How Work Is Going

Great.

That could be the whole blog, and I’m merely writing this to get a lot of little, boring-to-others, things off my chest so I don’t talk too much about myself socially.

So for those who don’t know, I work at The Running Room in Westhills. I got hired as a running coach before the COVID layoffs and made enough of an impression to be brought back as full time defacto manager afterwards.

There’s been a lot of chaos getting set up and running (no pun, fuck off) with new procedures and stuff but me and the other full time defacto manager have it on lock because it’s he and I opening, working all day doing everything, and closing. So the store is just ours. And we get lots of practice at every little thing.

What’s really great though is I’m starting to see my stated goal achieved. I’m in 100% give a shit mode when it comes to shoes and I’ll spend an hour with someone trying stuff on and talking it out. And what I wanted was for that to be appreciated, to be seen bringing excellence to something I can bring excellence to. And everyone leaves happy and grateful when they’ve dealt with me anyway but lately I’ve started getting phone calls and emails thanking me specifically.

I had a guy today assume I’m studying kinesiology because I’m so particular about movement and shoes and orthodics. Which I take as a massive compliment.

Just like with run-coaching, my goal is to build trust and rapport and feel that I’ve done good. And a lot of people buying shoes are either starting out and feel overwhelmed or are injured and those are easy home runs for me to feel helpful and useful and good.

And occasionally you get the very serious runner and we get to have a very serious running talk and it’s awesome.

Because getting the right person into the right shoe is like a puzzle or a video game and it can be really fun to get to a good answer from very little information. And it’s awesome to so-well know the tools at my disposal and what the trade-offs of each shoe are.

And then with people I’ve really found it’s just time. People want to feel heard when buying shoes just like they want to be heard in every aspect of life . So you listen and show that you’re listening and be thoughtful and honest – again, just everything else in life.

There’s no such thing as going above and beyond when your stated goal is to do good in people’s lives with your abilities. There are no extra miles, just the miles that need to be run or don’t need to be run.

Which is why for all my gung ho, Wes Watson, Jocko Wilink, bullshit in one area it shocks my co-worker that I’m so lackadaisical in others. Like, he’s so extremely procedural and rule-following and teacher-pleasing – no, teacher-fearful – that he cannot compute when I don’t do something that I don’t see the why of.

Which has made us a really good team. I have another blog in draft about my bad habits at work the dichotomy of my super give a shit in some areas and complete no-fucks-given-mocking-those-who-care in others so I’ll wrap this up. But yeah, works going great.

Great Advice From Strange Sources

Good advice is everywhere if you keep your ears open.

Get Dressed

I first thought about about what I now know is called enclothed cognition when watching a documentary on phone sex workers.

A pro was coaching some noobs and she explained that some people might feel that because they’re working from home, over the phone, they could be in their sweats with no make-up and that’s the perk of the job but no, she said, get dressed, if you want to project sexiness you have to feel sexy so yes, you’re just lying around at home but put on the lingerie and the make up.

This is why I tell people the first step in fitness is buying a new outfit. Mentally put together a character of you-as-a-fitness-person and give them a costume. Yes, you can work out in old sweats and whatever but you know what? Then you’re just going to feel like you, in some old sweats. And when you’re mind projects onto other people what they might see if they look at you is just you, in some old sweats.

And if you felt all that good in old sweats you wouldn’t be starting a fitness journey.

Buy brand new clothes that look and feel good. When you see yourself you will see a fitness person. And possibly more powerfully, when you are seen or imagine being seen by others you will feel that they see a fitness person.

If you dress like a jogger, like you belong jogging, then you will much more easily feel that you belong jogging.

Or doing phone sex work, whatever.

 

Don’t Get Too Hungry

This seemed like counter-intuitive diet advice when I first heard it. I mean, isn’t dieting about being hungry all the time and merely controlling it with willpower? I naively thought…

But no, that just leads to beating yourself for not being miraculously strong, which leads to quitting, which leads to nihilism which leads to bingeing.

What made the advice stand out even more is that came not from a typical diet coach but from an eating disorder recovery specialist.

Stick to a schedule and it’ll keep your hormones balanced and emotions out of the eating equation, don’t let yourself get too hungry. Hungry isn’t good, don’t think that relying on will power is the only way to make an achievement real. Or as the kids say, don’t play life on hard mode for no reason.

Normally I think Interviews Are Garbage

Because interviewers ask questions that the subject has already expounded on, and clarified, and moved past, by the time they’re interviewed.

Listen to the Sam Harris podcast, listen to the Jocko podcast, listen to the Gilmore Guys podcast…. and then listen to interviews with any of them and it’s straight up shameful and wasteful in it’s repetition. Interviewers are stuck in the print based paradigm where maybe the reader hadn’t heard everything the subject said this year a hundred times.

HOWEVER… This interview with Wes Watson (and honestly all interviews I’ve seen with him) is actually a more accessible version of the man and is a refreshing reminder of why we follow him.

