The Magic Number

Bad news. Today we have to do a bit of math.

Good news. It’s easy math.

Okay, take the number 180. Now subtract your age. That’s it. That’s your magic number.

So let’s say you’re 40. Thats 180, subtract  40, and your magic number is 140.

What does that number mean? Let me explain.

I told you last time about zones, but the definitions were pretty vague. I used words like, “intense, difficult, comfortable, easy”. That’s good when you’re describing how you feel, but we need to be much more specific than that.

I’ll just break it to you. You need a heart rate monitor.

I know. They’re expensive. But we’re talking about falling in love with running. The benefits of running go on and on and on. Physical benefits. Mental benefits. Muscle, heart, mind, lungs. Here is one study that came out just a few weeks ago. More and more we’re finding out that running helps. A lot.

So, my point? Spending $50 on a heart rate monitor–if it really helps you fall in love–is such a small price to pay. That’s less than you’ll spend on a single visit to the doctor. Just do it. DO IT.

Two quick products I recommend.

Garmin Forerunner 110. This is a great GPS watch that is affordable, and comes with a heart rate monitor. You don’t need GPS, but running becomes SO much more enjoyable when you have one. You can hook up with Strava, race other people virtually, and monitor your progress. Trust me, it’s tons of fun.

If you don’t want a GPS, then I recommend the Polar heart rate monitor. It’s a solid product for just over $50.

Okay, back to the magic number. Let’s say you’re 40, and your magic number is 140. When you run, you need to keep your heart rate at or below 140. It’s as easy as that*.

Let me tell you, this is going to feel slow REALLY slow. I’m going to have many more posts on this, but later. For now, just know, you have to stay at or below this number. 130-140 is where you want to be (if you’re 40). You may start thinking, “I feel good. And this is really slow. I’m in good shape, so I’m going to bump up to 150.” DON’T DO IT. Like I said, more on why this isn’t good later. For now, just trust me. Keep it at that number.

Okay, that’s all for this time. Order that monitor and get started. Go out for a run and find out how hard/easy it is. Don’t overdo it, but at this pace, you may find you can run 2-3 miles in a day. Then do the same thing tomorrow. And the next day. Keep doing it until my next post.

Next up: This is WAY too slow.

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It’s All About The Zones

Today I’m going to tell you about five zones. These zones are based on a book called 80/20 Running, by Matt Fitzgerald. It’s a good book that I highly recommend. I’m going to describe each zone going backward from five to one–five being the hardest zone, and one being the easiest. Once we cover the zones, I’ve got some good news for you.

Zone Five (High Intensity) – This zone is an all out sprint. You hold nothing back. This is how fast you would run with a bear chasing you. You’ll be able to run at this pace for maybe one minute, but that’s it.

Zone Four (High Intensity) – This is an intense pace. You’re way out of your comfort zone. You might be able to keep this pace up for six or seven minutes, but it’s very difficult, but physically and mentally.

Zone Three (Moderate Intensity) – This is the first zone where you can run for a few miles. It’s still a good pace. It’s likely the pace you spend most of your time in when you go out for a run. You find it difficult to talk while running this pace because you’re breathing hard. You feel like you could keep this pace for about thirty minutes.

Zone Two (Low intensity) – Finally a comfortable pace! You’re not holding back, but neither are you pushing. You can talk fairly easily, though you still breath hard. You could probably keep this pace for an hour because it’s not too bad.

Zone One (Low intensity) – This is a very slow pace. You can talk effortlessly. You feel like you’re holding yourself back. It’s hard to run this slow because you have to remind yourself to slow down. You feel like you could run at this pace almost indefinitely.

Those are the zones. And now, the good news I told you about? For the first three-six months, we’re not going to leave zone one. Don’t get too excited. After a few runs, you’re going to be cursing my name, but we’ll get to that later.

Zone one is a very slow pace. You’re going to feel silly running at this pace. But I don’t want you to leave it for several months. I’ll explain why later. The important thing to remember is that we’re not just talking about an easy way to get into running. You shouldn’t run in zone one because you want to ease into running. You should run in zone one because it’s the best way to train.

Elite athletes spend 80 percent of their time running in Zones one and two, not because they’re lazy, but because it will make them the most proficient at their sport. It’s not often that the easiest way to do something also happens to be the best way to do it, but in running, it’s true.

The descriptions for each zone are a bit fuzzy. Your body is a machine, so we need to put some numbers to all of this information. In fact, in the next post, I’m going to tell you the most important number you’ll need to know for the next three to six months. It’s a number you’ll come to loathe.

