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Your Brain – Mental Health and Balance

This is a talk I to Grade 10 and 11 students given on October 18, 2017.

This was a talk about mental health, balance and how to achieve your best. I am not an expert but have studied Psychology and Neuroscience. I have run for 30-years, have run marathons and ultramarathons. I was passing along advice, tips and my personal experiences to help students relax and be at their best.

“To go beyond is as wrong as to fall short.” – Confucius (Confucius was a Chinese teacher and philosopher)

What the talk is about

I was once a high school student and was in the military – so very familiar with attending events and doing things I have been ordered to. You are here I believe because you have to be, some may be interested – others maybe not. That’s ok.

Take away from this what you want. If I reach only one person today – help them, thats worth it to me.

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I want to give you information and tips on how to be more balanced, mentally healthy and set yourself up to be your best in school, sport or whatever you want to do. To achieve your best, you have to be at your best.

There are shows about tweeking and playing around with cars to get them to go faster, perform better. There are videos and TV shows about how to get fitter, leaner, a 6-pack – others about how to renovate homes.

We will spend hours researching something we have a passion for – what are hidden secrets for a new online/video game, spend hours watching youtube videos – maybe even studying something for an exam or test.

BUT – we seldom really talk or focus on tweeking, or taking care of that thing that controls every aspect of our lives – our brain. This will be part of what I talk about.

Brain

The Brain

“We are all now connected by the Internet, like neurons in a giant brain.”Stephen Hawking

Like the internet and many programs now – we have an ability to adapt.
The brain adapts to three basic types of change. Essentially, it: (I) strengthens current behaviors; (II) expands or modifies existing behavior patterns; and (III) accommodates completely new behaviors.

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We want to take this plasticity, this ability for the brain to adapt – to strengthen good thought processes, teach it new ways to work and reinforce them – and give them good input to help us.

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Balance

Life can be like driving a car if you can imagine this. You all have brand new models with the most up to date gadgets and Bluetooth gadgets and air conditioning. I have the 1990s model with a cassette deck and roll-down windows.

You are all learning to drive and everything is new. I have been driving for a while and have some more experience. My car needs more maintenance but still gets me from A to B.

So whats the balance part?

You can drive your car fast, you can push it to see how well it will perform, but you also need to do maintenance, let it rest and fuel it up to keep going and performing well.

Another example is for athletes. You cannot continually push your body as hard as it can go every day to be at your best for a competition or to peak for a race. Great athletes know that the body needs time to rest, that recovering and down time as important as pushing boundaries, sweating and building muscle.

Sometimes at the start line of a race, with two athletes who may equally, trained, equally fit – the one who is mentally prepared, more relaxed and has a clear mind will cross the finish line first.

Video of Usain Bolt running 

(Watch how relaxed, how positive and confident he appears before he starts.)

In 2015 I turned 40-years old—yes ancient compared to you guys. I wanted to mark the milestone with something. I like to run, I like challenges. I decided to run from Kingston to Ottawa during my birthday weekend. 258-kilometres in 2.5 days.

I ran with a friend and we covered 100km each day. The physical feat was one thing but you quickly find that it is your mind that drives you along. Without being in the right frame of mind, relaxed and having help I would never have made it to the end.

A video about balance in life (5:56)

 

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Experiencing life

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”Einstein

The talk of crazy running adventures brings me to the point of experiencing life. My point here is that studying and learning will get you good marks and probably into university or further learning –but it is your experiences;

What you see

Who you meet

Life itself that will give you ideas, take you beyond those words in books or online.

Sometimes stepping out of yourself comfort zone is a way to learn about yourself.

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A run across the Grand Canyon, going to a new city, having fun with friends, dong something new – experiencing life can be as important as good marks.

A video (The Rock – depression, learning from life experiences and thinking positive)

“Don’t confuse having a career with having a life.”Hillary Clinton

 

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Mental health

“We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to do’ list.”Michelle Obama

I am not a doctor or psychologist but have studied psychology and how the brain works. I have also battled depression and like many people been in stressful situations that made me anxious and were not a lot of fun.

