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Posts Tagged ‘Time’

Time & Money

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There are a lot of empty excuses out there for not taking care of yourself.

I’m not good at taking responsibility…

I don’t know what’s in the food I eat…

I don’t like the taste of water…

Then there’s the excuse about Time and Money.

It takes too much time…

It costs too much…

A lot of people will frown upon those last two excuses.  I used to be one of those people.  My response was, “you can make the time” and “can you put a price on your health and well-being?”  I was taken aback when several people, including my father, pointed out that saying things like “make the time” and “it’s cheaper than being unhealthy” were narrow-minded, insensitive and, to put it not so nicely, ignorant.

No matter how the economy is doing, there are people who struggle simply to put food on the dinner table and clothes on the backs of their families; this while working 12, 14, 16 hour days.

Yes, your health is important.  True, if being fit is an overwhelming priority, you will make time for it.  No doubt that being healthy is less expensive over the long haul than being sick – but here’s the question, at what cost?  I love how many of the “experts” out there will whip people they see on the street over and over again about their unhealthy life-style, how they’re killing themselves and their kids, how cancer is a choice and blah, blah, blah, and as it ultimately turns out, they, the “experts”, have never had to take care of anyone other than themselves – they have no family; they have no real responsibility other than to themselves and their business.

Yes, family health matters, but you want to know what matters more?  Children spending quality time with mom and dad; children going to bed with a belly full of food; children having clothes and shoes that fit to wear to school; children having an environment where they feel safe – these things take both Time AND Money.

So though I agree that people will often use Time and Money as empty excuses to avoid the perceived hard work of becoming fit and healthy, I believe we in the health & fitness profession need to think a little more sensitively about those who are struggling simply to get by – offer real solutions (like family walks) as opposed to generalized judgements (like “if you care, you will make the time and spend more wisely.”).

Not everyone is as fortunate or as well off as many seem to assume they are.

My one piece of advice to those struggling to feel better overall?  Start small – whether that’s a promise to yourself to drink more water or take the stairs instead of the elevator (don’t start with 20 flights!!!) or eat out one meal less per week or play tag with your kids…whatever it is, start small.  Give yourself a true opportunity to succeed and then, after a few weeks of that, fold something else in and then another and then another and then another…before you know it, a year or two will have gone by and you won’t recognize yourself or your family from a year before.

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My daughter has autism.

And according to TIME Magazine, she is crazy.

This is the screen shot of John Ashley Cloud’s article on the DSM-V:

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click on image to link to the article

 

First item up in the article?  The redefining of autism and the possible affects of such redefinition.

***

Do I believe that Time Magazine really thinks that my little Brooke is crazy?  No.  Do I think that the author John Ashley Cloud truly believes my girl is crazy?  I’m pretty sure he doesn’t.  Do I think that he or whoever entitled his piece is a complete and utter asshole?  In the words of Sarah Palin, You Betcha!

The article in and of itself is not a bad one.  It’s fairly matter of fact in its approach.  But that title…that title!

I have nothing against the word “crazy”.  I use it all the time.  Random acts of violence?  That’s crazy!  A buddy of mine running a sub-3:00 marathon his first time out?  That’s crazy!  Preparing for the Mayan apocalypse on December 21st?  That’s crazy!  The Giants beating the Pats in the Superbowl on late 4th quarter drives?  TWICE?  That’s crazy!

Setting back years and years of hard work by those in the mental disability and disorder community with the simple stroke of a keyboard?  THAT is crazy!!!

As a society we have inched ever so slowly toward a more inclusive society.  More and more we are realizing the gift of having all people participate in our communities.  Slowly we have inched toward removing the stigma of either mental illness or disability or disorder.

Cloud’s article does nothing to change that, but the title does that and more.  We live in a headline society.  That is not a gripe, that is a fact.  Just look at this past election cycle.  So many of us get our news and information from either the headlines or from the 50 word bullet points at the beginning of an article.  The only things we WILL read are those articles we find most interesting; ones that reinforce our own ways of thinking.  That’s why a title like Redefining Crazy is awful, disrespectful and downright dangerous.

People will skim over this article and walk away thinking, wow, autistic people ARE crazy…I mean they flap their arms and run around and make strange noises. And they will hold on to that headline because that is what sticks in their head.

Now before you accuse me of joining the ranks of the PC Word Police, I want you to think about what the word “crazy” means to you.  I’m sure there was a time when it was a clinical word.  Is that how the word is used today?  Would you go up to the mother of a child with what was formerly known as Asperger’s and tell her that her son or daughter is crazy?  For those of you who know my Brooke, would you say that she is crazy?

