Skip navigation

Student as Teacher

Posted by Patrick McCrann Jun 18, 2010

Kids in the classroom
Creative Commons License photo credit: chrissuderman

People have always wanted to learn; it’s part of human nature. Despite what you read about video games and adult website usage statistics, people still want to learn. In fact, now probably more than ever, as the web has effectively eliminated any barriers that used to exist in the traditional learning model: money, connections, experience, geography, etc.

But despite the spread of ideas and technology and increased access, learning is not one bit easier. Why? Because we don’t know who the teachers are anymore.

Think about it. Back in the day this used to be really easy. Teachers had their own schools. Wise men lived on mountain tops. There were apprenticeships and academies and road maps.

As the world gets flatter, information is more accessible. It moves faster and is potentially more unreliable. Those old school grand masters are drowned out by tech-savvy web masters, video logging junkies, and twitter-wielding tweens.

In the currency of today’s web world, it’s about who’s the most current, most popular, more vocal or most chosen. Some or all or none of which might have anything to do with the best. Or most interesting. Or most inspiring.

So, in a world where it’s becoming harder and harder to identify who the teachers are, something else must assume even more importance: the individual. Think about it.

The web is like a TV with infinite channels full of everything that you always/never wanted to see or hear or learn that’s always on. If you can find any message or guru at any time, anywhere, for free, then the biggest deciding factor today is simple: does this message work for YOU?

We used to pick schools because they did the work of finding and organizing teachers and creating a “learning experience” for us. But today things are different. Now YOU are the administrator, the principal, the guidance counselor and the student all rolled into one. What teacher would you pick?

  • Do you need to be challenged?
  • Do you need to be made to laugh?
  • Do you want daily interactions or less frequent but higher impact contact?
  • Does it need to be an individual or can a community teach you?
  • Do you need to pay or are you involved enough on your own?

Technology is forcing us to rethink our filters: this person looks like a teacher, therefore she is a teacher. We need to throw away our expectations: I will sign up for this course and do 8 weeks of homework, take a test, get a certificate and become an expert.

Instead we need to focus on knowing ourselves better; on what will work and more importantly, why we want to engage this process. In an increasingly self-focused world, you have to take charge of charting your own course because no one else will do it as well as you can.

I see the teacher-centric model being crushed on a daily basis – and for the better – in my online interactions with others. I think this is one of the most powerful intellectual changes of the internet.

Learn from everything and every one. Be hungry, but selective. This is not an all-you-can-eat contest, but a what-you-have-eaten. It’s about quality, not quantity. It’s not about getting full, it’s about getting your fill.

It’s not about the outcomes, it’s about the process.

293 Views 0 Comments Permalink

As the popular saying goes, to truly know someone else you must walk a mile in their shoes. My recent bicycle accident has given me the opportunity to experience a totally alternative lifestyle, one that has dramatically changed the way I perceive and interact with the people and places that surround me.

I have written before about turning adversity into opportunity. My recent bicycle accident has forced a reality check on my typical laid back approach to dealing with challenges. It’s one thing to take a day or two off from training, it’s another to have to stand down for weeks…in a wheelchair…on pain-killers.

I am not complaining, but I am still processing. Every day presents some form of new challenge, but I am seriously blessed to have amazing friends and family who have stepped up to take care of me and allow me to focus entirely on the process of recovery.

Having this type of support network is incredible. Regardless of the challenge around the corner, I can go forward knowing that whatever is out there I can conquer it. That confidence is a direct result of the support of so many people, and I can’t thank you enough for that gift.

But enough of the sappy stuff…what have I learned over the last two weeks?

On Short-Term vs Long-Term Challenges…
I think on some level it’s “easy” for me to remain positive because my prognosis is that I will recover just fine. No bones were displaced in the three fractures, things were just shaken up. Yes, 6 weeks of recovery is a long time, but that beats the pants off of, say, 6 months or crashing and becoming paralyzed.

Daily goal setting has become incredibly important. If I have targets, I will work towards them. Early on, others had to set those goals for me: “You are just going to take a step and it’s going to hurt and that’s okay.” (You know who you are!) Now I am getting better at doing this myself, and it really makes a difference.

It helps that I am able to do new things every day, such as lift my leg to get in and out of the shower or use my abs a bit more. Heck, the PT guy put me on a recumbent bike for 5 minutes yesterday (don’t tell my wife!)! I have yet to be able to roll over on my side or stomach at night…and that truly sucks…but it’s a really big target out there and I am aiming for it.

At the end of the day, the concepts of short and long time frames are entirely subjective. Six weeks seems long if you look at it in terms of days or hours, but if you consider it as part of your year, or the time I have been doing triathlons…then it’s just a mere blip.

On Being Treated Differently…
I knew the moment I hit the ground that my year–as I had planned it–was effectively over. I didn’t know how much my life would change as a result, and this has been the source of my highest and lowest points of the recovery process.

Without a doubt, being frisked at the airport on the way home was a serious low point. Since I was in a wheelchair, I couldn’t be wanded, and that meant a full body pat down. Sure, he used the back of his hand for the sensitive areas, but overall a not-fun experience (surely he didn’t enjoy it either!). Can’t imagine having to do that on a regular basis.

