Training Thoughts
& Le
ssons Learned

-Dan Button

Being a "Businessperson" (6-29-22)

When I was about 10 years old my desire to become a police-officer faded and I became fascinated with idea of becoming a “businessman”. I’m not sure where the idea came from originally, but it probably had a lot to do with my perception of the job, which simply entailed wearing suits, toting a briefcase, and taking first-class flights around the globe.

(Photo for reference, with sunglasses at night...)

This idea of working in “business” stayed with me through high school, college, and into my professional career. From high school through my late 20’s my business plan was all about performance automotive tuning, culminating with a degree focused on small business management. I even started an aftermarket tuning shop after college with a couple of friends, while juggling a day-job with the State of NH to pay the bills (Photo below of my personal car back then, which I still regret selling!)

Despite the enjoyment of running the shop, my passion for cars was quickly fading and I ended up leaving the business and my job with the state at 26 to start a new career in industrial distribution. The idea of being a business person was still with me but the rosy perception had taken some hits over the years. After numerous encounters with sleazy salesman, a lot a experience in politics and many false promises from corporate types, my desire had shifted more towards simply being a professional in my field and avoiding the suits and small talk.

So, fast-forward another decade and many more experiences of what it means to work in “business” and my opinion has changed once again. The industrial distribution and manufacturing industry has far more authentic and honest folks in it than any other field I’ve worked in and I am proud to work alongside them. The past few years of work during Covid has highlighted those characteristics and the integrity and care that these people share with those around them every day. Being an accomplished professional in our field means that you have long standing relationships of trust with clients, suppliers, partners, and co-workers. I'm now finally ready to call myself a “businessperson” and I’m proud to take on that moniker, too!

As I shift to a new role in the industry, I feel more excited than ever before about my career identity, not because of the image it gives off, but for the reputation it requires. Working in ESG means that there is no room for a lack of transparency, no place for not being authentic, and no sleazy sales tactics needed. Simply put, we’re here to change the world of business itself and our end goal is to positively impact the rest of society in the process. Instead of the tired image of the Mad Men style executive issuing orders from on-high, we’re tasked with leading from the front-lines. We need to understand the issues & opportunities that impact each level of an organization. Measuring our impacts, understanding where we can improve, and collaboratively making plans to do so. Thankfully, many giants have gone before me and I’m going to be relying on their insights and examples as I get to work.

Finally, to the 10 year old me; keep those businessman dreams alive, but know that the briefcase and suit won’t be necessary most days, you'll be working from a home office in your PJs. 😉

Climate Doom & Gloom is Not Productive! (5-2-22)

If you're in your 30s like me, you've probably been hearing about global warming for most of your life. There's a good chance you've also felt very lost on what you were supposed to do with the info you heard. Maybe, you've even been convinced that the entire saga is a political side-show, or maybe you still think that. I'm certainly not going to judge you if you do, it seems that just about every facet of our society has strong political lobbies on both sides of whatever issue. So, depending on where, when and who you grew up with, your perspective could be very different on climate change, or really any other issue I suppose. But one thing that I'd guess most of us have heard, felt, and probably believed is the overall messaging about the climate change crisis. A messaging that has been extremely negative. I'm not going to say that global risks and potential mega-challenges are to be cheered, but the messaging has only seemed to focus on that first point; 'we're in a heap of trouble, humans are the cause, shame, shame, shame.' The doom & gloom approach to climate change awareness.


However, that's not actually a productive message to get people to change, is it? It is a great way to cause fear, panic & depression (just look at recent studies on younger generations and the climate related mental health issues many have) I do get that research and facts need to be shared about issues, but without tying problems to potential solutions, or even solutions that we still need to find, it can lead to no change taking place at all in the end. All the facts in the world about how hard it is to run a sub 4:00 minute mile won't get me any closer to doing it and will almost certainly disincentive me even trying. But sharing the difficulty along with a good training plan (and high-tech shoes and a steep downhill in my case) and I'm going to be much more inclined to start training. That's not a perfect analogy because there aren’t clear solutions or answers to all the issues associated with climate change, but the messaging can, and I believe should, have a more positive and actionable tone. To that point, I highly recommend the book pictured and linked below! It covers some very compelling information and partners that info with solutions we have now (and need to scale or utilize) and with ongoing research we still need for new solutions.


