Don't wait for it.

There are pictures of me, my brother, and my two cousins, as high school kids, where you can easily tell which of these things is not like the other. We were pretty close to each other growing up, and I burned with shame when we were all together with our parents in the room and the talk turned to sports. Specifically, their achievements, which were honestly impressive as hell. Whatever gene was involved in producing all this athletic talent must have missed me. I played on teams that didn’t cut anyone, and only because it was not optional. Every sports practice I attended in high school filled me with anxiety, so strong was my sense that I did not belong there. No one in my family was ever anything but kind to me about my figurative participation trophies, but I always assumed they thought less of me, or worse, pitied me. Was I wrong to hope that running a marathon might impress them?

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To me, you are the CITGO sign

It’s easy to miss the things that only get big when you’re right up close to them. If you need a reminder of how big and bright you really are, then listen to today’s episode of today’s Morning Mantra podcast by Coach MK, featuring me, you and the CITGO sign. You do a lot of things that no one else notices (call it an educated guess). You don’t want to make a big deal out of all the things you do or make them hugely visible from far away, because you don’t want to come across as self-congratulatory, self-indulgent, or any of those other terms that begin with “self-“ that we use in judgment of others. But sometimes you think to yourself, does anyone see this work I do? Will anyone care? Does it still matter if I am the only one who really knows what went into it?

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Your kid is amazing

Yesterday afternoon on Slate’s parenting podcast Mom and Dad are Fighting (the “This Job Sucks” edition), panelists Allison Benedikt, Gabe Roth and Carvell Wallace responded to a question from a listener whose 11-year-old, a straight-A student, was not too interested in the kind of reading and writing they (the parent) wished he would cultivate. The question (which starts at the 30-minute mark) was, basically, how the parent could make the child a better writer or convince him to read more than just comic books. After the question had been read aloud, all three parent panelists let out a heavy sigh. It was Carvell’s response that implanted itself firmly in my brain and has not let me go: “Your kid is amazing,” he said. “And part of your job as a parent is to find the ways in which they are amazing, not to make them amazing according to your own definition of that. And that gets confusing, because there’s so much overlap between what we value and what our kids end up valuing that often times we can take that overlap and confuse it for some measure of influence over how they turn out to be amazing. … but that’s luck.”

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The Caganer: may help, um, clear some things out

My coach named this month’s key workout “The Caganer,” which my autocorrect already hates no matter how many times I assure it that yes, this is what I meant. A Caganer, according to Wikipedia, is “a figurine depicted in the act of defecation appearing in nativity scenes in Catalonia and neighboring areas with Catalan culture.” That’s right: the workout is named after shitting your pants at Christmas.

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2018 in summary: the year of no goals

This is the time of year when runners start to count up their miles. Can I get to the next round number before January 1st? Will I reach the number I chose last January 1st? If I do, what does that say about me? If I don’t, what does THAT say about me? It’s pretty fascinating to read the zeitgeist in December and see how people are tallying things up. December is the season of many lists: Dave Barry’s Year In Review, celebrity-endorsed holiday gift guides galore, and perhaps the very best online media tradition of all (and my personal favorite annual read): Drew Magary’s annual Hater’s Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog. If you’ve never checked that last one out, you’re welcome. What were the best things in 2018? How does 2018’s things compare to 2017’s things? We categorize, we summarize, we count, we compare. And we prepare to use our findings to decide what we’re going to categorize, summarize, count and compare in 2019.

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Achieving autopilot

I settled on running as my physical activity of choice because there were no external barriers to doing it, and therefore I felt it was more likely than any other form of fitness-seeking to actually stick. No driving to the gym required, no equipment, no other people, just shoes and the outdoors. By the same token, I would have no one to blame but myself if I stopped doing it. I feared losing the will to continue as I grappled with the reality of being a total beginner as a runner. Physically, every run was a minute-by-minute struggle against the desire to STOP ALREADY. Mentally, I spent years fearing that that willpower would give way to laziness, to me the deadliest of the sins (did I read too much Ayn Rand in high school? Maybe!). 

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