On the plus side, I have an entirely new set of friends. People over 65 admire my fancy four-legged cane, and I have had more conversations with new senior friends in two weeks than I have had in the last decade. They are awesome, funny, highly opinionated, and chock full of some of the funniest stories I have heard in a long time. If you don’t have someone over 65 or 70 in your life (parents don’t count!) you are missing out big time.

The most interesting thing has been the response of my friends. Some folks have stepped up making serious sacrifices to support me, beyond the call of duty. There are the people I consider close friends who haven’t spoken to me at all about what’s happened. Then there are remote contacts and total strangers sending me letters, emails and text messages of support.

This has been a really healthy reminder of just how differently people respond to adversity (myself included!), and also a great opportunity for me to reflect on exactly where I stand on my relationships. You get what you give, and it’s clear to me that I have some serious giving to do to some of my close friends. To have support from anyone other than my immediate family is a blessing I am thankful for every single day.

On Venturing Outside…
From driving to shopping to going to therapy, no activity can take place without a plan. Everything we try to do as a family isn’t about do we want to do something, but can Daddy get there? Is there a ramp for the wheelchair? How accessible is the bathroom? Is it going to rain?

It’s a whole new host of things to consider, and makes just being an active family pretty tough. Hard for sure, but knowing there’s an end in sight makes it manageable. While standing off to the side of the playground watching my kids play is hard, I am lucky to be able to do just that.

I have also learned to look at things in a new way. Handicap bathroom stalls are awesome, but most bathroom doors are not handicap-friendly (they are heavy and shut quickly). Having lower sinks is a nice touch, but a person with a broken collarbone in a wheelchair can’t use the soap dispenser with a long nozzle (so as not to get the soap on the countertop). I push down here, soap comes out over there.

My journey is far from over, but I am positive and soaking up every day I get. If you have any advice or similar experiences, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below, thanks!

216 Views 0 Comments Permalink

She left the Door open


Creative Commons License photo credit: h.koppdelaney

One of the biggest challenges of recovering from my bicycle accident has been learning a new set of skills to do the same old things I did every day. Walking. Showering. Typing. Driving. Talking on the phone. As anyone who’s been in a similar situation can attest, this is not fun. Stepping back, however, this situation has shown me that my real challenge isn’t with the accident or its repercussions, but with learning how to learn (again).

On one hand the accident has really forced me to realize just how much unconscious mental and physical energy goes into simply being. Forget racing or riding a bicycle for second…I mean just being. Many of the things that we take entirely for granted are pretty complicated.

Did you know that taking a shower, from the moment you walk in all smelly to the moment you walk out all squeaky clean, has something like 80 steps involved? From taking off each piece of clothing to getting into the shower to reaching all those hard to reach places to drying off, etc. Of course taking a shower isn’t hard; but having to think about taking a shower while you take a shower really drives home all that we take for granted.

On a macro level, situations like these have really helped me to develop a newfound respect, not only for people who are challenged, or experiencing challenges, but also for anyone who’s learning something new. Here’s why.

I had forgotten what “new” feels like because I’ve been away from the game for so long. I have spent the better part of my adult life living inside an imaginary “box” where I only did things that I was good at.  My world had become so narrow to the point where I had created a safe space where I could succeed and be important.

My accident threw a monkey wrench into those elaborate plans. It has really shown me while that kind of comfy space (the one where I get to be the hero or in first place–by default!) is an easy place to be…it’s not the best place for me. I had become complacent, forgetting how to learn new things because I wasn’t doing new things. I had lost touch with what it felt like to do something new.

Being in a new space means more than doing new stuff, it means being receptive to it. The power of my accident is that I _have to_ do the walking / showering / driving stuff so I can get back to life as I knew it. The opportunity I have is to somehow apply that same process and experience to other aspects of my life.

It’s not enough to tell someone something so they can learn it: Patrick, just put your foot here to walk. They have to feel it to learn it. I need to feel what walking is like to my body now so I can figure out how to do it. I need to feel that liberating rush of moving my legs freely in the water, as it will inspire me to keep striving. I am reminded daily of the importance of “new” just by virtue of the recovery process.

The emails and messages and notes I receive daily, sharing stories of challenging journeys and experiences, are a reminder that I can in a new live space as well — that is, if I want to learn how. Fortunately I am surrounded by amazing family and friends (and folks like you!) who are there to show me, through your love and support, that it’s possible to learn my way into a new way of living.

I respond best to challenges, and this is a big one for sure. While I’m told my body will heal up just fine, no one can tell me what leading a challenging life will bring. Both will take a lot of work, but the path ahead appears filled with equal parts opportunity and uncertainty. I am happy to take on those kind of odds…and I hope to see you on the other side.

+++++++++++ Personal Update +++++++++++

Things are getting better daily. I rode the recumbent bike for 20 minutes on Monday and Tuesday was actually in the therapy pool doing something that remotely resembled a workout. I am working hard to lose the cane soon enough and hope to be back in my own house…with my own family, as soon as I am able to walk stairs.  As always, there are more challenges that lie ahead. But the bigger they are, the stronger they’ll make me. I’m excited.

