life, Spirituality

Sunsets and Spokes

I noticed a shift in myself recently.

I’ve always been drawn to the beauty of a sunset. My mom and I frequently text to make the other aware of the truly amazing ones. Sunrises too. If I happened to be outside to see one, I’d gaze, smile, and think about life a little bit.

Until about a month ago, I began going out of my way to ensure I got in a “sunset ride.” In the past, I thought it was neat if I happened upon one. Still do. Except now, I prefer it daily and have found for the first time in my life, I anticipate it greatly. On the car ride home from work, I start thinking about it.

In a very short period of time, these rides on my mountain bike have become a sort of sacred ritual. For a few minutes while riding, I can empty my mind and just be.

This all started with a story my dad told me. He and a friend ran into each other on an evening walk with the dogs. They were talking about everything and nothing I’m sure, as men in their late 60’s do. During their conversation, as the sun was setting, they agreed on this: “He who experiences the most sunsets, wins.”

I thought nothing of this story at the time. Little did I know a seed was planted, and a few days later I went out for that first evening cruise — with no agenda other than to be in nature and let the colors and the wonder of the sunset set in to my soul.

In¬†the third week of these evening rides, I bumped in to my dad’s friend. He was out walking his dog of course. I shared with him that my dad informed me about the “sunsets & winning” thing. He smiled and said, “Well you know, at your age you don’t think about it much but at my age you realize you don’t have too many sunsets left, so you seek them out.”

Except I am seeking them out. There are certainly many things in life I am naive to and don’t think about (and surely I could busy myself with many of these things), but in regards to well-being, family, following a passion, and serving — I think about these things all the time.

Morning inspirational reading, midday outdoor swims, sunset rides…these are just a few of examples of activities I find extremely rejuvenating and spiritually uplifting.

The trap I fall into sometimes is thinking I can trade in these sacred rituals temporarily while I chase a goal that requires the totality of my time, energy and focus. This almost always ends poorly.

The key I’ve found is to keep my aliveness intact. Today, I’m grateful I’ve found another way to do that, at least until daylight savings time ends next month ūüôā

Keep feeling and experiencing all the mysteries and unfoldings around you, including a sunset or two perhaps.

Keep learning; the outdoors can teach you a lot.

Keep loving.

Keep leading.

Keep livin’.

I’ll do the same.

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Character, coaching, leadership

Defining Greatness in Coaching

Lately, everywhere I turn the topic of character shows up.

Recently I taught a class on character in the Coaching & Leadership for Performance course at SMU. Coaches at all levels talk about it and by the time students are in college all they hear is blah blah blah, character, blah blah blah sense of community and family, blah blah teamwork.

That same week, the Provost gave each faculty member a copy of David Brooks’ book,¬†The Road to Character. Then as I watched the latest Super Bowl between the Broncos and Panthers, I noticed how some players responded to the outcome of the game with character and honor while others did not. As I continue to listen to the presidential debates for the upcoming election, I wonder how important it is to each candidate for our nation to be one of high character.

In contemplating the sheer¬†importance of character,¬†I wonder why people have stopped listening? But then it’s clear – many coaches know how to talk the talk but don’t know how to walk the walk.

Here are 5 reasons why character is crucial in coaching:

1. Without a moral compass, the emphasis on winning becomes obnoxious and unhealthy.

Coaches are constantly balancing the objectives of winning, developing people, and having fun. The pitfall of placing too much emphasis on winning often results in either burnout or a general dissatisfaction. No amount of winning is enough for these coaches. The confusing part is that despite the inner struggle or lack of fulfillment, the adoration and/or money received from the outside world for continuing to improve a win-loss percentage makes it difficult to shift the emphasis back to balanced.

With all the focus on winning, somehow we have lost the sense of having fun and instead have replaced it with “hard work”. Then, we work so hard that it’s just not fun anymore. We need to be conscious to infuse fun back in to the mix of things.

A win-at-all-cost mentality produces superficial monsters. The win is ultimately the only thing that matters to these people and they will do anything to get it Рincluding harming others in their way and/or bending rules. The social, physical, and psychological development of coaches and their athletes take a backseat to the priority of winning. Students start cheating their way to a degree, workers lie their way to a promotion, and athletes use performance enhancing drugs to elicit wins.

