It’s All About Your Perspective

So, how was your vacation?  Yes, YOUR vacation.  It was the same as the one I just took.

I went to an international tourist destination, a place known for its moderate temperatures, low humidity, and 300+ days of sunshine annually.  It’s a place where the year-round green mountains meet the sparkling waters of the Pacific.  It’s a place where not only is beach access free to all, the beach practically begs you to enjoy it, with its miles of well-maintained bike path that welcome cyclists, runners, walkers, skaters and those who just want to stand there to enjoy their surroundings.

And, best of all, I didn’t have to book an expensive hotel, take vacation days, or buy a plane ticket.  I just hopped in my car and drove to the Santa Monica Pier to enjoy my morning run. And, I even got to run with lots of friends as I soaked in the beauty of my surroundings. How awesome is that?!  I hope you all enjoyed this Sunday’s training as much as I did, if not more.

We’ll be taking mini-vacations together every Sunday through March 19th.  I hope you’ll be out there to enjoy as many of them as possible with us.


Four Reasons to Feel Great about Today’s Run

Before I get to the four reasons, I’d like to let each of you know that it was great to see so many people come out today.  You honored your commitment to yourselves, to your goals, to your team, and to Beit T’Shuvah.  Thank you.

I really enjoyed the route and the team effort today, and I hope each of you did as well.  I also saw reasons to celebrate and to feel inspired; and I want to share them with each of you.

  1. We ended with a downhill. Once you got past the hardest section, you had a long gradual downhill on San Vicente to look forward to and enjoy.  Hard work, and then a reward. Instant gratification. Who doesn’t love that?!  And by the way, that long gradual downhill is near the end of the Marathon course, so you’ll really appreciate it on March 19th.
  1. You climbed over 100 feet in less than 1/3 of a mile. That’s impressive, and it’s harder than any climb on the Marathon route, except for one very short hill at mile 4. One more reason to believe you will be successful on Marathon day.
  1. You saw the challenge waiting for you, and you took it on. Nobody quit.  Some of you ran that steep hill, some of you walked it, and everyone got to the top.  Just like anything in life, if you brace yourself for the challenge and pace yourself, you will succeed.
  1. You have seen that when you push yourself a little harder each time you try something, you get better at it. You are getting stronger. You are getting tougher. You are ready for bigger challenges, and you have every reason to believe you will succeed.


What’s In It For You?

In an effort to illustrate my point, let me start off with a story.  Two weeks ago, I ran the Long Beach Marathon in an attempt to qualify for Boston.  Since it takes about 3-4 weeks to fully recover from running that hard, I’m still taking it pretty easy on my runs – shorter distances, slower pace.  Since I really miss the “zone out / moving meditation” experience of my pre-Marathon long runs, I decided on my way home from the Team Breakfast to stop at the beach and do another 5 miles.  I started out slowly, and then picked up my pace a little.  After a while, my legs started to feel like lead.  I didn’t even bother to push myself because I figured I had a built-in excuse.

But then, a guy passed me.  He looked like he was struggling.  His feet were smacking the pavement loud and hard with every step. He was an injury waiting to happen.  My first thought was “Don’t forget to remind the team about how to have a low impact stride”.  My second thought was “This guy has lousy mechanics; he looks like he’s hurting; and he’s faster than I am?! That’s pathetic. I really should be able to keep up with him.”  So, I picked up my pace, caught up to him, and soon we began a conversation. He picked up his pace, and I picked up mine. It was a challenge, but there was no way I would quit. We got faster and faster. We ran our last 1.5 miles together at a pace I didn’t think I could hold this soon after a marathon; and it was 1:30 minutes/mile faster  than what I was doing when I started the run.

So, why am I telling you this?  Because, if I had been running by myself, I would have been perfectly happy to slog along at my slow pace.  I would have taken comfort in my “that’s all I can do because I’m still recovering from a marathon” excuse.  I wouldn’t have done my best.

