Running

Now Begins 2016

As I write this it is only a moment after midnight, bringing the first day of 2016 to a close.  I recognize that I’ve been writing more personal stuff lately and less… “lifestyle” articles but the truth is that I write what I’m feeling or thinking, and I suppose lately (especially around the holidays) it’s been more along the lines of a journal than a blog.  You get to deal with it.

So, with that said, happy new year!  For me 2015 was more of a struggle than I have had in a long time.  Actually, that may not be completely true, but it was a very different kind of struggle, one that (with the exception of a few positive introductions) basically defined the year as shit.  Yes, 2015 was a shit year with shit-filling coated in shit.  It started out with some promise and was garbage within three months.  My stress level went through the roof, my income plummeted, my finances when to hell, and my self-confidence took a major hit (okay, fine.. maybe it’s a good thing to get my ego in check from time to time.)

2016-01-01 18.16.20

See? Relaxed.

Fortunately in the last couple of months of the year, my struggles and efforts bore fruit in the form of new and different opportunities, and by mid-December I was already beginning my recovery to start 2016 strong.

So here I sit on the first day.  My stress level is minimal (in fact, sometimes I feel too relaxed.)  My work situation has me situated in a literal paradise, and my boss might be the only person on earth who has experienced a greater variety of life than I have (relatively speaking and possibly slightly exaggerated in regards to my life experience.)  Perhaps most importantly, he is very patient and laid back… which I’m honestly still getting used to after my previous bosses.  My income is not exceptional, but slightly better than it was at the height of my financial stability around two years ago (I’ve made more since then, but the situation was much more difficult essentially negating the addition income.)  All in all, the foundation is being reset after it was nearly destroyed in 2015.  It’s a mix of the old and the new (and unfortunately, it seems, not without a few social casualties…) but it feels like it’s strong and fully capable of supporting the next chapter the is 2016.

Note: I passed out while writing this, so the following is a continuation authored the next day (told you I was relaxed.)

So what is the next chapter.  Or rather, what is my intention? We all know that we picture one thing, and even if we reach that goal it will look different than we pictured and take us on a path we couldn’t have imagined, so scrutinizing that is useless.  Rather, I guess the questions are; What are your intentions for the year?  What will you focus on?

elephant-balance-chiropractic

    The elephant understands.

First and foremost: Balance.  Always balance.  If there’s anything that has been obvious to me time and time again, it’s that taking anything to an extreme, even if it’s a seemingly good thing, almost always ends badly. Obviously this is a very general philosophy that can be broken down to very specific situations, but in general I believe the more you put effort into keeping yourself and your life balanced, that happier and better adjusted you will be.  I could write and entire post on this alone (and have if you go way back to the “Philosophy of Moderation” posts.)  Short term, or extreme situations with defined deadlines are important and potentially very productive, but as a general life philosophy I suggest you strive for balance.  It’s an easy google search to find many testimonials from people who took things to extremes and regretted it later on some level.

So with that overtone in mind, I want to get back to personal development.  Much of 2015 was dedicated to the trap of “getting by” that I know a lot of people are still in.  But since it appears I’ll have a little breathing room, I want to get back to hobbies that I enjoy and are productive (no, I’m not talking about Final Fantasy XIV… but that will happen too… in moderation.)

First, I want to write more and more consistently.  The surprising number of you that have hung in there when I got down to one post a month on average during parts of the year should find that you see a lot more from me.  Initially my goal is one a week, we’ll see where I go from there.  Along the same lines I’m considering a second blog / website dedicated to fictional writing.  The “Kaska-Ta” entries are a bit of an outlet using a metaphorical world to discuss actual dilemmas and thought processes, but I’ve got a lot of other stuff that is quite a ways farther out there running around in my head.  So I’ll keep you posted on that development.  I most certainly  won’t be starting that until I feel confident I’m giving you enough attention here.

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This is a raw shot I took yesterday.  It might end up being my favorite of the set.  Feel special.

Second, I’ve got access to semi-professional camera now (Canon 70D, not the 6D that is my goal, but I like it a lot better than I thought I would.)  As such I will be spending more time on my photography.  This one is a little addictive, so I have to watch my time spent, but it’s something I really enjoy.  I’ll probably have a dedicated site for my “professional” photos (no, I’m not putting them in Instagram.. thats for my iPhone.) and while I don’t have any intention of collecting money for my services anytime soon, I’ll be trying a lot of things creatively, entering photography contests, and seeing what I can do to get my name out a bit as a legit taker of pretty pictures.  Since I showed off the camera in social media, a few people have pinged me about potential projects that I’m already excited about.

