OCR World Championships Training

I’ve stated on here before that I’ll be running in the OCR (Obstacle Course Racing) World Championships in Ontario, Canada in exactly 50 days. Well, I’ve stated I’ll be running it, but not necessarily that it would be in 50 days. In fact, being that this is the first, and only post I’ve done today, had I stated before that I’d be running the OCRWC in 50 days, I’d have been lying and that’s something I’m not all about.

An-y-way… I saw an Instagram post of a guy who will also be competing in the same race, same age division as me, and who didn’t look like he was one of those “elite, all-world” athletes that I know will be there and whom I don’t anticipate seeing beyond the starting line. Anway, this guy I follow looks, in a lot of ways, like I do, which is encouraging since I really don’t know what to expect. What isn’t encouraging is that in the picture, he and a buddy were flashing their medals from some super-beast 13 hour marathon they’d just completed, and in the caption he talked about how he was planning on running 200 km (125 miles) in September and doing 30 burpees every day in preparation for the World Championships.

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OCRWC in Northern Ontario at Blue Mountains

 

I’ve done two races, and I know when my wife reads this, she’ll remind me that this race is more of a learning experience than it is a race I go in to with the expectation of finishing in a certain time or in a certain place. While I agree with her, reading how some guys who look like me are preparing for this kind of race has me thinking it’s time to amp up my training a little bit.

Come with me, won’t you, while I talk through what I think I’ll need to do between now and 50 days from now.

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The good thing I have going for me is I have solid, not great, but pretty good endurance. I’m probably 5-7 pounds heavier than I’d like to be for when race day gets here, but I think if I just amp up my running a bit and be mindful of my diet, it shouldn’t be hard to get down to where I want to be. I just think that over the course of 15 km, I’ll be glad I took off those 5-7 pounds and I think that will allow me to get past some obstacles that might otherwise be more difficult.

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Kelly and I are currently going to Crossfit two or three times per week (I’ve only been once in a week and a half due to travel and a Warrior Dash I ran/prepped for, so I have to make sure I keep up on that between now and, you guessed it, 50 days from now). After running my first Spartan Race, I learned that my biggest weakness was upper body strength and grip strength, so I’m really trying to get stronger leading up to this race.

While I don’t think 125 miles of running is realistic for my lifestyle, especially given my work schedule, some other personal endeavors my wife and I have (Sweat Local Columbus Sweat Sesh!), and my training schedule for Crossfit, not to mention a week-long trip we have planned to Ireland at the beginning of the month, I do think that I can set a goal of 75 miles and try to hit that between Sept. 1 and Sept. 30. I’ll try to keep myself accountable by posting weekly updates on this blog with how far I’ve gone and what all I have left to run.

Hopefully these last 50 days will get me ready for one of the most exciting races I’ll probably ever get to do. I’m the kind of person that trains best when there is an end goal in sight and I’m not just running or working out to “lose weight” or “build muscle.”  I’m both excited and nervous for the race, but I’m confident that if I can keep some positive momentum heading into the race, I’ll be fine.

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Cheers to the next 50 days!

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Most of what we learn, we learn indirectly

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The title of this post is a quote from Randy Pausch’s final lecture titled Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams at Carnegie Mellon University. In August 2007, he was given 3-6 months to live (pancreatic cancer) and he gave his final lecture in September 2007.

After the lecture, he received such a positive response that he uploaded the 140 page slide and allowed anyone to use it (so long as they don’t stand to profit monetarily from it) however they want. I also think there is a video of the 76 minute lecture online, but I haven’t listened to it (yet).

Randy died in January 2008.

I’m not going to get too deep into what I took away from looking through the slides, but there were a few things that choked me up and a few things I found to be really insightful (yadda yadda yadda, blogworthy).

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The first thing that really spoke to me was the line”most of what we learn, we learn indirectly.” I think today, people try to absorb as much information as they can by watching videos, reading blogs, and pouring over discussion boards on a certain topic.

Last year, I wrote a weekly column for a fantasy football site. The way I got my information wasn’t organic; I mostly tried to force information into my column (square peg, round hole style). I know it wasn’t as good as a lot of the other writers who would watch the games, discuss football with their peers, and have a solid understanding of what might be in store for a particular player the next week.