Win or lose, coaches with high character recognize the implications of their actions and are conscious to respond appropriately with honorable behavior. Coaches with moral strength and integrity identify with Arthur Calwell’s assertion that¬†“It is better to be defeated on principle than to win on lies”. Truly, these coaches believe there are wins more significant than can be found in a race or on the fields and courts of competition.

2.¬†Coaches of character create “friend energy” not “fan energy”.

I love one of John Maxwell’s blog posts that considers the question, “Do you want to have fans, or friends?” Coaches focused on character don’t care about impressing others or showing off as they are too concerned with connecting with others to influence their growth and development. These coaches understand that their current behavior is influencing the future behavior of the people they are coaching.

Egomaniacal coaches are likely to produce fans of those they lead. Relationships are not mutual and typically do not last. It doesn’t matter if the coaching style is autocratic or democratic, emotionally close or emotionally distant; the actions of these coaches are ultimately self-serving.

Notice I said friend “energy”, not friends. The goal at the end of the day is not to make friends with your athletes but to move the needle forward. HOW you go about moving the needle forward matters. Your ability to communicate in a caring manner greatly affects relationships and the results you do or don’t get.

Mark Allen, coach and 6 time winner of the Kona Ironman World Championship, shared some great content and coaching advice with me¬†in a recent interview¬†for a presentation I gave at USA Triathlon’s International Art & Science Symposium titled Coaching Powerfully: The Greatest Triathlon Coaching Minds.¬†He said, “I help people get physically fit but I aim to help them with weak points in their inner character as well – human being stuff – that ultimately can help in a race.”

The energy you use to carry out your daily interactions with those you coach reveals the heart of your character.

3. Because we need more human beings that ADD TO society, not TAKE AWAY from it.

As a coach in a position of power and authority, people look up to you and look to you for guidance and direction. There is an inherent responsibility that comes with the great privilege of being a coach.

Once you step into a leadership position you soon realize that society’s problems become your problems. Especially for youth coaches, it is well-known that character education helps to fight against violence, drugs, theft, abuse, peer cruelty, etc. We know this all too well in professional sports too, as the media is quick to report athletes’ unbecoming and unlawful behavior.

So basically, a coach’s job is to get others to shine. That’s the task. You cannot assume that anyone you coach knows what the principles of character are. You have to identify these principles. Then teach them. The effort is more than worth it as traits like grit, self-discipline, and passion usually accompany those with high character.

Becky Burleigh, head women’s soccer coach at the University of Florida, wonderfully illustrates what the commitment looks like to build a culture of high character people. In this¬†video, you will see an amazing demonstration team¬†character in action.

4. Your credibility depends on it.

What you say and what you teach are a small part of what others actually remember of you. Your wins and any other short-lived successes are also likely to be forgotten. Rather, it’s the way you live your life, and how you go about it in the smallest of details — this is the strongest message that you send to those you lead.

The trail you leave behind is largely determined by your character. In order to be an effective teacher of the distinctions of character, it must be something you live. Once others SEE your commitment through your actions, you gain massive credibility with your audience.

Dr. Greg Dale, a Professor of Sport Psychology and Sport Ethics at Duke University, authored¬†The Seven C’s of Coaching Credibility¬†where he listed desired characteristics of the most credible coaches. While the list of seven characteristics are great, I most appreciate the poem from Linda Ellis called “the Dash” which Dr. Dale and a colleague adapted especially for coaches. I urge you to read it.

Your character shapes your destiny, as I am reminded in the below quote by Frank Outlaw (also seen as attributed to Lao Tzu).

As a coach and leader of others, you have the responsibility and great honor of guiding others to their destinies.

5. Because the world needs more humility and self-discipline in it.

It is possible to win and remain humble. Of course there will be those who win and act in a haughty manner, blow their own trumpets, and draw unnecessary attention to themselves. Let them be. Virtues like courage, humility, patience and perseverance are in short supply. Coaches who value these virtues can positively impact sport and in turn, the world we live in.

Be willing to examine yourself as a person and have the courage to confront your weaknesses as it relates to your character. Others you spend time with, your family and your athletes, see these weaknesses. How you go about your life acknowledging them with grace will give others a sense of your self-awareness and will enroll them in assisting you in your greater mission.

“Greatness is not found in possessions, power, position or prestige. It is discovered in goodness, humility, service and character.” -William Arthur Ward

Greatness is not found in accumulating wins or trophies, either. If that’s your standard, maybe it’s time to raise it.

David Bertrand serves as Director and Clinical Assistant Professor of the Sport Performance Leadership coaching concentration within the Department of Applied Physiology and Wellness at Southern Methodist University. He is a practicing endurance and triathlon coach and is en route to graduate with a doctorate in higher education leadership in May of 2018. David lives in Dallas with his wife, Nikki, and their three children, Annie, Tessa, and John David.

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featured image photo credit: innovateus.net

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leadership, life, Spirituality

Clarity from Stillness

Stillness. There is beauty in it. I thrive in the complete silence the beginning of the day offers. I become fully aware of choices – ones I’ve made, ones currently available to me, and ones I will make in the future. I am in awe of the simplicity of the realization that I am a product of all my past decisions, which have been influenced by the people I’ve met and the books I’ve read.

I am grateful to not feel the need to blame anyone for anything. Peace that accompanies this feeling. And for a moment, just for a moment, there is nothing to prove or accomplish. For a moment, there is no list of to-do’s or expectations. For a moment, I can just be. In this moment, I sense the radical renewal of my mind and energy. I feel an unstoppable force with undisputed clarity guiding my breath and my thoughts. I dread nothing. I look forward to nothing (except the next sip of coffee). I just fully enjoy myself and this moment to no end. I am present.

I am grateful and keenly aware of the activities in my life that constantly seem to pull me away from the tranquility and magic of the mindfulness I am experiencing. I begin to smile as I fantasize being able to maintain this state throughout my day. What if I could? I know I can and have confidence that with more practice and regularity of entering this state, I can live being more in tune with my inner world, moment by moment.

I am reminded of a self-defeating, sabotaging thought from the previous¬†night and can immediately recognize the foolishness and insanity of the thought – a critical judgment of myself for not being as fit or in as peak of shape as I was in the past. Where does this absurd thinking come from? It’s clear to me that when¬†these subtle thoughts tug at me (sometimes unconsciously) during random times throughout the day, they are not uplifting or helpful. I consciously transfer these thoughts to ones of acceptance and love, and rest in the true reality of my healthy state.

I then remind myself of my choices and what truly brings me joy – my family and friends, my work, the outdoors – and let go of the harsh treatment I often subconsciously subject myself to. I am deeply grateful for the awareness of this inner critic as many are not and again, I peacefully bring my internal conversations back to ones that support loving David and the great possibilities ahead of me.

I realize these moments are opportunities to imprint upon my consciousness the freedom and peace of being in an anxiety-free state. I think back to the past five years of my life and the decisions I have made to de-clutter some overcrowded aspects of my life, and I am thankful for trusting myself to make hard decisions — even though at the time I was hesitant due to caring¬†too much about what others thought of me.

I understand clearly now that the cumulative effect of these decisions have allowed me to regain something very precious: more frequent access to quiet, still moments of thought and reflection. Stillness. The result is that I feel more connected to my truest desires, most sincere intentions, and highest aspirations. It reinforces my devotion to spend my mornings reading, learning, and listening. And it renews my dedication to living a life on purpose.

I have never been as clear as I am in this moment, that happiness cannot be gained from anything outside of me – whether it be accumulating trinkets, winning the approval of others, or mindlessly following my inner critic – rather it comes from within…it’s a simple choice.

“There is no way to happiness; happiness is the way.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

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Family, life, Pain

Thoughts from Throwing my Back Out

About 10 days ago I threw my back out and have been largely immobile since. OK well maybe that’s a stretch as I have been able to get around, but very slowly and painfully. Accepting this injury was difficult at first. I had trouble coming to terms that this could happen to a young, 36-year-old guy! Of course, when I was around 8 years old I chipped a huge chunk of my permanent front tooth in a skateboarding incident and asked my dad, “Why me?” I guess I still haven’t grown up.

But I eventually did face it head on, my lower back issue. The pain of lower back spasms, at the intensity I was having them, surprised me. At times it was excruciating and in regards to sleep, forget about it. I will say, behind the complaining and disbelief, is a yearning to get moving again.

I miss walking normally, without pain. I miss picking up my kids. I miss helping Nikki bring the groceries in. I miss taking the trash out. And boy do I miss working out. When I am able to return to my daily activities, I will certainly have a renewed appreciation for just the opportunity and privilege to move around freely, expressing myself. But for now, I am choosing my situation and making the most out of it, learning as much as I can.

Despite my old man woes, I was still able to hobble around the kitchen in the mornings to fix Nikki’s coffee. We wouldn’t want to find out what might happen if she had to start a day without caffeine.

The lesson for me is next time on a run, when the dissatisfaction creeps in that my pace is slower than I think it should be that day, or whatever, I will smile and look around at nature, and enjoy the actual movement of running and the fact that I get to run for another day.

Be well,

David

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coaching, leadership, Teaching, triathlon

An Interview With Brett Sutton – Unorthodox Coach of World and Olympic Champions

Brett Sutton, aka “The Doc”,¬†has coached Ironman world record holder Chrissie Wellington and Olympic gold medalists Nicola Spirig and Emma Snowsill.

First of all, let me just say that Brett’s interview was the longest (and perhaps the most provocative) of all the triathlon coaches I spoke with. He had a lot to say and a lot to offer. He did not shy away from bringing up controversial topics and did not hesitate to speak his mind on anything and everything.

Former professional athlete and now famed coach Siri Lindley has described Sutton as “the best coach in the world” (in January of 2011).

Here is the transcript from my conversation with Brett: (Note: Because the interview was NOT recorded, transcribing was not possible and many of the answers are thus paraphrased.)

David Bertrand (db): How many years have you been coaching?

Brett Sutton¬†(bs):¬†I come from a coaching family where both my mom and dad were coaches. I’ve been doing it since the age of 15 (which amounts to 40+ years).

db: What originally drew you into coaching and what do you enjoy most about it?

bs: My brother and sisters were all swimmers, so I was teaching them how to swim when I was 10 years old. It was a part of my life from very early on. My entire life has been centered around sport.

It’s what I do best – not necessarily what I enjoy – but it’s just what I do best. I get very emotionally involved with my athletes.¬†At age 18 I had experienced a lot of success already having coached with the Australian national swim team. This early success made it difficult for my coaching career as I didn’t get another job until age 24 (parents of athletes thought he was too young to coach). In the interim I crossed over to coach greyhounds and horses.

Coaching is the family business. If I had to do it all over again, I’d have stayed with the animals. I had great success with them. My dad would always pull me back in to the swim training and stir my interest for working with people again, and sure enough I’d get drawn back in to the mainstream of swim coaching.

Triathlon coaching came in to the picture in 1999. I was working with swimmers on the gold coast, as coaching director for Queensland Swimming. Initially they asked if I could step in to the age group masters program for a few weeks. It was then that I met Ben Bright, national triathlon high performance coach for England. I worked with the triathlon age groupers for three months and absolutely loved it. I loved the atmosphere and the camaraderie of the age grouper environment. I had to make up my mind though and choose between coaching the swimmers or the triathletes, which I thought was totally unfair and disingenuous. Being the hot head that I was, I left swimming and began a 3-year stint of working with the age groupers. The rest is history.

db: What is your coaching philosophy and what if anything, do you consider to be unique or core to your approach?

bs:¬†I’m an authoritarian who listens. A coach should be a coach and make decisions. The reason for loyalty is the listening part. From the outside looking in, it might just look like authoritarianism. But I listen first and then act decisively. I understand their feelings and the logic of what the athlete is trying to achieve. I’ve never looked at the sport of triathlon from a triathlon set of eyes, and that has been my biggest advantage.

The best medley swim coaches in the world make compromises of each stroke and technique, in order to make the best medley racers in the world. I brought that philosophy to triathlon. I have never done a triathlon. I did two bike rides just to see what the athletes are going through. What I learned is that coaches are far too technical and way too specific.

Teaching age groupers how to get a “feel’ for the water is just outright ridiculous. Michael Phelps and Alexander Popov are terrible distance swimmers, and yet that’s the model for many swim clinics. It drives me nuts.¬†

[In summary:]

  1. Being an authoritarian is not a bad thing because you have to make decisions. (I wear it like a badge of honor.)
  2. You must compromise certain things to get the best performance.

db: Did you receive any advice from early on in your coaching career, which has been something you draw strength from and/or something you consider to be a great piece of wisdom?

bs: My dad couldn’t read or write. All of his coaching was done by feel and with a great eye for the sport of swimming. Everything he learned was trial and error. After the age of 15 when an athlete typically begins to ask “Why?” in regards to training procedures and methods, things went south for my dad as ultimately he was insecure about it.

When I first set out to learn the craft of coaching, my dad sent me out to observe each of the top 5 programs in Australia. He wanted me to learn what I could and then report back as to what each program does and what they do to produce good athletes. He said, “Don’t come home until you know what’s going on.”

There was one program in particular that seemingly was accomplishing very little. The head coach would write the workout on the board and then go into his office, after which¬†chaos and play would ensue with the group of youth swimmers. He reported back to his father that it was simply “pandemonium” and his dad’s response, “You’re only looking, not watching.” After the third visit, I finally figured it out: after the coach would go back to his office the young swimmers were doing relay after relay of 25 yard sprints. It was no wonder that the program was producing short-range rockets!

This example serves to illustrate that my first year of coaching was dedicated to observation. I consider it to have been an ingenious coaching expedition.

The observation skills I learned from training horses and greyhounds would put triathlon coaches to shame. And in a nutshell, that’s the mystique that I bring to triathlon. I spent the better part of 3 or 4 years around training animals, and that has had a huge influence on how I coach people.

The depth of the psychology needed to coach effectively is underrated. You must be a great observer and communicator but if I had to pick one between the two, observation trumps it every time. Great horse trainers don’t talk to the horses.

For example, at times I didn’t even talk to Nicola. I’d let her physiology do the talking. Earlier in my career I would never compromise, but in 2000 I started to compromise.

Emma Snowsill would not have achieved what she has without my authoritarian style. Same thing goes for Chrissie Wellington. Nicola Spirig too.

I have evolved as a coach.

db: Do you have any tips for athletes or coaches in regards to getting through injuries / difficult patches?

bs: Injuries are part of the deal. If you sign up to be a soldier, you can’t guarantee you won’t get shot. If you want to be a professional athlete and be the best you want to be, you are kidding yourself if you think you can do it without injury.

It’s HOW you deal with it that counts.¬†Often times people do great things while injured.

When Loretta Harrop came to me, I was “Mr. Fix It” and would use horse remedies to help her and others. An art of coaching is being able to train around awkward physiology. For example, one recovering athlete I never gave any speed work to but she could handle 60k a week on the run at a steady-state pace and was strong as an ox. It’s how you set the session that matters.

Injuries usually come in three’s I’ve found. After 10 days off from an injury let’s say, an athlete might come back with a different set of legs. There is one legitimate injury and two illegitimate ones.¬†

db: Regarding the business of coaching, what do you see as the biggest challenge to establishing a successful coaching practice?

bs: I’m broke and the worst person to ask for this.

I get the best results of five coaches combined. But I’m a bad business man.

db: What are the most common mistakes you see coaches make?

bs: Letting athletes cram: “I missed this session, so I’ll fit it in there.” Don’t play catch up!

What’s ridiculously hard is to be consistent at my training sessions. I tell my athletes that I need 20 weeks of consistent work.

db: What types of collaborating do you do with other coaches to improve your own practice?

bs: I’m an eclectic. I’m not a very smart guy, but what I can do is tell you things about athletes and what they do that other triathlon coaches cannot see. I don’t necessarily collaborate with other tri coaches because there are only five that know what they’re doing.

I having great success with those I mentor because I can explain to them why I’m doing what I’m doing. I would advise coaches to be very careful who you are collaborating with.

An important thing to note here is that I don’t change anything if it’s working. I’m not thinking “Oh, how can I improve this next year?” if it’s working. Sometimes if you’re always thinking about ways to become a better coach, it can hurt you. That thirst for knowledge can hurt you. You may be passing over something that is working just fine.

Chrissie did the exact same program in year 1 as she did in year 2. She just did it faster. And did it better in year 2. Caroline Steffen trained the same way as Chrissie; they had similar body and emotional make-ups. Additionally I trained Nicola more like Loretta because of similar leg problems.

I spent 4 years in an apprenticeship standing on deck as a coach. I am not someone who was a great athlete or that has taken certain courses. That’s what I’ve found to be valuable.

Sidenote: The greatest swimmers don’t make as good coaches because they lack the empathy.

db: Where do you see the sport of triathlon headed?

bs:

  • Coaches are making money on age groupers and that part has never been better.¬†
  • If professionals don’t wake up and get organized, things are going to get ugly. It’s regressing completely. If you’re in the Ironman field, be very careful as prize money is shrinking.
  • If you strive to be a high performance coach, you’re going to be very broke.
  • A good business strategy does not revolve around the pro’s.
  • I’m very worried about the performance side of things. It’s very scary in regards to doping. I still think you can be clean and get the times necessary to win. If you train hard enough, you can still produce the results (this is NOT the case with cycling). I wish triathlon would wake up and nip it in their own sport.

db: If you could wish one thing for an ATHLETE that may be new to the sport, what would that be?

bs: Consistency. Understand if you’re coming in new to the sport, you’re not going to be a professional so the main goal is health…don’ destroy your family.

Follow this: Mon/Thurs = swim; Tues/Fri = bike; Wed/Sat = run; Sun = rest. That’s it.

All these “I want to go faster and longer” goals are being lost in the holistic pie as age groupers are starting to sacrifice other things to get 5 minutes faster. Is that healthy? Or does that cause¬†you to¬†unhinge in other areas? Or is there actually a health benefit? The competitive component of triathlon has over-run what triathlon is all about.

Use the sport to be healthy and to enhance your lifestyle and family life.

I advocate eliminating 1st, 2nd and 3rd place medals at these age group races. What about completing the event…that guy is a winner! How can you compare a guy with no job to another that has a family and works 12 hours a day? It’s just silliness.

db: If you could wish one thing for a COACH that may be new to the sport, what would that be?

bs: Spend time on the deck, observing. If you want to be a great coach, that’s the best way to do it.¬†Don’t go straight to online programming and coaching; that is a mistake. Coach people and understand personalities. That’s the key. You’ve got to get the experience if you want to be a good coach. You learn that the books may not be right and then you bring in the “art” to find out how to help the athlete.

Nicola Sperry was out 6 months in 2011, but she swam 60k a week and we found things to work on.

Pick athletes to work with that have big results, not big egos. There’s a huge difference.

db: Any final thoughts?

bs:

  • Number one is that psychology wins over physiology, always.
  • A lot of coaches think they’re going to get “magic” out of a book.
  • Match your knowledge to what the person’s needs are at that particular time.
  • If you are doing a set of 4 x 800 on the track and the athlete looks agitated, then I might change the workout on the fly. Doing the original workout will only make the athlete worse. Never rely on a set program.

So there you have it, from the “coach with the most formidable resume in triathlon”.

Learned a lot. Hope you did too.

For your success,

David

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If you liked this article, then you also might appreciate interviews with the following:

Dave Scott

Mark Allen

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All triathlon coach interviews were conducted in April and May of 2014.

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life, Training

Memorable Faces at White Rock Lake

I’ve lived near the lake most of my life. But it wasn’t until the last 12 years that I could call myself a “regular” in regards to cycling or running around Lawther or the lake path.

This post is dedicated to the people I’ve seen the most during that time frame (and that are memorable). I don’t know any of their names, but maybe you do.

THE WAVER – This man must be the happiest of all lake rats. He usually rides a hybrid bike, perfect for taking one hand off the handle bars and using it to wave to every human he sees. One time I saw him wave to 10 people individually in less than 5 seconds it seemed! He will wave at you regardless if you are facing him or not. Just smiling away and waving, determined to not allow any walker, runner, cyclist, or stroller, to go by him without receiving a wave. Although I’ve never seen him standing, he seems tall and usually wears a white sleeveless tee. Parks near Boy Scout Hill I think. Friendly dude!

THE FREE ADVICE GUY – How can you not see this guy and his entourage? He bring chairs and a big sign that reads “Free Advice”. When heading south on West Lawther from Mockingbird, you’ll see him near a parking lot on your left before you reach Branchfield. Only weekends I believe. Sometimes he is alone when no one wants free advice, but most of the time there are several people sitting with him. I’m still not sure if it’s the same people every time or if he’s attracting new customers. At any rate, this man is helping people with what he knows I suppose! A staple at the lake.

THE MAYOR – The runner (or shuffler) gets his nickname because I’ve never seen him running too long without stopping to chat it up with folks. He also usually has a small group running with him. I imagine if he’s looping the lake it must take him 3 hours or so, given his pace and inclination for wanting to be mayor-like and all. For some reason I want to say his name is David but I’m really not sure. I really like this guy because he sports the calf-high, white tube socks!! It looks cool; at least I think so. Haven’t seen him as much lately, so I almost omitted him but due to past consistency and the tube socks he made the cut. Must be nice to be the “mayor” of the WR hike and bike trail.

THE ASIAN ULTRA-RUNNER – Not much to say here. He is light as a feather. Always running. I’m sure multiple loops. Always there! Did I mention grasshopper, light as a feather? Not very fast but I get the impression he might do 50 and 100-milers. Just a hunch. Parks at TP Hill. If you run at the lake then you’ve definitely seen this guy at some point.

THE CYCLIST – Since I live very near the lake, I am fortunate to use it a lot and there are times when I feel like I have it all to myself…it could be super early, or just about to rain, or a little on the cold side, whatever the case you get the point. Just as soon as I’ve have the thought “It’s nice to be here all alone,” this cyclist turns up! He is most always wearing a Dallas Bike Works kit and glasses. Not sunglasses. Glasses. He is always usually traveling against the grain. Either he rides all the time and nets 400 miles a week or is a cyclist brother from a different mother and prefers the unusual times to utilize the lake like me.

THE INDIAN KoM – This endurance athlete usually wears a full-zip jersey but always leaves it unzipped. Even in cold weather (if my memory serves me right), he will layer up but will still wear the jersey like this. It’s his flair I suppose! He is KoM for “King of the Mountains” in the Tour de France – on the hard climbing stages, it’s not uncommon for the riders to unzip their jerseys. I see this athlete running occasionally too, but he seems more in his element on the bike. Always training and usually traveling against the grain (counterclockwise).

Who am I missing?

See you out there!

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Family, life, Pain

What I Learned about FTP in HypnoBirthing class

It’s possible that you found this post hoping to learn something about “Functional Threshold Power”. While that’s not the FTP I’m referring to, in a roundabout way¬†I’m confident¬†you¬†just might learn something about that too.

Nikki and I are expecting our third child in August. As a change-up, we decided to not find out the gender and to use the HypnoBirthing method to deliver the baby.

What exactly is Hypnobirthing?

Nikki was really intrigued by the idea of placing herself in an ultra-calm state using visualizations, music, self-hypnosis, and relaxation techniques, to give birth. She liked the thought of going through the process in a gentle and relaxing way. And without an epidural.

So she asked for my support and got it. Then we dove into a comprehensive training course. The course was designed around “The Mongan Method”.

Nikki was never under the illusion that childbirth won’t hurt; she’s gone through this twice and knows the reality! But, what if¬†it was up to her to choose how she wants her body to handle the pain?

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There have been a lot of funny moments in the class. For example, I learned from the HypnoBirthing instructor (aka “doula”) that the doctor doesn’t deliver the baby; he receives the baby. The mother¬†delivers the baby.

I immediately liked the approach of empowering the mother by using language. At the same time I couldn’t help but chuckle! Why?

Because my dad is an OB/GYN and has been practicing medicine for about 36 years. It makes me smile when I think about correcting him in a future conversation, saying “No dad, you didn’t deliver five babies last night…you¬†received them.” Haha!

FTP

The most memorable class was when we learned about the FTP syndrome.

It suggests that when a woman is in “Fear” this causes “Tension” in her body, which then results in “Pain”.

But that’s not all. It’s a vicious cycle as the pain then triggers more fear.

Interestingly, the abbreviation is the same as “failure to progress” – words used by the medical profession regarding labor.

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I think it takes a lot of guts to approach a pregnancy this way.

I’m proud of Nikki and all the women in the class that have risen to this challenge – to face the “fear” head on and to equip themselves with techniques to use when the time is right. It’s been a great experience so far.

A takeaway: your fears (hidden or obvious) may be sabotaging your capacity to access your full potential.

Look within.

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