 

Also, we see that the guy from London Real is a douche bag, right?

How’s Your New Year’s Resolution Going?

Yeah, think back.

Maybe you’re realizing that your ambitious plans were all ambition and no plan?

My resolution for the year was Tidy & Prompt. I was thinking about it as I was cleaning up just now.

My A1 habit that I wanted was doing the dishes everyday and it’s worked out – I’d say I do the dishes 6 days a week, usually first thing in the morning although in a burst of habit-changing last week I started cleaning every dish immediately after using it. That didn’t stick but I’d like it to.

And I was hoping that doing the dishes and having a clear counter all the time would cascade to other habits which it hasn’t yet, being accountable.

Today I was doing a fit of vacuuming because I live in submarine with two cats. That’s as many cats as windows.

Is vacuuming everyday excessive? I’m really good at daily habits and routines while anything that’s supposed to be weekly always seems to fall off.

And the quarantine does not help that.

Which brings me to the second part of my resolution – Prompt. I actually had a good thing going in the short time between getting a job and getting laid off. Someone even said “I’m like you, I’m early for everything.” And I felt like I’d arrived. I was super early for things until I had literally no things to be early for.

I’ve fallen back into a procrastination problem as I’m home all day again. Back into the habit of ‘checking’ the internet after making coffee and doing dishes, then losing 4 hours, then thinking about how I should do this, this, and this but… then trailing back to the internet.

I still like to get in my work out before breakfast but when breakfast could be anywhere from 8am to 2pm that doesn’t tighten up the screws.

The bad habit I still have is trying to prioritize rather than do. Like, making a list is doing something, but it doesn’t get anything done. It’s still an inert activity and I’d be better off doing anything in any order rather than thinking of everything I might do and trying to pick one.

And I’m way too precious about plans changing. I’ve never been one to be angry about the weather before because I was running on the treadmill mostly anyways. Now everyday is a game of fuck-you-Canadian-spring-you’re-not-spring. And for some reason once that feeling of being grounded or off-schedule hits I just sit with it all day.

It’s a problem I’ve had at other times in my life too, the feeling that when one things goes wrong everything else is now pointless. A lack of resiliency and a tendency toward defeatism.

I guess it comes from there being no big picture right now. Like, if you need to get somewhere and the car breaks down you look at the variables and decide to wait or walk. In this era though there is nowhere to be. It’s just trying to maintain daily good habits so I come out better rather than worse but I don’t feel any connection to the out, to the destination, to the future.

Which is why, of course, it’s important to build good habits rather than rely on motivation. Opening Twitter during coffee is a habit, it’s an auto-pilot routine, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s not innate. I tell myself there’s no reason not to but the fact that it makes me unhappy is reason enough.

On Wanting To Get Back To Good Habits

I don’t know why we humans fall out good habits that we like and make us feel good. But we do.

I’ve listened to people say they need to get back to the gym for years; or back to a certain class, or back to school, or back to not smoking, but always back.

And I went through it myself recently even though I know it doesn’t work. People are awful at going back. I think a big part of it is not wanting to do the same work you’ve already done.

As an example, taking an off-season from running seemed like a good idea because I trained running continually for around a thousand days. I ran summer and winter for two years in a row and then thought I’d take a winter off to work on other strength and fitness.

Coming back to running though I’ve hit pain periods and sticking points that I must have dealt with first time round yet now I’m resentful of them. The first time round seeing my mileage go from 4, to 6, to 9, 12, 17, 21 kilometers was a joy. And I’m most certainly rising through the numbers faster and smarter now but I feel perpetual disappointment when I’m dragging ass at 8k.

It’s like if you wrote something and it got closed unsaved. Despite the fact that you just did it and could not be in a better position to do it faster, better, stronger – you don’t.

We humans hate to waste our labour, ever.

So when we’ve lost progress we tell ourselves we’ll just do the same thing again to get it back but then we don’t. And most insidiously we don’t do anything else either. We know the answer to the nagging feeling, the answer is to go back, so you don’t look for anyway forward.

For me it was my morning routine. I had a really tight, up before the sun and getting shit done morning routine for a long time – honing it for years now – and its only downside was not knowing what to do with myself at 2pm because I’d already done so much and it felt weird to just do more.

And you’d think that the lay off wouldn’t effect it that much. Things should have gone back to the way they were when I was unemployed, like, 2 months ago. But partly it was the dread and trauma of the COVID pandemic just messed me up, no other way to put it, we all had to grieve in the start of these dark holidays. Beyond that though was the feeling that I’d already done this level. I got through my period of unemployment and come out stronger and optimistic. And then I was a few steps into the next level of this metaphoric Mario game and suddenly, nope, first level again with the difficulty cranked. Thanks, I hate it.

Telling myself I was going to get back on the path, back to the same strategies was only bumming me out as I watched myself not do them. I was comparing myself to an idolized version of myself and, of course, feeling like a failure all day.