I made it through military basic training where they yell and push all your buttons when you are already struggling with new tasks in a new environment.

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I have gone through air traffic control training where I was pushed to learn more and more every day – where I had to memorize what to say to live aircraft – know every word, where the commas were – and know it could mean life or death in real life.

I learned to relax at the end of a day, that I could only study for so long and that getting sleep was important as cramming. I learned that I could only control so much and worrying did not help me.

  • Worry
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Many of us deal with a variety of these – our brain gets stressed out and sometimes it gets into a habit of thinking, it gets caught in a loop.

If something is affecting your life, your school work or worries you – that’s important.
This is where you need to stop and talk with someone you can turn to – parents, teachers, and counselors.

Your brain is not a magical thing – it is a big mass of neurons and mushy stuff in your head. Its affected by your mood, things around you and your physical health.

 

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Recognition

“Knowing yourself is one the greatest skills you can attain.” – Noel Paine

This is not as simple as it sounds.

  • But get to know yourself.
  • We usually listen when our body says it is hungry
  • We usually get sleep when we are tired
  • We will ask our parents for money when we want something

BUT – most of us have a hard time knowing when to take it easy on our brains. Realize that like our bodies, our brains work better when they get breaks and are rested.

 

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Performance

Stress and not being relaxed and rested for any event in your life affects your performance.

How to tweek the engine inside your skull?

This is where knowing your brain is part of your body is important – it needs rest too

This is where remembering to keep things balanced comes into play

This is where allowing your brain to experience new things can spark new thoughts and ideas

  • This is where making sure your brain/engine is running properly
  • This is where knowing when to ask for help – comes into play
  • Do these things to have that brain that is ready to go for anything you throw at it.

 

So what do I do?

Remember:

  • Keep Balance in your life
  • Remember mental health is as important and physical health
  • Recognize when you don’t feel well or stressed out
  • Know that you need to be ready mentally and physically to be your best
  • Never hesitate to ask for help

Things you can do:

Plan ahead and prepare to avoid getting into situations where you have to cram or are pressed for time

Avoid worry – its normal but you have two choices, do something about the worry or realize you cannot control everything

  • Find a way to relax or give your brain a break
  • Go for a walk
  • Go for a run
  • Make sure its gets sleep
  • Laugh and smile – it helps
  • Think positive

Doesn’t sound hard? In a sense it is not. But when we get stressed or find ourselves panicking we revert to what we usually do – the pattern we have created in our brain – the DEFAULT behavior.

Create a healthy, helpful brain pattern, and treat your brain well to perform at your best.
SOME REFERENCES AND RESOURCES

Research article PA: Simple psychological interventions can reduce stress and improve academic performance: http://www.apa.org/science/about/psa/2011/09/academic-stress.aspx

Brain plasticity: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroplasticity

3 Types of Change Your Brain Adapts: Reinforcing Behaviors: https://blogs.psychcentral.com/relationships/2011/08/three-ways-your-brain-adapts-to-change-1-of-3/

10 Relaxation techniques: https://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/blissing-out-10-relaxation-techniques-reduce-stress-spot#3

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA)

The Mental Health Helpline (Ontario) 1-866-531-2600

Teen Health and Wellness telephone hotlines

 

 

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Running to fight a rare disease

“The human mind can drive the body to amazing places and feats of running.”

The big goal? Dave plans to break a long-standing Canadian record by taking only 66-days to run across Canada (7200km) in 2018. Holy crap? Yep.

In the meantime Dave is building his body and mind up to withstand the mental and physical strain that such a monstrous task will require. In early September Dave ran to get to the Lost Souls 100Miler…a mild 170km warmup for the race the following day (which he won in course record time). Bonkers. Read his blog for all the details.

This weekend, Dave is running over 100km to a 50k ultramarathon (Grizzly 50k).  Madness – and I like it!

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So who is this Dave and what is this all about?