Up Next: The Magic Number

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You’re Doing It All Wrong

Okay, last time I left with not the most positive of statements. I said if you’ve tried to get into running before, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Let me guess how you’ve tried to get into the habit of running. I’m guessing I’m probably right because this is how I tried to get in the habit. Many, many times.

You wake up Monday, determined to run. You know you want to start slow and easy, so you’re only going to do 2-3 miles. That’s not too far, right?

After the first block, you realize that 2-3 miles is way too far. But you’re not a quitter. You’re going to do this. And so you do.

After 2 miles (you said 2-3, so 2 is totally fine), you collapse on your front porch. Your legs feel like jelly. Your lungs are on fire. You’re crying, but you tell yourself those are tears of glory, not tears of pain and suffering. You’ve done it. You’re a runner!

Of course, you have to do it all over again tomorrow. But don’t think about that right now. Today, you’re a runner!

And then you wake up the next morning. You can hardly move your legs. You walk like a 90-year-old. You can’t imagine running on legs this sore, but you’re going to do it. Because you’re a runner.

You run a second time. And a third. But you don’t see improvement. In fact, maybe you even get slower because your legs are sore. By the end of the week, you realize this is the stupidest thing you’ve ever done. And you want to throw a brick at all those runners you see on the side of the road, with their bright smiles, and shining faces. YOU HATE THOSE RUNNERS!

Okay, guess what? You’ve completed a week of running, and you’ve just spent a week training harder than most elite runners.

That’s right, you heard me. You’ve spent a week training harder than people who regularly run 20-30 miles in a single effort.

“But that’s not true,” I hear you say. “Elite athletes run a hundred miles a week. I only went twelve. You’re a dirty liar.”

Ah, but I’m not a liar. Think of it like this. Arnold Schwarzenegger bench presses 100 pounds ten times. You bench press 100 pounds ten times. Think of what happens to his muscles and his heart. Think of what happens to your muscles and heart. Who worked out harder?

In a very real sense, you’ve been training harder, both physically and mentally, than the top runners in the sport. How can I make so bold a statement? Because, it’s all about the zones. And that’s what we’ll talk about next time. Once you master the zones, you’ll be on the road to loving running.

Up Next: It’s All About The Zones

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A Few Posts On Running

For eight years I’ve tried to become one of those runners. You know the kind. The kind of runner who truly loves running. Right down to their core. They don’t run because they have to. They don’t run so they can brag to their friends. They run because deep down they love it.

Love running? Is that even possible? If you had asked me even a few years ago I would have told you no, at least not for me. I ran, but I ran because I wanted to be healthy. I wanted to have strong lungs and legs. But I didn’t love it. I didn’t even like it. It was a chore. Sometimes I hated it. A lot.

There are times I quit running for a few months. When I started up again, running was even worse than before because I felt like I was starting from scratch.

But I like to read, and I’ve read a lot about running. For eight years I’ve studied, and have tried different things. And finally, I can now honestly say what I never thought was possible . . . I love running.

I didn’t mental breakthrough (or breakdown). I didn’t reach some zen-like state. No. To put it bluntly, I was running wrong. I was training wrong. I hated running because I was doing it wrong.

The best part? The solution is pretty easy. Not easy enough that I can explain it in a single blog post, but easy enough that I can do it in four or five. If you learn a few key facts, and follow a few easy steps, then there is a very good chance you can love running too.

I’m a writer. I’m an instructional designer. So I can’t help but want to sit down and write out the solution I’ve discovered. So that’s what I’m going to do. To be completely honest, I’m doing this for two reasons.

Reason one: I get excited about this. And when I get excited, I tend to talk. And right now, my wife is sick and tired of hearing me talk about running. So instead, I’m going to put all my thoughts on my blog, thus giving her a little break from my ramblings.

Reason two: My parents want to get into running. My dad was a high school track star. As luck would have it, the things I’ve learned work well for all ages. And so as a Christmas present to them, I’m going to lay out everything I’ve learned over the past eight years in an easy-to-follow series of blog posts. To help them get started.

Okay, I’ve gone on long enough. Over the next few weeks I’ll explain the simple concepts, week-by-week. Learning to love running doesn’t happen overnight, but there is good news-it’s a whole lot easier than you could imagine.

Next blog post: You’re Doing It All Wrong.




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I Can Read Your Mind

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “I would be a lot happier if I could read a book about a boy who shares the same name as one of several internal beams that extends from the eaves to the peak of a roof and constitutes its framework.”

