Friday, December 30, 2011

3 Ways To A More Resolute Running (Part 3)

1. Consistency vs. Mileage

2. Eating Healthy vs. A Weight Loss Diet Plan

3. Habit vs. Hobby

I did not run today because…

A.  “I’m too tired!”
B.  “I’m too busy.”
C.  “It’s too hard.”

If your answer is A, of course running will get you even more tired. But remember, running will also improve your aerobic capacity which will increase your endurance for your day’s activities. Eventually you will feel more energetic like at work and less tired at the end of the day.

If your answer is B, then it shows that running is not in the higher rungs of your ladder of priorities.  Your resolve to take on running this New Year will soon fade away. If you consider running only when you have some spare time, like a hobby or special interest, your running resolve will not get very far.

If your answer is C, then you’re off to a good start towards a more resolute running this year.

For your running resolution to lift off this New Year, you need to bump it up higher in your list of important things. In addition, it is also essential to recognize that this will take a very personal and internal desire to do it and do it repeatedly.  You want to make running a habit in your life.

Sometimes, starting a new habit means breaking old ones. Old habits are deeply imbedded in our routine.  It will take tremendous willpower to break out of the pull of old tendencies like making excuses, procrastination, and impatience. Starting a habit is like flying a space shuttle according to Stephen Covey, author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People." It takes a lot of energy in launching it in the beginning. In fact more exertion is spent in the first few miles of lift-off than in the next thousands of miles of journey around the earth. Once you break out of the gravity pull, soaring in the sky takes less effort.  This New Year, as you start running, expect some challenges but persevere. Eventually, like looking at the earth from space, your view on running will take on a whole new dimension.

My wish for you this New Year is to find that new perspective on running.  Discover your reason/s for running. If you don’t mind, write to me about it.

And if you are so inspired to take on running as a resolution this New Year but unsure of a reason, I like to suggest and share mine:  Praying.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

3 Ways To A More Resolute Running (Part 2)

1. Consistency vs. Mileage

2. Eating Healthy vs. A Weight Loss Diet Plan

Running has everything to do about eating. A runner runs on food like a car runs on gas. When you decide to take on running, it is important to also start watching what you eat.

The most common resolution tied up with running is dieting to lose weight. The problem with following a weight-loss diet plan, especially the low-carb diet, is that you lose weight fast, but gain them right back as soon as you stop dieting. Yes, dieting results in immediate weight loss. However, it shouldn't be your primary mindset towards a new you. Even before you start thinking of shedding the pounds, you need to start thinking eating healthy first.

Here are a few general tips to eating healthy. First, follow an old adage of eating only until you are 80% full. Never heard of it? It is also called eating in moderation. Unfortunately, our modern media has influenced our appetite to eat as much as you can and to supersize your portion. Studies have shown that portion sizes in fast food stores have increased by as much as five times larger than what it was 30 to 40 years ago. In other words, our idea of the right portion meal has also changed. People ask me as a runner if I have a special diet. I say, "I watch my portion size and I watch what I eat."

Secondly, limit your intake of high-fat and high-cholesterol foods. Examples are fried foods, processed foods, and full-fat dairy products. These foods can lead to heart problems. On the other hand, eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. These rich-fiber foods regulate blood sugar and promote a sense of fullness. Not only do they reduce the risk of heart disease, they also help you lose weight.

Yes, weight loss is the desired tangible result but that shouldn't be your goal. This new year, start eating healthy. Moderate your portion size and be smart about choosing your food. But let me gently remind you that like running, the results you want to see will take some work. You can't replace your body like you can replace your old car with a brand new one. However, you can always do a tune-up to keep it running smoothly. The sooner you make up your mind to eat healthy, the better off you'll be.

3. Habit vs. Hobby

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

3 Ways To A More Resolute Running (Part 1)

'Tis the time of the year for resolutions. Why not? I still personally believe in New Year's Resolutions. Life goes in cycles and it does gives us opportunities to renew, reset, and recharge our lives. The start of a new year is one of those times where we could set new resolves for ourselves.

When it comes to your running resolution, here are 3 ways you could approach it to increase the likelihood of a more  enduring and resolute running.

1. Consistency vs. Mileage

Forget about mileage. Don't worry about the total distance covered in a week. Don't set a number of miles as a goal. What you ought to count is the number of times you get out the door to do a running workout. Measure your rate of consistency in running as your bar for success more than you do the amount in miles you ran. With all the available running gadgets and GPS apps, it is so easy to record your running in miles and use the data as your measure of progress. This is not so bad; but as a caveat, setting mileage as a goal to launch your running resolution is not sustainable. Increasing your mileage unnecessarily can lead to injuries. Running is a simple one-motion exercise but a high impact workout. Running too much too soon can overstress your bones and joints. This can make your next running workout painful and may discourage you from running again.

To ensure more success with your running resolution, set a frequency rate. The goal is to develop consistency and establish a solid running routine.  Most successful runners, from average to elite levels, are creatures of habit. Set the number of times over a week to do running workouts then stick with it. Using your old, reliable wall calendar, desk or notebook planner, draw a smiley face on each day you run in a week as planned. Keep it gadget-free and simply tally the number of times you successfully followed through with your commitment to run. As you see progress, feel free to brag about it to your friends and say "Hey, I ran 3x this week!"  Just in case any smarty runner asks you how long do you run in a day, simply tell them, "Long enough to enjoy running."  Just remember that even if you are new to running, it will give you a similar experience as a veteran runner would after a run. To build consistency in running, you need to see its benefits to you versus the standards other people set onto it.

2. Eating Healthy vs. A Weight Loss Diet Plan

Friday, December 23, 2011

Running with Open Hands

Lightly clenched fist, cupped hands like holding a potato chip without crushing it. This is a usual description of the hands in the proper running form.