His name is Dave Proctor and he lives in Okotoks Alberta just 15 minutes south of Calgary. He is married and has 3 children Julia 11, Sam 8, and Adele 6. Sam, Dave’s 8-year old was diagnosed with a rare disease called RECA. Dave is also an amazing runner. This is where running and doing good on foot come together.

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With a son battling a rare disease – Dave came into contact with the Rare Disease Foundation and Dave planned up a way to raise money and awareness to not only help his son but others who suffer or who friends and family who have rare diseases. Dave thinks big. Like mentioned at the start of the blog – Dave plans to set a record for a run across Canada. The record belongs to Arthur “Al” Howie (September 16, 1945 – June 21, 2016) who won more than fifty marathons, ultramarathons, and multiday races in over  including the 1991 Trans Canada Highway run (7295 kilometers) in the record time of 72 days and 10 hours. A brass plaque on Victoria’s Mile Zero marker commemorates this athletic event for which he raised $750,000 for a fund for children with special needs.

Dave’s running records

He is the Canadian 24 hour record holder (257.093kms), the former Guinness world record holder for furthest distance run on a treadmill in 24 hours (260.4kms), holds course records at Sinister 7 and Lost Soul 100mile and has won the Confederation 150km race this year in Calgary (12hrs18min).

Personal Bests
24 hour:257.093kms
100 mile 13hrs 40min
150km 12hr18min
100km 7hr37min

I will be following Dave’s progress and race over the weekend (when my 2-year old permits) and hope to do a Q&A with Dave after his race.

Post race question and answer session:

Dave

How did lining up to the Grizzly 50k after your 90k warmup run feel on the weekend?
How did the race go?

“Racing yesterday was tougher then expected. Saturdays run was 90kms of stiff headwind. My core and hip flexors were very angry Saturday night but mentally was the largest challenge.”

“I knew from the start the race wasn’t gonna be a banner result. My core was still shaken from the day prior. The first half was reasonable, mostly catching up with friends but when the trails got more technical in the back half the wheels started falling of starting in my hip flexors. I have to admit I was pretty happy when the race ended. I finished in 4hrs39min in 8th place.”

How do you prepare yourself mentally for so many miles in only a couple days?

“Mentally I remind myself that I am more then capable of this task. I also continue telling myself that if my son Sam could run like his father can he would never stop. I stop cuz I’m tired. That’s just unacceptable.”

What does your training and racing look like as you prepare for your cross Canada run in 2018?

“My next challenge and training opportunity is at the Across The Years 6 day race in AZ in late December. I plan on running 22 hours a day for6 days straight around a one mile loop. I’m hoping to break the Canadian 6 day record of 850kms. I hope to flirt with 1000!”

What do you hope to accomplish with teaming up with the Rare Disease Foundation and what does it mean for you?

“RDF hits very close to home as my son Sam has a Rare Disease called RECA. This is an Ataxia disorder waking gross and fine motor skills challenging. It took a long six years to receive a diagnosis. This is because Rare Disease, even though it affects 1/12 Canadians remains significantly underfunded and under researched. I aim to shine a light on the needs the Rare Disease community share.”

Keep running Dave and many of us will be following your adventures.

Find Dave on his blog or on Twitter at @runproctor

Connect with the Rare Disease Foundation on their site or on Twitter @xcanada4rare

Run on my friends and go Dave!

Never too old to try a new shoe

“The foot is the most complex bony structure in the body – worth trying shoes to find one that works best for you.”

I have been running for pretty darn close now to 30 years (starting when I was 12). Over the years I have run in almost every brand of shoe. My feet have changed over the years. At one point (for a number of years) I wore orthotics and the way a shoe felt and fit was completely different to now (do not wear orthotics). Plus my almost 42-year old feet seem to have gotten a little cranky over the years!

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Brooks

Seeing a speedy running friend of mine wearing Brooks (David Freake) I realized I had not worn or tried anything from that brand in a LONG time. I reached out and Brooks Canada was gracious enough to send me out their Brooks Glycerin and Brooks Hyperion to try out and review.

