Hi athletes! Many of you have taken to the roads as the year begins to add a “destination” race to your list of accomplishments… first, CONGRATULATIONS! When able to expand your pursuits to a race different than you’re used to, it seems to freshen things up instantly, from the focus we lend, to the uniqueness it can present, to the literal miles-and special experiences we find at each.
Each race has its own personality. I was in Houston for the mid-January Chevron Houston Half and Marathon, which many attend for the race’s flat terrain and marquis reputation. Considered a major US marathon, albeit not being one of the “majors”, it combines one of the larger Expo gatherings in the region, and often is the host to national records in the half marathon, and such events as the US Olympic Marathon Trials.
Late February, I attended the Ft. Worth Cowtown Marathon, and it served as the first “race” for me in just over 3 years. I have the fortunate opportunity to join representatives of the OKC Memorial Marathon at various race Expo’s and throughout their race weekends, and added the Cowtown 10K to the mix, as a dear friend was doing it, and we’ve never run a race “together.” It was memorable, and the race always brings back great memories, having begun running their marathon in 1985, one of my first! Cowtown is a large race that feels like a small-town affair... which I consider a great compliment! The race has been in existence over 40 years, and I truly recommend you add it to your list if able. Everything from a 5K to 50K is offered over two days, and the race has a great “spirit” about it!
All events have real positives to them; after all, we’re doing what we love and get so much from, but one point continues to resonate to me:
Whenever I travel to a race, no matter the size or level of pomp and pageantry that surrounds it, there’s nothing like our annual celebration of life on the streets of Oklahoma City that so many anticipate year- round... the OKLAHOMA CITY MEMORIAL MARATHON! Stay tuned and I’ll try to help you get your “game face” on April 28th... as if you’ll need any help!
Being downtown in Oklahoma City daily at OK Runner OKC, it reminds me that in so many ways, we’re truly “Changing The Course Of OKC!”
Keep thriving, athletes!
Now and then, most of us experience a lull in our quest for wellness, pursuit of a physical goal, or even interacting with others. That's okay, and sometimes even freshens the approach to take a little time off. Some "check out" if you will, and either take some time for solitude or change the focus.
The running analogy is that of elite runners who take a month off the roads one season each year, literally going from 100-mile weeks to no running for a designated period. It's a good reminder that the entire plan doesn't fall apart with well-conceived "down" periods, and can literally add to your success when returning. Many focus on areas they deem themselves weaker in, like core flexibility/strength, or upper-body engagement, and find themselves fresher and more confident when they return to their main focus.
I was always, and certainly now qualify, a "low-mileage" guy, compared to my cohorts. it agreed with me, satiating me both physically and mentally. That's both an individual decision, and one that can be physiologically-driven. Most of us don't choose to go cold turkey; instead we limit miles for a period, like after longer races or dedicated, focused training time.
If however, neither of these scenarios is the case, and whether walking, running or a mix, you've run into a roadblock just getting back out there, I have something for you to think about.
First, it's the "kinder, gentler" approach. Often, we're urged to take that attitude towards others, and that's of paramount importance. In whatever arena of life, we can't know what anyone else has on their plate, or what they're currently enduring. Not always easy, but we usually try to mix a certain empathy-GRACE-into our judgement of others. Don't forget yourself! Even those of us who count the active life as one of our great passions struggle from time to time to keep the consistency. Next time this occurs, try thinking no further than where you live-OKLAHOMA. (My apologies to those of you who live elsewhere; my experiences dictate this analogy fits you as well' please indulge me a bit this time!)
In my view, those of us who live in Oklahoma-not to seem overly biased-experience what has come to be called "the Oklahoma Standard" in many circles. Born of the shared teamwork, joint effort and selflessness shown by Oklahomans (and MANY visitors) after the events of the 1995 Murrah Building bombing, while we always honor, and never forget those injured and lost in that event, the great flourishment Oklahoma has experienced since then, with the world watching, is symbolic of the best humankind has to offer.
