to try, ask yourself…

What is my fear and how do I work through it?

What insecurities do I have that I can overcome to make me a stronger person in this area?

And this I ask to you…

Why Do Fear And Insecurity Hold Us Back So Much?

Three Goals For Any Race

Every time I run a race whether it’s a 5k, 10k, half marathon, marathon or any triathlon distance, I walk away having met three goals that keep me coming back for another race.

It’s what makes me want to improve and better myself every time I make it back to the starting line… and it’s also what helps me keep my life goals in check.

Here they are.

  1. Finish – For some of us, getting to the finish line is probably a big deal. Not to mention that getting to the starting line is a big task in it’s own right. But once we’ve started the race, it’s time for us to push through and get to the end. For some of you, this number one goal is not to just finish but to actually win the race or place well in your age group. That within itself is impressive. When someone asks me how my race went, the first thing I tell them is I finished. Because let’s face it, it’s up to us whether or not we quit in the middle of the race. For me, quitting isn’t an option, but it’s sometimes a temptation.
  2. Improve – Every time I am in a race, I’m looking to see how my training has helped me to improve in a few areas during the race. In triathlon, sometimes this is all three sports (swim, bike, run) and the two transition times. For the past two races, I’ve been focused on improving my running and nutrition during the race. Little changes have given me big results. right now these races are also showing me where I need to step it up on the swim and bike. With the running races I’ve done lately, the improvements have everything to do with form, efficiency and nutrition.
  3. Learn – Learning is key in anything with are doing right? But in racing everything little thing we experience is something we can learn from. Even down to how early or late we show up for the race. I can go back and look at my different race times and know what I could have done to shave off some time. I can learn from what I’m eating or drinking to make the next race feel better on the inside. This also applies to what I’m eating the days leading up to the race. No matter what, I’m always walking away from a race having learned something new about myself and what I could do to improve on my way to the finish line. Every learning experience is one more opportunity to help you become healthier and sometimes even faster.

Now… take all that I’ve just said and think about your life.

We have many goals in our lives. Raising a family, being a great spouse, making a good living, etc… that’s all fine and good.

But when I’m looking at my life. My overall goal looks like this.

Am I becoming a better person and learning from not only my failures but also learning from my successes? Am I learning from the good and bad choices I’ve made? Am I becoming a better person so that I can give my best to those around me?

And really… am I living the kind of life where at the end of my life either my family and friends can say… He finished life well.

You see. These three goals for any race can also apply to our lives. If I’m learning and improve on who I am as a person, it’s probably going to spill over into my physical life and the goals I set for my overall health.

How would you apply these goals to your life or to your race?