So I had to think forward. Rather than going to bed thinking tomorrow I’m going to x,y, and z as my morning routine – I started doing them before bed so I’d wake with nothing to do; or rather, nothing to resent not doing.

It created the emotional free space to do something else without getting a mind full of should-do-firsts, and it stops me from self-comparing all day and tracking how far off course I am.

To extrapolate this out for public consumption, my point is if you want to get back to not smoking take up running, if you want to cut back on drinking focus on cooking, something forward, something where it’s okay to be a beginner and see if the consequences can back fill. Because you won’t want to smoke if you’re running, you won’t want to drink a bunch and feel garbagey if you’ve made a delicious healthy meal.

It doesn’t work with books though. I feel like reading but don’t feel like reading what I’m reading so now I’m 1 or 2 chapters into 5 different books.

 

My Lock Down Plans & Challenges

My fitness was great the whole 7 months I was unemployed. I knew going into it that more structure not less was going to keep me skyrocketing and it did. It wasn’t always emotionally easy to feel like I was doing something but I was actually always doing something.

In fact, getting a job with hours all over the place threw me off a lot more than I expected or would like to admit.

And now I’m effectively unemployed again. The store’s closed almost exactly when I said it would (I worked Tuesday and said I very much doubt we’ll be open Friday, even made a video about it). I had that feeling we’ve all had a bunch of times this week – like the facades of a Hollywood set just came down around you and you’re suddenly standing nowhere. There’s nowhere to turn because there aren’t any corners.

Then my self-training kicked in and I was like – get a pen and paper out and come up with some things you can track. Literally anything will do. At work last year we felt inundated with Brian Adams songs on the radio so I kept count and said I’d buy a round of drinks every hundred; and rather than hate Brian Adams after that his unexpected presence became neutral and then fun.

Still garbage though. Pure garbage and fuck him for being so damn Canadian.

The point is: Track anything, it’s soothing.

So here’s what I’ve got so far: The Kelly Starrett Squat Tabata. I’ve mentioned this a bunch of times all over the internet and IRL but it’s from K-Starr’s book Ready To Run. 8 intervals of 20 seconds work and 10 seconds rest – that’s known as a Tabata. Do it with squats and get as many as you can in each interval. Mine today was:

11, 12, 13, 13, 13, 14, 13, 13

(I actually did it while writing an email to my running clinic group and did it for them; then the email didn’t go through and all the text was lost. So…. bourbon. And that email was a lot like this post is going to be. But well deserved hate for Brian Adams. Because… bourbon.)

Next: Ice Bath Timer. Jarod (pretty sure that’s his spelling) is my co-worker Taylor’s boyfriend and a fellow coach among the running group and on a sweet 12k (which I proudly tracked on Strava, no link because I don’t know how) he mentioned being into Jocko, and David Goggins, and Tim Ferris, and probably a lot of the other heavy hitter influences in my life so I felt a kindred spirit.

Jarod also mentioned that his cold shower record was up to five minutes. And I had such an internal bro-moment like fuck, I’ve never timed it! but I’m sure I’m under 2 minutes so say nothing more.

Brethren,  I like my cold showers; and my hot, cold, hot, showers; and my hot baths; and for a while I getting into full ice bath submersion – easy and fun in the summer and when sun burned – and I always wanted to bring it back as an every-morning-first-thing kinda thing.

And now I can. And now I just did.

Barely got submerged. Got in up to my belly button, got out in brutal pain, got in up to my nips with my feet out the other end of the tub, got out in brutal pain, got in and slid down all the way to my neck with my knees and feet being completely out of the tub at the other end (it’s a small tub, as you gather) and called it a day. Insanely refreshed and awake. Maybe it’s not even the cold though, maybe it’s the insane fucking breathing. Anyway – 3 rounds of 12 seconds.

And to the physique stuff… My delts and my clavicular pectorals. Back in the game on those obscure little muscles. So I’m thinking a daily routine – therefore higher rep, lower weight – of two-plate hex press, classic pull overs, windmills, and of course incline dumbell press.

When I was unemployed I wanted to get to working out twice a day, one for the lagging physique spots and one for the overall full-body Spartan Race ready fitness. And now running has to factor into that too because I have every intention of running the marathon distance in May whether or not the marathon race is cancelled.

BTW PSA, this is the ultimate time to take up running – it’s solitary yet communal.

Plus:

  • It gets you sunlight and air
  • it’s trackable (meaning numbers matter and give you a sense of control and accomplishment)
  • It’s investigate-able (a word I’m making up to explain that you can read about it – and watch, and listen about it – and get better at it in the time you’re not doing it)
  • And it’s Fight Club-able (meaning it can blossom out into being the reason for everything – it can be the reason you eat what you eat, wear what you wear, sleep when you sleep)

Running brah, now’s the time.

I’d get you some shoes but the store’s closed.

Actually, joking aside, I can probably still help you choose the shoes you need, order them, return them if need be, exchange them and go from there. That would be a lot of fun for me and I hope it happens.