Sunday, October 20, 2019

Reduct: How do you define success?

As discussed in my prior post from three years ago: I was once asked a question during a job interview: How do you define success? At that moment, I recalled my marathon experiences, so I answered the question by describing when I felt successful. I prepared for my marathon races with a training schedule and a meal plan, and I followed both as though they were prescribed by God. As my training progressed, I recorded the desired results, which showed a decreasing heart rate sustaining greater and greater distances traveled in consistently increasing speeds. I was even given a shiny souvenir of my success through each finisher's medal received.

Though I answered the question truthfully, I knew it wasn't exactly right. Six years later, I think I have a better answer. I now define success through the response of two questions: are you well? and are you happy? If one can truthfully affirm the first question, then the second question can be affirmed with ease, and being able to say yes to both questions thereby indicates success. The trick is to define wellness, which I believe is composed of three elements: spirit, health, and fitness.

The element of spirit covers topics such as faith, mentality, mindfulness, self-awareness, and relationships. A myriad of metrics can be applied to the element of fitness, such as weight, blood pressure, body mass index, resting heart rate, and VO2 max. The area where the elements of spirit and fitness overlap reveal the element of health. Since the beginning of this blog, I learned about each element of wellness independently, and over time, I realized this paradigm to express wellness matters within one's control. Exogenous events, such as the death of a loved one, a cancer diagnosis, or a car accident, can severely impact one's wellness, but navigating through those situations with wellness in mind still requires accessing these three elements. In this way, success is related to your wellness given your circumstances, or "centris paribus" as an economist would say.

Within this paradigm, I would access that my time spent on running marathons provided success in the area of fitness while also providing some exposure to matters of the spirit, but I was not actually well. My faith was not yet formed, and I suffered from migraines on a monthly basis. I had relationships that were difficult and damaging, and I did not feel as though I was progressing in my goals. I now believe I used marathon running as a way to escape from problems that were difficult to define and without any real solutions that were acceptable to me. So I desperately tried to achieve success and happiness through marathon running.

Six years ago, I answered the interview question without fully understanding the depth of my self-deception. For many years, I tried to recall the person that I was when I ran marathons as a means to regain a sense of success. I would commit and recommit to a training schedule and track the pace of my running courses, but it was never sustainable. At some point during my training, I would forgo a run and opt to watch TV on my couch dressed in my pajamas with a pound of Trader Joe's chocolate bar at my disposal. As the weight accumulated, the self-deception would ebb and flow. I would find myself at some unacceptable dress size and give the training schedule another try. I would progress nicely for a short while, but something eventually would divert my attention and the cycle repeats.

No longer near the form required to train for a marathon, but with the three elements of wellness freshly emerged in my mind, I recently began building my cardio base. I started with interval training through Spin classes, and I challenged my patience and endurance by regularly running a 6-mile course. As my heart rate began to stabilize at different exertion levels, I started to lift weights and became mindful of what I was eating. I decided that fitness may preclude the chocolate bar from my diet, but wellness mandates three squares of chocolate whenever it was urgently needed, but only after eating my veggies.

I now exercise a minimum of 45 minutes a day, 5 or 6 days weeks. I normally far exceed this goal because exercise itself also lifts my spirit. I've lost close to 20 pounds within three months, gained a few worthwhile relationships, and I am within striking distance to consider training for a full marathon. Maybe it is fair to say that I have already started training for a marathon, but I'm not yet sure when I will be at the starting line. Under the present circumstances, or centris paribus if preferred, I am at peace, which may be the best place to breed success. So I retract my final statements in my prior post - no new identity required, and Overpronator will resume.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

New Beginnings

At a job interview a few years ago, I was asked if I considered myself successful. Overpronator immediately came to mind, and I answered with the highlights from my marathon training past. I answered that I felt most successful during my marathon training days. To my mind, I was successful when I checked off each item on my training program and meal plan, and I saw my endurance and speed increase week by week. Crossing the finish line with a new PR was satisfying, but the feeling of success was most present after completing a speed workout or a tempo run after a long day of work.