241 Views 0 Comments Permalink

IMG_8361 copy_5x5
Creative Commons License photo credit: Nongbri Family Pix

I recently wrote an article on the benefits of standing at work. I subsequently received quite a few emails and twitter messages about standing at work, and thought another post would be the best way to address the challenges people raised. Please read the original post here and feel free to send me feedback via the comments section or by posting to Twitter with @pmccrann.

#1 – I Can’t Afford A Standing Work Station…

Money shouldn’t come between you and standing. There are plenty of ways to hack your own workstation, such as here and here. Of course, they might not look as professional as one of the high-dollar options, but then again you are standing out for standing at work.

Remember that your early stage goals include finding out exactly what works for you. Some people like a full desk surface to be elevated, while others can do with just a “tower” set up for their computing and/or phone needs. Once you have figured out your standing style you can confidently proceed to making it more permanent.

#2 – Regulations / Office Protocol Prevent Me from Reconfiguring My Desk…

I suggest you check first with your supervisor on this one. Most of the time here are no regulations in place regarding standing, it’s more of a peer pressure situation. If necessary you might need to reference my previous post [link] to make a persuasive case for the standing.

Don’t get psyched out. This is your chance to get your supervisor / co-workers on board with your attempt at standing. At the very least, formulating your convincing argument will come in handy in the future when you’ll be explaining standing to other folks you work with! Besides you might come to an understanding that allows others to explore creating more functional workspaces.

#3 – All My Standing is Making My Co-Workers Nervous…

Unless you are photocopying manifestos and making your own soap [link], I think it’s okay. More seriously, having someone standing behind / next to / in front of you all day can be a little unsettling.

Do your best to make the transition to a new work style as easy as possible for the rest of your team. This could mean anything from taking the time to explain why you are making the change to making sure your new set up doesn’t “loom” over any one person. What you are doing is going against the grain, you don’t have to make it into a fight — everyone deserves to be comfortable at work.

What other tips do you have for fighting for your right to stand?

346 Views 0 Comments Permalink

As the popular saying goes, to truly know someone else you must walk a mile in their shoes. My recent bicycle accident has given me the opportunity to experience a totally alternative lifestyle, one that has dramatically changed the way I perceive and interact with the people and places that surround me.

I have written before about turning adversity into opportunity. My recent bicycle accident has forced a reality check on my typical laid back approach to dealing with challenges. It’s one thing to take a day or two off from training, it’s another to have to stand down for weeks…in a wheelchair…on pain-killers.

I am not complaining, but I am still processing. Every day presents some form of new challenge, but I am seriously blessed to have amazing friends and family who have stepped up to take care of me and allow me to focus entirely on the process of recovery.

Having this type of support network is incredible. Regardless of the challenge around the corner, I can go forward knowing that whatever is out there I can conquer it. That confidence is a direct result of the support of so many people, and I can’t thank you enough for that gift.

But enough of the sappy stuff…what have I learned over the last two weeks?

On Short-Term vs Long-Term Challenges…
I think on some level it’s “easy” for me to remain positive because my prognosis is that I will recover just fine. No bones were displaced in the three fractures, things were just shaken up. Yes, 6 weeks of recovery is a long time, but that beats the pants off of, say, 6 months or crashing and becoming paralyzed.

Daily goal setting has become incredibly important. If I have targets, I will work towards them. Early on, others had to set those goals for me: “You are just going to take a step and it’s going to hurt and that’s okay.” (You know who you are!) Now I am getting better at doing this myself, and it really makes a difference.

It helps that I am able to do new things every day, such as lift my leg to get in and out of the shower or use my abs a bit more. Heck, the PT guy put me on a recumbent bike for 5 minutes yesterday (don’t tell my wife!)! I have yet to be able to roll over on my side or stomach at night…and that truly sucks…but it’s a really big target out there and I am aiming for it.

At the end of the day, the concepts of short and long time frames are entirely subjective. Six weeks seems long if you look at it in terms of days or hours, but if you consider it as part of your year, or the time I have been doing triathlons…then it’s just a mere blip.

On Being Treated Differently…
I knew the moment I hit the ground that my year–as I had planned it–was effectively over. I didn’t know how much my life would change as a result, and this has been the source of my highest and lowest points of the recovery process.

Without a doubt, being frisked at the airport on the way home was a serious low point. Since I was in a wheelchair, I couldn’t be wanded, and that meant a full body pat down. Sure, he used the back of his hand for the sensitive areas, but overall a not-fun experience (surely he didn’t enjoy it either!). Can’t imagine having to do that on a regular basis.

On the plus side, I have an entirely new set of friends. People over 65 admire my fancy four-legged cane, and I have had more conversations with new senior friends in two weeks than I have had in the last decade. They are awesome, funny, highly opinionated, and chock full of some of the funniest stories I have heard in a long time. If you don’t have someone over 65 or 70 in your life (parents don’t count!) you are missing out big time.

The most interesting thing has been the response of my friends. Some folks have stepped up making serious sacrifices to support me, beyond the call of duty. There are the people I consider close friends who haven’t spoken to me at all about what’s happened. Then there are remote contacts and total strangers sending me letters, emails and text messages of support.

