1 0 Posts in Inspiration
June 29, 2012



It is necessary to try to surpass one’s self always: this occupation ought to last as long as life.
~ Queen Christina of Sweden

Technically, I am turning 43 today. But here, I am going to celebrate turning One.

One year ago today I laced up my very first pair of running shoes and I committed to a new course. I decided to start running but, more than that, I decided to run for a year.

Here I am. I have arrived.

When I started this journey, a year sounded like infinity and a half a mile in running shoes felt like a marathon. Today, I sit here hoping to recover from a herniated (ok 3) disc in my back and I finding myself wondering if I could manage to train for a half marathon in the fall if all goes well.

In-between, I have put a lot of miles under my feet and I have learned a whole lot about who I am.

Isn’t that funny? When you are a kid, you think of grown ups sort of like fully cooked humans. They are “done” and you are growing. Adults tell you that all the time don’t they? When you are grown up, you’ll see… But the special secret of grownuphood is that – if you pay attention – there is always more growing up to do.

One thing I learn more and more as I keep growing up is that we can be more or less conscious in this process. I am not saying that we can always choose the lessons or the training grounds, but we can choose how actively we participate in the process. On the surface, I chose running because I got to age 42 and realized that I needed to make a hard commitment to taking better care of my body because it was not getting any younger. (You can read about where I started here.) And I could have just left the decision at that. Lots of people make commitments to exercise right? And they quietly stop them 2 weeks or 2 months later and life goes on.

I chose to run for an entire year because I was looking for something more. Continue reading…

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April 22, 2012

Feels Like Flying and…Oh…

Feels Like Flying and…Oh…

Since I took up running in June of 2011, I have been fascinated with the experience of “runner’s high.” When I was first looking at making a commitment to running, the question I posed to many runners was “how long did you have to run before you experienced this magical thing?” – I never once got an answer of less than a year. Most in fact, seemed to agree that you would have to run for a while and you would have to run often. As I have run longer and more often, I think I have had glimpses of this self-induced state-experience. But I am not sure. My real runner friends assure me that I won’t mistake it when it happens. Ok. So I asked a few of them if they would be willing to describe their experience of runner’s high such that a novice like me might be able to better be able to identify the feeling when it strikes. My friend Ted volunteered. Before he sent me this post, he said “I hope you won’t be offended by my analogy…” All I can say is that if it’s really that good it explains why I have heard people say they would give up sex before running. May I also add that this surely motivates me to keep going – how about you?

“If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes” – Andrew Carnegie

Last week Jacqueline and I were running at a very reasonable pace along the beach, and on the return portion of our run, I suddenly turned to her and said, “Sorry, but I have to fly.” And with that, I took off with longer strides that somehow felt lighter, a fast pace, and a huge smile on my face. The world had seemingly become more beautiful, and I was feeling wonderful!  After a short while I turned around and ran back to Jacqueline, who was also smiling. Although she encouraged me to keep going, I was still experiencing that “runners’ high,” and wanted to continue our run together.  I tried to explain what I was experiencing, and promised I would blog about it….about this so-called “runners’ high” that so many of us who run just love to experience.

(Really, he did try to explain it, but he was doing better at smiling than talking….) Continue reading…

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April 1, 2012

In Memoriam

In Memoriam

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?

~Kahlil Gibran, from “The Prophet”

Runner Micah True, also know as Caballo Blanco, was found dead in a remote area of the New Mexico wilderness. There are a lot of news pieces about this like this one in the Boulder Daily Camera, so I won’t repeat.

I am far from an ultrarunner, but True’s story – a central part of Christopher McDougall‘s book, Born to Run – is an inspiration that will live on without him forever. I read this book just as I was starting my journey into running in the summer of 2011. For me, part of what I have been hoping to find in running myself is that sense of pure joy that so many experienced runners report as the thing that holds them captive to the art. McDougall expresses this beautifully on behalf of True and all the runners in his book. I am sure that many will write dedications to Micah True this week – but the one that will endure will be the legend created in this book.

I will count myself as one of many left inspired.

Thank you Micah. You ran in places few would dare to tread. I am not cut of that cloth, but here is where I run:











Blessings to All on this Sunday.



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February 25, 2012

Follow the Leader

Follow the Leader

We learn by example and by direct experience because there are real limits to the adequacy of verbal instruction.
~ Malcolm Gladwell, Blink

Ok – I wrote a very brief post yesterday about running in the cold.