Crazy is defined in the dictionary as:

mentally deranged; demented; insane.

I would not put my Brooke in that category, but thanks to Mr. Cloud, someone who doesn’t know her, but knows her diagnosis, might.

I hope that TIME and Cloud will change the title of his article and issue a general apology.  TIME used to be such a wonderful, even handed magazine, but lately they’ve been acting like a mud-slinging headline grabbing rag.  I called them this morning to cancel my subscription.  I hope you will consider doing the same.

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Time Machine

As a runner, I think about time – like, a lot.  How fast was that last mile?  How much time did that race take?  How much time do I have for today’s run?  What were my splits?  What did I average?

Time.  It’s on my mind all the…well…time.

But I’ve been thinking about time in a different way recently – as in, I wish I could go back in time.

We all have things we wished we had done differently when we were younger – the girl who got away; the trip we didn’t take; the job we declined.  I’ve got a bunch of them, but to be honest they are all silly and childlike save one – I wish I had been paying more attention to Brooke when she was a baby.

Now, understand, it’s not like Brooke is in a bad place right now.  Truth is, she’s been doing pretty well – her language gets more and more complex; she’s expressing how she feels; she’s getting more independent.  She even as a pair of sisters fighting over whose friend she is.  Brooke is in a pretty good place right now.  In general, she is happy.

But at the same time, I can’t help but notice the widening gap between her and her peers.  More and more her home-school communication journal mentions fewer and fewer friends she plays with.  As the girls her age have grown, I’ve seen fewer and fewer invitations to play dates – there have even been a few parents that just flat-out ignored any attempts on Brooke’s and my attempt to set something up.  And birthday parties?  Those are becoming rare as well – a natural progression to be sure; when Katie was Brooke’s age, she decided that she wanted to have smaller, more personal parties.  I get it.  But it’s still difficult to see the pictures on Facebook and the mentions of parties, knowing that she was not invited.  It’s not a “wah” moment, just an observation.

What scares me the most is the impending move to Middle School in a year and a half.  Will Brooke move on with her peers? or will she end up at a different Middle School with a special program for kids on the Spectrum?  These girls may not be calling for play dates and birthday invites, but they know her; they get her; they’re cool with her.

Would that I could go back in time to when Brooke was a baby.  Would there be anything I could have done?  Would that I had listened, really listened to Jess when she first felt something might be different.  Would Brooke be in a different place right now?

How could I have not noticed?  If I had, would she be different?  I know it’s not PC to wish the autism away, and you know, it’s not the autism per se that I would wish away – it’s the difficulties that Brooke faces every day that I wish I could change.  Brooke has autism, and no matter what I noticed or did six or seven or eight years ago wouldn’t change that – I just wonder if I had noticed earlier; if I had paid more attention; if I had gotten her the help she needed earlier…would it be different?

I wish I had a time machine so I could find out.

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Fight

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There are battles we cannot win.  There are fights we know we will lose.  In those situations, should we not engage the enemy?

Well, yeah, we probably shouldn’t.

But there is one all-powerful enemy that I do believe we should engage and battle on a regular basis.  This enemy sometimes steals things from you when you aren’t paying attention.  This enemy sometimes takes things from you forcefully while you ARE paying attention.  This enemy has no corporeal body.  This enemy has no head to cut off, no heart to stab through.  Eventually, this enemy will get you.  It is inevitable.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, this enemy is Time – the stealer of all things.

I have been watching Time – watching it slowly take away my youth and that of my friends, some more quickly than others.  True, I am 41 – I am not a Spring chicken anymore…hell, I’m not even a Summer chicken anymore.  The gray hair has arrived, as have some wrinkles around the eyes.  Both are tough to take for a guy with a mild Peter Pan/Mickey Mouse complex, but I know that the hair and the wrinkles are a natural part of aging.  Recovery isn’t as easy anymore and aches take a little longer to go away.

And yet, I fight.  Taking the battle to Time.

I wake up at 4:00 AM to squeeze in the miles, get the blood flowing, get the endorphins pumping.

I cannot stop Time, but dammit, I’m holding it back as long as I can.

Running is my sword, sweat is my shield and with my weapons of choice I have managed to get myself into the best shape I’ve been in since I was 18, maybe even better.