This has been a really healthy reminder of just how differently people respond to adversity (myself included!), and also a great opportunity for me to reflect on exactly where I stand on my relationships. You get what you give, and it’s clear to me that I have some serious giving to do to some of my close friends. To have support from anyone other than my immediate family is a blessing I am thankful for every single day.

On Venturing Outside…
From driving to shopping to going to therapy, no activity can take place without a plan. Everything we try to do as a family isn’t about do we want to do something, but can Daddy get there? Is there a ramp for the wheelchair? How accessible is the bathroom? Is it going to rain?

It’s a whole new host of things to consider, and makes just being an active family pretty tough. Hard for sure, but knowing there’s an end in sight makes it manageable. While standing off to the side of the playground watching my kids play is hard, I am lucky to be able to do just that.

I have also learned to look at things in a new way. Handicap bathroom stalls are awesome, but most bathroom doors are not handicap-friendly (they are heavy and shut quickly). Having lower sinks is a nice touch, but a person with a broken collarbone in a wheelchair can’t use the soap dispenser with a long nozzle (so as not to get the soap on the countertop). I push down here, soap comes out over there.

My journey is far from over, but I am positive and soaking up every day I get. If you have any advice or similar experiences, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below, thanks!

223 Views 0 Comments Permalink

Re-Starting: What To Do When Your Luck Runs Out

[If you can't see the video above, please click here to watch it online.]

On Tuesday May 18th, right about 11:30am PST, my bicycle and I decided to part ways at about 20 mph coming down a hill outside of La Honda, CA. When all was said and done, I ended up with a fractured pelvis and clavicle, a 3 day hospital stay, and a serious detour from my planned 2010 agenda. Despite the pain and new daily challenges, the experience has started an incredible personal journey that has really affected who I am.

Post Crash
My first thoughts were with my family. Crashing and getting injured is a risk we all take as cyclists, but nothing makes it hit home more than finding yourself spread eagle on the pavement. I was happy to be coherent, but knew something was up with my hip as standing and transferring to the van with my teammates was seriously painful. Having a doctor in the camp (thanks KB!) was a boon as she was able to rule out most of the serious stuff and keep me focused until the hospital team could care for me.

The Hospital
After a battery of xrays and cat scans, they were able to determine the fractures. Thankfully nothing is displaced — so while it’s painful there’s really nothing they can do. I try walking in the ER and earn an overnight stay in the hospital because I pass out when I try to stand.

The passing out continues for Wednesday, and my body is still in shock. Visits from some local Endurance Nation teammates keep my spirits high, but the reality of my injuries (and lots of swelling!) is setting in: this is serious.

Thursday is spent trying to get out of bed and sitting up a lot. I get a head Cat Scan to rule out a concussion. I eat a lot more hospital food and begin plotting my escape. No walking yet, but I have learned that they won’t keep me either.

Friday comes and I have a frantic PT and OT session to prepare me for my departure. Carrie C comes to pick me up and after taking 20 minutes to get me from the wheelchair to the front seat of the car, I am a free man. Unfit to leave the hospital but unable to stay, Carrie takes me home for what turns out to be a five day stay.

Miracle Turnaround
Within a day of being at Carrie’s house, I am up and walking. Buoyed by her tough PT love and the support of a local army of triathlete friends who watch me 24/7, I quickly learn where I can be self-sufficient and where I need to rely upon others.

Soon I am taking (seated) showers by myself and even cooking breakfast. I can reconnect with folks online and continue to bond with my newly adopted extended NorCal family. Before I can even blink, we’ve booked tickets for Maura to fly out and escort me back home.

My last day is a blur of reconnecting with Maura, saying goodbye to the NorCal crew and getting pumped up for a red-eye flight to Boston from SFO. The flight was pretty uneventful, and by Wednesday midday, I am home in Boston watching my girls take rides in my wheelchair.

A Wake Up Call
The most amazing part of this whole ordeal — all the ups and downs — is the chance I have had to connect with people in my world in an entirely new way. What was initially an inconvenience has turned into an incredible opportunity. I had no choice but to get off the runaway train that is my life as a dad/husband/entrepreneur/triathlete/coach and rely upon others for physical and emotional support.

Man, do I have some kick *** friends and family members.

While other people mourned the loss of my season for me, I was just psyched to relax and hang out with some really cool people. I am not fired up to get running again; I just wanted to get home to my family.

I am simply not scared of the path to recovery, as I know I am not alone.

Next Steps
I am home on the Cape, with PT sessions lined up until the end of the summer. I have exercise homework and a pile of real work. But I am not stressed. It’s good to be back with the family, and as the accident has shown, the core elements of my life are in excellent condition.

While I plan to heal and make a full recovery so I can return to the active lifestyle and sports I love, I also know that I will never be the same person again. The new awareness I have about the importance of family and friends; the significance of caring / giving to those in need (and of accepting that care); even the perspective of understanding what really matters at the end of the day — all of these things have fundamentally changed in me.

While I can never repay all of you for the support and love you have given me — whether in person, over the phone, or via text message — know that I can (and will) pay it forward.

