& Lessons Learned
What Exactly is ESG? (8-30-22)
Climate Doom & Gloom is Not Productive! (5-2-22)
Equity & Sustainability (3-14-22)
a: justice according to natural law or right
specifically: freedom from bias or favoritism
With all that's going on in the world right now, it can feel like what we're doing day-to-day is not that important in comparison. But I'd like to dwell on the words defined in this post and think a little deeper about how and where we can apply them in our lives. In doing so, I hope we can shift from the whirlwind around us to focus on the direct positive impacts that we can make. We may indeed feel small and unimportant at times, but if we use our voices to build up those around us, we can help them feel impactful and valued. Similarly, we may see the challenges facing our quickly developing world and think that the future looks bleak for future generations, but I assure you, some quick research will reveal that a large portion of our world shares those concerns, and many are working on solutions!
So, let's start with a good look at equity; originating from the Latin aequus: meaning equal. For me, equity as a concept is simple enough to translate, pulling right from the Bible (Luke 6:31): And as you wish that others would do to you, so do unto them. If we want to see equity in the world, in our workplace, in our families, we must treat others with the respect and deference that we would want given to us. Now, with that as the foundation, we can build upon it for applications in specific areas. I will focus just on the workplace for now, as that's where my attention has been. And a caveat, there are many others more qualified than me to give advice on growing equality at work, so by no means do I speak as an expert here, but I will try to explain what equity means to me. I think that amplifying the voice and stature of others is a good place to begin, starting with all others i.e., anyone who is not yourself. From there I believe we should look to specifically bring forward those who are given the fewest chances and do so in a manner that's not offensive or stressful for them. To even attempt that, we must first educate ourselves on the others in our communities and workplaces. There are many great resources out there that give specific examples on how to do this, so I'd encourage you to spend some time on the old Google machine or with a resource like LinkedIn Learning to teach yourself some best practices. Here's just one educational resource to start with: How to get serious about diversity and inclusion in the workplace | Janet Stovall And though I believe our motivations should be seeking justice and good ethics, I do want to mention that ethnically diverse companies perform 33% better than the norm and according to Forbes, they see 24% higher revenues! (Per the video linked above)
a: of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged
b: of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods
Managing & Embracing Change (2-8-22)
First, a few statements just to get people riled up:
Coaches should spend more time learning about change management best practices than the specifics of their sport.
If you'd like to run a marathon, first get on a solid weightlifting routine, and do sprint drills & workouts for two months.
You must start with detailed plan for training, including a plan to change those plans multiple times... because unlike launching a new CRM platform, your athletic training is dependent on your physical body.
Change is the only absolutely necessary factor in development.
Do you agree with all the above statements? If you don't, stop reading now. Just kidding! I did write those tongue-in-cheek, but I do think they each contain a certain amount of truth. What I am trying to emphasize is the belief that change is an absolute in all areas of personal and professional development. And if we can agree that change is an absolute, then I believe the next broad step is to plan for the management of changes.
Now you might be saying, "Right then, change is always coming, and we must manage it, fine Dan, I believe you. But why can't I just manage changes as they occur? Embracing and looking forward to changes from the outset is just not me!"
Well, that's been my attitude as well, for much of my life. And if I'm being honest, I sometimes slip back into that mindset now. So, I can't fully convince you to embrace change simply through words or even by sharing experience. However, I will share some examples which might get you interested enough to start the journey (and if you're paying close attention, that itself would be embracing a change, so I'll go ahead and pat myself on the back :D)
I'll start with the easier example, embracing positive change. Do you want to be better at something in the future? If the answer is yes, then you have an excellent motivation for embracing changes. Desiring positive changes might seem like a no-brainer but often with goal setting we get caught up in the excitement of the intended result and we don't look forward to the individual changes we'll need to make to achieve that result. To combat this, I've tried to shift my excitement from the end-goal to the individual changes required. I do keep that final change/goal in mind but looking forward to each smaller change is like rationing that Halloween candy out until Thanksgiving, small treats each day are nice! And in my case, the final change/goal is my stomach ready for two full pies by the 4th Thursday in November. I highly encourage others to embrace each positive step in any change journey and to celebrate them all equally. This is also a good area to practice giving encouragement to others! Celebrate your friends and family member's growth, whenever you get the chance!
Now, let's look at the other end of the change spectrum, negative changes. These are the ones that you don't plan for, they just pop up uninvited, but oh do they love to pop up! It's impossible to tell you that you should look forward to negative things happening, so that's not what we're going to do here. Embracing change in general does leave us open to the possibility that some changes will occur that we did not hope for. Experience tells us that these changes are inevitable, so with that out of our control all we can really do is choose what our attitude will be in response. A wise and valued friend introduced me to the Finnish concept of sisu, a word that does not translate exactly to English but can be summarized as stoic determination, tenacity of purpose, grit, bravery, resilience, and hardiness all in one. I believe that Sisu is an attitude we can build into ourselves with practice, just like the Fins do. When injury forces us to alter our training plans, when layoff forces us to alter our professional plans, when a breakup forces us to change our relationship expectations, we can choose how we respond. Choosing an attitude of gratitude (trite sayings aside) is hugely beneficial when we are forced to embrace negative changes, so take a look back at some positive events and even write them down if that helps. Another practical step, embrace some new and different positive changes! When I can't run, I usually start reading new books, cooking, and taking online courses. Jot down a few ideas now that you can set aside for when you need something new to fill your time and mind. The final trick I employ to deal with negative changes is usually the most powerful one for me, helping and thinking about others. Nothing gets me out of a negative change funk better than investing in other people and becoming a part of their positive change story.
So, that's what I got on embracing changes, brought to you by a collection of business books, online courses and Bible based study guides. I hope these concepts can help turn you into a change embracer as much as they have me.