Eventually time will deal me a fatal blow.  We can’t live forever (not yet anyway), but when it’s finally my time to go, I am going to go knowing that I gave time a run for the money.  I know that I will look and feel younger than most of my contemporaries.  I’ll know that I was able to turn back the clock just a little.  I’ll go knowing I didn’t give up.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

-Dylan Thomas

I will not go gently into that good night.  I will rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Will you?

 

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Why do you run?

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So lately I have been going back and forth between my VFF Treks and my old Brooks Defyance.  It’s due to a combination of things: the weather, the cold, the long treadmill runs.  I used to hate putting on my “regular” running shoes because, well, I hated them.  They’re heavy and I can’t feel anything with my feet when I run in them.  Lately though, I’ve noticed something.  I actually feel ok when I run in them.  I’m not doing anything exotic (intervals, fartleks, etc.) with them, just long slow distances on the treadmill or my shorter, typical runs outside if the snow is fresh and deep or wet and slushy.

Last November, while I was running my local half-marathon, my buddy Mike (he seems to be popping up every where in this blog) was volunteering.  He had planned to run it but had injured himself a few weeks earlier during a 5K.  He said to me after the race that he noticed that my gait was different from when we had first run together 10 months earlier.  It really didn’t register with me, except for the fact that I was running in my VFF KSOs.

But this past month has me wondering.  I did more running in my traditional running shoes in January than I had since June of last year when I started running almost exclusively in VFFs.  It used to be that if I put in a certain number of miles in regular shoes, my right knee would start screaming for a break.  Consequently, I would have to take a week off from running and I would turn into a grumpy old man.  But this last month has been different.  When I went back to do the math I was shocked to find that I had run well over 100 miles in January in my Brooks.

Yet, the knee is peachy.

Why?

Did the VFF’s improve my form or did time?  I remember reading early on in my rediscovery of running that you can very often tell the difference between a beginner and an experienced runner by the length of their stride.  The longer you run, the shorter you stride becomes because your body learns how to be more efficient.  The shorter stride means a quicker turnover and a lesser likelihood of your limbs flailing and wasting energy.   My stride is definitely shorter than it was in November of 2008.

I also read when I first discovered Vibram Five Finger shoes that running barefoot or with a minimal shoe like the VFF forces your body back to the way we are designed to run (not on our heels), which in turn, shortens your stride.  In the VFFs you tend to land more on the flat or balls of your feet.  Has running in the VFFs for the last 7 month altered my natural footstrike so I can run that way in any shoe?  I may have to take a trip to visit my buddy Pete’s lab to find out.

In the meantime, I ponder: was it the shoes or time that has made me a better, more efficient runner.  The shoes or time that improved my form and now allows me to run pain free.

As has always been my way, I will take the middle path and say that it is probably the result of both.

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“I only run when I’m being chased…”

-My Wife and many of my non-running friends

Why do I run? For one, I run because I am being chased. By whom? By the same entity that chases all of us. Time. I know that eventually I will lose this race. It is inevitable. But I run knowing that I can put years between me and that ultimate runner.

There are the obvious ways in which running puts off Father Time. As we improve our general health we tend to physically age more slowly.

What follows is one of my favorite quotes from Christopher McDougall’s Born To Run:

“You could literally halt epidemics in their tracks with this one remedy,” he said. He flashed two fingers up in a peace sign, then slowly rotated them downward till they were scissoring through space. The Running Man.

“So simple,” he said. “Just move your legs.”

For me that was an “aha!” moment. All of the common Western diseases can cut our “run” short. The simple act of running can prevent a countless number of these ailments from affecting our society so pervasively the way they do today.

But you know what else running can do? It can literally slow down time.

Yes, I said literally.

Based on Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity, the Twin Paradox states that if one twin were to fly off in a rocket at close to light speed, fly around space for a while and then return to Earth, he would return to find his twin brother had aged dramatically more than he.  This is based on the fact that the speed of light is the same for every observer, no matter how fast he or she is going.  It has been proven in experiments.  Years ago, scientists sent several planes with atomic clocks on board to fly around the world.  Before they took off, the clocks on the planes were synchronized with an atomic clock on the ground.  When the aircrafts returned from their jaunts around the world, it was shown that the clocks on the airplanes were slightly behind the clock on the ground.  The faster one goes, the slower time moves for him or her.  At the speed of light, time essentially stops.

The faster and longer you run, the more time slows down for you. You age at a slower rate.  Sadly, you can run your whole life and only slow down time by a imperceptible amount, but I find knowing what we can do as runners poetic…beautiful. As runners we can control Time. We cannot ultimately defeat him, but by the simple act of running, we can tweak him.

I am being chased. That is one reason why I run.

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