 

Please click on the below link to watch the video

 

http://www.viddler.com/explore/CoachP/videos/188/


276 Views 0 Comments Permalink

Tomorrow brings the first day of my annual epic cycling trip courtesy of the Tour of California. I have written extensively about the value of a Basic Week plus an intermittent volume pop to build quality endurance fitness. Done properly, you can get fitter and faster without compromising your daily life and meet some of those bigger picture lifestyle goals.

Over the next few days I’ll be outlining the basics of building the ‘right’ type of volume experience, but today I can quickly touch on the history of this trip to give you some perspective.

This is the fourth consecutive year i’ve made this trek, and every year it’s gotten better. Here’s how we fast tracked it:

# We found an annual event (the Tour) to follow so routes were established and proven;

# We recruited a core group of 5 folks so we could fit in one van with bikes, food, etc;

# We split the days into business in the AM (get out the door and get riding ASAP) and fun in the PM (food and wine, etc). This is vacation after all!

# We did the research – and purchased – the right gear for exercising, supporting/fixing the gear, and lots of food.

More coming soon…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

What’s your annual pilgramage? How do you schedule your travel with your goals?

351 Views 0 Comments Permalink

To really make the most of your volume pop, a lot of big things need to come together: family, finances, work, etc. But there’s another huge component to a successful big training week that can’t be overlooked: location, location, location.

First, the destination you pick needs to have the infrastructure to support your undertaking. This means from the environment to the stores all the way down to the people. Your challenge is big enough without needing to add other levels of friction to your day.

Second, the destination has to be accessible, both financially and physically. There are some amazing places to go and train, but we don’t want to stretch you too thin out of the gate. That said, some great locations are financially accessible once you are on the ground…so do the research!

Third, it’s all about the people. The people in the area but also the people you train with. When all else fails, the people you are surrounded with will make things better…or at least manageable. Choose wisely and be absolutely sure to treat people as good as – if not better than – you want to be treated yourself!

263 Views 0 Comments Permalink

869771843_img_3333.jpg

One of the most challenging parts of executing a big training week or weekend is balancing your desire to train with your need to train every day, for several days.

Anyone can be a hero for a day; it takes internal fortitude and a great deal of patience to train properly so as to get in several days’ worth of good work…and reap the benefits. In this third installment we talk about selecting the proper intensity and why spacing your effort out across a week is better for your long-term fitness.

So Excited, You Explode

Summary: Fired up about a new venue, good weather, and the prospect of focusing almost 100% on their sport, most endurance athletes come charging out of the gate. This energy can only last so long, and these early birds quickly go from Day One Hero to Day Two Zero (or worse!).

Advice: Proper pacing for your workouts, and the week itself will allow you to reap the fullest benefits of your training.

  1. Chill Out: Rome, and your fitness, can’t be built in a day. But one day could ruin your whole big week.
  2. Think Big Picture: Remember that the point of your big week is to build off of the consistent work you have been doing in order to take your fitness to the next level. You aren’t out here to prove anything, just to build.
  3. Save Something for the End: Keep a cool ride or big challenge for the second to last (or even last day). This will keep you honest early on and hopefully motivated later when it matters!

Training Stress: Intensity vs Duration

Summary: Even though you might not be riding / running / rowing as fast as you would at home, remember that you aren’t here to do what you did at home. After all, that would defeat the purpose of traveling to train! Instead of leveraging intensity as a time-saver to force fitness adaptations, during your big week your goal is to extend the duration of each and every workout to earn a larger dose of training stress in a more manageable manner.

Advice: Here are two tips you can do to

  1. Set Limits: Keep the intensity down by setting a cap on what you’ll do, whether it’s heart rate or power. Meter your energy appropriately across the week to train to your best.
  2. Review Daily: Check in with your body on a daily basis; what’s easy for you on Day One might not be even close to manageable by Day Three.

Think: Mind and Body

Summary: Long hours are exciting during the planning phase, but not so much when you have to roll out of bed day-after-day to get big workouts done. If you ignore your brain, you run the risk of losing motivation long before you run out of energy to actually train.

Advice: Seek a balance in all your big week activities to stay engaged and on top of your training.

  1. Get Diverse: Mix up your routine, or turn logistical challenges into opportunities. Run to the pool to swim for your workout, for example, is a great training opportunity.
  2. Fake Racing: Set up a time trial or organize an impromptu race with other folks on site.

What other tips do you have? Tell us in the comments below!

———————
As always, I just wanted to thank you for subscribing. This blog is a success because of you and your support. Here’s to your fitness!

Become a Fan of Endurance Lifestyle Design on Facebook to join the conversation and check out my free Fit Life eBook for more insider tips!

Thank you so much!

252 Views 0 Comments Permalink

11,750 Foot Yoga Moment
Creative Commons License photo credit: a4gpa

One of the biggest changes that I have made in the way that I work in the last year had nothing to do with technology. It is nothing — it is not expensive. But it has radically redefined the way that I both view my work space but interact with my colleagues and then plan my day. As I mentioned earlier, it’s not something you can buy, it’s really something you need to do. It’s as simple as this. Stand up.

Standing is, I strongly believe, the next generation way of working. No, it’s not just a way that your evil corporation or dot com can force more workers into a smaller and smaller space, saving money on square footage — it’s ultimately good for your health. It’s good for the way that you think. And it really forces you to change how you plan your day.