Third, and while this is nothing new it remains important: I need to get active again.  The nocturnal, all-encompassing Uber life and the stress that came from the greatly reduced income destroyed my routine and left me with little motivation to try and get it back together.  But if anything is essential to maintaining mental balance, it’s making sure your physical body is on the level with your mind.  The running especially is a sort of meditation for me, and one I will not be neglecting much longer.  As expensive as they are, I will probably try to get back into the Disney races as they are both magical and give me goals to train for.  Hopefully I can swing the Marathon this year… and survive it.  I’m a long way away from where I was when I successfully ran that a couple years ago.

The intentions above come with the obvious condition that I don’t neglect

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Work it.

other aspects of my life to do so.  Socially I’ve been recluse and I intend to improve that now that I have the resources to indeed be social.  And arguably more importantly (since it is a large part of my foundation) I need to be sure my focus on work is proactive and diligent.  As I said my boss is very laid back, but that needs to be an excuse to stay sharp and exceed expectations so that I have to basis to continue to improve said foundation.

There are also more tangible carry-over goals from last year:

1. Japan.  I made the promise last year and while she’s been very gracious about my situation causing that to not happen, I hate not keeping my promises.  Besides, I need to get back over there, it’s been way too long.

2. Canon 6D (or possibly a 1Dx should they come up with the rumored upgrade.)  The camera I have access to now will work great in the meantime, but it’s not full-frame, and it’s not mine.  Two things I need to remedy if I really want to be considered “pro”.

3.  Cruise (this is a strong optional.)  It’s been three years now (I think…) since I was last on a cruise ship.  It’s been too long.  I don’t know what it is about being on these 2015-12-31 17.29.50marvels of engineering out on the open sea, but it’s fantastic and I need to get out there again.

So, obviously, it’s going to be a busy year.  But busy is good when it’s the kinds of things you’re excited to do.  Last year I had a few moments where I lost hope and was very close to rock-bottom again, but thanks to my friends reminding me what was important, a lot of hours spent in my car, and a little bit of help here and there from the universe, this year has a great deal of potential that I’m determined to make sure isn’t wasted.

Happy New Year!

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Run

I’ve spoken briefly before about long-distance running being my cardio of choice.  In the past I’ve done Capoeira and a Tae Kwon Do based mixed martial art as well, but running has stuck with me more consistently than either of those.  The reason is simple: It’s mine.

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Current: Much better.

Obviously the concept of running isn’t mine, but when I run, it’s just me and my music.  When I first began running years ago in Seattle, it was mostly indoors on a treadmill (and later a really nice indoor track at WSU.)  The advantage of such things was climate control and smooth, even terrain. The disadvantage was that it’s boring and doesn’t prepare you as well for the outside world.  But the thing is, especially back then, I really didn’t like  running.   I didn’t know how to dress, so I was in typical, long gym shorts and I wore Nike GOLF shoes (yes seriously…) because they were the only real “athletic” shoes I owned and I figured they were “good enough.”  Thankfully at that point I was probably only running between 1-3 miles anyway or I might’ve actually damaged myself.

So, I needed cardio because my girlfriend at the time (who was SUPER nice about those things) actually admitted I “could lose a little” and my diet at the time consisted of Fast Food, Pizza and the occasional deli meat and cheese sandwich (those were good though, I miss those.)  Regardless I was chubby, and the Tae-bo videos I was doing at home weren’t cutting it.  So how do you convince yourself to do something awkward, uncomfortable and stressful on a regular basis?  Simple: distraction. Running is where I would develop my ideas, sort out my days, and figure things out.  I would do everything I could to take my mind away from the fact I was running because the moment I started focusing on the fact that I was running, I felt everything, my legs clumsily plodding on, my bronchial tubes contracting in protest and my heart racing trying to keep enough oxygen flowing to my muscles that were threatening to go on strike at any moment.

Over time I went from daydreaming to focused thoughts and battles with my own inner demons (some of which I obviously, admittedly lost…  those jerks are stubborn…) but as my thought processes became more involved and focused, my attention

We all have our demons...