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The “head fake” is Pausch’s analogy to learning indirectly. In football, the head fake is a way to beat your opponent, but the only way to truly master this move isn’t by studying it, but rather by having played so much football that the move becomes natural.

So when chasing your dreams, the best way to go about it isn’t by reading a thousand books on how to become an entrepreneur, but by putting yourself out in the world and doing it (ie- trial and error ie- thrown into the fire).

If you want to do something, go do it. Fail at it. Get laughed at. Make a mistake, it’s OK. The point is, you have to take a chance. No one that’s ever chased their dream ever regretted fumbling over something along the way. They might regret a choice they made somewhere between there and here, but I bet you 100% of those people are glad they gave themselves the opportunity to make that choice instead of playing it safe and letting someone else take whatever it is they want.

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Another slide that spoke to me had a few bullets, but the first two really stood out. “Be good at something: it makes you valuable” and “Work hard… ‘what’s your secret?'”

“Valuable” is a term that is rarely applied to a person, unless in the sense of one’s place in a company (which I guess applies, but I digress). I really like the idea of being valuable, not to a business, but to your friends, to society, and to your place in terms of reaching your goals. There is an expression that says (paraphrasing), “figure out what you want to do and go do it.” That might be an Avett Brothers lyric….not sure. I would take this a step further and say, “Figure out what you want to do and go do it…and be good at it.” (I’ll streamline that before I make T-shirts, I promise).

The second bullet, “Work hard… ‘what’s your secret?’,” to me speaks to perseverance. (Grammar people, was that secret?’,” the right way to do that. I can’t imagine it is, but to me, it logically makes sense…)

Get back on topic.

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So finding your secret is kind of that magic thing that keeps you going. I think it means working hard…at the right thing.

For example: I have been writing for Sports Monte (other blog) for about a year and a half with the intention of becoming a big time fantasy sports writer and influences. I worked hard writing and researching every week, but I spent very little time learning what things make the great writers in that industry stand out. I was headstrong and believed that as long as I work hard, good things would follow.

While this works in some cases, it doesn’t work in most cases. You need direction when you work hard and a support system of people who aren’t afraid to critique what it is you’re doing. Working hard without direction is like digging a hole without having the foresight to know you need a rope in the hole with you to climb out.

Pausch died and left an unbelievable legacy. I would encourage anyone who is feeling in a rut to at least look up his slides (easy enough to find online). Maybe I’ll follow up with this once I listen to the lecture, and hopefully I’m not too far off base with how I interpreted his presentation. The long and short of it all, boys and girls, is that if you are going to catch a dream, whether you’re six or sixty, start making the right moves that will get you on the right path to achieving that dream.

 

 

How to overcome lacking creativity

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Yesterday, I was supposed to write a little doo-dad about Sweat Local Columbus, my wife and I’s (<– grammatically correct BTW) fitness journey, and a little more about ourselves for the blog, Columbus Families. The day before, my wife asked me to write it because, well, writing is kind of my thing. This was supposed to be a short piece (not exactly my forte, but not something I should struggled with) and something that would hit home with some of the readers.

So I wrote the piece.

I wrote the piece and it read like a high school essay.

“My name is Ryan Rauch and today I would like to tell you about why I think health is important. Health is important because it gives me the energy I need to accomplish my goals. I also like nutrition. Nutrition, according to wikopedia.com, is the….”

That wasn’t really what I wrote, but it may as well have been. I talked to Kelly on the way home and she told me it was boring and that she’d have to edit it and rewrite it.

It felt like she was spotting me at the gym.

“Here, babe, let me help you pick up that big heavy weight. You just got get a towel and a big drink of water…”

I couldn’t argue with her; I knew it was bad and I know I could do better.

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So I started working through my head as to why I couldn’t come up with anything better than some generic B-copy version of something that, of all things, I really do like and care about. I think it all starts with lacking creativity.

I think most writers probably deal with this on a regular basis. I think that overcoming a lack of creativity has to start with self critiquing oneself (call it soul searching if you want, but don’t allow yourself to excuse anything). It’s basically problem solving, right? The big difference is that I’m not really looking for a solution. Creativity isn’t like math, it’s like science: the solution can always be improved upon and can always be made better.