Let’s Get Physical: Active individuals benefit from standing at work for a range of reasons, from posture, to flexibility, to even counting calories!

  • Counting Calories: The top physical benefit to standing up to work is simply that your burning calories while your there. You’re already working because your standing. You’re active, okay. So there’s that for the equation. Let’s add that right there. This alone probably negates your coffee habit or whatever else your drinking during the day…all by simply standing at work.
  • The second element of that physical benefit is for your hips and your glutes. Spending most of your day sitting down really tightens up your hips and shortens those hip flexors. This is the result of the fact that the majority of your time is spent in a docile, unengaged position. After six to eight hours a day of sitting in the car to work, sitting at work, sitting in the car home…sitting when you get home…it all means that you’re really putting your body at a disadvantage. Instead, standing at work means you’re constantly engaging your back, your core, your glutes. If you want to be proactive and geek out, you can do stretches and some exercises to do some strengthening in there. It’s amazingly different.
  • The Ups and Downs of Standing: This can be a pretty radical change, so it’s important to consider what moving to a standing workstation really means for you.

  • The Ups: The upsides of this are this is very simple, very natural just to stand in place and to work. You’re constantly moving. It’s easier to think from being free from the sitting position.
  • The Downs: The downsides of standing at work do exist. Aside from getting ridiculed by your fellow employess, there are some initial limitations that you’ll face. First, it’s not easy to put something next to your computer and read it while you’re typing. If you’re someone who does transcription or if you’re someone who does a lot of multiple reading sources, not just online but paper to online, that becomes challenging and it’s easy to elevate your computer but not so to elevate other items that you might use on a regular basis. Examples include the rolodex (if you still use that), a fax machine, your phone, etc. You may need to get, for example, a hands-free headset or something to make it easier for you to stand in place. I personally work from home, so it’s very easy for me to convert the countertops that we have to a standing workstation just by adding a stool to the top of it for my laptop and I’m done.
  • Changing the How, Not Just the Where: So how does standing change the way that you work? This was the most surprising advantage, aside from the fact that I needed to get healthy, it simply changes the way that I work.

  • Focus: I couldn’t zone out on any particular task. Because you’re standing you’re constantly moving, you’re agile, both physically and mentally. It’s a transition, a connection there, it works together, and as a result I was very focused on a task and able to focus on things for an intense period of time. I can’t zone out on them, it’s not easy for me to sit down and write for two hours. In fact, if I have a project like that I’m more likely to go somewhere where I can sit down and find some quiet and really but it really forces me to be rapid fire, so standing to process my e-mail, for example, is a no-brainer.
  • Multi-Tasking Done Right: Now that I stand, I’m much more likely to walk around while working. I actually prefer to take calls when I’m walking now, which again allows me to incorporate physical activity into my day. Forget talking, taking notes, and reading emails simultaneously — your brain can only do so much. But your brain and body can work in synchronized manner all day long. I can do this with my bluetooth headset, and it really keeps me focused.
  • Equipment for Standing: So what’s required to make this happen? There are obviously work stations you can go out and buy that cost a great deal of money…these elevate your desk and can be infinitely adjustable.

  • The Walking Desk: Some folks have built a work station on top of a treadmill for example, which is off the charts crazy. You can pretty much test this out at work by stacking things on your desk. I use a small footstool on top of my desk that helps me out. I would recommend that you do a hack first to see if this whole set-up is going to work for you and then go ahead and integrate it into your official work space on a bigger level should you find it to be most congruent with how you work, how you want to work, but also for your overall physical well-being.
  • A Paid Solution: Once you have confirmed this is going to work, you can check out if there’s a little money in your budget, definitely invest in a full-on standing work station for yourself. There are some more resource links at the bottom for reading about creating your own standing desk and why you want to do one.
  • Additional Reading / Links:

  • http://www.marksdailyapple.com/standing-at-work/
  • http://37signals.com/svn/posts/1001-standing-versus-sitting
  • http://ask.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/07/14/0015212
  • http://www.emaxhealth.com/1506/standing-work-can-improve-your-health-and-productivity.html
  • http://www.doityourself.com/stry/how-to-build-a-standing-work-table
  • http://wiki.43folders.com/index.php/Working_while_standing
  • http://www.smallbusinessbrief.com/forum/showthread.php?t=10186
  • http://webworkerdaily.com/2008/04/30/are-you-ready-to-stand-while-you-work/
  • Best of luck to you and if you’ve done this before or you’re thinking about doing it, let us know in the comments, I’d love to hear about it.

    386 Views 0 Comments Permalink

    Can Your Run Improve In Just 30 Days?

    I think so..and we are doing something about it over onMarathon Nation.

    Running improvement can be physical, mental and even emotional. Regardless of where you are on the performance curve, you can improve with a renewed focus on the fundamentals. Join the email list before 5/3 and you’ll get one email a day, for thirty days, to help you take your running game to the next level.

    Register via the form on the right, and we’ll be in touch in early May!

    In the meantime, be sure to fan MarathonNation up on Facebookand follow MN on Twitter…thanks!