Setting & Achieving Goals (1-3-22)
Disclaimer: If you've only been running a short time, I'd highly recommend getting a coach to help you choose goals and create training plans. Most coaches offer online options and tiered programs, based on skill level and time available. There are also a number of great books and training plans available, if jumping right to a coach is too big an investment right now. I'd be happy to recommend some coaches if you are interested in one and for training plans my top choice is: https://higherrunning.com/
With that said, let's talk about goal setting!
Take some time to dwell on all of your potential goals. As someone who loves planning and goal setting, I struggle with being patient and taking down time. Knowing this about myself, I've recently enforced a period of easy base training after the end of my season (i.e. peak race/goal/FKT/series of races) where I look back at how the current season has gone and then think about all of the possible goals to set for the next season. Even if you have goals in mind right away, I highly recommend a pause and reflection period. Just this past month my initial goals were completely changed for the next season after a few weeks of reflection and dreaming.
Think about and select goals that excite you. This what I'd call the 'looking forward' part of choosing. The key motivating factor for me in training for goals is how much the completion of, or merely attempt of them, gets me excited. It's okay to dream big here! I like to choose only 1 or 2 big goals for a year, usually 1 per season with a Spring and Fall season. That big goal might be a single race or FKT attempt, or it could be an overall placement in a series of races, but it's something that should get you stoked just thinking about it (and yeah, usually a little nervous too!) If you come up with a whole list of goals in this step, that's great. Next we'll cover how to select which one of these potential goals to tackle first, but don't worry, there's always next season to go after more goals!
Think about and select goals that make logical sense for you. This is what I'd call the 'looking back' part of choosing. Now that you've got some goals in mind that excite you, you'll apply this step. Looking at your recent training and racing, start to determine which goals will be logical steps forward from where you're at currently. A coach or some wise training partners to bounce ideas off of can really help here, because some of us struggle with choosing big enough goals and some of us want to jump to improbable heights every season, I fit into to the latter column! Even without someone else to help with this step though, you can tackle this by making a summary of your last few seasons of training and listing the peak volume and goals achieved. Now, take a look at your dream goals and pick the one(s) that will require a step or two up in training from last season, but not 3-4 steps up. For instance; say you're big goal race last season was a half marathon and right now you're really excited about a signing up for your first 100 miler, but you do also have your eye on a local trail 50k and road marathon. Both the marathon and the 50k will require increased training loads to prepare for, but the 100 miler might require a much bigger load right away and might be a more logical step in a following season. They all excite you, but you can select which ones to go after first based on what makes the most sense in this next season.
Plan out your key training sessions leading up to the big goal. If you're working with a coach or following a training plan, then you might not be the one actually choosing these workouts, but I'd still advise posting them in a visible place that you can look at daily. I don't personally write down every single day's training leading up to a goal, but I do have a physical calendar tacked on the wall with my bigger workout sessions written down for the entire training block leading up to my goal(s). I do this for a couple of reasons. First, seeing this every day helps keep me focused on that overall goal, which helps me stay excited for it. Second, seeing what I need to do in each week as I go helps the work seem more manageable and bite-sized.
Give yourself room to grow and fail sometimes. Google only expects to hit 60-80% of their goals after initial launch of new projects. Why? Because they encourage project managers to set goals that might be just out of reach, to incite more growth. They would rather rate the success at 80% consistently, than 100% or 40%, as that would indicate goals that are either too small, or too big. If you take this approach with training you likely won't hit 100% of every goal you aim for either, but I'd highly recommend it for long-term growth. Just remind yourself as you go, Google isn't firing folks for hitting 60% now and then, so we shouldn't see our goals as complete zeros either if we don't fully achieve them.
Here I've broken the goal-setting cycle into some quick bullet points for easier reference:
Take downtime to reflect and dream
Look forward, what excites you?
Look back, what makes the most sense next?
Make a detailed plan & keep the plan visible
Give yourself room to grow and fail
Quick Backcountry Hike
We love our local mountains, and the way they are managed. Having grown up riding the over developed, long lift-line resorts of New England, the resorts here in Idaho are a breath of fresh air. Don't get me wrong, we are still proudly born from ice, but we are in love with the mountain west.
One of the things we like the most about Idaho mountains is the freedom to explore them, from summer runs and hikes to going off-trail in the winter. Yesterday was our second time going in the back this winter at Bogus Basin and we had a blast. Mores Mountain is the peak next door to Shafer Butte and the summit can be accessed with an easy 1 mile hike from a shoulder on the backside of Bogus. The snow was crusting over on our way down. as the sun was also going down, but we still loved every minute of it. We'll be back for some more soon, and hopefully so will the snow-clouds.
2018 Fall Races - Ultra Season!
Collection of shots above from various races and adventures we went on over the fall in prep for our first 50 miler. Didn't get many good pictures to show from the actual 50, but we did get results that made us happy!
We've both been training with the Boise Billies since April of 2018, but did not start getting individualized training from coach, Matt Laye, until the build up for the 50, starting in August. Matt had us do some things we'd never done before, and we loved almost every hour of it, despite bonking a few times as we learned how to fuel on 4-5 hour runs. Without giving away all of the secrets; two of the big changes were back-to-back long runs and going by elevation as well as mileage/time on feet with our weekly goals. We can both truly say that, though the 50 mile race was indeed our longest run ever, we had 2 or 3 training runs that really felt harder. That's not to say we were banged up by the time we raced, because we actually felt rested and right at peak fitness on race day, with nothing to stop us from crushing it.
Speaking of crushing it, Sumner came away with the win and a course record as well as placing 5th overall in her first 50 miler! I hung on for 3rd overall after not eating a big enough breakfast (like a total rookie) and bonking hard only 18 miles in.