Use The Ladder

“If I can’t _______ then it’s not worth it.” Is one of the biggest pitfalls in sustaining a long athletic life.

It could be a certain pace, distance, weight, or time. But the thought is that if it’s not a certain something it doesn’t count or won’t be fun; so therefore it won’t be done.

But of course if it gets skipped because it’s not that certain thing, it certainly won’t get better.

I see this in adults all the time. And often they act as if there is no way out. It’s like I see them shrug and stare at this apparent wall. Or run into the wall over and over again.

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Often that’s what a coach or trainer is for. There’s a ladder right there against the wall but because they can’t vault over it like they used to they refuse to see or use the ladder unless the coach insists on it. As if using the ladder is shameful and the only way they’ll be caught on it is if it’s clear they are being made to do it.

So they grudgingly use the ladder, and eventually they don’t need it and they are vaulting over the wall again. For a time things go so well they forget the wall is even there. Until something trips them up and suddenly the wall looms large and they start all over again. First just staring at the wall, refusing to even see the ladder as a way forward, then dismissing the ladder as undignified, before finally taking the first step.

Even elite athletes get knocked down and have to seemingly start all over again. The difference is that they don’t waste time resisting and resenting the ladder. They are actually pros at using whatever tools, whatever half-steps, will help them get back where they want to be.

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My goal as a coach is not to make elite athletes but to help everyday athletes sustain a long healthy happy active life. I don’t want to just keep forcing people to use the ladder. I want to help people find and use ladders on their own.

As recreational athletes, it’s best if your love for your favorite activity isn’t so conditional. Find ways for it to be fun and “count” at any pace, distance, weight, or time. If there is a wider range of appreciation there is more likely to be the consistency that is required for improvement which will lend itself to more things to appreciate.

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Lamb in Wine and Figs

I get drooly just thinking about this meal we ate for a week.  Looking for something else, I stumbled upon this NYTimes Mark Bittman recipe. I’m so glad I did.

It’s so simple and easy. I made a some changes and I’m sharing them here, but you should really just check out his original recipe before making your own version. I served it with mashed potatoes and salad, but you could do it with couscous and green beans, or rice and broccoli, or bread and slaw, or anything that floats your boat.

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Handstand Breakthrough & 4 Keys to Being Coached

It’s magical!  Suddenly I’ve got a handstand!  That I can control!  That I can do again!

Well, ok, it’s really not magical.  Unless you count a ton of research, a bunch of handstand friends, 3 years of preparation, and 1 kick-ass handstand coach as magic.

7 weeks ago on September 24th I started Kirsty Grosart’s Garage Gym Girl 12 week online handstand course.  It’s always fun and challenging to be on the other end of the coaching relationship but it’s been a long time for me.  I wasn’t sure how it would go and I came to it without strong expectations or goals. It has been three long years of accepting agonizingly slow progress.  So this coaching felt surprisingly miraculously incredibly successful.

But as I know from being a coach – success does not come from a coach’s magic wand.

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As I’ve been coached for these eight weeks, I’ve been reminded of four keys to being coached:

1. Trust and follow the program.
Week one and I was full of doubts and questions.  But if I actually knew better and could get to my goals myself, I wouldn’t have signed up. I chose this program and coach for a reason. It’s ok to ask “why do it this way?” But sometimes you just have to swallow your pride and ego and do what Coach says. Why? Because you already agreed to be coached! So let go of some control and be coachable!

2. Accountability only works when you really want it to.
Sometimes we talk about accountability as if it were magic. Add a dash of accountability and *poof* obstacle vanishes, hard thing done, ta-da! But all too often people say they’ll be accountable and then it just doesn’t happen. Having someone or something to be accountable to doesn’t magically make it easy to do the thing. You have to be ready to really want it to work. You have to want to report failure more than avoiding it.

3. Commit the time.
As long as I’ve made the choice to do the program, I might as well go all in and fully commit.  It’s a sacrifice to all my other training.  I’ve given up swimming entirely.  I run at most twice a week (and it’s suffering).  I’ve gone from training handstands three days to five. I stopped doing the drills and exercises I wanted to do.  I spend time reviewing her program instructions and logging and communicating in her method in addition to mine.  Why pay the money and ask for a coach’s time if I’m not ready to give all the time Coach asks of me?  It doesn’t work if my coach is more committed to the program and my success than I am. I will try to match and raise my coach’s commitment every time. It hasn’t always been easy, but I certainly don’t regret it.