Many of us experience events-road races and other-that allow for the celebration of motion, and fundraising for great causes. This weekend, for example, Oklahoma City's well-known Race for the Cure celebrates those touched by breast cancer, and these walks/runs/races are held nationwide, raising millions of dollars. These initiatives aren't reserved for "mega" events either; a race I will announce Saturday-the inaugural BETHANY FALL CLASSIC- celebrates the renewal of an area of Bethany with new life and vigor. Moreover, though, a portion of the proceeds go to the Children's Center of Bethany, an amazing entity that has changed lives for over a century. I'm proud that we at OK RUNNER are instrumental in offering this new event, and hopefully added awareness to such a powerful cause. Only a few days ago, a meeting for a new race occurred. MILES FOR SMILES will take place October 19, 2019, and all proceeds will go directly to the Children's Hospital Foundation, a cause that became even nearer to my heart recently. The passion in the room from these volunteers was rewarding to get to join;watch for a great event next Fall in Oklahoma City. Tomorrow, CONTINENTAL RESOURCES Couch to 5K program-their 2nd rollout with us at OK RUNNER OKC-sets sail in downtown Oklahoma City-from their headquarters-with proceeds headed to the Oklahoma City Memorial and Museum. I love seeing these folks-no matter what ability level-see the fruits of their 'stick-to-itiveness' over the past months come to fruition! Unless rain postpones, if you see a mass of humanity at lunchtime walking, running, CLEBRATING on the strees of OKC tomorrow midday, chances are it's us!
Maybe this is your impetus for getting back out there: the common thread to all these examples....individuals doing great things not only for themselves, but for many others! How can it not serve as great fuel toward your next goal, whether to get started, up your game, or challenge yourself to something you never dreamed you'd aspire to! It's all about MOMENTUM, one of my all-time favorite words.
I'll see you at OK RUNNER OKC, and when given the green light, back on the roads! Always savor your miles, athletes, and the journey!
BRAVO’S CORNER: Lasting Breakthroughs
While at the Chevron Houston Marathon this past weekend, it struck me that we who run-or walk-or simply take the initiative to move in whatever manner nurtures us have been given a special gift. For some, it comes easy… or at the very least naturally. Some of the athletes I visited with in Houston, and performances I witnessed, leave you marveling at the ability of the human body, and spirit. That's, however, not the theme of today’s blog: EVERYONE who takes the challenge to better themselves by getting active opens a chapter of their lives with no script, and the ending is completely up to one’s dedication, and sometimes sheer will to stick to it.
It’s not just about effort. Sometimes, events present themselves that are beyond our control, or we’re too late to stave off. For instance, it’s easy to overtrain when things are flowing. We tend to feel a bit bullet-proof. Whether elite or not as fast, these are universal tendencies that happen to all athletes at some point in our career. When I say athletes, I don’t speak of any certain ability level, as that word defines, to me, traits that go well beyond the physical!
It’s understandable to want to “up your game” when training’s clicking, or you’re coming off a great performance. That’s reasonable, and to some extent, warranted. This, however, is a perfect time, as well as when other roadblocks like injury, conditions or LIFE, to take a “kinder, gentler” approach to the sport. Try to appreciate that running or walking has allowed you to place fitness and wellness as a priority in your life. Then trust your training and the process. Remember how things you’ve truly had to work for-or wait for-usually take on added meaning? It’s the same with your running. Be patient, and each time you experience improvement, instead of defaulting to always wanting more, take the “mini-victories” that lead to real, lasting breakthroughs!
One more thing: if you always seem to be near the back of the pack, don’t be discouraged: you’re accomplishing the same victories as all the others… sometimes even in more life-changing ways. Those who lead a life of motion are usually the most encouraging people you can find, and that camaraderie will be a strong component in keeping you out there when times are tough. And what’s more: the real stories are usually in back of the pack, so be proud and keep thriving! See you on the roads, and back here soon!
BRAVO’S CORNER: AREN’T WE THE LUCKY ONES?
When in the throws of a long run or hard race, and you’re trying to draw every bit of confidence, reserve, even patience to get through it or finish with something extra, have you ever thought: “How lucky am I?” If not, try the perspective of many I’ve run into all over the country, and you can find this “attitude of gratitude” in any environment in which you walk or run.