What I did not write about was that I also went running with a friend. When I travel – which I do often for work – I am usually at medical conferences and it’s not easy to do anything alone. I knew if I went to the gym on in the hotel, I would probably not even get to run because it was likely there would be too many people there who wanted to talk.

Turns out, running outside, even in Utah, even in the winter, was going to involve company.

I have tried hard not to run with other people. I have not been doing this for very long and, as a self-conscious perfectionist, just thinking about running with someone else is daunting. Lately, the more people who know that I run, the more offers I get, so I suppose this was an inevitable progression.

In the end, it only took me a couple of minutes for me to get out of my own way.

The friend I ran with was a really experienced runner. He’s been running since his teens, and I think when anyone has done something for more than half their life they often have that kind of expertise that only comes with experience. It’s effortless in a way. Natural, some might say.

Before I started running, I knew nothing at all about running. Frankly, I have not spent any time at all learning about technique – mostly, I have done a lot of “research” on why runners run – and at that, primarily by talking to runners. I don’t know why it never crossed my mind that running with a runner would have extraordinary value.

Learning by experience and example is one of the most valuable ways that we as humans gain knowledge. We do this from birth. We model our parents, teachers, siblings, coaches. Later, perhaps, we seek out those with skills or expertise that we desire, and become smarter and more focused in how we acquire these skills. Right now, for example, I am at the Minimally Invasive Surgery Symposium in Salt Lake City Utah – every year at this meeting surgeons from all over North America gather here to learn through lecture, debate, skill labs, and personal interaction about the most cutting edge research and techniques in their field. Most anyone in medicine can tell you that the model has always been “see one, do one, teach one” – a simply stated recognition that simple verbal instruction does not impart expertise.

We start with follow the leader in childhood and we end up in a fellowship. It’s sort of all the same model. Continue reading…

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February 17, 2012

Listening to Solitude

Listening to Solitude

Solitude stands by the window
She turns her head as I walk in the room
I can see by her eyes she’s been waiting
Standing in the slant of the late afternoon
– Suzanne Vega

Do you every have a day – or maybe even a week in your life where the universe keeps trying to tell you something over and over and over again? I have been very busy lately, and very stressed, and struggling with my asthma – so maybe by today the universe just needed to shout at me a little…

It started early this morning. Thanks to the hefty dose of drugs I am taking for my lungs I was wide awake at some hour of the morning that barely qualifies as morning. I read this great blog post titled What Happened to Downtime? The Extinction of Deep Thinking & Sacred Space by Scott Belsky. It’s a short piece, I hope you read it. In it he talks about the increasing pressure to be be constantly plugged in and with this the loss of disconnected down time. He reflects on this loss of time alone and relates it to the loss of the “creative pause”- the moments, where the mind, no longer listening to the outside world, can turn in and listen to itself. He writes:

In these moments, you are completely isolated, and your mind is able to wander and churn big questions without interruption.

I saved the article. Tried to quiet my mind. Tried to sleep. No such luck. Continue reading…

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February 8, 2012

Run Like Dean (Not Karnazes)

Run Like Dean (Not Karnazes)

I was on the phone the other day with my very dear friend Samantha and at some point – so often the case for me now – the conversation turns to running.

“I got jealous that you were running,” she tells me, “so I have started doing it too.”

“Yay!” I exclaim into the phone. “You have to promise to tell me about it for the blog.”

We chat a bit about where she is starting and where I started and at some point the conversation moves to the various places we both hurt. Is this just a normal thing when you get older…do you just talk to your friends about your aches and pains? For a brief instant I can see Sam and me as old ladies sitting on a porch playing Boggle and talking about our arthritis. That might really be my future.

She is talking about her shoulder which has been an incredible source of grief for her recently. I also have a bit of a history of shoulder and neck pain, and and feel like I can offer some truly useful guidance here.

“Did you ever watch Dean Foster run?” I ask her. “You should try to run like Dean when your shoulder hurts.”

Then I explain. Many years ago, in what almost feels like a past life, Sam and I both did martial arts with Dean. A naturally gifted athlete, Dean was also a great teacher with a lot of passion. He was always pushing himself, and always pushed the rest of us – mostly with a smile on his face. But when I told him I was going to include him in this blog because once, a long time ago, he taught me something about running, he responded “I did?”

Sometimes the best things people teach you are what you learn by watching them just do what they do. Continue reading…

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January 30, 2012

Of Seashells and Memories

Of Seashells and Memories

I live at the beach, but until now I have done my running on the paved sidewalks and trails near my home. They are level and flat and and they take me by the ocean and the river – so it is always beautiful and I can’t complain. But I have found myself more and more often wondering about running on sand – I see people do it all the time…so why not…I do love the ocean.