    30 Run Tips:
    The fun starts on May 3rd!

    242 Views 0 Comments Permalink


    Lake Möcklen December 31

    Creative Commons License photo credit: kajvin

    Swimming is one of the most challenging aspects of being a triathlete. It’s a great way to recover and pile on aerobic training when the biking and running becomes too much, but actually building swimming fitness is another project altogether. Some folks spend a lifetime — or at least the better part of their first 20 years on this planet — striving to reach their potential.

    You, on the other hand, only have a few seasons of triathlon in you to get as good as you can. Inside Endurance Nation, we advise you against setting out to climb the entire mountain of swim fitness, as the sheer amount of time required to improve is outside the realm of possibility. Instead, we advocate you take time off for the winter, investing the extra hours into sleep, home tasks or even active recovery from quality outseason bike and run sessions.

    If you have taken time off from swimming, whether you planned it or not, here’s a road map to getting your swim mojo back.

    Don’t think in terms of X yards per week, but rather X amount of work to be ready.

    #1 — It’s Not About the Yards

    It’s all too easy to fall into a plan that just spits out training sessions and yardage because it gives you something to do. Heck, these plans are crazy easy for coaches to write; all you have to do is add a few parentheses and the workout times/distances double! But the allure of yardage doesn’t necessarily correlate to swim fitness.

    Just counting yards won’t get you ready to race. But getting back in the water will. Place your focus on building technique first, fitness second, and you’ll be on a much improved path.

    On a macro level, this translates to the first 4-6 weeks of your re-entry. During this time, you are swimming 2-3 times a week and the bulk of the work you are doing is drills and mindful swimming (slow, and deliberate).

    On a micro level, this translates to a regular swim warm up that you develop at the beginning of your season. This will become compressed as your focus eventually begins to switch more to fitness (anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks prior to your A race), but the focus points should be the same. This makes it easy to remember and improves the chances that you’ll actually do it.

    In other words, create your own swim workout “ritual.” Think of it as the 6 or 8 or 10 steps you take every time you swim before you are ready to swim. Just like you drive to the pool, find a locker, put on your suit, shower off, pick a lane, etc…you can develop a process for good swimming prepararation. Here’s an example 500 warm up.

    • Swim 100 easy, very slow pace and low effort.
    • Swim 100 as 25 stroke, 25 free.
    • Drill 200 as 4 x 50.
    • Swim 100 easy, very slow pace and low effort.

    #2 — Get Educated / Advised

    Summary: Improving your swim is a serious undertaking. Doing so on your own is downright daunting. Prepare for this challenge by really doing your research; and don’t be afraid to talk to your fellow triathletes…even they have to deal with the swim!

    Advice: First identify what type of “learner” you are. Some folks are highly visual, so watching videos of good swimming is helpful. Others are more hands on and need to be physically manipulated into the right position (and reminded!). Some triathletes are very intellectual and just get better by reading about proper swimming…really. A visually oriented learner could:

    1. Scour the inter-webs and YouTube for free videos.
    2. Shop Amazon for triathlon swimming video resources.
    3. Ask A Friend to Film You, or find a service such as The Athlete Village.
    4. Consider a swim workshop, from Total Immersion to SwimFast, and now even some new swimming membership websites.
    5. You can always go private with a 1:1 swim instructor.

    #3 — Get Race Specific Fast

    Summary: The temptation of many a novice swimmer is to do just what the swimmers do. So you join a masters swim group and end up banging out lots of 50s and 100s, including tons of other strokes. These are very “interesting” workouts, as in you won’t get bored, but they aren’t going to help you get ready for your race.

    Advice: Your goal on race day is to be able to swim as well as you can for as long as you can. Hoping, of course, that the actual course is shorter than your current swim fitness!

    1. Swimming solo is just fine right now; save the adrenaline for race day.
    2. Include one “longer” swim set per session. Yes shorter sets allow you to maintain form, but they also don’t allow you to learn to swim tired. Get the best of both worlds by putting both into any given workout. For a Half Iron athlete, this set could be anywhere from 500-1000 yds of continuous swimming and/or pulling (pull buoy); for an Ironman athletes the distance could go up to 2000 yds.

    Of course, you can also complement your swimming with a Dryland Focus, choosing to master critical skill that you can then take to the pool. Whatever you decide to do, make sure that you are consistent and that you resist biting off more than you can chew. Be measured and deliberate in your approach and you’ll see results before you know it!

    +++++++++++++

    Please note the Swim Membership Link above is an affiliate link, so I get some of the proceeds if you do decide to buy something. I definitely recommend this course if you’re looking to change your swimming for the better in 2010. Kevin’s one of the best and his new site is very impressive.

    250 Views 0 Comments Permalink

    Join A Virtual Marathon Relay

    Register to Run and Enter to Win a $25 Amazon Gift Certificate

    I don’t usually spam the blog, but wanted to share this really cool challenge we have going on over at Marathon Nation (www.marathonnation.us). It’s basically a virtual event, were folks can sign up to run a leg of a marathon over the weekend of 5/15 and 5/16.

    It’s entirely free and the prizes are for fun stuff, not speed (as in Best Relay Outfit), so everyone can have a shot at “winning.”

    To learn more about the challenge, please head over to the Marathon Nation blog (here); feel free to pass this on to your friends and training partners!

    If it ain’t fun…it ain’t worth doing!!!