Brooks Sports, Inc. was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1914 by Morris Goldenberg. The name Brooks was selected by Morris Goldenberg as an Anglicized substitute for his wife’s maiden name of Bruchs, which in turn comes from the Hebrew word baruch (ברוך) meaning ‘blessed’.

Brooks originally produced bathing shoes in 1917 before moving into sports in the 1930s. Brooks now makes a wide selection of running shoes and when I worked in the running shoe biz at Aerobics First in Halifax (Nova Scotia) – the Brooks Beast was the toughest, badass motion-control shoe we sold.

So back to the review.

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Brooks Glycerin

So this is the blue Brooks shoe I have on in the photos. The Glycerin is a solid, well-cushioned, neutral running shoe. The cushioning is soft but not marshmallowy and really protects you from the road. The shoe fits true to size, medium width and has a responsive feel for such a cushioned shoe. Usually wearing slightly lighter shoes I was expecting it to feel sluggish but felt great. The heel cup collar has a thick cushioned rim that keeps the heel locked in and the upper is breathable with no creases or points that rubbed my foot. The only real beef I had with the shoe was its over-abundance of shoelace – have to double knot most times to avoid stepping on.

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I wore this shoe for a few quick runs, some daddy and daughter stroller runs and some easy runs. Liked this shoe. Solid and dependable cushioned trainer.

Here are the specs from the Brooks website:

MIDSOLE DROP         10mm
WEIGHT                      10.6oz / 300.5g
ARCH                           Medium, High
Updates from previous model
-Lighter weight
-Improved flexibility
-Softer feel with updated midsole design
-New plush transition zone for a smoother ride
-Improved fit from next-generation 3D Stretch Print saddle

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Brooks Hyperion

This is truly a racing shoe. To me this feels like a slimmed down NB 1400. The New Balance racing flat I can wear as a training shoe for fast runs and some even longer runs. The Brooks Hyperion feels more race than run for me. The upper is super light and thin, the midsole feels cushioned but with just enough to get through a race or really fast short run. It has a medium to narrow fit, comfortable upper, thin heel cup and really light super responsive – almost barefoot feel.

Specs:

MIDSOLE DROP           10mm
WEIGHT                        6.4oz / 181.4g
ARCH                             Medium, High

I liked this shoe and will have on for races or very fast training runs – but may not be suited for everyone. If you are a bigger runner or used to some substantial cushion in your race shoe – this is not it. If you are looking for an uber-light, just enough, go-like-hell shoe. this is it.

So in the end, impressed by both Brooks shoes and recommend others to see what they have. Life is short and there are lots of running shoes out there to try!

Live long and run hard friends!

 

A view from a running dad retreat

“The inner journey we all go on throughout life is often one unseen by others and tougher than any marathon.”

This is a quick snapshot of a running dad retreat I recently organized for myself. A vision quest, a self-discovery session and a chance to help me gather some thoughts on where I intend to go.

I am hoping those struggling with issues in their life, whether a lack of direction, depression, a mid-life crisis or simply want to stop and look within – can see what I did.

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The plan

I have taken time form work to battle my depression, to get over almost ending my life and to focus on getting my shit sorted out. I have talked with a counselor and have a life coach who is also supporting my journey (Jonathon Zinck).

I am trying to do everything on a timeline and its tough. The pressure and stress to get better sometimes makes it even harder to get better. My counselor suggested going to a retreat or something to kick-start things. Then he went on vacation. Great.

Not having a budget or ability to go off to Nepal and meditate for a week – I looked at other options nearby or within decent travel distance. Everything seemed too expensive, too far away, not anytime soon or was simply aimed at relaxation and yoga/meditation. I wanted more and more aimed at my needs. I decided to organize my own. After research, talking with others and thinking I realized it was not about where but what I did.

The retreat

I wanted a weekend (with daddy duties this was about as long as I could get away) to push myself to look inward, ask myself questions, meditate in a quiet environment and – look for some information to start a plan for way I need to go. Where I need to go in life, to be happy and get mentally healthy.

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Amazing almost hobbit like chalet near the water.