If I’m honest with myself as a writer, my strength isn’t writing straight forward content. I think the things I like most and I believe that people enjoy about my writing is my ability to write like I think, and to allow my personality to come through in my work. When I try to do something that doesn’t sound like me, it won’t read well to anyone that sees it.

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So here’s my plan.

Step one: write this blog. (Check)

Step two: rewrite the piece for Columbus Families, even if it’s already published (who cares if it doesn’t get published, I am going to write it the way I should have written it the first time)

Step three: celebrate because it’s Friday and I am pouring beer for my favorite brewery at Powell Fest tonight. (because if all else fails, I’ll find a little creativity at the bottom of a double IPA or two)

 

Humble Brag – Props to my Wife

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I don’t want to steal any thunder from my wife who, today, quit her corporate job and is officially *dramatic music* “self-employed.” In fact, she just texted me that she told her boss (something she’s been dreading for…well, as long as she’s had it in her mind to quit I guess). I hope she will go into more detail in her own blog about her thoughts, struggles, successes, and every emotion in between because it takes a ton of guts to do what she did today.

Kelly has ALWAYS wanted to work for herself. Her parents and her brother all work for themselves and, for as long as I’ve known her, Kelly has been envious and dreamed of doing the same thing. About a year ago, she started doing some freelance social media and event planning for a couple of local businesses in the community. Her first (and probably favorite, but don’t tell anyone) was a restaurant we already liked going to that was near our house. That first day, she just went up to the owner, more-or-less bluntly asked if she needed any marketing help, and was surprised that she did and was happy to pay Kelly (at the time) a good amount of money for her to take over her social media and put on a few events at the restaurant.

It’s exciting for me to see how far she’s come with everything. Since she started with the social and events, she taught herself graphic design and also how to build websites. She can now charge 3x what she did just one year ago, and I think she’s beginning to realize that the work she does is worth more than that even.

I think a lot of people in my position would be scared to have their wife do what Kelly is doing. She and I basically brought home the same amount of money before this, so the security of knowing what the paycheck was going to be 3, 6, 12 months from now was a comfortable way to plan for the things we want to buy and the places we want to go.

The thing is, having seen how far she’s come and having heard how much her clients appreciate her work, I am excited about the prospect of what her working for herself will mean for our income (especially if you give her 40+ more hours to focus on everything). I don’t care if we aren’t bringing home what we did for a few months, because I know she’s the kind of person that won’t sit still until she’s where she wants to be. And the exciting thing is, she’s the kind of person that never settles for things being good enough.

I am extremely proud of my wife for having the courage to do what it is she’s wanted to do for a long time. There are a million reasons she shouldn’t have left a good paying job with benefits, but she is putting her happiness first and I believe with my whole heart that there are much bigger things in our future because she has the courage and vision to bet on herself. There is not a bone in my body that second guesses that this is the right thing to do and that she’s making the right decision.

 

Five ways to create balance in your life

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In order to find balance, everybody should devote a certain amount of time to a certain number of things. If you work 80 hours every week, then come home and neglect your wife and children, you’re doing it wrong. Likewise, if you devote your weekends to sitting on the couch and watching football until the sun goes down, you aren’t filling your cup with anything of substance.

There are philosophies about finding happiness through anything from tiny homes to positive affirmation (I’ve even listened to some podcasts before big meetings that tell you to say things out loud like “people respect what you have to say; your words are meaningful.” All I could think of was that SNL skit where Stewart and Michael Jordan tell themselves, “gosh darn it, people like me!”).

I am the kind of person who understands something best if it is broken down in front of me. There are things in our lives that change week by week, but if we break it down, we find that our lives can be summed into six core areas: Sleep, Work, Family, Hobbies, Exercise and Religion/Meditation.

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Each area requires a different focus and a different amount of effort. Sleep, while requiring the least amount of effort, should be made a priority if you are devoting too much time to another area. If you put more effort into one area and forget another, you will suffer in all areas. For instance, if you are training for a marathon and neglecting sleep in order to keep up with work and maintaining something of a family life, you will suffer across the board. Below is a basic breakdown of how much time in a given week you should devote to each area.

