Archive for Racing

Guest Blog from Triathlete Paul Scholz

Team PAP_CLTeam Pursuit Athletic Performance – the virtual key to unlocking anybody and everybody’s potential.

I really don’t want you to read any further … because I am going to tell you the secrets.

This information will make the competition more intense and allow more people to compete and complete any triathlon or running race in the US.

Let me tell you about our team, our coach/doc combo, my teammates, and my short story.

Team PAP

Our team philosophy is focused around building a solid foundation of Mobility, Flexibility, and Stability before moving on to the Functional Strength and Sport-specific Training.  This very individualized approach to uncovering areas to work on makes the virtual nature of the team and team coaching work very well.

Coach Al Lyman and Doc Kurt Strecker

These two professionals specialize in assessing each individual who contacts them and through a series of questionnaires and on-line discussions, Skype sessions, and/or talking on the phone they help you find your first step. Improvement is about making one step at a time and ensuring that your next step/choice/decision is a good one. Through authentic and honest feedback and individual thought and response they will help every single individual uncover their particular weaknesses and guide you through a process of working on them. A series of small incremental steps can make huge gains in a very short period of time – for anyone and everyone.

Team Pursuit Athletic Performance Members

We all have very different backgrounds, live all over the US and Europe, have different types of jobs, and very different skills.

What we have in common are the following three things:

  1. A passion for sport as a lifelong part of our lives.
  2. A commitment for growing every day, one step at a time.
  3. A need to address some weakness (usually related to running) and/or fear (usually related to the swimming leg).

I don’t know how I know these three things to be facts, because honestly I don’t really even know my teammates very well. We do communicate through an on-line forum and Facebook and even occasionally race together when we hit them at the same time.

What I do know, is they are true.

Here’s a representative snapshot of our team:

  • We have a nationally ranked elite woman’s ultra-runner, mother of two, and business woman
  • We have a 5 or 6–time (we lost count) female Iroman age-group World Champion who has three small children and she helps run a small business
  • We have first time runners
  • We have first time triathletes
  • We have male and female Ironman and Half-Ironman age groupers who have qualified for and competed in both Ironman and Half-Ironman World Championships
  • We have people who are learning to swim AND nationally ranked former collegiate swimmers
  • We have former competitive bike racers and people who have not ridden a bike since they were a kid

My short story – one example of how Coach Al and Doc Strecker have impacted me:

I found “PAP” in July of 2012, after a physical breakdown while trying to complete Ironman Coeur D’Alene in 2012.  I had done over 120 triathlons over almost 27 years by that point in my career. That next spring I had a 30 minute “PR” in my first half ironman race nine months after starting with PAP.  But this note is not about my story, rather about how Coach Al and Doc have changed my life in triathlon and work.

Life happens to all of us, and my story of transformative change started early on a Sunday morning July 27th 2014, click on the short video story of my journey since then and the impact Al and Kurt have had on my life.

So what I want you to know, is that regardless of whether you live in Timbuktu, Kansas, Maine, Florida, Europe or anywhere else — or if you want to be world champion, a weekend warrior, compete into your 70’s, or just complete a 10K, triathlon of any distance, or an ultra-marathon — check out the Pursuit Athletic Performance website or contact Coach Al Lyman or Doc Kurt Strecker.

Get started NOW on transforming your racing, training, and your life.

Have a great week everyone!
~Paul Scholz (teammate, triathlete, father, husband, and change agent)

 

054: Presenting The Trail Running Film Festival [Podcast]

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Click on the image to see all of the upcoming dates for the Spring 2015 East Coast tour!

Click on the image to see all of the upcoming dates for the Spring 2015 East Coast tour!

In today’s Episode 54, we are psyched to welcome race director and trail running junkie, James Varner of Rainshadow Running and The Trail Running Film Festival. Also joining us is our own ultra runner extraordinaire and coach, Debbie Livingston.

The Trail Running Film Festival is coming to the east coast this spring, highlighted by a local showing on Wednesday, March 4th, in Hartford, Conn.  (For tickets to this show and others, as well as more information, go here).