I started researching, talking with my life coach and others and set to thinking outside the box. I started my weekend schedule and then found somewhere that looked perfect just outside Ottawa (Chalet Mystique). I wanted somewhere simple, quiet and next to the water. I wanted to unplug and be able to concentrate on me without distraction.

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Quiet few minutes of meditation on the first day.

I had a journal and pen, running gear and some food. The first day was about loving myself (inspired by book given to me by Chi Running guru and friend Eric Collard) (Love yourself – your life depends on it), being grateful and just relaxing and letting loose a bit. It also started with a jump in the cold September waters of the lake.

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Fire by the water to reflect on a busy day.

The second day was a 3-hour guided meditation session (meditation teacher from the Ottawa Shambhala centre), a quiet walk, a life-coach session with vision quest questions, journal writing and a massage by my spiritual massage therapist Danny Rugenius. It was then supper, quiet and reflection in front of a small fire by the lake.

If interested this is Vision Quest schedule I had for myself.

It turned out to be perfect fall weather and Caroline Elson (the meditation teacher)-who I had never met, was amazing, a friend joined me for part of the day (also needing some soul-searching time and to relax), Danny gave a massage and provided his usual intuitive advice (big hug Danny).

I do not now have the answers. I am however even more calm, relaxed and armed with insight into what makes me happy, what I want and where I think I need to go. Now its time to put together a plan – one that I hope will include helping others and maybe organizing a few retreats for others.

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Marshmallows were only to help in reflecting upon the weekend – and were yummy on cold evening.

*If you are in the Ottawa/Gatineau area or willing to travel here – and would like to experience what I did – give me a shout – thinking of putting on a small retreat for runners who need to take a moment to listen to themselves.

Keep lacing up running friends. Keep the body and mind loose and run hard.

Kenyan Running Shoes –the review

When someone says they are creating a Kenyan running shoe and its being made by Kenyans, in what many consider the country of running; the expectations are high. Someone has done it. The company is called Enda Sportswear. This is a review of their first shoe named after the Kenyan town, the mecca of running, Iten.

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The shoe

This is how Enda describes their shoe, “The Iten is the perfect light weight trainer. Built for your fast shorter runs, it’s robust enough to keep you going if you chose to go longer.” There is really not much more about the shoe itself on the website other than the basic information below.

Specifications
-4mm heel to toe drop.
-7.9oz (224 grams) for men’s size 9.
-A slightly wider than normal toe-box.
-Midsole designed that cups the heel.

It is then almost zero drop, lightweight shoe training shoe. No information on the type of cushioning and there are no bells and whistles, but as you dig deeper into the Enda website they explain. This first shoe is meant to be a shoe for fast-paced running, with room for the feet to spread in the toebox (wide but not deep), to hold the foot on uneven ground, flexible for a full range of motion and little heel cushioning as its for quick mid/forefoot runners.

The company also enlisted Kenyan runners to help test the shoes including my running friend and dad Justin Lagat.

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The review

The red shoe that showed up at the door was red and had a good, speedy look to it when I pulled it from the black box it came in. Taking into account that it is designed to be a light-weight trainer and quick, it was laced up and taken out onto the sidewalks and pathways in Ottawa to see if the shoe felt Kenyan or made a middle-aged Canadian runner feel like one.

The shoe feels light, is true to size, solid and as described, but also not exciting. If you expect this shoe to make you feel like a Kenyan, or feel fast or put some zing in your runs, look elsewhere.

This tough, bare bones light-weight trainer is for you if, you are relatively efficient, midfoot/forefoot runner who does not like or need a soft marshmallow-feeling shoe. Taking a writer’s poetic liberty, this shoe is like a no nonsense cloud of red dust thrown up behind a fast-dissapearing greyhound-lean Kenyan runner.

The Iten retails for $100 and comes in red, black and green. For Canadian runners, watch out for customs fees at the border that can drive the total cost up to near $160 (without shipping).

To know more about the story behind the shoes – check out my article/blog for Canadian Running magazine.

Enda Sportswear website: https://www.endasportswear.com/

Enda on Twitter @Endasportswear

 

Keep on running my run beasts!