And that’s why I encourage you to come out for the Sunday runs.  Your team members will inspire you.  They will push you.  They will help you find the strength you didn’t know you had.  They will bring out the best in you. 


The Blessing of Things Going Less Than Smoothly

One of my favorite quotes, and one I try to live by is “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond.”  In the real world, it would be nice if everything went smoothly all the time. But it doesn’t.  So, the question is: How will we respond? Will we look for the positive?  How can we use the negatives as a learning experience?

For this Sunday’s run, it would have been great if we had all been familiar with the route and had all found each of the water stops easily.  But that didn’t happen. Rather than do the same routes over and over each year, Anna and I decided to try something new.  Just like in other aspects of life, when you try something new, there are often some bumps along the way; and today was no different.  But let’s look at the bright side.  Those of us at the front of the pack worked together to figure out exactly where the start of the trail was, and we were successful.  When we realized there was some confusion around the location of the turnaround point water stop, we helped each other find it, and we provided extra instruction to ensure that the people who followed got on the correct route heading back.  We worked together as a team to solve problems and support each other.  People complained, and to that I say “thank you”.  I am happy that people felt comfortable enough to share their concerns and give us the feedback we need to make changes and do better next time.

What did go smoothly, as it has every week, is the support of our volunteers and their positive attitude.  We couldn’t do this without you.  And, Amy, thanks again for a great stretching / cool down class.

So to each of you, I say thank you for your willingness to try new things, to voice your opinion, to work together as a team, and to offer your support.   I am grateful for all that you did.


How will you enjoy the journey?

I hope each of you enjoyed the beach route this morning.  Toward the latter part of the season, our routes will be along various segments of the Marathon course so you can familiarize yourselves with the route; but for the first half of the season, we’ll select training routes that give you the opportunity to enjoy what nature has to offer without worrying about traffic. We’ll do more beach runs, and some trails as well. What I hope is that as you train, you are not only thinking about crossing the finish line and achieving your goals, but also enjoying the process of getting there.

While you can certainly spend some time thinking “this is really hard” or “how much longer until it’s over” (we all do that), I would encourage you to simply acknowledge those thoughts, and then move on to something more positive. You can make an effort to experience the run with as many senses as possible.  Take a look at the landscape, feel the breeze, listen to the surf or the birds, smell the trees or the ocean.  You can enjoy the quiet time to look inside and ponder your thoughts, using the time as your “moving meditation”.  You can also use it as a time to connect with your teammates.  You can do any combination of the three, or you can create your own positive experience.

It’s your journey.  You get to choose how you enjoy it.


Inspirational Messages from Last Year’s Team

On the night before the 2016 LA Marathon, we gathered together for our team dinner.  People were pumped. They knew they had worked hard all season; and they knew they could finish.  They had already done long distances; they had already gone further than they had once thought possible.  And they knew they could do it again.

And so I said to them:  “At the beginning of next season, many team members won’t believe they will be able to finish a half or a full marathon.  What would you like to them about how you felt at the beginning of the season vs. how you feel about yourself and your capabilities now?”  Here are some of their messages to you:

“I didn’t think I could do it.  And it was very difficult at times.  I think the thing to do is just keep training, which is where the team comes into being crucial.”

“Even though I thought I could do a full marathon and downgraded to a half, I’m still incredibly proud and excited.  A year ago I wanted to die – now I get to celebrate with Los Angeles and all my new family.”

“I’ve never been a runner.  I thought running a marathon would be impossible.  And here I am.  Just stick with the training.  Believe in yourself and anything is possible.”

“They need to know how mental it is.  They can do it if they are willing to try.”

Every member of last year’s team that started the Marathon that day crossed the finish line.  With hard work and perseverance, with the support of your team, you will too!!!


Where Will You Be on Tuesdays at 3:00 pm?

Hint: The answer I’m looking for is “in Amy’s class”.