Let me start by saying this: running on sand is nothing at all like not running on sand. I may be able to say more about that later. I don’t really want to say harder or not harder, but definitely not the same thing.

This morning was my first real attempt to run what has become my regular 3 miles on the the sand rather than on the road. It took almost an hour. Why? Not because I am so much slower in my actual running, but because because when you actually put me on sand I am like a distracted child. I want to look at the waves. I want to stop and put my hands in the water. And mostly, I feel compelled to stop and pick up a collection of perfect little seashells and well-polished beach glass. By the time I have reached my turn-around, I am thinking – I must have gained a pound from the bits and pieces of the ocean I am bringing home.

But it’s more than that. Something happens to my mind at the beach. Maybe we all have a place like that – where automatically your mind turns in and your thoughts seem to expand and ideas and dreams intermingle to become something new. Sometimes for me they are so compelling, I get lost in them – and I wander off like in a dream. I think that some runners – real runners – get this experience from running itself. Continue reading…

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January 20, 2012

If You Could See What I See

If You Could See What I See

Now that I am blogging about running, all the runners I know (and I discover I know more of them all the time) have stories for me. I listen to them all – I think of them as little pearls of wisdom to file away for the if and when I need to know that thing about socks or trail running or marathon training.

You really never know what you might need to know.

Yesterday a friend told me this story about running at night. He does this near his office sometimes. I know the area -there is a path that runs along the road which is used by walkers, runners, cyclists and the like. Part of the path runs along a golf course and it is rather poorly lit. Here is what he tells me:

I was running one way up the path and coming the other way is a cyclist. You know they have those really bright lights now and this guy had one on the front of his bike – it was on because it was dark. But as he comes towards me I notice that it is not blinding me – and as he gets closer I can see the reason the light is not in my eyes is because the cyclist has partly covered it with his hand to shield me form the direct impact of the light. It was such as nice thing for him to do!

I thought about this story for a long time.

We all like when someone does a kind deed to be sure- but I felt like I was missing the point. This morning as I was running I was looking around at the cars and bikes, the other runners, the surfers assessing the waves, a few women on roller-blades, several people with dogs. We all share the same road.

Then I thought about Amsterdam. Continue reading…

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January 14, 2012

Bumps in the Road and a Bit of Rain

The road to self-belief is potholed  ~Nyasha Madavo

I am lucky enough to be spending this week with an incredible international group of health professionals at the Inaugural Caribbean Obesity Forum on the beautiful island of Barbados. In love meetings like this because having a global perspective on the disease of obesity is increasingly important in what I do. When you don’t open your eyes and take a look around the world once in a while, your focus can become ever more narrow.

So for me, while I appreciate the education, the best part of this kind of gathering is increasingly building my global network of like-minded people.

At the same time, travel always has its challenges. I chose running as a form of exercise in large part because of it’s portability – “have shoes, will travel” – you can really do it anywhere. Almost every business class hotel in the world has at least one well-worn treadmill hiding in a converted 5th floor suite.

For this trip, however, I had not really planned on needing the treadmill.  I am, after all, on a tropical island – I am thinking “I am going to run outside.” so I put on my shoes and walk out through the lobby to do just that when the skies open up  – not with glorious sunshine – but with torrential rain.

Me, shoes, iPhone – wet, wet, wet. Continue reading…

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January 1, 2012

Small Steps, Big Rewards

Small Steps, Big Rewards

Many people take the opportunity of the New Year to make new beginnings, to make change, to set goals.

Everything starts somewhere.

I really had no idea what I might learn when I started running in June of 2011. Looking back now from the first day of a New Year, I am mostly thinking about what it takes to make a start.

Children seem to start things all the time. I watch my own do this as a routine part of life – start a new sport, eat a new food, learn a new skill in math, learn to play an instrument. Sometimes they do well and sometimes they don’t, but they never hesitate to start something new again. It’s part of what kids do.

As an adult, I feel like I have to remind myself that while I am much older than they are, I am not done growing up. When I made a conscious decision to start running, I can remember the conversations I had in my own head – what if I fail, what if I get hurt, what if I hate it so much that I just can’t make myself do it, what if I am simply bad at it… and all along, right beside these thoughts – I am a grown up, I really don’t have to do this, no one is making me, this is my choice.

Choice. That’s a perceived difference between an adult and a child.

Continue reading…

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