Category Archives: Practice

Positive Thinking and Positive Self-Talk

I got into positive thinking and positive self-talk a few years ago. I find them useful. Contrary to what some people say, it’s not about lying to yourself. It’s not about believing the impossible. Everything isn’t always great. Positive thinking is about seeing opportunities in obstacles, and finding lessons in hardships. Yes, it’s about looking on the bright side. Accept the negative and move forward while keeping a positive mindset, but to get results beyond that, you have to take action as well.

Positive self-talk is a way to support yourself in your pursuit of becoming more. More doesn’t have to be faster, bigger, stronger, thinner, or wealthier. It can be as simple as being happier, accomplishing a specific task or goal, or just being more grateful for what you already are and have.

Positive self-talk is another tool to use when things get difficult, you feel down, or things aren’t going how you want. It’s accepting what is, while acknowledging that the situation is temporary, and you have the strength to outlast it until things improve or create improvement.

Acceptance alone isn’t enough for me. I like to remind myself that I’m capable of great things and often add visualization to my positive self-talk.

I have a number of statements that I use in different situations. I call them affirmations, but they could also be mantras, chants, oaths, testimonies, prayers, or whatever you want. Sometimes it’s just about having something to focus on to make positive changes to my mindset.

There was a period of time when I was convinced that I was not going to live much past my 40s, maybe 50s, that I would become sick, miserable and die. Then it started to happen. I was already miserable, which certainly didn’t help my outlook on the future. I started to get quite sick, and I was getting worse.

When I decided that being sick wasn’t part of who I am and being healthy was, I started to see opportunities to support my health and began taking action. I started changing food habits, running and taking responsibility for my own health. Doctors told me it didn’t matter what I ate, but I noticed symptoms got much worse after eating fatty foods, especially when I was dehydrated. I learned more, became more self-aware about my body and its reactions to different things and made further changes.

The positive changes in my mindset and the actions I took built on one another to nearly eliminate my previous symptoms, stop all the medications I was taking, getting into the best shape of my life, and have a much better outlook for my future.

I’ve said it before, but I hated running when I was in the Army. A couple years after I got out, I started running again. I got injured a lot over the first few years, didn’t think I’d ever be very fast and really just had a limited view of what my running potential.

When I started telling myself that I was fast, strong and a good runner, believing it, and learning more from others and what’s worked for myself, my training started going better, injuries decreased, motivation improved. I’ve even expanded my running self-image since then. I exceeded my increased expectations a couple times too.

When I’m out running and it starts getting tough, whether I’m having trouble concentrating, I keep tripping, I feel some imbalance or twinge, I get stiff, sore, tired, or I just hit a low patch, I came up with an affirmation that brings my focus back to my body, running form, foot placement, breath and the to moment in general. “I’m strong, fast, flexible, efficient and sure footed. I’m built for long-distance running over uneven terrain.” If I’m feeling tense somewhere and having trouble releasing it, I’ll add “relaxed” after “efficient”. It works great for me. My concentration improves, I relax, and start to feel lighter on my feet. It doesn’t suddenly give me a boost of energy or make me faster. My mind comes back to the current task of running.

It’s sort of like trying to read a book and watch TV at the same time. If you focus solely on the book, you won’t catch much of what’s happening on the TV. If you let too much of the TV take over your focus, you’ll have trouble reading. My running affirmation focuses me and reminds me that I’m capable of more. Whatever the current difficulty, I can get through it.

Positive thinking and positive self-talk are both great tools for increasing your vision of your potential. But on their own, the best you can hope for is an improved mood. To actually get results with them, you have to take action.

Trying to Get Out of My Own Way

I haven’t written much in weeks. And most of that was just some training log notes. I shouldn’t say “just”, because writing is writing, and even in training logs I try to write well.

I tend to build up an anticipation and pressure around writing. Usually it’s about writing xxx number of words, or so many blog posts, or even staying up-to-date on training log notes. The anticipation and pressure become so great that they become a barrier to even trying.

This phenomenon isn’t solely limited to writing for me, and it dates back over 20 years. The first specific incident I remember was related to writing, though. In 5th grade, I ended up getting myself homeschooled for about the last half of the school year. I had a school district provided tutor/teacher. I kept getting behind on assignments. The knowledge wasn’t an issue, I’d just build so much anticipation and pressure about the assignments. My tutor recognized this and gave me a due date for a history report that he was pretty sure I’d miss. I did, and he explained that he thought I’d miss it. I think he said it was procrastination and overwhelming myself, and he was pretty close.

I’m pretty sure the same phenomenon was why I ended up homeschooled in the first place. I’d worry so much that I’d get sick in the mornings either at home, or on the way to school. I think I did finally finish the report, but I don’t really remember how rest of the school year went.