We all have our demons…

went further and further away from the running until I developed a sort of auto-pilot that could potentially go on forever.  Imagine distracting yourself by sparring with another version of you inside your head.  You have to think of each movement, each strike, each block and the reactions to all of those things.  Then add in the fact that I’m an avid anime watcher and gamer and you’ve got all kinds of fantasy things going on (flying, weapons, energy beams, etc.)  It gets intense in there.  So all this distraction, and then all of a sudden you come out of it and realize you’ve already got three miles down and you don’t know where the time has gone.  That’s how I developed my natural pace, by distracting myself.

Over the years my runs evolved, by the time my ex and I broke up and I was back in Seattle I was up to five mile runs along with a workout (though still indoors.)  The nice thing about a treadmill is that you can manually speed yourself up to improve your pace and then allow your mind to wander off again.  Probably the only downside to this is that as you get comfortable, you can incrementally increase your pace, but the numbers deceive you, and though you might feel better about going 6.2 miles per hour instead of 6, the affect it has on you is minimal (granted any improvement is improvement.)

Moving to Florida was when things got serious, but not right away.  While I attended Full Sail I have a very similar routine involving runs at LA Fitness on a treadmill.  At this point I had to try a little harder to go into my head as that particular location has an abundance of attractive women in tight clothing… it was easy to get distracted.  To be honest (and this is just my personal opinion) I’ve always felt like LA Fitness is the place you go to be noticed (both genders.)  People seem flashier and it just feels like more of a “look at me!” mentality compared to a place like Planet Fitness where you just go to get the job done.  Maybe that’s just my personal experience though…

Capoeira:  The goofy looking upside-down one is me.

Capoeira: The goofy looking upside-down one is me.

Eventually I finally hit a point where I was just bored with running and tried other things.  There was about three years that I totally supplemented my cardio with Capoeira.  The desire to run would come and go, but I never felt motivated enough.  It was during my fourth year that I felt like I had become considerably lazier than I had been previously.  Additionally, though Capoeira was a fantastic exercise and gave me a great personal support structure, it didn’t do much to deal with my inner-demon.  In fact, because of the combatant nature of the art form and the rampant egos of some, it actually FED that side of me and brought it out from time to time.  I resolved to return to my runs in addition to Capoeira.  There is a convenient running trail that I can run to from my house with beautiful scenery and wildlife (but you have to watch for snakes.. and gators.. seriously.. I almost injured myself avoiding a snake on today’s run.)

Around this same time an avid runner joined my Capoeira group and invited me out to the Disney runs she liked to do.  At the time I had a bit of a crush on her, so I was feeling very motivated to impress her.  Since five miles had been my staple, I had to adjust to the upcoming “Race For the Taste” length that was a 10k (6.2 miles.)  The adjustment was easy and the run was magical.  I finished at a very good pace and felt inspired for more.  Over time I increased my distance to the point that just last year I was able to complete the Walt Disney World Marathon without stopping.  What an amazing experience (walking to the car shortly after finishing.. not so much.!)  I took a bit of a break after the marathon but have picking up my consistency more recently.  Even with a couple weeks off I can easily run a 10k at the drop of a hat, and could very likely finish a half-marathon with some struggle.  But the Walt Disney World wasn’t my last marathon.  This year the funds didn’t line up right but I’ll be back one way or another.

Walt Disney World Marathon! Magical!

Walt Disney World Marathon! Magical!

These days the hardest part of the run is getting my lazy ass out of the door.  Once I manage that, the run is good.  I’ve evolved a great playlist to motivate me while I go and have 3 different courses to run depending on where I am.  I don’t drink water during my runs because I want to be ready for cardio under any circumstances (you know.. impending zombie apocalypse rule #1: Cardio!)  As much as the meditation aspect is great, and I feel great after my run, my main reason is still the reason I started:  so I can come home after, eat my Magnum chocolate ice cream bar, drink my ginger ale and sit around writing a blog about why I run while feeling no laziness or guilt what-so-ever.  It keeps me acceptable for bachelor-like activities and extends my life span.

The Oatmeal (Best. Internet Comics. EVER.) wrote a highly entertaining and touching comic about why HE runs long distances that resonated with me and I think you will enjoy (far more than all these words, hence I put it at the end of the post.. suckers!)

Check it out here: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/running

It really is beautiful (check out his other stuff too.. hilarious!)  In the meantime thanks for reading!