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4. Participate in the coaching.
The less passive it is the better.  I’m not just going through the motions checking off the items.  Self-coach/assess as much as possible and SHARE.  It doesn’t mean I’m not getting what I paid for or letting my coach off the hook.  It means I am getting MORE because my coach has more information and can give me more accurate direction.  I’m constantly coaching myself as far as I’m able, which leaves my coach to unlock the one thing I didn’t see or understand.

I’m so excited for the last five weeks of coaching. It took years of patience to get here, but progress is addicting.

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Claiming the Hidden Wholeness

Client stories – guest post by Devon Anderson.

I do not come to the world of endurance sports training as an accomplished athlete, or as a fit and skinny 20-something.  Instead, I’m coming from the other side, from the second half of life – with retirement on the horizon, a mere decade away.

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She Shoots! She Scores!

Client stories – guest post by Devon Anderson.

I.  Hate. Running.

Well, I’m not sure I hate it, but I’ve never had what I think of as a “runner’s body.”  Running has never come easy to me, which was made even more plain when I married a runner in my 30s.  And not only a runner, but a New-York-Marathon-runner.  For years, no matter how badly I wanted it or how many “couch-potato-to-5-K” plans I tried, I just couldn’t do it.  I’d get too winded.  My feet hurt. My shins screamed for rest.  And I felt like a total idiot — flopping along the city lake paths with my bright red face, breathing like a buffalo, hoping to God no one would recognize me. Continue reading

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Four Lessons One Year In

It’s almost our one year anniversary from the launch of our dream business.  It was quite the journey to get to the starting line. It was two agonizing years of what often felt like going nowhere getting nothing done (Things Not Done – A Story of Progress). But the last 9 months have flown by and my project whiteboard tells the story.

January to March
This was a lot of catching up on the things that hadn’t gotten done before the launch.  And to keep with the theme, 22 things didn’t get done (but 13 of those did get done eventually!)

March to May
13 things got done and 4 more in progress! Continue reading

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Halloween Buckeye Mutation

They started out so sweet and innocent. Simple homemade peanut butter chocolate candies.  The original recipe (Smitten Kitchen) makes them look so elegant.  image-5But for Halloween 2012, in my hands they developed adorable eyes.   Which was what my original buckeye recipe post showed.  The mutating started very slowly, at first with just a couple developing a simple slit for a mouth. By 2014 they had taken on whole new characters.

2015 was the first sighting of blood and knives. Things escalated quickly from there. Continue reading

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Berry Red Cabbage

It’s good warm or cold.  It’s both summery and wintery at the same time.  Fruity and earthy. Enough for a crowd or leftovers for the week.  I have a yellowed recipe clipping from the Star Tribune.  I’m guessing from around 2007 when I had my own studio apartment and I felt very grown-up having my own newspaper delivered.  I’ve modified it only a little over the years and realized that it is easy to modify and hard to screw up.

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Mango Chicken Curry

This meal that has taken almost ten years of fussing and simplifying to become a regular in my kitchen. It all started January 14th 2008, and I know because the printer put a time stamp on it.

This was during my year of Monday Night Dinners. Every Monday morning I’d call a list of friends and announce “It’s Monday! Are you coming to dinner?”

Then I’d search the internet for cooking inspiration. That Monday at 10:25am I printed a Bon Appetit recipe on Epicurious for Chicken Curry with Dried Apricots. It called for a jar of mango chutney. But I was ambitious so I also printed a recipe from Alton Brown on the Food Network for mango chutney.

In the intervening years I’d occasionally make it with purchased mango chutney. I even blogged about it once before. It was ok, but too simple and not nearly as good as the original. But making chutney separately was too much of an extra step. Now I use fresh mangos in a hodgepodge of a one-pot recipe. It’s way tastier than the purchased version and super flexible with ingredients. I love it.img_0570

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Rituals of Preparation

Being primarily self employed is both delightful and maddeningly frustrating.

The delightful part is being able to do work at breweries, or outdoors, or having sweet and fuzzy work partners.


But it is also maddeningly frustrating when I want to be productive, and I set out to be successful and then just keep getting in my own way, and there is no one to blame but myself. Continue reading

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