As part of our effort to prevent injuries and enable you to finish strong, Beit T’Shuvah’s Mind & Body Institute will be offering classes every Tuesday at 3:00 on the patio.  These sessions are open to residents, staff, and community members. Amy will lead you through stretching and strengthening exercises. If you’re not a resident, please bring your own mat to be sure we have enough for everyone.  Please call to confirm in case times/days change.

Even if you’re thinking, “I felt fine on the run/walk on Sunday.  I don’t need that.”,  I would encourage you to go anyway. We are going to be putting in a lot of miles over the next six months, and if your core and leg muscles are weak, tight, out of balance, or in any other sub-optimal condition, you are putting yourself at significantly increased risk of injury. Those little problems that you may not even notice now will become big problems that can’t be ignored.

This is my fifth year on the team, and I’ve watched people blow off this and other advice year after year, and within about 2 months, most of them are injured.  So, all I can say is even if you can’t attend these classes on a regular basis, I encourage you to take the stretching and strengthening seriously. We have lots of information under the “Training Tips” menu on our team website:  Please check it out.

Okay, I’m done lecturing.  🙂

I look forward to seeing each of you next Sunday feeling strong and ready to do your best.


The 2016-17 Season is Off to a Great Start!

Welcome to the residents, alumni, staff and community members who all showed up for our first training; and a welcome to those of you who couldn’t make it yesterday but were there in spirit and will be joining us in the weeks to come. Your presence adds to the team spirit.  I look forward to seeing you celebrating each other’s successes and encouraging each other when the going gets tough.

Also, thanks to each of who completed the survey. Yes, I read all 50 of them. There was a wide range of goals which included: improving your physical health, enjoying a variety of mental benefits, finishing or finishing with a certain time, being part of a team, giving back, inspiring others, and so much more.  Throughout the season, we’ll do our best to help you achieve each of those goals, and we look forward to hearing your stories about the many small successes on your journey to accomplishing the big goals.

I hope each of you is thinking every day about WHY you are part of the Marathon Team. What does it mean to you?  How will it feel on the day you achieve your goals?  How will you feel every time you think back on what you achieved?

Motivation to do your best comes from inside.   Each and every one of you has the inner strength to do this!!!

I look forward to seeing each of you next Sunday.


We did it!!!!

Congratulations to every one of you! It’s great to see so many happy and proud FB posts. You all worked hard, you accomplished a huge goal, and by being there throughout the season, you helped everyone else achieve theirs. Thank you to each of you for making this an awesome past 6 months. I am already looking forward to starting the 2016-17 season!

Preparing for the Big Day – 10 Things I Encourage You to Do

  1. First and foremost, be really proud of yourself for all the hard work you did to get yourself to this day
  2. Eat lots of good carbs on Friday and Saturday, and drink lots of water.
  3. Eat a healthy high carb breakfast Sunday morning, and drink more water.
  4. Pack energy gels to carry with you and eat along the way. Bring water you can carry, or plan to stop often to rehydrate.
  5. If you are checking your gear for pickup at the finish line, put a recovery drink or protein bar in your bag. If you’re not, have a plan for getting recovery food into you ASAP after the race.  Your legs will thank you for the rest of the week.
  6. Have warm throw-away (hopefully collected afterward for donations) clothes or a blanket so you can stay warm during that hour or more that we’ll be waiting at Dodger Stadium.
  7. Avoid doing, wearing, eating or drinking anything new on Marathon day. Stick with what you already know feels good and works.
  8. Try going to sleep earlier and waking up earlier during the week, so that pre-dawn wake-up time on Marathon morning won’t be as difficult.
  9. If you’re nervous, embrace it. You’re normal. There will be tough patches, so think ahead about how you’ll get through them.  Nobody said a half marathon or a marathon was easy. Be confident knowing that you trained well, that you are ready, and that there will be thousands of people along the route cheering you on.  YOU CAN DO THIS!
  10. Think about how your path to Marathon Day is filled with critical life lessons and new skills that you can apply to just about anything in life. Your journey is filled with many small successes that add up to really big ones. Visualize yourself achieving your goal on Marathon Day, and your goals in life.