In our conversation with James, we talk about…

  • How the Trail Running Film Festival got started and how the events are structured. (Can you say lots of community, food, fun, and a little beer too? Woo!)
  • Rainshadow Races: Where and what they’re all about. As their motto says, “why run anywhere else?”
  • A little bit of history of trail films, and why James and Rainshadow (as well as those of us at Pursuit) are so passionate about sharing these films and bringing them to the world for all to enjoy.
  • Which specific films are featured in the Trail Running Film Festival, as well as additional dates and locations.
  • Practical tips and tricks for those of you who might be new to trail running or would like to learn more and enjoy it more!
  • Our upcoming Pursuit Athletic Performance Cedar Lake Trail Running Camp and Retreat, from Friday, May 29 to Sunday, May 31, 2015.  (Come join us!)

**James ALSO did a podcast with the Ultrarunnerpodcast back in 2014 where he talks about the film festival and other cool topics. To listen to that interview, go here.

**To check out the Trail Running Film Festival on Facebook, go here.

TrailFilmFest2And finally, to learn more about all of the great events in the Pacific Northwest put on by Rainshadow Running, go here.

Safe and happy trails everyone!

~Coach Al 

Clear Your Mind Of Can’t!

Ultra-Runner Larisa Dannis (2nd Woman overall at the 2014 Western States 100) smiling as she rolled into the 100k aid station at Western States!

Ultra-Runner Larisa Dannis (2nd Woman overall at the 2014 Western States 100) smiling widely as she rolled into the 100k aid station at Western States!

Larisa carried this on her as she ran toward the USATF 50-mile road championship (in course record time!)

Larisa carried this on her as she ran toward the USATF 50-mile road championship (in course record time!)

This past weekend, elite ultra-runner and friend Larisa Dannis WON the USATF 50-mile road championship, finishing 5th overall in a course record time of 5:59!

You may remember our podcast with Larisa from a few months ago, after she shocked the ultra-running world with a 2nd place finish at the Western States 100! If you haven’t listened to it yet, check it out!

Beyond celebrating Larisa’s amazing success with her, what is the real purpose of this blog post?

Larisa carried the note you see a picture of, with the quote from Samuel Johnson, on her while she ran. Despite her obvious and amazing athletic talent, Larisa is just like every one of us in that she battles the same demons who will have her doubt herself or her ability to reach her goals and be successful. The negative inner critic (or whatever else you might want to refer to it as), it is one gargantuan reason why so many of us give up or fall short despite our desire to achieve more – to become more.

Larisa does the work and trains hard, and that is obviously also a huge part of why she has been successful, of course. But as much as that…

…her success speaks directly to her belief that anything really IS possible IF you work hard, don’t give up or give in, and BELIEVE IN yourself!

(Our own Colleen Alexander, who is now a personal trainer at our NEW Pursuit Training Center) also has overcome incredible odds to be here today in part, because of that same belief!).

They BOTH have cleared their mind of can’t.

They both believe that ANYTHING is truly possible, and that amazing things can happen when we clear our mind of can’t.

So read the quote Larisa carried with her.

And again.

And again, as many times as you need.

Every day.

Clear Your Mind of Can’t.

If we ALL could embrace this simple statement and make it our own mantra, perhaps we could also see something much greater inside of us than we ever thought was possible.

Thanks Larisa for sharing your gift and the words of Samuel Johnson.

So what’s next for her?  How about the World 100k championship in Doha, Qatar at the end of the month.

Best of luck Larisa and happy trails everyone!

Clear your mind of can’t.

~Coach Al 

Are You Addicted To Sugar?

