Find Gratitude

All, I want to keep this post short and sweet as we head into the new year.  In 2018, I have vowed to find gratitude in life’s simple moments.

Not every day is a “walk in the park,” but every day is a gift. 

Be grateful for everything in your life that is not catastrophic.  Find joy in the little things – i.e. playing with your kids, reading a book, having a good meal, exercising, etc.  There are people in this world who won’t experience any of these moments that so many of us consider normal or even take for granted.  Therefore, I vow to be more conscious, more aware and more appreciative of life’s “tiny” blessings in 2018.

Happy New Year!

Ep. 1 Recap – Beanie Wells

Wow…what a way to launch The Optimal Life podcast!  I could not have asked for a better guest to join me as we introduce ourselves to the podcasting world.  I hope you were able to feel Beanie’s authenticity in our hour-long conversation.  He’s a remarkable man who has always kept with him a winning mentality in every facet of his life.  It was clear that he was raised by a good family; a sound support system who only wanted to see the best for him.

I was blown away by his USC recruiting story near the beginning of the episode.  Here he is, this young, 17 year old in the Hills of LA, rolling with some of USC’s elite players – its city’s biggest stars at that time.  Beanie was a senior in high school and had already committed to Coach Jim Tressel at Ohio State, and, most importantly, had already committed to his mom that he’d be going there!  But, like he said, he simply wanted to take one visit outside of Ohio to see what else was out there.  So he went to the bright lights of Hollywood, and, rather than a typical tour of the facility and maybe a quiet dinner off campus, he ended up at the Playboy Mansion surrounded by some of the world’s most beautiful women.  Talk about pulling a 180 from Columbus’ Short North!  And you can imagine what happens the next day when he’s with USC Coach Pete Carroll as his mind has completely shifted away from Ohio and instead now to LA… (I will leave the rest for you to listen to as Beanie said on the show that this was the most detail he’s ever shared publicly on this event).  The power of [persuasion] recruiting!

I was really impressed with how Beanie seemed to handle the pressures and responsibilities of being THE star player at THE Ohio State University during his junior season.  He knew that temptations were always there, but that he did not want to let down the people who believed in him the most.  I also found it fascinating that he could hardly go anywhere on campus – including class – without getting hounded for pictures and autographs.  What a crazy year that must’ve been for #28.

I also thought Beanie said it best when he said many guys face an ‘identity crisis’ once their professional sports careers come to an end.  All these guys have known since they were kids was athletics.  Now you take athletics away and force them into the real world and it can be a crazy, emotional tug-of-war to find your next purpose in life.  He mentioned someone he knew who only played less than two years in the NFL but needed ten years thereafter to figure out his life.  Find what makes you happy.  Bless the fact that you were able to play in the league for even one year.  Make it a part of your journey and understand that each and every player – no matter how successful – struggles with this next phase in some shape or form.  To all former professional athletes: you are not alone.  Take time to bless the situation and then to accept the fact that this universal cycle exists.  Don’t let your best years in life be the ones you had before age 30.

Throughout our conversation, you notice that Beanie always felt that he had to prove someone right and to prove someone wrong.  “For every person who thinks you’re the best thing since sliced bread, there’s two others who think you ain’t shit.”  And that’s why this 6’3″, 230 lbs beast has always succeeded at every level.  And why he continues to succeed in life after football!  Restaurants, day care centers, a trucking company, and successful radio and TV gigs are just some of the things that consume Beanie these days.  The grind never stops.  You can never get complacent.  If you want to be the best, you must always work; always grind.  There is always someone there to take your spot the moment you begin to slip.  It’s a warrior mentality that has allowed Beanie to remain at the top.

Unfortunately too, sometimes that warrior mentality can be a hindrance if not managed properly.  Beanie admits that he came off the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list in his fourth NFL season way too early.  It was his “grind” mentality of not letting the next guy in line take his spot that forced him back onto the field prematurely.  And likely that which caused his injuries to intensify and ultimately lead to the end of his career.  It’s a subtle, underlying lesson that can be learned from :: we must maintain a balanced approach in all that we do.  We must have that warrior mentality, but we must not let that warrior ego get in the way of what is ultimately best for us as individuals.  We must hone it and make sure that we know when to push and that we know when to pause.

At all times, life is about trust.  Trusting in yourself and in your faith.  And having perseverance, yet also having patience.  And just like Beanie said as we wrapped up the show, “Not rushing the process.”  It’s this balanced warrior mindset that we should all seek to achieve.

 

‘Shake Out’ Runs

Hi all! Hope everyone had a kick-ass weekend. Now that my first 10K is in the books, I wanted to share briefly my post recovery workout routine this past week. I must admit, I wasn’t quite as sore as I expected come last Sunday (the day after the race). But I still needed to give my body several days off to properly recover from the 6.2 miles in 35 degrees run. So I waited until Wednesday evening to hit the gym. I decided that rather than put in a lot of miles, I would instead do some speed work – short and fast intervals – on the treadmill. I ran for a max of about 20 minutes and pushed the speed to a max of 8.4 MPH for about five minutes somewhere in between. My calves were actually still a bit sore from the race, but I hadn’t realized this until this first ‘shake out’ run.

After the treadmill I followed up with the bike for about 20 minutes, logging an additional five miles. By this time I was pretty much spent, but felt good knowing my body desperately needed this type of post race engagement in order to prevent from tightening up throughout the week.

Also, I got one more run day in yesterday (Saturday) exactly one week after the race. It included a 1.7 mile run in the 28 degree outdoor weather and then an additional 1.1 miles inside on the treadmill.

Needless to say, while my legs are still feeling somewhat of a soreness, it the type that you know leads to eventual gains. ‘Shake out’ runs must not be avoided at any cost. They are important to keep the body loose and to keep your muscles in action so that they don’t lock up.

So next time you put in some decent mileage, be sure to keep the oxygen flowing in the days following your race and keep those runs coming regularly. It’ll pay dividends in both the short and long terms.

Cleveland’s ‘A Christmas Story Run 10K’

On Saturday, December 2, 2017, I completed my first official 10K race.  Race day weather was a crisp 35 degrees and I was surrounded by approximately 5,000 of my closest friends who all braved the cold to come out and challenge themselves to either the 5K or 10K run.  The angst and excitement blurred into one as I arrived downtown and waited for the official race horn to sound.  But, as always, the nerves dissipated the moment I hit the start line and began my 6.2 mile journey around Cleveland.

I finished the race in 56:58, which equates to a 9:11/mile pace and approximately 6.5/6.6 MPH average pace for all you treadmill runners (my finish is at the 58:57 mark in the video below as it took me about two minutes to get to the start line once the race began).  I was extremely encouraged by my race time as I had hoped to simply finish in less than one hour.  Beating this goal by over three minutes has truly energized me.  I am motivated to continue to improve my speed and endurance, and now have my sights set on half and full marathons in 2018!  It was only nine months ago – March 2017 – that my official race journey began having run my first 5K.  Fast forward to December 2017 and now I have a 10K under my belt.  This is just the beginning, folks.  I hope you’ll join me.  Let’s run.

Official ‘Christmas Story 10K’ Race Results