I speak to folks everywhere about the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon…..their experiences during the weekend, and the race itself. Virtually everyone says how the race premise-all it stands for-and the volunteer support…the general warmth exuded by our city, sets it apart from virtually any running experience they have all year. When they retell the events of the race itself, like any half or full effort, there are challenging times, and each race has a distinct personality. At Oklahoma City, often it’s the surprising undulation of a course that appears more flat at first glance, but is a great mix of gentle hills due to the charismatic neighborhoods it traverses. More than that, the ever-present possibility of wind when you least expect it or desire it. Maybe it’s Classen Boulevard, or if pursuing the full distance, Lake Hefner, which marks the halfway point of the race. The message I’ve heard-or hope to pass on is this: As runners are fighting fatigue, conditions-whatever the battle may be-wondering if they should call it a day, many have mentioned that at that most crucial moment, they see one of the banners with the name of someone lost in the bombing. We talked about how that kept them going, that they were running for something more than themselves……in effect: ‘how lucky I am to be able to hurt this much’, while knowing what they know happened on that terrible day in 1995. I find great gratification hearing, or maybe gently reminding of this message, and it’s all I need to know to feel assured that this runner’s perspective toward running, and in fact, LIFE-is well intact. As well, that there’s a great chance they will continue to thrive in our sport for years to come!
Whether it’s an emotional tie, or maybe that you never thought you’d want to be a runner or walker and are discovering a new passion, find your attitude of gratitude and don’t be afraid to draw from it whenever able. The gift is that it usually comes at the most opportune times! Keep thriving, athletes!
These are truly "dog days" of summer, and they've even come a bit earlier than we might have thought. A week in the books of temps hovering around the century mark. At times like these, many of us think first about HOW, WHERE and WHEN we'll get our workouts of choice in. For walkers and runners, you can still fulfill your goals, even outside, but I urge you to approach them with a "kinder, gentler" attitude. We can't expect, at very least when we've not even acclimated to outside conditions, to perform at the same level (intensity and distance) as we're accustomed to. Sometimes that means altering the plan, and accepting less mileage, decreased pace, and reduced time spent. Have you allowed yourself, on a rare occasion, to accept that "Completion is the victory?" I hope so, and it doesn't mean you had no intestinal fortitude or that it will be easier for it to happen again next time! When we accept a different pace, number of miles or "performance goal" on a summer day when conditions are drastic, we're first and foremost helping safeguard our future pursuits, because a real heat event can remain with you from that day forward, no matter how accomplished an athlete you are. Your propensity for repeat effects from heat exhaustion or heat stroke grows, and it can happen out of nowhere!
You can usually gauge how hard or long to go, and have a successful summer out if you keep a few checkpoints in mind:
1) Monitor how you feel after each workout, and for the day following. Any noticeable delay in recovery or unique lethargy is worth noting
2) When going hard or longer distance, try to plan early or late workout times, or take it INSIDE if unusually "testing" effort planned
3) Know that it's not always how much you do, but that the workout gets "in the books". If staying outside predominantly, find an alternate workout for one of the days, and make it INSIDE
This "kinder/gentler" view to your summer workouts will show you that you can come back stronger-mentally and physically-by "taking charge" of your training. And you may even appreciate the ensuing efforts more! Keep thriving, athletes, and maybe I'll see you on the roads soon, or at your next race!
CARE CREDIBILITY LEGACY The OK RUNNER way….
Also, a great Pancake breakfast is furnished afterward, where you can enjoy camaraderie with other runners and walkers. You never know when a Special Olympics dignitary will appear!
OK RUNNER OKC is up and running, and I'm proud to say that with three locations from Norman to Edmond and now in between, we're ready to bring an additional level of excitement to downtown Oklahoma City! For me to say I'm savoring being back downtown after almost 20 years is a tremendous understatement. And very cool being in the actual building of my family business; we were here 30 years from the 60's to late 90's. That adds immense pride to the journey! When folks tell me I've taken a "full circle" back home, though I never really went far-I can honestly concur with great pride.