Americans on average consume an incredible amount of sugar.  Studies suggest that the average person consumes over 130 pounds of added sugar (much of it hidden) annually!  Believe it or not, the average endurance athlete isn’t any different when it comes to eating (and relying upon) too much sugar. Yes, it is true that sugar stored as glycogen in your muscles is your body’s preferred first source of fuel for training and racing. And yes, that stored glycogen also DOES fuel higher intensity efforts comparatively speaking.  However, if you want to go FASTER over LONGER distances, while being LEANER and HEALTHIER, your ultimate preferred fuel should be STORED BODY FAT, not sugar. Before you can become that lean and mean, superb fat burning machine you want to be, you need to first reduce how much sugar you’re eating on a daily basis. It really is that simple. The million dollar question becomes, how do you GET OFF the sugar drip, and TURN ON fat burning? Let’s start with some questions first. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • Are you “hungry” first thing in the morning when you wake? (You shouldn’t necessarily be hungry upon wakening, but if you ate late or eat too much sugar, you are sure to wake feeling hungry!)
  • Do you experience cravings throughout the day for sugary foods (or mood swings)?  (A craving isn’t true hunger!)
  • Do you have a hard time stopping once you start eating sweets?
  • Do you find yourself needing something sweet as a “pick me up” during the day? (Blood sugar fluctuations mean your energy ebbs and flows, up and down. The need for a “pick me up” is common as a result).
  • Do you find you need some “calories” during training if you’ve been out for an hour or more? (True endurance is defined as your body’s ability to burn fat as a fuel. You ought to be able to exercise at a moderate intensity for many hours before “needing” additional calories!)

If you answered yes to any of these, you are NOT alone. If you want to get LEANER and stay HEALTHIER (and who doesn’t?), and become a BETTER fat burner, there are two things you MUST do:

1. Get off the sugar drip now: Your health AND your performance would greatly benefit from a firm commitment to completely QUIT sugar for at least two weeks (if not more).  It isn’t just the processed foods containing sugar (soda for example), it is also those natural forms of sugar (honey and maple syrup as an example), as well as all starches which are easily and rapidly converted into sugar.

2. Train to burn fat, not sugar: master your endurance nutrition: Learning how to become a better FAT burner isn’t JUST about reducing your intake of sugar. How you approach your training nutrition and training also plays a role.

To learn what steps you need to take, watch our very popular Spreecast (webinar) called Master Your Endurance Nutrition, where we teach you step by step, everything you need to train better, blast bodyfat and improve your true endurance.

Also, consider our 14-day detox program: The easiest path to getting OFF the sugar drip is to have the nutritional and motivational support we provide with our own 14-day Detox program! Back by popular demand, this unique program from Designs for Health, has been hugely successful for hundreds of athletes just like you! We’re launching it on the 29th.

NOW IS THE TIME to make the changes you need, to be better than ever.

Listen, we all have a love/hate relationship with sugar.  What most people don’t know is that human beings are hard wired (evolution) to eat it.  After all, while sugary foods were in short supply and hard to come by at one time (picture yourself foraging through impossibly thick brush to get some berries or climbing a tree to get to a bee’s nest), sugar is now obviously easily accessible and ubiquitous. Detoxing from sugar and adopting a long-term, low-sugar lifestyle isn’t just important to get leaner and go further and faster, it’s absolutely essential to prevent chronic disease and stay healthy. A high sugar diet…

  • Makes you fat.
  • Promotes inflammation throughout the body.
  • Is closely correlated with every single chronic disease.
  • Speeds up the aging process.
  • Increases your risk of cancer and heart disease.
  • Limits your true endurance and speed.

If you want to be faster, stronger, leaner and feel younger, you need to get OFF the sugar drip right now.   Get in touch if we can help in any way. And don’t forget our detox program, which could be just the thing you need to break old bad habits and make the permanent changes that will set you on the path that will make 2015 and beyond, the best years of your life!

~Coach Al 

Ps:

How about a DETOX BONUS!? **The first 10 people who read this and sign up for our detox  will get a FREE 20 minute consultation with me, Coach Al, to discuss any training or nutrition related topic they would like! SIGN UP NOW, and get YOUR FREE consult!  Let’s talk training and nutrition!

How to get this special bonus? Easy! 1. Sign up for the detox! 2. Send me an email at info@pursuitathleticperformance.com.  If you’re among the first 10, we’ll schedule our appointment!

DETOX DOUBLE BONUS: **Any one who reads this and sends me an email, we will send you a LINK to our special spreecast entitled LOW CARB, HIGH FAT FUELING: A Better Way?  We did this webinar for our team – it can be yours to view NOW.  Just email!

053: New Segment: Meet The Team! With Colleen Kelly Alexander and Sean Alexander [Podcast]

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Sean-ColleenIn today’s Episode 53, we are launching a brand NEW segment (recommended to us by many listeners) in which we will interview and feature different members of Team Pursuit Athletic Performance. We’ll call this segment: Meet The Team!    