Chocolate running fuel?

“It is not seldom I hear people saying they do not like chocolate.”

So chocolate running fuel. I like chocolate in general although corrupted by sweet milk chocolate and have trouble with the bitter (probably better for you) dark stuff. I also like chocolate milk (or recently did)(more on that later). So when I got chance to test Cocoa Elite – I jumped at the chance.

Here is my review!

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What it is

Chocolate-based run fuel! – Ok and here are a few more details (lots on website too).

The company says they were looking to make a more natural, good tasting fuel for athletes. They thought, like I do – how many folks don’t like chocolate – and they went from there. They did research and looked at chocolate and its health benfits too.

“Our search for a chocolate based product helped us to gain a deeper knowledge of cocoa. On our journey we learned that not all chocolate is produced the same way. Our research into the cocoa plant led us to become obsessed with the cocoa flavanol component of the cocoa bean. Cocoa flavanols are what make chocolate so unique and healthy.” – Cocoa Elite

More info in cocoa.

Products that are available include: cocoa protein powder, cocoa electrolyte drink, cocoa recovery protein, cocoa powder and vegan cocoa protein powder (see for yourself).

What I tested

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Through the cool online running community I bumped into Alicia who hooked me up with a sample from Cocoa Elite – and I awaited my package. I got a envelope with two sample packs of cocoa whey protein and cocoa-cased electrolyte drink.

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What I thought

I ripped open the package when it arrived and set aside the two sample pouches to test. The first I tested was cocoa protein powder and it went into a smoothie I put together in my magic bullet. I added a little chocolate milk and some cherries, yogurt and banana. It tasted good but I think I may have overpowered powder with other ingredients. Nothing bad to say though and liked what i read about the product.

Second to bat was the mint cocoa arctic blast drink. I was a bit weary – I want to be honest. Mint chocolate does not really do it for me —but I was game. After a hard run I threw the powder into a super cold bottle of water and tested.  Wow! Cold and really a blast of minty chocolatyness. Not overpowering chocolate/cocoa but minty. Was very interesting and different. I don not think the flavour was for me but if you like mint and chocolate worth a go!

Final verdict from small samples I got and info from company. Very cool, different product and if not satisfied with what you have – check them out! (Cocoa Elite)

Keep lacing up my running friends and keep looking for adventure and challenge! Run on!

*ALSO SUPER COOL – Cocoa Elite donates portion of  profits to charities which help prevent or care for child abuse victims.

Piecing things together

“Life is only magical and fun if you let it be. Running is much the same way.”

Okay the leaves are starting to fall and its a rest day for this ole runningdad – so I guess that means it has been a while since my last update and there is time to write it.

If you are just joining this blog – I will get you up to speed. I am a skinny running obsessed single running dad who is battling depression, adjusting to life as a dad and in search of direction. The 18-wheeler of life has hit me on the highway of we all wander and I am trying to piece things back together.

To be a whole functioning person, runner and dad – like a good training plan – everything must be tended to.

The Puzzle

I am really trying to figure out where I am at with life (soon to be divorced, dad, runner and writer), love (can I love again and what have I learned) and work (why am I working full time at something that neither engages or fulfills me).

The progress

Although I often don’t see how talking will get me to where I need to go – I have been talking with a counselor and tapped into him through my work’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP). In addition to the counselor I have also connected with a life coach (someone to support and help guide me to achieving my goals). I am currently working with a fellow east coast born coach named Jonathon Zinck. We share a common approach to life, are both active and he seems to understand where I need to go and where I need help.

It took me weeks to stabilize and be able to get out of bed at a reasonable hour and to motivate myself – longer than I thought it would. I regularly checked in with a doctor and have avoided any depression medications (they may be right for some people and in the right circumstances). Now I still battle daily to stay positive but feel I am moving forward.

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I am trying to meditate each day, get outside the apartment and run and walk as exercise helps fight off the depressive thoughts and makes me feel good. It is often outside where I really feel myself. My writing gets my thoughts out and I hope also may help someone else out there. I try and enjoy time with my daughter, relax and smile as she is in a really cute stage right now. I try to be a good dad.