So, what can each of us do? It turns out, we can do quite a lot as individuals and much more as groups, societies, and governments. Between political action, scientific/technological research, lifestyle and behavioral changes, and community discourse, there is something that just about everyone can do to affect changes on global issues like this. Linked here is a great primer on some of the things we can each do to right away. If you can relate to my experience and climate change has seemed like a hopelessly negative situation, a political farce, or just unrelatable, then I encourage you to pick a negative statistic you've heard about and start researching solutions for it (re: google) You may be surprised by some of the potential solutions that have already been thought of and some of the areas beyond climate change that these solutions can help address. Things like renewable energy sources, clean water protections, extreme weather risk aversion are so broadly beneficial that advancements are desirable even without climate change, but the urgency it brings can be positively used to push these advancements along faster to the benefit of all. I even discovered that I could directly work on promoting some of these existing solutions in my own workplace and home, and I'll bet you find that true as well! I have also included a list below from the Bill Gates' book where he highlights some of the breakthroughs that he believes we still need to find, because I find this list truly exciting to daydream about working on, though I possess none of the technical knowledge myself.


I'll close with this; the problems are now well published, and the fear factor has been dialed up plenty high, I believe it's high time we chose to focus on positive solutions! In doing so you might even find yourself drawn to an entirely new field of study or career path, or you may realize you were on that path all along and just needed some inspiration and encouragement, like me.

Equity & Sustainability (3-14-22)

Equity:
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)

Sustainability:
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


First, I just want to point out, I believe that if we want to be a society that keeps growing sustainably, we must have social equity also, which is why I started on that one.

One major idea for sustainability centers around the concept of a circular economy, like what we see in the natural world, as opposed to what we could call an extraction economy: The ambition level of an industrial ecology is to achieve an ideal state, one which resembles nature most. Such a system would be characterized by “complete or nearly complete internal cycling of materials” (pulled that quote from a fantastic paper, linked here) I think most folks would agree that a system in which resources are not simply extracted and used up would be better for long-term stability and sustainability. However, we'd also likely agree that a society currently operating on a resource-extraction model would find it very risky to make an immediate shift. And that historical moment, is where I believe we find ourselves today. The momentum has swung towards making that shift, but we can't do it overnight. This provides an immense opportunity for those willing to take on a little more risk/expense to become sustainable first! There is a wealth of good information out there online and elsewhere for practices you can make at home, so I'll leave that part up to you. I've been focused on opportunities in the industrial and manufacturing sector, of which there are also many.

The last couple decades have seen unbelievable advancements in just about anything that runs on electricity; from LED lighting to low/alternating power drives and motors, leak/loss detecting systems and occupancy/use sensors, to name a few. That's all just the beginning of what folks have dubbed Industry 4.0 though, the big advancements are still ahead! (here's a link to brief history of the previous 3 industrial revolutions and quick explanation of what I-4.0 will look like) Many of these "4.0" changes will build on the 3rd revolution's technologies, but they will leverage and optimize them for enhanced productivity, and you guessed it, sustainability. These changes will be essential in driving us towards a circular economy because they will connect our factory floors and provide data on what we're actually doing today, and as the folks at nZero say "You Can't Change What You Can't Measure". Once we know what we're doing now, we can put a strategy together to make the changes necessary. I'd recommend starting with the 'low-hanging fruit' model of making the easiest changes first, to start building a culture of being sustainable as soon as possible. Oh, and to supplement the information that we can get through raw data, business leaders and plant managers should absolutely be talking to the entire plant staff, asking them to bring forward opportunities or wastes that they've noticed. Data is great to have, but it becomes far more actionable when an expert is there to translate it. Sustainability has its economic advantages too, but more prescient is the fact that sustainable companies will be the only one's consumers buy from within a few decades. It's not just a marketing strategy, the largest oil & gas producers have huge departments researching new technologies and areas to move into once fossil fuels are no longer used. It's coming sooner than most might think (but not soon enough, I know)

My main take-away from all this research has been the realization that building equity and seeking sustainability are not only ethical pathways to take, but ways to operate that set us up for more growth and better performance, too. Let's all look for opportunities to drive these ideals where we work, live, and play, and become parts of this quickly growing revolution!

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!


  1. 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.


  1. 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!


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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:

  1. Take downtime to reflect and dream

  2. Look forward, what excites you?

  3. Look back, what makes the most sense next?

  4. Make a detailed plan & keep the plan visible

  5. Give yourself room to grow and fail

Quick Backcountry Hike

Mores Mountain

1-27-19
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.