I had similar problems missing school days all the way through high school, culminating in leaving school halfway through my junior year. I took correspondence courses through the mail (internet courses weren’t around yet) for the second half. I went to community college through the Running Start program for my senior year of high school.

The anticipation and pressure still get to me sometimes. It’s not things that are actually mandatory like taxes or bills. Though I do usually procrastinate on my taxes. Sometimes it creeps into my business, unfortunately. Working for myself, there’s no one else to hold me accountable, so sometimes I find myself doing enough to get by rather than hustling to flourish. It’s a lot more invasive in creative endeavors, things that I want to do, and tell myself that I should do, like music, videos and, of course, writing.

I haven’t come up with a good way to overcome it when it does build up. If I don’t overthink whatever the task is and just get to work on it, I don’t have time to build that obstacle for myself, and there’s little resistance. Sometimes I can just ignore it and get to work, but that’s not yet a consistent strategy. Maybe I’ll find another way, or maybe I need to continue chipping at it and slowly build up the strength to act despite the pressure.

For now, I just know that writing again feels great.

Oscar the Grouch, Eeyore and Me

Oscar the Grouch was one of my favorite Sesame Street characters. I don’t really remember why. What I do remember was that almost nothing anyone did for him made him happy. There were occasions where he’d come out of his grouchiness momentarily, but it usually didn’t last long. He seemed to genuinely enjoy being grouchy, though.

Eeyore, from Winnie the Pooh, was worse. Even when reunited with his oft missing tail, no one could make him happy. Fortunately, his mood didn’t rub off on Christopher Robin or the other 100 Acre Wood residents much, unlike it can in real life.

Happiness is a choice you can only make for yourself. You can’t make others happy. They have to decide how they’ll react. Choose to be happy yourself, and maybe they’ll get the idea.

June 15-21 Practice Running

Monday, June 15, 2015, 8:18 pm

6.11 mi, 581 ft gain, 1:15:03. Kellogg Lake Tree Farm gate #1, with dogs. Altra Superior 1.5 red #2.

We stopped at Olney Creek for the dogs to take a dip before continuing on towards the hills. I decided to take a different turn this time. The one shortly after crossing the small bridge at the bottom of the hill. I’m not sure I’ve been on that road before, maybe once a year or two ago.

It was fun. There were a couple shorter off-shoot roads that we went on as well. One had some tall grass and flowers growing on it. The dogs had fun running through them. The road ended at a logging landing, but some tracks from heavy machinery continued a little farther.

I wasn’t concerned with pace, with the upcoming race on Saturday. I looked around a bit and let the dogs sniff around too. There were lots of deer tracks on and around the landing.

I felt good on the run back to the car, imagining myself on the final miles of Rattlesnake Ridge 50k, running on the Snoqualmie Valley trail. If I stick to my race plan, the pace should be similar too.

Average HR 127 bpm.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015, 6:55 pm

4.16 mi, 37 ft gain, 34:55. Around town, solo. New Balance MR10v2.

Feeling pretty well today, as far as tapers go. More visualizations of the final 9 mi of the race. I took the pace up a little bit today.

Average HR 138 bpm.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015, 5:58 pm

4.91 mi, 186 ft gain, 1:12:54. Kellogg Lake Tree Farm gate #1 & up Olney Creek, solo. Altra Superior 1.5 red #3.

I’ve been getting kind of bored running the same routes around town and in the tree farm. But I want to keep it pretty easy for the taper. I had an idea recently about running up Olney Creek from one of the bridges, possibly all the way to the next one up stream. Today I decided to check it out.

It was a lot of fun. In the water, out of the water, rocks, sand, logs, fish. The rocks under water are quite slippery, but I managed to stay upright. There were a couple places where the creek splits into more than one channel, and one was completely dry. Some of the “rapids” were no more than a few inches deep, while nearby pools were 3-4 ft deep with that crystal blue colored water.

I went a bit over a mile upstream before turning around. I didn’t have the time, nor the inclination to find out how far it was to the next road today. Travel was relatively easy, with few blowdowns to navigate and only a couple places where the water was over my knees.

I didn’t bother emptying out my shoes before heading back to the car. There was quite a bit of sand and small gravel, but it wasn’t too bad for the short trip.

I wasn’t the only recent human traveler through the creek bed. There were at least two other shoe tracks, probably anglers. I also saw all kinds of deer tracks.

Looking at my track on Strava, it appears to be another 1.5 mi or so to the next bridge.

Average HR 116 bpm.


Thursday, June 18, 2015, 5:54 pm

4.81 mi, 183 ft gain, 1:08:03. Kellogg Lake Tree Farm gate #1 & up Olney Creek, solo. Altra Superior 1.5 red #2.

I had so much fun yesterday, I decided to do it again today with the dogs this time. They weren’t sure what was going on at first when I started wading through the water upstream from the bridge. After a little coaxing, they joined me.