Enough about me; BRAVO'S CORNER is about you athletes! While we've been getting our feet wet down here (I actually missed Opening Day May 19, as I was promised to the Joplin Marathon that day) we chose NATIONAL RUNNING DAY to mark the "official" opening of the OKC store by treating you to a GRAND OPENING event at our new location, 708 North Broadway, in Automobile Alley downtown Oklahoma City. We'll have a 3-4 mile Social Run debuting the course we'll use for our first 5K from the store, RUN FOR RECOGNITION on Saturday, June 17. Afterward, a cookout with a few local craft beer breweries, and vendors, door prizes throughout the evening. It's our way of supporting the sport we love, and a life of motion and wellness, and also saying "thank you" for helping us achieve 22 years in Oklahoma as the longest-standing specialty running/walking/wellness entity in the state. We invite you to come see the new store, visit with us and other industry experts, and indulge in a celebration that OK RUNNER has made an annual tradition now for years!
I'll hope to see you Wednesday, and often, at our third location, and MY new home.....the OK RUNNER on Automobile Alley, in thriving downtown Oklahoma City! Here's to many smooth and gratifying miles. Keep thriving, athletes!
We're two weeks post-OKC Memorial Marathon, and I sincerely hope the gratification of everyone's accomplishment-no matter your distance, speed or experience-still resonates with you daily. It should, as you did great things that day-and from the moment you committed-not only for yourselves, but for our State, and many people touched by the premise of the event. Many you'll never even meet......and that's just fine. Your work is in, the accomplishment in the books, and you'll have it forever!
I wanted to wait a few weeks to offer any words, as the completion of such a concerted goal-with months of striving and pointing toward a single day-can bring a sense of "letdown" once it's in the books! Don't let that creep into your psyche....instead, use it for a template to further your pursuit, whatever that may be. Whether wellness, motion, better fitness, or heightened running, this uniquely special event-the environment, what it stands for, and the message it sends-can positively be the inspiration for your next milestone.
So congratulations to all who were part of Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon weekend. You made a difference, and here's wishing you great satisfaction from your efforts. No matter how you contributed; as support for others, volunteer, walker or runner, know that you had great IMPACT, and here's to many more chances to "raise your game"....the game of life!
I'll see you next Friday, May 19, when we open OK RUNNER 3.0 in downtown Oklahoma City, 708 No. Broadway, on Automobile Alley!
Be well, athletes, and keep thriving!
17th Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon
THE BEST YOU HAVE.....IS ALL YOU REALLY NEED
Running Lake Hefner Sunday-first time taking a trip around in over a year-created the perfect backdrop for revisiting my gratitude for this sport. The past year-"a series of recoveries"-has been quite comparable to the way I describe half or full marathons to runners, those I coach, and near and far. A few bangups on the road, none which seemed like real injuries, but all pre-empting running "free", challenging the carefree joy so many of us get on the roads....what this period of uncertain miles gave me though, as it always does, is more clarity and a clear reminder that we're promised very little in our pursuit of the sport, and the bigger lesson, from LIFE itself. And what better day to recall and be grateful for so many things than April 19.
The Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon honors and remembers those affected and those lost due to the Federal Building bombing April 19, 1995, while celebrating and uniting so many who gather from all corners of the world. I tell people that the closest feeling of pure meditation I experience is while during a run; I'm most creative, in touch with gratitude, and my CLARITY is most present. The central theme these heightened traits brings to me is that there is of the one thing we are guaranteed when we step outside our "comfort zone", pursuing a goal or end result which has an uncertain path: We live our lives OUT LOUD (however quietly) and that is as much the victory as any finish line, personal best or individual achievement we will ever achieve. In effect, it allows us the privilege to be, as much as we ever are, in control of our destiny!
I'll look forward to seeing you all OKC Memorial Marathon weekend, and I wish for you on Sunday, the 30th, many "peaks and valleys" toward whatever goal you aspire, because you earned them all, and I offer a simple reminder that may help a bit in getting through them: Remember how truly fortunate you are to be able to hurt that much....
There are often personal quests, time goals and expectations tied to an athlete's quest of a starting line; I've been there many times. That's great, and I applaud you for these pursuits. If the end result is in some manner not what you expected, or offers some surprising twists, this is as much a part of the victory as reaching a personal best. Try to remember the big picture when you're digging deep, and that you're doing great things not only for yourself that day, but for many others. Such is my view of the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, and why the last Sunday of April feels to me like the best day on the calendar each year.
I'll see you here next week for a final pre-race "Bravo's Corner", and I'm very proud of you all! Go get 'em, athletes!