  • 30% Sleep
  • 25% Work
  • 20% Family
  • 15% Hobby
  • 5% Exercise
  • 5% Religion/Meditation

Now, everybody works differently, and it’s up to you to determine how to adjust the above list in order to work for your life, but if you stray too far from one area for too long, you will not be performing at your best. Life balance requires a certain amount from each area, and maximizing each area will allow you to excel in all aspects of your life.

With that in mind, here are five ways to create balance in your life.

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Make Sleep a Priority

Force yourself to get seven hours of sleep every night. One of my best friends is one of those guys that stays up until 3:00 a.m. He is also someone who can’t get up in the morning, can’t find the drive to move up in his company because he’s exhausted all the time. (It also wouldn’t be a bad thing to leave the phone on the dresser when you go to bed).

Purge Unnecessary Things from your Life

It’s a natural tendency for humans to hoard things. Sometimes, we can’t control ourselves and end up on A&E. We assign value and meaning to meaningless things. We save birthday cards in drawers, or shove more hangers into closets that are full of clothes we barely wear. If you need an excuse, donate things to Good Will or the Salvation Army. Unneccasary things aren’t always physical things, either. Get rid of cable if you can’t make yourself get off the couch on Saturdays. Whatever it is that you don’t need, consider how important they really are to your overall well being and make a hard decision.

Eat Right

A healthy diet gives you more energy during the day, and allows your body to properly shut down at night. A healthy body allows you to operate at 100% at your job, with your family, and gives you better focus when it comes to meditating or exercising. If you don’t have the self control to cook food on a Wednesday instead of ordering a pizza (again!), then you are enabling yourself to short change yourself in all aspects of your life. Practice some discipline, make a game plan, and make it a priority to make the kitchen the most important room in the house.

Break your Routine

It seems counterintuitive to think that you can find balance by breaking your routine, but by doing things a little bit differently, you will find yourself paying more attention to those things you do over and over when you come back to them. Breaking your routine can be anything from trying a new recipe to going on a vacation to somewhere you’ve never been. Introduce “new” into your life and allow yourself to experience something in a different light.

Learn new Things

Learn new things to teach your kids. Learn new things in the bedroom. Learn new things at work to make yourself a bigger asset (hello, job security). Whatever the reason, learning new things is something you can do across the board to keep things fresh and interesting, and allow yourself to always be improving.

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Balance is something that allows us to always be at our best. If you find yourself to be overly stressed at work, unable to lose weight, fed up with whatever your family life is, or just in a rut and you aren’t sure how to make left from right, challenge yourself to adopt balance in your life. Remind yourself what it is you want and understand that the best way to get that isn’t to run a million miles per hour at it, but to focus on the end goals and make the necessary steps toward them.

Travel, tacos, and missing shoes?

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I have two confessions I should lay out there before I get into what I think I’m about to write (because knowing what you want to say when you start to write is SO OVERRATED!).

  • I am 36 hours away from boarding a plane from Columbus–>Charlotte–>Grand Cayman
  • Nah-nah-na-boo-boo, stick your head in doo-doo

With that being said, the point I want to get at is that I am traveling as someone who hates spending money if I don’t have to spend money. I am fine spending money on a nice dinner here and there with my wife (though I can honestly say that every time I see the check, it hurts a little bit inside). I will spend money on nice clothes every now and then because I think it’s important to have quality pieces in a man’s wardrobe. I will spend money on playing a nice golf course because it is something I love. Finally, I will spend money gambling because even though you can tell me the house has an edge, I think I can outsmart the game and give myself an advantage and I don’t care if I am irrational about it, I believe it, so let’s just leave it alone (for the record, total gambling net probably is in the red).

Other than those things, I don’t really like spending money. I like seeing my savings account and my checking account grow. I like knowing that I can afford something, but never actually pulling the trigger on buying it. I like filling up digital shopping carts, and slowly removing item by item until there is one “sale” t shirt left, and I will leave that tab open for 5 days until I want to restart my computer and I just close out of the tab.

Judge if you want, I can take it.

I’ve posted not too long ago about travel –> SEE HERE — and that my wife and I are going to Grand Cayman and Ireland this year. I think we also booked a trip to Nashville to see some friends (shout out to Josh, Kenzie and Arlie). Normally, the thought of spending the kind of money we’re going to be spending would make me wall up and start biking it to work, but I am coming around to the idea that travel, for those of us who don’t have kids, is one of the best and most important things you can spend money on at this stage in life.