The dogs had at leas as much fun as I did. We didn’t go quite as far today, though. They both love the water, but Vida is sometimes tentative to go into water where she can’t touch bottom. Once she’s in or if she’s really motivated to get a stick or something, she’s just fine.

Once back to the bridge, I took short look downstream to see if it was passable in that direction. There were a lot of blowdowns crossing the whole creek bed in the first few hundred yards. I’m not sure about beyond that.

I cleaned out my shoes before heading back to the car this time. I sat by the water, pulled off one shoe at a time, swished it around in the water to try to get the sand and gravel briefly in suspension, then dumped them out. Then I rolled my socks down to my toes (putting wet Injinji socks back on sucks), swished my feet in the water to get the sand off and out, rolled them back up, swished around again to get the sand off the exterior, then put my shoes back on and headed out.

Average HR 118 bpm.


Friday, June 14, 2015, 4:01 pm

3.18 mi, 28 ft gain, 25:30. Around town, solo. New Balance MR10v2.

Last taper day. I ate shortly before heading out, so my HR was elevated, probably by about 10 bpm. My lower legs just above my ankles were a little tight. They loosened up before too long.

More visualizations of race day. I felt pretty good besides the early leg tightness.

Average HR 148 bpm.


Saturday, June 20, 2015, 7:33 am

50 km, 6439 ft gain, 5:20:03. Rattlesnake Ridge Run 50k, solo. Altra Superior 1.5 Red #3.

I had a great race. I stayed fairly conservative going over Rattlesnake Ridge and back. My split was maybe a couple minutes faster than last year. I made up most of the 11 min improvement over last year on the last 9 miles. I’ll post a more detailed race report soon.

Average HR 153 bpm.


Sunday, June 21, 2015, 6:17 pm

3.62 mi, 944 ft gain, 1:13:37. Reiter gate #2, with dogs. Altra Superior 1.5 Red #3.

I forgot about the terrible Sunday traffic westbound on US2, so I didn’t run where I had planned.

It’s getting pretty overgrown with grass and blackberries on parts of this route. Fortunately, the creeks are still running in the area, so the dogs had plenty of water to drink and cool down in.

I found some more old 4×4 trails up the hill. I ended up going much steeper today than I had planned, which ended up meaning a lot more hiking than running than planned as well. That’s ok. Just getting moving and keeping it a relatively easy effort was the goal.

Average HR 117 bpm.


Weekly totals: 56.9 mi, 8370 ft elevation gain

Perfect vs Good

I’m doing things a little different with this post. I posted a video to my new YouTube channel on this same topic, which will be linked at the end. I won’t double up like this for all future posts, but may do it occasionally. Read below, watch the video, or do both.


I’ve put off many things waiting to gather more information, get better gear, the right situation and so on. While being more prepared is usually a good thing, and different circumstances might make things easier, it’s still usually just another form of procrastination.

Last week I was reading something and was reminded of something Voltaire said (though he was likely relating an ancient saying), “perfect is the enemy of the good.” Incremental improvements take increasingly more effort and time the better things become. In economics it’s called diminishing marginal returns.

One form of the Perfect vs Good problem is Analysis Paralysis. It’s really just procrastination under the guise of due diligence, a way to feel productive without accomplishing much of any worth.

When you wait for circumstances to be “right” or “enough” information, you hang the possibility of success on the external world over which you have no control. In the meantime, you could have started, accumulated results over the otherwise wasted time, and learned from your experiences. Rather than reading everything you can about the topic, you can figure out the exact information you need to solve actual problems and further grow.

In the case of any online endeavor that relies on building an audience, like my new YouTube channel (or a blog, e-commerce site, freelancing, etc.), if I started 3 months ago when I had the idea the basic means to get going, I’d already have 3 months in front of people; 3 months of comments and criticisms; 3 months of honing my message, narrowing or expanding my target audience; and so on.

While I waited for the perfect situation to start, no one knew about it, I could only guess about possible obstacles, and I missed any opportunities that may have come about with action. And it’s not like any information that I thought I needed wouldn’t be there if and when I actually needed it. I’d probably be able to understand it better with experience as well.

Don’t let the feeling that you need more information, better gear, the right time, the right circumstances, the right anything be excuses holding you back from what you want. You don’t need to read 50 more articles or blogs on healthy eating to start right now. You don’t need equipment or a trainer to start working on your fitness goals. You don’t need to learn how to build a webpage from scratch to start a blog or online business.

There’s also a real chance that you will fail. Or maybe you’ll figure out that it’s not actually something that you want to do. In either case, it’s better to figure it out sooner rather than later, not waste all that extra time preparing, and move on to the next thing.

How much Good are you willing to give up chasing after a Perfect that may not even be attainable? Get started.