Run for Life!

Four Principles to Running Longevity

I love running! It’s a passion. I love talking about it, reading about it, and sharing stories about running. I love it so much I hope to inspire others to run as well. But I’m not an “in-your-face-about-it” runner.

I hope this article inspires you to run or to re-think your approach to running to enable you to run for life.31795476.jpg

Recently a friend asked me to coach him to become a runner. A few months ago I had lunch with him after I did a 22km run. He couldn’t tell I ran that morning. Later that day he saw someone who had done a half-marathon race and could barely walk and needed help getting off the metro. He thought to himself Gene must be pretty fit as he ran a half marathon and wasn’t tired, walked normally, and looked completely refreshed.

For the person on the metro that ran the half-marathon “bravo!” It’s fantastic to see anyone set a goal and achieve that goal. I also think it is important to set goals and fail in trying to achieve them so that we can learn along the way.

I hope this article can help you learn from my mistakes and avoid them.

Years ago when I first discovered my passion for running I was constantly injured. I reached too hard, too fast, suffered from stress fractures and actual bone breaks. It took me a lot of research, learning, and experimenting to discover an approach to sustainable running. I’ve been injury free for three years, yet I’m running more now than I ever have. I’ve also achieved personal records on my 5km and half-marathon distances. I just finished my biggest four-week running block in years and am not tired, have no soreness, and have a really low resting heart rate in the mornings, which is a sign of good recovery. In addition to the running I’m also averaging nearly 15,000 steps of walking per day. According to Garmin I’ve walked and ran an average of about 120KM (around 74 miles) per week over the past four weeks.

I’ve learned a lot in the past decade about training, avoiding injury, patience, and becoming lean and fit without breaking down the body. The learning journey is not complete and like in any other discipline the learning never stops. My approach is simple, holistic and sustainable. I look at the holistic system that spans across diet, sleep, life stresses, periodization, race objectives, age, and family and work situations. I want to share this with every one to inspire people to run sustainably, and to help runners achieve better results and more longevity, but to also help people attain better overall fitness and vitality.

Here are my four principles to running for life:

  • Run Slow – It’s a Secret to Getting Fast
  • Stop Counting Calories and Eat Clean
  • Sleep for Speed
  • Embrace Stress

Continue reading

Osteopenia Diagnosis, Recovery, and Running

A few years ago I wrote about my journey with osteopenia. For several years I kept breaking bones (metatarsal and fibula) or getting stress fractures despite taking vitamin D and thinking my diet was good. And as a man in his early 40s this was distressing.

Several years later, I’m injury free, run between 30-50km per week and feel more robust than ever before.

Someone came across my older blog site and contacted me asking for advice on how I was able to return to running. This is what I sent plus I’m adding additional information. Others with osteopenia may also appreciate this advice.

Thanks for reaching out. I’ve come a long way and feel a lot more robust than when I discovered I had bone density problems. I’ve yet to get another bone density scan but I feel a lot stronger now than I did several years ago. Continue reading

You Are The Culture

How do you think your staff and colleagues feel when your number pops up on their caller ID?

A few years ago one of my managers told me I was too nice. He said, “People need to fear you more.” This never resonated with me and still doesn’t today. When I get tough on people I tend to go too far and it backfires on me. As I mature and better understand who I am and what skills to exercise in a given situation I am discovering that I need to remain true to my personal nature. Yes, people need to know when they are not meeting expectations but managing with fear doesn’t work for me and for most individuals fear doesn’t motivate them either. I have to be tough yet respectful and empathetic. I’m in a leader position to support, inspire, coach and guide the team to perform at the most optimal level.

I think people with big egos and no self-esteem need to “show people who is the boss.” Ok, maybe I need to have a little more compassion. There are many people who come from crappy childhood backgrounds where they were never given the necessary grounding to build self-confidence or develop a good emotional intellect. These people fear they will be fired, or not accepted and as a result, they fret over the wrong things and drive people from the wrong emotional position. Often these people are very, very intelligent and manage up extremely well but don’t manage across their peer networks or down through their teams very well at all. For years they will pull the wool over their senior managers’ eyes and get promoted, eventually getting to a position where they can no longer hide their lack of emotional intelligence. Then people in their teams start leaving or performing at sub-optimal levels as they don’t want to rock the boat, be called out negatively in front others, or risk dealing with the negative behaviours. Continue reading

Are You Humble Enough for MAF?

As a runner I have a big ego. I love comparing myself to others on Strava and I love getting kudos and giving kudos. I enjoy seeing the paces my peers produce on their runs and comparing their paces and heart rates to mine. It’s a lot of fun and I’m so pleased I can do this with like-minded people who care about fitness and tracking data and performance. Strava is awesome for this. Also, being a data geek from the analytics software world I love tracking numbers and watching the metrics evolve over time.

IMG_8701

Notice I got 8 kudos on this run

Over the last year I transformed my body from sugar burning to fat burning as a source of fuel for endurance running. I lost nearly twenty pounds or close to 10kg in the process and have body fat somewhere between 7-9%. This was mostly achieved by reducing sugars from my diet. You can read more about my transition to reducing sugars in this post.