We’re honored today to have Colleen Kelly Alexander and her husband, Sean Alexander, as podcast guests.

Many of you reading this are familiar with Colleen’s story.  In today’s podcast visit with “Team Alexander,” you’ll meet them in person and learn about:

  • The events of October 8, 2011: What happened to Colleen and how the world changed forever that day.
  • The various first-responders, medical and fire personnel, and so many other “heros” who were vital to Colleen’s survival and recovery….and the hero that she ended up discovering inside of herself.
  • The critical role Sean played in her recovery.
  • The role that Pursuit Athletic Performance has played in their athletic growth and development.
  • Their individual and collective purpose, passion, and focus, as they move forward with an incredible attitude of gratitude.

If you’d like to learn even more about Colleen’s story of SURVIVAL or would like to have Colleen come and speak to your group, you can contact her directly right through her website here.

We’re very honored to have them both as members of our triathlon team, AND also as personal trainers here at Pursuit Athletic Performance.

And we’re pleased to bring them both to you on the podcast. Enjoy!

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Colleen with Coach Al!

~Dr. Strecker, and Coach Al 

052: After Your “A” Race: Euphoria, Letdown, or Somewhere In Between? With Functional Wellbeing Coach, Olivia Syptak [Podcast]

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Pursuit Athletic Performance Functional Wellbeing Coach, Olivia Syptak

Pursuit Athletic Performance Functional Wellbeing Coach, Olivia Syptak

 

If you are like so many endurance athletes everywhere who enjoy toeing the line at a race (be it sprint or iron distance triathlon, running, cycling, or Spartan), it’s quite likely that you have either just completed your “A” priority race for the year or are about to in the next few weeks.

In today’s podcast with Functional Wellbeing Coach Olivia Syptak as our guest, we talk about the vast range of emotion we often face after that “big” A race or event.  We also discuss specific strategies you can employ RIGHT NOW that will help you maintain forward momentum and build on your experience moving forward.

That post-race emotion can range from the immediate euphoria of the finish to the emptiness that can set in in the days that follow, to the depression that can arise in the face of a “DNF” or a result that didn’t align with our target.

Regardless of whether that race was a huge success or a disapointment, the post-race period of time offers the opportunity to spend time with the concepts of awareness (of what we’re feeling at any given time), acceptance and acknowledgment (of those feelings), and recognition (that whatever feelings or thoughts are there, elated or downtrodden, they are all temporary).  At the same time, we will benefit by maintaining and even building and reinforcing a positive and optimistic view that will help us continue to learn and improve.

Thanks for joining us on today’s podcast.  Safe training and happy trails!

~Olivia, Dr. Strecker, and Coach Al 

050: An Interview With Dr. Tamara Hew-Butler, D.P.M., Ph.D. [Podcast]

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Dr. Tamera Hew

Tamera Hew-Butler D.P.M., Ph.D.

Hi Everyone! Today I am honored and pleased to welcome Dr. Tamara Hew-Butler as a guest on our podcast. Let me say this right up front: In my opinion, this is a MUST LISTEN podcast for every endurance athlete who has ever wondered what the science really says about hydration and sodium/salt intake during exercise. What a fitting way to celebrate our 50th episode! :)

An award winning assistant professor of Exercise Science in the School of Health Sciences at Oakland University, Dr. Hew is recognized around the world as an expert researcher and scientist. A runner who enjoys training and competing, she has authored 50 scientific papers in such peer-reviewed journals as the Journal of Neuroscience, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, and Sports Medicine, among others.  A bonus for us, is that Dr. Hew is a really nice, down-to-earth science “geek” (her words), who truly enjoys sharing what she knows with others, and as she puts it, “helping her family of runners” around the globe.

I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Hew present at the “Medicine and Science in Ultra Endurance Sports” conference on June 24th in Squaw Valley, CA., in the week leading up to the Western States 100 Endurance Run. In the conference Dr. Hew presented on the “Spectrum of Exercise Associated Hyponetremia.”  

In this podcast, we enjoyed discussing so many things very important to every athlete. Whether you’re a runner doing an occasional 5k or marathon, or a triathlete doing multiple ironman distance events, or an ultra runner training for 50mile up to 100mile events, you will WANT TO TUNE in to this podcast to hear what Dr. Hew has to say.