Next steps

Retreat: I am currently organizing a weekend retreat for myself – self discovery, a vision quest. I have enlisted someone to help do some guided meditation, a session with my life coach, silent walks, meditation and taking all my thoughts down in a journal. I intend to push myself to look inward and answer some questions. I do not plan to solve anything – but to have an idea of where I want/need to go. Then I will work with others on how to achieve this. Its not a trip to a cave in Nepal – but after research and talking to many others – have come to conclusion – its more about your motivation and what you do – than where.

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Work: I love the crew I work with but feel so less engaged than the rest of them – and I am not fulfilled. I know I want to help people and tie in my passions somehow – now or in the near future. I am pretty sure I need a bit less stress right now and also a change – do not think I can go back to the same cubicle. I am asking myself questions, job searching and working with my life coach.

Love: This one is always tough. Stories and movies are written about it – some people never find it. I am trying to love myself, to know myself and learn from mistakes I have made. I thought my heart was pretty beaten up and pessimistic but it is amazing how resilient it is. Completely caught off guard – I have fallen for someone. Not planned and I have not had this kind of feeling since highschool (head over heels).

I am approaching with caution, guarding my heart a bit as afraid to be hurt, trying to be smart and knowing that life, love and running can all be uncertain. But I am enjoying the scent of something positive in my life and would rather love than not love at all. As a single dad I am only available part-time and know that I must be a better me to move forward.

I need to be happy and know myself to be a good dad, to be engaged in whatever I work at, to have some direction in life and to be able to be honest and loving with someone in my life.

If you have suicide thoughts, feel life is just dragging you down or are dealing with depression – I understand. Talk with someone – find a friend or family member and drag yourself out of the hole. You matter.

Run on friends!

 

World Suicide Prevention Week was last week – check out the resources here if you need help.

Caring for a runner’s crotch-CrotchGuard

“Running is something I love doing and I hate when something rubs n ruins my run.”

Ever have the first layer of skin of your thighs near your crotch chafed into a pink, irritated mess after a run or marathon? Ever screamed and shook your fist at the running gods while taking a post run shower — after your nipples caught on fire as the water hit them?

Yes chafing and red and raw skin rubbed by shorts, tights, shirts, sports bras etc. – cause really take the fun out of that prideful feeling of a good run. This is a review of a product I recently had the chance to test out.

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Crotch Guard Skin Care Oil

The website states that the oil was designed for cyclists to reduce friction, chafing and rash irritations. They say it is not thick or greasy and is supposed to absorbed, surround and strengthen cellular therefore supporting The bottle contains 4 fluid ounces and they say is:

  • Hypo-Allergenic
  • Anti-Bacterial
  • Absorbs Quickly & Completely
  • Does NOT contain Chemical Dyes
  • Does NOT contain Fragrance

What I thought

I have used BodyGlide and a few other deodorant stick like anti-chafing products and found they work relatively well to prevent mild to medium chafing. I have even applied to my feet for ultramarathon runs. This new oil product is a bit different and although mainly aimed at cyclist could be another option for runners. I tried out CrotchGuard on short, medium and longer runs and seemed to help (though I do not chafe on every run). The product in a spray bottle was easy to apply and did not feel overly oily or messy.

I liked this product and will carry with me in my running kit and if other products have not worked – give this a try!

Find CrotchGuard on Twitter @crotch_guard or their website (US).

Run on my running friends and run chafe-free!

Running towards mental health

“Am I running towards or from something?”

This is a quick update from this single Canadian running dad who is battling depression and a life crisis while trying to keep lacing up.

Sharing as part of my therapy as it feels good to open up and perhaps someone else, perhaps another runner and parent will get something from my post.

Whats is going on

I have taken some time off work to work on me. It got to the point where I could not hold everything together. I was becoming more and more negative at the office, making poor decisions and reached a day where depression pulled me to a very dark place. I would smile and joke but was struggling. Running helped me but I was unable to deal with my issues.