I marvel at my younger self as recorded by the contents of this blog. As I think of all the workouts and maniacal self-discipline I endured to cross each finish line, I realize that I think of Overpronator as a separate person. I am very proud of her, and I even wish I could be more like her, but I know that I have moved on. I flipped through a book that is part of series called Elf-help (which I found cute), and the following quote explains why I unknowingly decided that I am no longer Overpronator.
If you’re always pushing toward greater success, achievement, control, perfection, and efficiency, you’re overrating greatness – as well as your own human capacities. You’re great because of who you are, not because of what you can do.
I feel sorry for the sad person I was when I began my separation with Overpronator, even though I tried desperately to get back into her mindset and reclaim her body. It took a few years, but I know that I will never be Overpronator again. The lessons I learned as Overpronator is still with me, particularly as I venture further into my current active lifestyle. My body is familiar with the process of progress, and in those moment, Overpronator will be with me.

This is not to say that I will never run another marathon, nor does it mean that my goal to run in the Boston Marathon is forever gone. I even held a lofty goal of being an Ironman close to my heart, which may still happen. I am simply no longer solely focused on my training schedule, meal plan, speed and endurance metrics, or the muscle to fat body composition – my approach to fitness has changed. Perhaps, more importantly, my concept of success has changed. Success is no longer about attaining quantifiable objectives, but instead, has an abstract quality best described as sustainable happiness.

I will leave this blog in place because there is content and material here that may prove helpful for the community dedicated to distance running, myself included. This, however, will be my last entry as Overpronator, and my new identity is yet to be determined.

Namaste friends, till we meet again.

Sunday, December 30, 2012


I heard somewhere from some unidentified source that you are an entirely new person once every seven years. The idea is that every single cell in your body is different, or rather, new, every seven years. For me, and I imagine as with most Americans, this concept carried very little significance until the third and fourth cycle of regeneration. This thought is based on adulthood legally beginning at 18 years of age, and prototypical American culture allowing young adults to extend their parental dependence through their early 20s via undergraduate studies.

In retrospect, I believe that my life was relatively stable by 21, though the term stable may not be accurate. At the time, I remember feeling like a leaf blowing in the wind. Though it was not a particularly comfortable place, I now realize that I was actually a young leaf, one that was green and hydrated. As for the blowing in the wind, it was really more like a floating in the wind, but I was extremely eager to be firmly planted somewhere … fast.

During that third cycle, and the beginnings of the fourth, everything seemed to be progressing in the direction of being planted. Then the tail end of the fourth cycle brought a terrible, terrible wind. By 28, everything I had hoped and planned was redefined, and I found myself engaged in a painful renewal process under conditions of sheer duress and an absolute lack of alternatives.

I was stripped of everything that was old and familiar, and I landed somewhere else entirely. At the very beginning of the fifth cycle, I was a weathered crumbling leaf being ripped and flung about by a cold dry wind. I suppose this might be considered the final phases of maturation, or perhaps it was more of a focused study on the solitary aspects of true independence. No matter the nomenclature, it was not and is still not a pleasant process.

Currently, I am in the middle of the fifth cycle, and everything around me is in fact entirely new. I look at photos of people that I consider as part of my support network (part friends, part colleagues), and their entry into my life are all relatively recent. The people prior to my fourth cycle have virtually disappeared, save a lingering few whose lives I witness via social media and nothing more.

I am … or have become even more so … a solitary figure. I have always tended to be a solitary person mostly by circumstance, and only sometimes by choice. It just seems strange that my cellular regenerations have made me more and more alone. Or have I simply purged myself of people that were detrimental to my internal growth, and I had previously surrounded myself with confining characters?

I am not quite sure about any of these musing, but I feel an odd sense of external happiness. To put it simply, I like the way things are in my life. Each day does offer some kind of purpose, but internally, I feel a type of depressed anxiety. I don’t feel particularly lonely in my quasi-solitude. I am involved in a committed relationship that has varying levels of co-dependence that is more dictated by a given situation rather than psychological need. If anything, it would seem that I am progressing on a truer course than I was during the third cycle. However, the internal warmth and feeling of safety is absent in the midst of this fifth cycle.