Here’s the thing, if you come at me with “you should save because you should pay off debt… or buy a house… or for a new car… or whatever,” I’m sure you have a point. I wouldn’t advocate traveling if you can’t pay your electric bill or if you are struggling to keep gas in the car. But what I’ve come to understand about myself is that I was to save for things that don’t really exist. Seeing my bank account grow is like watching the time pass on a clock. The numbers go up, but if you don’t turn around and enjoy life a little bit, you won’t ever get to see what really matters. I think back about the places my wife and I have gone over the last five years, and I can’t tell you how much it’s added to our relationship.

It’s kind of like food. Staying at home all the time is like eating tacos every night for dinner. I love tacos. I’m comfortable with tacos. I can bank on the fact that they’ll be as solid tonight for dinner as they were last night. Sure you can add avocado or sour cream to tacos every now and then, or get real crazy and put some new salsa in there, but at the end of the day nothing really changes. Traveling is like saying, “you know what, tacos. I love you, and you’re where my heart is, but I’m going out for Italian tonight. I might even have a few appetizers before I settle on pasta.”

Sure you have to have someone watch your tacos every now and then, and make sure the trash gets taken out and they get the mail if you are away from your tacos for a few days, but those are all minor details.

Traveling has given me some of the best memories I’ll ever have and I still laugh about them to this day. Sure it takes a big chunk out of your bank account, but in a month or two, you won’t remember it was there anyway. But you will remember standing in an elevator with no shoes on and an open bottle of champagne when a couple checking in sees you and the only thing that comes to your head to say is, “I don’t have any shoes!”

Traveling lets you get out of your kitchen and taste life a little differently. And trust me, you’ll appreciate your tacos that much more when you come back to them (at least until you decide to plan a sushi trip!).

 

Call to Action: To hell with Free Time!

 

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As adults, we say “free time” the way we said “recess” or “play time” when we were younger. All too often, we work 40-50 hours Monday-Friday to get to our “free time,” then sit on the couch for half of the day for one reason or another. We catch up on shows, relax (aka – nap), surf the web (aka – look at Instagram posts), or eat despite the fact that we ate something an hour and a half ago and say, “I might be hungry, but I might not be?”

I was this person, too, you know? When I had roommates, I remember staying in my room until 1:00 or 2:00 p.m. because the longer I stayed in there, the more embarrassing it would look when I finally came out to greet the world. I would say things about getting my resume together or being really sore from that workout I did yesterday (or was it the day before? Or was it last month?). I could spend a whole day in my house, not cook anything and just order food, then put on an Ohio State shirt and watch the 8:00 p.m. game until I went up to bed and lay awake until 3:00 a.m.

 

Free time.

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Thankfully, those days are behind me. I couldn’t sleep in past 8:30 a.m. if I wanted to and if I’ve been in my house for more than four straight hours, I start to go a little crazy (and I like my house!). What happened is my wife and I started making plans. We plan things out a month in advance. We buy concert tickets for shows six months down the road and we share calendars for workouts, happy hours, work schedules, even when we are going to give our dog a bath. We almost have to schedule “free time,” otherwise our days won’t allow us any time to breathe.

And it’s not just on weekends either. We plan time to work on our freelance businesses, schedule meetings with event coordinators for things we want to put into motion six months down the road. Of course, we plan couch time to smother our dog, but there are some nights he has to remind us to get him his walk (he does this by eating a little bathroom waste bin trash or moving our shoes from our closet).

So here’s where I ask you to self-reflect and look at what it is you do on the weekends or when you get off from work. Do you beeline to your couch and order pizza most nights, or do you have plans to do something productive with your free time? As Millennials, it’s easy for us to say that something isn’t worth our time, but we are devaluing our time by wasting it every day. I’m all for “lets do it more efficiently,” but when it comes to going from a computer screen at work to a TV screen at home, we have to change how we are doing things.

So, it’s OK to start small, but at least START. Make “free time” a thing where you get free yourself from what has been comfortable to this point, and challenge yourself to do something new. Who knows, you might start to enjoy it!

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