I am struggling with my approaching divorce (been separated almost a year), the loss, grief of all that, adjusting to being a part-time dad, working at a job that right now I cannot fully engage in and that adds more stress that I can currently handle, being alone and finding that I feel like I have no purpose or direction in life. Wow thats a long sentence.

Do others have it worse, yep – but this is my battle and what I am going through.

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What I am doing

Before I took time off (even a bit now) I was simply keeping busy and distracting myself to keep functioning. Running, Netflix, daddy duties and work gave me a busy schedule where I seldom had time to sink into my own thoughts.

With a counselor I am delving into why I am where I am and looking at my past and what has shaped me. I am working at getting to a point where I can be a positive person and mentally strong enough to handle work and normal fast-paced life again.

  • Counseling
  • Meditating
  • Continuing to run
  • Looking for a life coach
  • Started a journal
  • Trying to get balanced and mentally strong enough to handle real life/work again
  • Trying to fend off depressive moments and avoid medication (unless really needed)
  • Trying to connect with friends and get out of my apartment as much as possible
  • Looking for work that is lower stress for a bit
  • Evaluating where I am in life and what makes me happy
  • Writing – perhaps a runningdad book for other run dads

I am slowly getting stronger. I want to be a positive person and healthy mentally and physically, for me and for my daughter. I want to be working somewhere where I really feel I am helping people, making a difference and am more engaged in (perhaps pone day tie into my passion for promoting healthy living).

Like running, there are good and bad days. I struggle to get out of bed more than normal but I do – I battle on. If I can still smile I am not defeated.

Run on friends!

A great update-Polar M430 Running watch

“I like running tools that do not take time away from my run and add to the experience.”

Okay – been slacking a bit and behind in my writing and blog reviews. I have been taking some time to try and deal with the mental me. But right now I am going to talk about the Polar M430 running watch on my wrist.

I have run with many types of watches over my 30-years of running and more recently have had a GPS running watch for training. I enjoy having the option of knowing my exact distance, pace and heart rate if and when I want (I do not turn on every run). These are my thoughts on one of the newest Polar GPS running watches out on the market.

watch

WHAT IT IS and WHATS NEW

The Polar M430 is really an update to the M400 and offers more options than the stripped down M200 (my review) which I have used, enjoyed and reviewed as well. The M400 my last watch I really trained with was alot of fun but the M430, to date is my favourite running watch.

  • Distance, time, pace, cadence, elevation and heart rate
  • Timers and a real stopwatch
  • Activity (steps), training zones, VO2max test
  • Sleep information and ability to upload info to mobile app or laptop
  • Full list of features on Polar website

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The major difference between the M400 and the new M430 is the ability to get your HR from your wrist (no HR strap) and see your HR info on the run, and the addition of a real, easy to use stop watch option. Both of these additions really made me happy. Before I was always having to take another watch to the track for workouts and was not a big fan of the HR strap (sometimes uncomfortable and was just something else to do to get ready).

The M430 has a new charged port compared to M200 or M400 and is pretty easy to use. There is no interchangeable straps like M200 but have no issues with that. Strap is comfortable and seems a bit tougher than M400 for some reason. M430 also seems to charge and pick up a GPS signal faster than its predecessor. HR sensor on back of watch seems pretty accurate.

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MY OPINION

I have worn the M430 walking, running, while sleeping and just out and about (only watch I wear). I thought the M200 was a stripped down basic running watch but not quite enough for my needs, the M400 was great but lacked a couple options.

The watch is comfortable and a perfect everyday, running watch for me. It also gives me more than enough information on my training runs. The battery is long enough for a really long run but may not survive a 100k ultra (will have to test that thought soon).

I think Polar has an amazing GPS/HR running watch for the everyday runner and run geek. You can simply get basic run information from your run and use at the track or really geek out and tap into more information and training plans and advice with Polar Flow app on your phone (app) or laptop.

In Canada the M430 retails for $329 and comes in black, orange and white.

Run long, run hard running friends!

 

Have something you want me to test or review? Email me at runningwriter@hotmail.com