Well, have I got a book for you. #AlmostSuper #RafterBailey

And besides, this way, when you get a craving to read a book about a superhero who lives in a nursing home and can grow a mustache on her left kneecap, you’ll be ready for the sequel. #SearchingForSuper

Almost Super is available to buy now, and Searching For Super comes out in January–you can pre-order it now!

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Hot Diggity

So, today I get to reveal my cover! Go ahead and scroll down, take a gander, then come back here to read my commentary. Go! Go! Take a look!

I’m super (no pun intended) excited about the cover. Without giving spoilers from the first book, the cover for book two hints at several things.

In the first book, the gang were in their street clothes, standing on the ground. Not any more. As the cover shows, they’re now in super suits! You can bet they’re pretty excited about that, but Benny more so than just about anyone. Benny can do enough damage without a super suit, just imagine what he can do when he’s wearing one.

And it’s no mistake that they’re flying above the city. What is a superhero book without somebody flying?

Finally, who is that fourth character in the background? He’s in a super suit, so it’s clear he’s a superhero. I’ll give you a hint . . . he’s the one with the funny name.

So, there you have it. The second book in the SUPER series. I’m very excited for all of you to see where Rafter, Benny, and Juanita are headed, and the next adventure that awaits them.

Searching For Super Cover

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Rickroll: A Dish Best Served Cold . . .

I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to Rickroll my 14yo for four months. Every time I send him a link, he asks if it’s a Rickroll. He swore I would not be able to trick him.

Yesterday I sent him a picture of Rick Astley through the US postal service, and the words “Gotcha” written below it.

Today he sends me an e-mail with two words:

“Curse you.”

I think I win.


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Ten Rules for Making “Ten Rules” Lists

Rule #1 – People will only remember your first and last rule, so put the most important rules in those slots.

Rule #2 – If your rules are not entertaining or insightful, people will skip to rule #8 after reading the second rule.

RULE #3 – If people read Rule #3, they’ll certainly read Rule #4. So Rule #3 can be a throwaway.

Rule #4 – If the first three rules are entertaining, then people will pause here to share on Facebook Twitter. You can play a practical joke by putting something offensive in Rule #5 that will then shame the person and make them think twice before sharing things on social networks (we all win!).

Rule # 5 – Remember that any good “Ten Rules” list will always reference the Nazis.

Rule #7 – Nobody is counting after the first five rules, so you can skip a rule, if you don’t really have ten. No one will notice.

Rule #8 – If you came here from Rule #2, SCREW YOU!

Rule #9 – NOBODY remembers rule number nine because they’re all aquiver about getting to the last rule.

Rule #10 – Anybody can create a “Ten Rules” list. If the author is really helpful, and has half a brain, he will be able to take his list all the way up to eleven.

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Almost Super Cover Reveal

Hey all. I’m excited to reveal the cover to Almost Super!

Almost Super_final

Fantastic, isn’t it? Pete Oswald (who has worked on Paranoman and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs) is the artist. He did a great job, and I can’t wait to see this on a shelf. I don’t have a firm release date yet, but it will likely be first part of next year.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Less is More

This year has been a rough one for me. A lot of changes. A lot of growing.

I’ve learned something. Stuff doesn’t make you happy. In fact, at least in my experience, it does the opposite. I honestly believe that when you bring “stuff” into your life, it makes your life heavier. It pins and wears you down.

I’ve recently lost most of my “stuff”. I’ve had to acquire new stuff. And almost without exception, every time I add something new to my collection of possessions, I feel it weighing me down.

It’s interesting. The act of purchasing something is exhilarating. There is a rush of excitement and power. I am in control of my world. I click a button and an item is hand delivered to my house.

But once that item comes into my house, I have to find a place for it. I have to maintain it. I have to move it so I can dust or vacuum. It takes up space. Every time I walk into a room, it’s there. I have to allocate mental capacity to it.

I think the nomads had it right. They had just enough stuff to pack up on a beast of burden and move. Sometimes I wonder if I could fit all my belongings in backpack, I’d be a happier person. I really do.

There are two exceptions to this rule. The first is food. It comes into the house, serves a purpose, and then is gone. The act of creating something with raw ingredients makes me happy. Even more so when I can share that creation with family members or friends.

The second exception is my computer. My computer opens up a new world. It allows me to connect with friends. I’ve never regretted buying my laptop.

To me, this just proves the obvious. It’s not stuff that brings us happiness. It’s people and relationships.

I don’t own much anymore, but I think today I’ll go through the house anyway. I think I’ll get rid of everything I possibly can.

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