How about running open handed, palms facing up? I do this sometimes when during my prayer runs, my praying becomes fervent. Yesterday, finding myself outdoors and running during a tough time grieving this Christmas season, I felt very thankful. Warmed by the sunshine and carried by the cool breeze, running lightly on a quiet trail, I opened my running hands and broke into reciting this prayer - A Prayer for Generosity.

Dearest Lord, Teach me to be generous. Teach me to serve you as I should. To give and not to count the cost. To fight and not to heed the wounds. To toil and not to seek for rest. To labor and ask not for reward. Save that of knowing, that I do Your most holy will.
Running with open hands. Not the best for your running form. But in a prayerful moment, it is a fitting gesture of thanksgiving and in my run today, a symbol of generosity. I ask the Lord to teach me to be more generous in my work to minister to others and in my life in general.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Running and Grieving

What's the similarity? They're both difficult during Winter/Christmas time.

I've ran for thousands of miles through the years but I still have a running slump every winter time. I'm 9 months old into the grieving process and it still sucks, most especially now at Christmas time. I miss my wife terribly.

I know one thing for sure. The only way I could overcome the difficulty is to go through them. There is no other way to get out of the running rut but to get out there and run. I need to get over the winter lethargy and the frosty weather. And as for missing my beloved wife, the only way towards my healing is to go through the painful stages to transform my grief into a growth experience.

I like to request for your prayers to help me get through these tough times. I am having a hard time without my wife to feel the spirit of Christmas joy as well as the joy of running. I need to regain the strength to enthusiastically run and pray for other people. After all, inspired by my wife, I strive to be a Praying Runner. But today, I wear my vulnerability like a cross around me. Please pray for me to find peace, joy, and strength this Christmas.

P.S. Update:  I ran 15 miles today. I prayed for my own special intention and for a dear family friend - Fred V., who passed away December 16th after battling cancer.  He showed our family the most sympathetic support like no other during my wife's battle.  I am glad I got to talk to you three weeks ago. Please say hello to my wife up in heaven.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Finally A First

My wife loved Walnut Creek, CA.  We went shopping there, ate out, went to the Farmer's Market, watch our son play away games in basketball, watched movies, went to the Art and Wine Festival, watched concerts, a whole lot of things except run.  So finally for the first time a run in Walnut Creek.  This one's for you, my Love, on the eve of what should have been our 16th wedding anniversary. Missing you terribly, but I had a good run today.  I love you so much!

Missing you terribly...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sacrament(o) of Running

Just got back from a marathon in Sacramento (CIM). A capacity 9,000 strong runners in attendance, including the relay teams. Beautiful people, perfect weather, a great race in the runner-friendly city of Sacramento.

There I am in the midst of a community of runners and a crowd of cheering and supportive people. It is CIM's 29th successful running and have continuously grown in numbers and supporters. This is my 6th running of CIM and in each time I have felt the same joy and excitement of running this race.

During the run, I am honored to meet a couple of people. No less than the President of the Board of Directors of CIM, Denis Zilaf, who prayed and ran with me for a mile or so. Douglas, from Fleet Feet of Menlo Park who asked to pray for him that God lead him to an opportunity to lead a faith group in his church; and Chris W. who was inspired to pray during his runs after he saw me at a race in Half Moon Bay. He plans to run 52 half-marathons in 2012 in honor of his daughter Grace.

Most of the time though I fervently prayed and pondered in my heart all the prayer intentions that were sent to me. Praying for others during the run was where I felt a feeling of fulfillment much greater than finishing the marathon. Like a sacrament, running in Sacramento today was a reminder of God's presence in our lives and His great love for us. I thank God for being able to run with other runners today, pray with others, and pray for others.

You were always there at CIM to meet me at the finish
and take away my medal and put it around you.
Here it is, my Love. I love you and miss you so much!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Praying For You

Running California International Marathon (CIM) this Sunday, December 4th  is special.  It will be my 25th marathon. It's one of the running destinations where my wife, son, and I started a tradition. It's one of the marathon races I've encouraged a few friends to run a marathon. It's the marathon I ran before my wife passed away.

As a tradition, we hear Mass at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Downtown Sacramento.  A very beautiful church which I always look forward to going the eve of the marathon. Then, I enjoy the evening with a dinner with runner friends - a few of them I'm happy to say I introduced to marathon running. Last year, I ran CIM with a heavy heart. My wife's condition was not getting any better. Three months later, she passed after a long battle with breast cancer. A lot of people prayed with me as I ran that race in her honor.

This year, I'm running this race in her memory. Along with a few others who I'm offering this run for - my friend Chris's mom who just passed away today. Also in memory of Reynaldo Santos. To Tess P., who is fighting ovarian cancer. To Fred V., who was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. To my brother who is in the hospital.

To two running friends, Lisa A. and Larissa O., who trained hard for months on end. They will run in the St. Jude Memphis Marathon on Saturday. It will be their first half-marathon. God speed to both of you! Thank you, too, for remembering my wife in your prayers as you run.  Also, to my friend Alvin, who is running 50 mile North Face Challenge also on Saturday. Alvin ran with me in the San Francisco Marathon the whole way to support me during my grieving.

A few more prayer intentions as I run - for Sara N. who is going through RCIA and also will be running the Half Marathon in Walnut Creek; and to my son who devotes his basketball games in memory of his mom.

You can still send me your prayer intentions which I will bring with me as I run CIM in prayer. If you are running this weekend, too, join me in spirit of prayer.

In memory of my wife.
I will be running with a pink rose in hand
during the CIM 2011 in Sacramento, CA