Does this mean that I am now truly jaded? Or perhaps I am being overly cautious and not allowing myself to internally recline in a more relaxed state of confidence? I don’t have anything that would even begin to lead me to something that looks like a partial answer to these questions. I just hope that by the end of the fifth cycle, and just prior to me staring down the sixth, this maniacal wind will finally cease, and I will have finally planted roots somewhere. I pray that somewhere is close, incredibly close, virtually exactly where I am now. I don’t think I can handle another wind with any measurable degree of ferocity.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Brooks Trance 8

I took the new shoes out for two runs. After the first run, I was disheartened and wanted to relegate them as treadmill shoes. They seemed flimsy on the first run, and I desperately wished that I had purchased a pair of Kayanos instead.

I took them out one more time yesterday, thinking that I would stop by Jack Rabbit after work during the week if my first assessment held true.

The second run was a bit surprising. I didn't notice the road as much as my first run, and my arches weren't as fatigued. I did wear a different pair of socks (a pair made by Under Armour), which probably changed the feel entirely.

So, I am happy to report that these shoes, with the right pair of socks, do pass go. I just hope they last.

In any event, I think I'll have to pick up a pair of Kayanos anyway. I'll use them as an alternate since I've been wearing my Asics Gel GT-2120 Trail as my default walking shoes around NYC.

Now ... I just need to commit to my next race.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

With New Shoes, It Feels Like 2005

I have no idea what my body fat percentage is, but I have a hunch that is something scary. Medically, I think I'm at the obese end of the spectrum. At my physical, my new doctor was incredibly kind and gentle. She simply won't confirm or deny the bad stuff. Instead, she only gives encouragement. She simply said that I know what I need to do, and I just have to go and do it, when I'm ready.

Mentally, I know I can get back to my size 4 /6 self, and I know what it takes to get there. So I don't feel overwhelmed, but I don't think I'm entirely ready to go at Project Weight Loss full force.

I am going to reintroduce physical activity back into daily life. Even if it means waking up before the sun does. I already started to take my vitamins again, and I went shoe shopping today at my new local running store.

This place actually has a camera set up at the back end of the treadmill, allowing you to view a digital video of your stride as you run. Since your gait can change with time, I showed up completely open minded to what they would say. Unsurprisingly, after video analysis, I am ... an overpronator.

I was given a choice of three running shoes. A trusty pair of Asics Kayano, another pair by Saucony, and a pair of Brooks Trance 8. I was tempted to go with the tried and true Kayano. I was in love with them since 2005, and Runner's World gave them Editors Choice in 2008 and 2009.

There was something about the Brooks that I couldn't shake off (pictured above with a Nathan Shoe Pocket attached on the left shoe). It felt so light, and my heals stayed firmly in place. It truly felt like a glove for my feet. They were so comfortable that it made me nervous; I thought that perhaps it was more of a treadmill shoe than a road shoe.

The sale woman assured me that wasn't the case, so I had to go against my inclination. They did not win Editor's Choice from RW, but this is what they have to say ...

Runner's World Shoe Lab Test Results
The new Trance 8 is the first Brooks shoe built using biodegradable midsole foam, which means that it lasts only about 20 years in a landfill--versus the 1,000 years it takes most running-shoe soles to break down. In our tests, this new foam performed as well as the previous versions. Some testers commented on how well the Trance held their feet, while others found that the laces were difficult to adjust. Recommended for runners with normal to low arches looking for a shoe that's more environmentally friendly than most.

Who would have known that I opted for the green choice out of the mix of stability shoes? The thing is, as with most green choices, they tend to fall apart under heavy intense usage. For example, biodegradable road signage. It doesn't even sound like it would be a good idea. Buying green isn't always the greener option if you consume twice or three times as much product to handle the duration of your needs. I am now a "heavy" runner, so I am skeptical about a biodegradable midsole carrying this obese person for 500 miles. Well, we'll just have to see. Hopefully, I'll be taking off tomorrow morning. If not, I will be antsy through out the entire work day before I get to go for a ride in my new orange shoes.