Among the topics and questions we discuss are:

  • Hyponetremia: What is it and what are the risk factors (exercise induced) to be aware of?
  • Dehydration: What does it mean to be dehydrated? What can I do to ensure I don’t become either dehydrated or OVER hydrated during exercise?
  • What is the role of antidiuretic hormone (ADH) / arginine vasopressin (AVP) during exericse and how does that impact how much we should drink?
  • Sodium balance and salt intake during extreme exercise: Do you need to take in salt/sodium during long events? If so, how much and how would you know?
  • Some companies looking to sell their products espouse the importance of the perfect electrolyte blend: Does such a thing exist? Do you really need a “balanced spectrum” of electrolyes during extreme exercise or is sodium alone adequate?
  • How reliable are our own body’s signals to either drink OR take in salt, when we’re training and racing?
  • What does it mean when we feel the desire or need to urinate during exercise? Is peeing a reliable indicator of hydration or electrolyte status?
  • And much more, including briefly touching on protein intake during exercise.

There are so many companies marketing to us and so much anecdotal evidence and personal opinion from internet experts. It is refreshing to hear a true expert share her thoughts on these topics, gleaned from many years of study, research, and experience.

I’d like to convey my sincerest thanks to Dr. Hew for joining me today. I know you will learn a great deal from listening, so tune in and enjoy! Happy Trails!

~Coach Al 

049: Coach Al visits with Triathlete Rachel Beckmann, Ironman Coeur d’Alene 30-34 Age Group Winner [Podcast]

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Rachel on the run in Kona!

Rachel on the run in Kona 2013, sporting her signature trucker hat!

Today I’m really pleased to welcome on to our podcast the winner of the women’s 30-34 Age-Group at Ironman Coeur d’Alene, Rachel Beckmann.

Rachel is an active duty commisioned officer in the U.S. Coast Guard presently stationed in Alexandria Virginia. Amazingly, I managed to catch her not moving for a few minutes while she was out in Las Vegas on vacation visiting family (AND training for the 2014 Ironman World Championships in Kona).  This woman doesn’t stop and sit still for too long so I feel really fortunate to get her on our podcast.

Rachel and I go way back to her days as a cadet at the Coast Guard Academy. (I was also at the Academy playing percussion as a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Band).

In the time we spent together as coach/athlete, I really learned so much from her. Honestly, I still had so much to learn about coaching (and still do) and I think she was too young to really see it!  :)  I also learned about her relentless work ethic and inner drive to succeed, and that she is truly as intelligent, fun-loving, kind hearted and just wonderful to be around, as anyone you will ever meet.

Rachel has blossomed from that enthusiastic young collegiate newbie into a full-blown Ironman age-group champion, who has certainly learned a thing or three on her path to multiple Ironman finishes and numerous overall race wins.

In today’s podcast, she looks back on the journey and shares some thoughts on the fun she’s had, the difficulties, what she’s learned, and what it’s like to live life as a young female officer serving our country while also pursuing her “personal-best” in the sport.

Among the topics we discuss on today’s podcast:

  • How did her childhood, as well as her experiences as a female cadet at a military academy impact her development as a triathlete?
  • How does she balance her career as a Coast Guard officer with her triathlon lifestyle? What has she learned that could help YOU?
"Rach" knows how to keep it FUN and can rock the mountain bike too!

Rachel knows how to keep training FUN, and can really rock the mountain bike too!

 

  • What are her most important training, racing, and life “secrets to success?”
  • What about the challenges she faced during this year’s Ironman Coeur d’Alene. How did she respond that ultimately lead to her age-group win?
  • What are the two or three things she thinks are the most important, to both have more fun and achieve greater success? (You won’t want to miss these!)
  • And so much more!
Rachel and Coach Al catching up on one of her recent visits to Connecticut

Rachel and Coach Al catching up on one of her recent visits to Connecticut

Thanks for joining me Rachel, I enjoyed our chat!  Make it a great day everybody!

~Coach Al

048: Listener Questions: Becoming a Better Runner, Swim Training and More! [Podcast]

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Team PURSUIT triathlete Megan Pennington, on her way to the OVERALL WIN at the Litchfield Hills Triathlon!