In the last few months I’ve gone through another transition based on Dr. Phil Maffetone’s MAF technique. His program is based on his 180-formula where you subtract your age from 180 and use that as your target heart rate zone for training. You can add or subtract 5 beats per minute depending on years of athletic experience, injury, or medical condition. Being in my mid forties and a long time runner/athlete my MAF rate is 140. I also used the MAF beta iPhone application to answer MAF’s surveys that recommended a target heart rate of 140bpm.

Continue reading

Defend the Vision

Without a vision, any direction is valid…

Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 10.08.24 PMFor years I managed product direction, strategy, and delivery. I developed two simple rules to product management. Rule #2 for any product manager is to defend the vision. Rule #1 is to build the best product for the market opportunity (vision). Often rule #2 is more difficult to adhere to than rule #1.

Every day customers, partners, sellers, managers, and competitors add additional requirements to your product direction. This causes stress, anxiety, and churn… but only if you have no vision to evaluate each new request. For example, one customer will commit to a $500K deal this quarter if you add two arbitrary features. However, no other customer needs these features. If you agree you have an instant $500K in the bank, but to accept these two features you need to drop another feature that once released in the market will net you $20M. What do you do? When you are true to your vision, and your vision can be executed and brought to market in time (meaning not arriving late to the party to discover all the beer and snacks are gone), the answer is pretty simple: “No, we are not going to do these two features.” Continue reading

Why Do You Go To Work?

About five years ago I was on a solo date with my eldest daughter who was four at the time. We were at our favourite fusion Mexican restaurant sitting on the upstairs patio. It was a warm spring evening, the sky was blue, and the sun’s rays casted a beautiful warm light. I cherished the moment alone with my daughter.

I said to her. “I really enjoy spending time with you.”
She responded. “Then why do you go to work?”

I can’t recall how I answered, but I know it wasn’t deep or profoundly insightful. I recall smiling and being stunned at her wisdom. She has always had an old soul.

Version 2

The old soul

I wished I’d answered. “Because I love my job, I work with great people, am constantly learning, and we are building and selling enduring products that deliver real value for our customers.” I’m not sure a four year old would have understood this answer. The point is that I haven’t always loved what I do and I wonder how this impacts my family.

I can understand why she would pose this question. I could see her brain working. “You love me. I love you. We have fun together. Why would you want to leave me?” Continue reading

Undivided Generosity

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 5.57.27 PMSimone Weil, a French philosopher, once said “attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” 

How often do you have your smartphone in your hand, checking a text or an email and you say to the person you are with, “Keep speaking, I’m listening”?

Our modern world constantly distracts us with instant messaging, Facebook messaging, Twitter, email, texting, Instagram, and so many other forms of distraction. We’ve become addicted to multi-tasking. Work, family, and personal time is no longer divided instead it is integrated, constantly connected, setting expectations that you are always “on” and ready to engage with whomever and whenever. Even the new connected watches allow you to read your messages while on a run, checking time, or waking in the middle of the night to quickly check your messages. Continue reading

The Metro Equalizer

Public transportation is the great equalizer. On a metro, bus, or subway we are all the same; humans going from one place to the next; going to work, school, a friend’s place, coming home, looking for work, or going shopping. It doesn’t matter if you have a six-figure income or are homeless, public transportation levels us all. It serves as a reminder that we are all the same… amazingly human each with our own stories.

The world is comprised of beautiful diversity. Every day I see a full spectrum of our city’s inhabitants from the rich, to the every day worker, to the homeless, to the retired, to the vibrant students, and to the very young. The full colours of the human race tossed together. Each soul alive with ideas, doubts, dreams, anxieties, fears, histories, and futures. Continue reading

Just Start!

Just StartI recall a long road trip with a friend back in university. I was at the wheel while he read a self-help or business book. At one point he looked up from the book, gazed at the horizon and said, “I really need to be nicer to people if I am going to influence them and get ahead.” I thought this was a good reflection as he was sharp with his words and critical of his friends and colleagues. Hours later we arrived at our destination to discover the hotel had messed up our reservations. He was frustrated, immediately raised his force and started giving the hotel staff a miserable time. I laughed and reflected back at his thoughts in the car. Later I raised the subject with him and he was embarrassed and laughed at himself. It’s not easy to read these books and immediately think you’ll be successful. It takes personal reflection and an ability to be candidly honest with yourself. And sometimes you just need to stop reflecting, dreaming, and thinking… and just start. Continue reading

Scalable Income

Screen Shot 2015-12-25 at 11.23.29 PM

My biggest investing mistake was not learning about creating scalable income sooner in life. In my twenties and most of my thirties I believed the right thing to do was maniacally save and invest in mutual and bond funds. By my late thirties I began doing the calculations and realized that other than my real estate investments, my savings had not really grown. Any real gains came form stock options with my employers and from joining a start-up that was acquired. I was embarrassed and frustrated with myself and with the financial investment industry.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: