Dip and Recover

I hope you’re in the business of improving. Who isn’t, right? We work hard on our craft, our hobby, our family, our relationships. We put in the time and we put in the work. But sometimes our upwards trajectory gets stifled. It can be very discouraging. I had that yesterday.

I’ve started to swim in preparation for my first triathlon. The last five week’s I’ve been in the pool working on stroke technique and cardiovascular endurance with tremendous learning and improvement. Learners see great improvements in the first stage of training a new skill. Literally every workout has been better than the previous. This culminated with my first full Masters swim class last Thursday which went better than I thought it would go.

And then yesterday happened.

It was like I had never done any of the drills before. It was like I had never swam five minutes straight before. It was like I had never practiced any of my technique before. To say it was a discouraging workout is an understatement. And I knew it 10 minutes into the workout.

 

Upward trajectory, good training

Monday

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Tuesday – the Dip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But I stayed in the pool. I worked through some adversity, only to finish the workout disappointed and confused. Once I was out of the pool, showered up and into the rest of my day, only then was I able to process the experience as a simple down-tick in the game plan. I’m not in trouble. I haven’t regressed. This is all part of the learning and training process.

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Wednesday – true growth and training effect

If you’ve been knocked down, I encourage you to walk away and process what happened. Revisit your game plan and show up to work the next day.  Do you know someone who needs to read these words? Please share using the buttons below.

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What I Am Telling My Kids About Boston

As a parent it is my responsibility to form the lens through which my children see the world.  Thankfully my kids are four and and two, so the world’s events don’t affect them as much as they will in the future.  So what am I telling my kids about Boston?  Nothing.  I am relieved that I don’t have to tell them anything about what happened at the finish line of the Boston Marathon yesterday.

But I’ve been thinking a lot about planning and preparing and I’ve been processing that on this blog lately.  Exercise training – gotta plan.  Graduate degree – gotta plan.  Parenting?  Oh my!  If you don’t have a plan for raising your children, the world will raise them for you.  Let me be clear: my plan is to guide and encourage without micromanaging my kids’ childhood and upbringing.  But I believe there are explicit instructions and conversations to be had when it comes to certain life situations and events.  Monday’s terrorist attach is one of those events.  If Sorin and Norah were a little older, here’s what I would say to them.

Run towards, not away

When tragedy happens, evaluate the situation as much as you can and then be a first responder.  Run towards those who need help.  You will be equipped to handle the stress, the difficulties, and uncertainties.  Don’t run away.  People need you, assume they have no one else.  This requires some critical thinking, but the attitude should be of a first responder.  Think to yourself, “What can I do to help?”  There’s a visual image floating around the Boston finish line of  an explosion and then there’s a reaction by the bystanders.  Be a person who runs toward the emergency.

It’s not a good world, it’s an evil world

One prevailing thought after this tragedy has been that the world is essentially good, there’s just a few bad apples.  Unfortunately this is not what the Bible says.  The Bible says that we’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  It also says that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”  Our pastor, Chris Dolson, says we are crooked like a bent stick.  This doesn’t mean we’re all capable of terrorist attacks, but we are a sinful people.  At the same time God equips us for doing good works.  We need to know that evil exists in the world and it is our job to bring light and hope to the world.  It also means we are to help those in need if we are able.  Often we are, in fact, able and even called to help.

There’s nothing you can do

Would I run the Boston Marathon next year?  Absolutely.  Would I have attended the Olympic Games after the bombing in Atlanta (1996)?  Absolutely.  We cannot live our lives in fear.  We need to be smart, even strategic.  But we cannot let these events affect our lives.  Is there additional danger in the next Boston marathon?  The next Olympic Games?  The next sold out Packers game?  The next never-sold-out-Bucks game?  No.  There’s no rhyme or reason to these kinds of attacks, so we cannot live in fear.  Know the world we live in, be prepared, and trust in the Lord.  What else can you really do?  There’s nothing else you can do.  But our hope and our strength?  It comes from the Lord.  If He is our light and our salvation, whom shall we fear?

Run in their shoes

I don’t do well with grief.  Franky I struggle with it a lot.  But I know that and I’m actively moving towards it, trying to be more sympathetic and connected to those in need.  I don’t know anyone hurt at the Boston finish line.  But I had a runner friend, and I can imagine the support his family would need if he had been hurt or killed.  Being able to run in the shoes of people going through a tough time or tragedy is a life skill.  It allows us to care for them if we are side-by-side.  It forces us to run towards them if they need our help.  Right now I can’t do anything for the people in Boston.  But I can pray for them and their families and I can increase my compassion for them so that if I had an opportunity to help firsthand, I’d be more likely to step up and contribute.

I Love You

Is there anything more important to tell a child?  At the end of the day, what is more powerful than love?  I hug my kids a little tighter after tragedies.  I make sure they know they are loved and it flows from the love I’ve experienced from God.  God loves me, I love you, now go out and show the world love and hope.

 

 

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Set-up

A few weeks ago I had to go to the ophthalmologist (eye doctor, for those keeping score at home) because one eye was very red, infected, painful, all of the above.  She looked around, put some drops in, and concluded I probably was using dirty contacts.  It was good that there was nothing worse, but it was also a wake up call to take better care of my contacts.  She sent me home with new instructions for daily clearing my contacts.  Why am I sharing this?  Because the actual protocol was for me to physically rub my contacts when I took them in or out of their case and then empty the solution in the case each time I used it.  The problem of me was that I would never remember to change the solution until after I put my contacts away for the day.  It wasn’t until I changed my routine and emptied the solution right after putting the contacts in for the day that I was able to be successful in my new eye care.

planning-ahead

I’m going though something similar with my new swim workouts.  Our house is set up such that the kids’ rooms are right next to our room and the mud room, which is our entrance to the garage.  I cant simply get out of the house at 5:15am.  I need to have my swim bag packed, my change of clothes and shower stuff packed, and even my garage door opener out of my car and by the front door so that I don’t open the inside door and risk waking up my (precious:) sleeping daughter.  The first couple weeks of swimming were stressful just in the prep I had to do the night before!

I’m finding that so many things in life are better experienced when you go through the set up in advance.  I’ll admit: I’m not a good planner.  I fly by the seat of my pants more than I’d like to admit.  I’ve trained for full and half marathons – that takes some planning.  I’m 30 days away from finishing a graduate degree in kinesiology – that took some planning and disciplined study.  But some of the smaller day-to-day or week-to-week planning issues are a struggle for me.  But life is a series of adjustments and I’m learning to adjust my habits, my routines, my preparations so that I can be successful in new and challenging ways.

Not only does it take some planning to get out of the house in the morning to swim, but it also takes some planning so that I get a good workout when I get in the water.  I’m not a swimmer.  I don’t know swim workouts, I don’t even know some of the lingo as I spend time with swimmers and research swim training.  So planning my workouts is essential if I’m going to expect to improve as fast as I’d like.

This all plays into a new theme in my life.  Every Monday morning I’ve spent some disciplined time prepping for the week.  Now I’m looking at some of the other areas of life that require set up to be successful.  Do you have any areas of life that could use a little more set up?

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iCan iWill

On Tuesday I wrote about the importance of having a calendar component to your training.  My training philosophy is such that you need an event on the calendar to put your training into context.  This is consistent with goal-setting theories and intuitively we all know that putting a finish line on the calendar and having a goal is a great way to keep a person motivated and effortful.

So now that you have a calendar with a goal circled, you have a plan.  What’s next?  You look at the calendar and say to yourself, “iCan.”  But you look at your training partner and say “iWill.”

  • I will train.
  • I will be here.
  • I will work hard and smart.
  • I will compete and get better.

Having community in your training offers two benefits to reaching your goal.  First, it gives you come accountability.  Saying “I will…” forces you to make a commitment and now you’re on the record.  It’s not a coach or a trainer looking over your shoulder, barking orders, pushing you harder than necessary.  Rather it’s a peer, a friend by your side in the battle with you.  Training runs get long by yourself.  I love putting my ear buds in and listening to my iPod shuffle, but having a running partner, a biking partner, or a friend in the pool lane next to you makes any workout not only more challenging but more enjoyable.

That’s the second benefit to training with a partner.  It’s more fun!  Being relational and training with other people is what most people remember after the training is over, when the race is done.  I won’t get all nostalgic here, but I miss my high school teammates quite often.  That camaraderie from the practice field to the locker room to the game field, training is so rich when you have others by your side.  Of course with team sports that’s a lot easier to accomplish.  But as we get older it seems like our sports and activities are more individual in nature.  I’m a runner – solo.  I’m learning how to bike and swim – solo.  Therein lies the challenge.

I struggle a little bit here.  I kind of like training alone.  Part of it is my time commitments with juggling work and grad school.  But honestly most of it is (a) I’m a loner by nature, and (b) I don’t have a lot of runner friends.

My challenge to you is this:  keep your eyes and mind open to identifying a training partner.  I commit to do the same.  I will stretch myself, think outside my comfort zone (which is very comfy right now) and try to find a teammate, maybe a team.  I expect this to happen as I get to know the guys at the pool.  As I continue to train for triathlons, I expect to find some other run, bike, and swim training partners.

Have you thought about these aspects of training before?  Do you use a calendar?  Do you have a training partner or a training team?  

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Training Philosophy: iCal iCan

When you workout as much as I do (which is not a ton) and talk about fitness as much as I do (my favorite subject), you realize that people who workout just for the sake of working out are few and far between.  You will never hear me discourage anyone from working out and doing what works for them.  But going to the gym to lift weights?  Getting on a treadmill with no end in mind?  And the step machine?!  Hey, any activity is good and maybe you’re doing it because you just know you should… but I don’t think it’s sustainable.

iCal iCan

I have this training philosophy: iCal iCan.  If I put something meaningful on the calendar, I can accomplish it.  No, four to five workouts on the calendar for three months straight doesn’t count.  I mean you need to put an event on the calendar.  “But Hans, I’m not a runner.”  Fine.  Then put together some kind of event together where you perform, where you complete, where you see if all your training and workouts have paid off.  This may take some creative thinking and planning.  I can help with that.  But I believe having context to your training is essential for anyone to adhere to a routine.

As most of you know, I’ve been a runner for over seven years.  Katie and I have made this a pretty big part of our lives.  I’ve run multiple full and half marathons, and each time it was this date on the calendar that allowed me to stay motivated for months at a time in pursuit of this single goal.  When you take this philosophy a step further, you realize that each workout has a purpose.  Each workout has an objective that fits into the framework of your training plan and contributes to your body adjusting to different workloads so that you can cross that finish line as fast as possible.  If this sounds too hardcore for you, I’m ok with that.  But we all can understand that in anything we do, a goal plus a plan is a recipe for success.  We work hard at work to get that next promotion.  We study in school to finish a class, pass a test, or graduate with a degree.  We do projects around the house with an end in mind – there’s a goal, so there’s a plan.  Health and fitness are no different:  iCal, iCan.

 

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The Man in the Arena

A mini post, because this thought came in my mind as I started work this morning:

Man in the Arena

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

Theodore Roosevelt
“Citizenship in a Republic,”
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910
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Paul

Paul,

 

Thanks for taking a look at my resume.

 

 

Below you will see what my email was all about.

 
Wait for it….

 

 

 

April Fool’s !!

 

 

I’m confident, but I’m not stupid. I hope this ends your day well. Honestly, I’m not a prankster but I got fooled this morning and had to get creative to spread the love.

On a much more serious note, I’m looking forward to apply for the job that is actually open. I have a few questions, but I won’t tie them in with this little prank. Until then, happy April 1.

 

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Think Spring (or whatever it takes to cheer up)

I love winter.  I love the cold.  I love cross-country skiing with Katie and sledding with my kids.  But God also wired me to greatly appreciate the seasons, and I’m ready for spring.  I’m ready for spring because the last few weeks have been extremely busy and stressful.  My grad school program was front-loaded with work this semester, so that took a lot of time.  And lots of things were still happening around our house:

  • Katie is due with our third child in May.
  • I launched Exercise is Medicine in Madison.
  • I’m preparing for graduation and a job search.
  • My daughter is turning 3 (that blows my mind!).
  • I started swimming at the local high school in preparation for triathlon training.
  • And I’m still running outside, now with more vigor with this wonderful weather!

Things are happening!  It’s spring!

But a couple weeks ago I was signing a different tune.  I won’t get into the details, but the situation was a lot different.  The last few days have given me reason to see the bright future ahead.  Some of this can be attributed to circumstances beyond my control, some of this is a reflection of the work I’ve put in, and the last part is from a simple change in attitude.  As Coach Lecher says, “Life is a series of adjustments.”

Spring time is a great time to transition from the seasonal cold of winter to the warmth of summer.  The same can be said for other areas of life, from school and work to family and friends.  It’s almost like a mini-New Years!  Our lives are too important to be stuck in anything less than doing great work.

Reset.  Take an hour, take 15 minutes – whatever it takes.  Recalibrate your daily workflow.  Reflect on what’s worked, what hasn’t, what needs tweaking.  Because my guess is that we need you to be at your best.  

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Building and the Resistance

I’m building a new model for care in the medical field. The original idea wasn’t mine, but I’ve adopted it and made my adjustments. The campaign is called Exercise is Medicine. It’s an initiative of the American College of Sports Medicine. The idea is that people listen to their doctors and will respond if their doctors recommend that they get more physical activity. Just about all of us need more physical activity in our lives and doctors don’t have the time (or usually the expertise) to monitor a person’s fitness. I launched the initiative for Madison in January. I have two doctors that I’m working with and I’m happy with the dialog we’ve started and the program we have in place. The only problem: none of the recommendations have lead to exercise prescription.

The Resistance

Have you ever felt the Resistance?

If you have ever tried to do something creative, or something that would benefit other people, or something that would make your a healthier or better person, you have felt Resistance. Resistance, according to Steven Pressfield, is what tells us that we’re not good enough, that we are going to fail, that we’ll blow it, that we don’t actually want these good things anyway.