Team PURSUIT triathlete Megan Pennington, on her way to the OVERALL WIN at the Litchfield Hills Triathlon!

Today we dig into some great questions sent in to us from listeners.  The first has to do with becoming a BETTER runner, something nearly every triathlete and pure runner has thought about at one time or another (or a few thousand times!) :)

Whether it’s right here in our Pursuit Athletic Performance lab during a gait analysis, or out on the trail or road OR over a beer at the local pub, we always relish the opportunity to talk to anyone about running.  (Anyone who knows Coach, KNOWS how much he can talk, talk, and talk some more about this topic!). No apologies necessary though – running has been a passion of Coach Al’s since first running “Boston” in 1983.

Every so often though, a conversation with a frustrated triathlete turns to a sort of self depricating exchange where they end up telling us (trying to convince us, or themselves, perhaps?) why they CAN’T be as good a runner as they really would “like” to be.  Whether this self-doubt stems from a long period of training struggle or chronic running-related injury, the bottom line is that most triathletes have much more running ability inside of them waiting to get out than they realize! They just don’t know how to GET it out!  In the podcast, we offer some real and practical suggestions to take your running to a new level.

In case you’re one of those who is impatient and curious and can’t wait to listen, here are some hints:

  1. No! It isn’t necessarily about planking, more of it, or doing it differently.
  2. No, it won’t necessarily be “easy.”  While we offer some practical suggestions that you CAN implement tomorrow in your training, the truth is that it generally takes a long time to “get good” as a runner, all things being equal.

Also, we jump in on some questions about all things swim training for the triathlete.

  • Is it REALLY worthwhile to spend time doing kicking sets if I am racing in a wetsuit and generally never kick in a race?
  • Why is the coach writing “hypoxic” sets for us anyway? Is it really valuable, and if so, why?
  • And more!

Thanks for joining us! Make it a great day!

~Coach Al and Dr. Strecker

Don’t Whine. Don’t Complain. Don’t Make Excuses: Life Lessons From Two Great Coaches.

An old cherokee told his grandson, “My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, greed, jealousy, resentment, inferiority, lies, and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope,  humility, kindness, emptathy, and truth.”  The boy thought about it, and asked, “Grandfather, which wolf wins?”  The old man quietly replied, “The one you feed.” ~author unknown

Your complaints, your whining, your victim mentality, your drama, and all of your excuses, have NEVER gotten you even a single step closer to your dreams or goals. Let go of your nonsense. Let go of your DELUSION that you DESERVE better, and go EARN it. ~ Dr. Steve Maraboli

I’m going to make a change, for once in my life. Its gonna feel real good, gonna make a difference, gonna make it right…That’s why I want you to know, I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways. And no message coulda been any clearer, if you want to make the world a better place, then look at yourself and make a change. ~  Singer Michael Jackson, from “The Man In The Mirror.

“I am responsible. Although I may not be able to prevent the worst from happening, I am responsible for my attitude toward the inevitable misfortunes that darken life. Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself.”  ~Walter Anderson 


Advice John Wooden's dad gave to him upon graduation from grade school.

Advice John Wooden’s dad gave to him upon graduation from grade school.

Its been one of those weeks when it seems that its just a little harder to “fight the good fight.” Hey, I know we all have our own pile, right? I’m not alone.

Sometimes life’s challenges step right up and hit us in the gut.  Sometimes people you trust and care for end up striking back at you, and what results is a struggle to regain your belief in the inherent goodness in people. Sometimes it seems that every time you look around, bad things are happening to good people.  My dad once told me that “life ISN’T fair, and not to expect it to be.” The ole man was right!  :)

 

I was watching a taped ESPYS show on the sports network ESPN the other night.  It was being replayed from 2009. Just when I least expected to be inspired and pulled out of a little doldrum I was in, up to the microphone steps now deceased Northern State basketball head coach, Don Meyer.   Meyer was being presented with the “Jimmy V Perseverence Award.”   Coach Meyer was the recipient of many other awards while he was still alive, and is the subject of a book, “How Lucky You Can Be” written by ESPN’s Buster Olney.  (If you don’t know who “Jimmy V” is, google his name right now and read).

Coach Meyer’s personal story is well known among college basketball fans and sports fans alike.  He retired in 2010 as the winningest men’s college basketball coach ever, compiling a record of 923 wins, and 324 losses. (The record was later surpassed by Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski in 2011). But coach Meyer’s record of basketball excellence doesn’t tell the story of this man, who never coached above the Division II level, yet had an impact on the his sport and the people in it, on a truly global scale.

As coach Meyer walked to the microphone, his personal saga played out on the big projection screen behind him.

It is September 5, 2008.  He is involved in a terrible car crash in which he suffers terrible injuries, including one that ended in a loss of one of his legs.  But that’s not the worst of it. During the emergency surgery after the crash, doctors discovered cancer in his liver and intestines.  Amazingly, in an interview during his recovery from surgery, he said “”What’s great about this is I would not have known about the cancer had I not had the wreck. God has blessed me with the one thing we all need, which is truth. I can now fight with all of my ability.”

The very next day after being released from the hospital, he was at school coaching from his wheelchair.

As I sat there listening to his speech upon accepting the Jimmy V award, I couldn’t help but feel a bit like a jerk, for how I was feeling at the moment I turned on the TV. I thought I had had a rough time – personal and business difficulties, and other things, seemed almost overwhelming.

537280e611665.imageAs Coach Meyer spoke straight from the heart, looking with gut-wrenching honesty into the eyes of every person in the room, he recalled visiting with legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden after the crash. Coach Wooden shared with him a card that had some advice HIS father had given to him upon his graduation from grade school.

It has stuck with me virtually every minute since.

It said, “dont whine, don’t complain, and don’t make excuses.”

Coach Meyer went on to tell the story of him showing up every day for rehab in the clinic, looking around the room at all of the people struggling and suffering, trying to heal and improve, and all the while, remembering and reiterating those powerful words to himself: Don’t whine-don’t complain-don’t make excuses.

Coach Meyer’s words really hit me hard; they shocked me back into that reality that often happens when we hear of someone else having what seems like such hard luck or bad fortune.

When bad things happen to good people, it often helps us realize what WE have to be grateful for – the blessings in our life – it helps us to prioritize and remember what is TRULY important – and helps us see that while life ISN’T always fair, it is good.  

Yes, its easy to allow a feeling of entitlement to occasionally creep into our mindset or to feel sorry for ourselves when something “bad” happens, when the harsh reality is, any discomfort or difficulty we find ourselves staring at is usually brought on by our own choices and decisions, however hard that might be to accept sometimes.

Can we learn from the mistakes we have made so we don’t repeat them?  Can we truly be grateful for the blessings in our life and share that attitude of gratitude with the world on a daily basis? Can we wake up every day ready to re-commit to living the ideals put forth by John Wooden and his dad?

As I look at the man in the mirror and re-examine my own life and my attitude toward it, what am I trying to say with this blog today?

  • If you’re an athlete and have made the choice to walk into a gym, or to train and race, don’t whine or complain about how hard the training is or how tough the race may be. You are choosing to do this. Getting out of your comfort zone and “suffering” on some level to achieve is what it takes to GROW and to reach your ultimate potential.
  • More to the point, I can say with total confidence that suffering through any pain or discomfort is a privilege and a blessing… that so many who aren’t so fortunate, only wish they could do.  To be able to train and race is not something we’re all entitled to! Cherish the opportunities!  Make the most of them, every day, and in every way.
  • Be HONEST with yourself and be willing to accept honesty from others. If someone IS being truly honest with you, it means they care about you. Its the liars you have to worry about.
  • If you, like me, have made mistakes in your life be it personal or in business, suck it up and stop whining and realize that sometimes life teaches us hard lessons. We need to LEARN from those lessons and soldier on!  Don’t give up or give in.
  • Have the courage and strength to accept that the choices you’ve made and don’t look back. Look forward.
  • Please join me and starting today, strive each and every day to be thankful for every blessing in your life; commit to doing the most you can with every minute of your life!
  • Don’t stop learning, don’t stop growing, don’t stop reaching, don’t stop challenging yourself, and don’t whine, don’t complain, and don’t make excuses.

As Charles R. Swindoll said, “Words can never adequately convey the incredible impact of our attitudes toward life. The longer I live the more convinced I become that life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond to it.”  Make it a great day!

~Coach Al