The Resistance for me right now is that next hurdle. How do I make some simple adjustments and get some clients to sign up for our program? How much information should I be sharing with the doctors? I put a lot of work into setting up the program, establishing the relationships with the doctors and making the ask for them to participate. It was exciting to launch the program but now I’ve entered the Resistance. The excitement is gone. Momentum has been lost. I’m questioning if this will work and even if so, what’s my next move?

Building a business, establishing relationships, determining your next move all take time. It’s a disciplined practice to plan and execute and I often find it therapeutic to just write it out like this blog post and share it.

Have you had any experience with the Resistance? What kinds of processes do you go through when you’re building something for the first time?

 

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Five Things I Learned Taking My Kids All Weekend

This weekend Katie got to go up to Minnesota to see Ann Voskamp speak at the Set Apart Conference.  I was excited for her to get this opportunity to see one of her favorite authors and I was also excited to have a weekend alone with my kids.  I documented a lot of it on Facebook and Instagram, but I collected a bunch of other thoughts and here’s what I learned.

Katie is good

Let’s just get that out of the way.  My respect was renewed this weekend when I had full responsibility for when they wake, when they eat, how they play, how they go down.  When you see all the little things add up caring for kids 24/7, it’s impossible not to say “kudos” to you.  She’s the primary care-taker five days a week, and big chunks of the weekend while I’m in grad school.  She’s awesome.

Plan, plan, plan

Taking care of Sorin and Norah is nothing new for me.  I was ready for these three days; I’ve done this before.  But if my plan for the weekend was to wing it, I would’ve been in trouble.  I need a plan.  For meals I had a plan, the kitchen was stocked, and it all went perfectly.  I even made a quiche!  For playing outside I had some ideas but it was rainy and we couldn’t get outdoors.  That was a bummer.  We still got to do some learning things and some arts and crafts because Katie and I have been trying to add some educational structure to their days.  Our trip to Kids at the Rotunda was very successful part of the game plan.  The teacher in me was very happy to have a schedule and it seemed to keep the kids going with a perfect amount of free play.

Arts and Crafts led to a message we sent to Katie

Arts and Crafts led to a message we sent to Katie

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Sorin dancing at the David Landeau show.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Katie and I parent differently

I don’t play certain games the way she does.  My quiche didn’t come out the same way Katie’s does (but it really was good!).  And there’s things from a behavior standpoint that I don’t allow where they can get away with it with Katie.  I heard, “But Mommy doesn’t….” more than a few times.  It wasn’t a big deal, but it was an eye opener that we certainly do things differently and so we need to continue to communicate and collaborate so we can work well together raising our kids and run our family.   I really enjoyed the perspective of being the primary care-taker for the weekend so I could see how she has worked with the kids and how I can contribute to the development of their behavior, manners, and growth as learners.

Sorin the Leader, Norah the Lover

Sorin runs the show.  This isn’t a surprise to anyone who knows our family.  He’s the ring-leader.  It’s kind of fun to watch but it also showed me that I need to continue to help him understand great manners and even leadership with his sister and other friends.  But he’s got his activities and games that he loves and he’s the driving force.  Boy, just writing this and thinking back on the weekend gets me excited to think about my little son.  It’s fun to watch him grow and experiment with things.

And Norah, the lover.  Full disclosure: she’s got me wrapped around her finger.  I don’t think she knows it yet, so that’s good.  But she’s just a lover.  She follows her big brother around and plays the supporting actress in his play as well as any two-and-a-half year old princess can.  She runs after him.  She brings her toys to play with him.  She pushes her truck and grocery cart right next to her big brother.  It’s a wonderful, blessed thing to watch.  But don’t think she’s completely innocent or passive.  She has these moments of defiance and leadership of her own.  It’s all good, it really is!  And when I think of my little Norah, I think of a little girl that just wants to soak up everything and everyone around her.

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Norah kept hugging her brother.

Perspective is Essential

My favorite moment of the weekend was Saturday morning at the Overture Center and Kids at the Rotunda.  My mom was with us and the venue was standing-room-only, so I was in the back while she and the kids were in the regular seats.  I was looking at my kids and thinking about how I got them here, how I took them to one of their favorite events in Madison, how I was in charge of their entertainment, their safety, and their love.  I certainly hadn’t gone above and beyond, but I took a small amount of pride in our morning, and I realized the significance of the moment.  So I did what any good dad would do: I tweeted.

Screen Shot 2013-03-10 at 9.02.03 PMI’m guessing (and I hoping!) most dads aspire to be Dad-of-the-Year.  But the best thing we can do for our family is wake up every day and strive to be Dad-of-the-Day each and every day.  It takes proper perspective to successfully navigate life, especially parenting.  I’m no expert.  But the most important thing I can be do for my kids is be present and intentional with my kids right now, today, and then tomorrow.

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