    248 Views 0 Comments Permalink

    Can Your Run Improve In Just 30 Days?

     

    I think so..and we are doing something about it over on Marathon Nation.

     

    Running improvement can be physical, mental and even emotional. Regardless of where you are on the performance curve, you can improve with a renewed focus on the fundamentals. Join the email list before 5/3 and you’ll get one email a day, for thirty days, to help you take your running game to the next level.

     

    Register via the form on the right, and we’ll be in touch in early May!

     

    In the meantime, be sure to fan MarathonNation up on Facebook and follow MN on Twitter…thanks!

    284 Views 0 Comments Permalink

    Lake Möcklen December 31
    Creative Commons License photo credit: kajvin

     

    Swimming is one of the most challenging aspects of being a triathlete. It’s a great way to recover and pile on aerobic training when the biking and running becomes too much, but actually building swimming fitness is another project altogether. Some folks spend a lifetime — or at least the better part of their first 20 years on this planet — striving to reach their potential.

     

    You, on the other hand, only have a few seasons of triathlon in you to get as good as you can. Inside Endurance Nation, we advise you against setting out to climb the entire mountain of swim fitness, as the sheer amount of time required to improve is outside the realm of possibility. Instead, we advocate you take time off for the winter, investing the extra hours into sleep, home tasks or even active recovery from quality outseason bike and run sessions.

     

    If you have taken time off from swimming, whether you planned it or not, here’s a road map to getting your swim mojo back.

     

    Don’t think in terms of X yards per week, but rather X amount of work to be ready.

     

    #1 — It’s Not About the Yards

     

    It’s all too easy to fall into a plan that just spits out training sessions and yardage because it gives you something to do. Heck, these plans are crazy easy for coaches to write; all you have to do is add a few parentheses and the workout times/distances double! But the allure of yardage doesn’t necessarily correlate to swim fitness.

     

    Just counting yards won’t get you ready to race. But getting back in the water will. Place your focus on building technique first, fitness second, and you’ll be on a much improved path.

     

    On a macro level, this translates to the first 4-6 weeks of your re-entry. During this time, you are swimming 2-3 times a week and the bulk of the work you are doing is drills and mindful swimming (slow, and deliberate).

     

    On a micro level, this translates to a regular swim warm up that you develop at the beginning of your season. This will become compressed as your focus eventually begins to switch more to fitness (anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks prior to your A race), but the focus points should be the same. This makes it easy to remember and improves the chances that you’ll actually do it.

     

    In other words, create your own swim workout “ritual.” Think of it as the 6 or 8 or 10 steps you take every time you swim before you are ready to swim. Just like you drive to the pool, find a locker, put on your suit, shower off, pick a lane, etc…you can develop a process for good swimming prepararation. Here’s an example 500 warm up.

     

    • Swim 100 easy, very slow pace and low effort.
    • Swim 100 as 25 stroke, 25 free.
    • Drill 200 as 4 x 50.
    • Swim 100 easy, very slow pace and low effort.

     

    #2 — Get Educated / Advised

     

    Summary: Improving your swim is a serious undertaking. Doing so on your own is downright daunting. Prepare for this challenge by really doing your research; and don’t be afraid to talk to your fellow triathletes…even they have to deal with the swim!

     

    Advice: First identify what type of “learner” you are. Some folks are highly visual, so watching videos of good swimming is helpful. Others are more hands on and need to be physically manipulated into the right position (and reminded!). Some triathletes are very intellectual and just get better by reading about proper swimming…really. A visually oriented learner could:

     

    1. Scour the inter-webs and YouTube for free videos.
    2. Shop Amazon for triathlon swimming video resources.
    3. Ask A Friend to Film You, or find a service such as The Athlete Village.
    4. Consider a swim workshop, from Total Immersion to SwimFast, and now even some new swimming membership websites.
    5. You can always go private with a 1:1 swim instructor.

    #3 — Get Race Specific Fast

     

    Summary: The temptation of many a novice swimmer is to do just what the swimmers do. So you join a masters swim group and end up banging out lots of 50s and 100s, including tons of other strokes. These are very “interesting” workouts, as in you won’t get bored, but they aren’t going to help you get ready for your race.

     

    Advice: Your goal on race day is to be able to swim as well as you can for as long as you can. Hoping, of course, that the actual course is shorter than your current swim fitness!

     

    1. Swimming solo is just fine right now; save the adrenaline for race day.
    2. Include one “longer” swim set per session. Yes shorter sets allow you to maintain form, but they also don’t allow you to learn to swim tired. Get the best of both worlds by putting both into any given workout. For a Half Iron athlete, this set could be anywhere from 500-1000 yds of continuous swimming and/or pulling (pull buoy); for an Ironman athletes the distance could go up to 2000 yds.

     

    Of course, you can also complement your swimming with a Dryland Focus, choosing to master critical skill that you can then take to the pool. Whatever you decide to do, make sure that you are consistent and that you resist biting off more than you can chew. Be measured and deliberate in your approach and you’ll see results before you know it!

     

    +++++++++++++

     

    Please note the Swim Membership Link above is an affiliate link, so I get some of the proceeds if you do decide to buy something. I definitely recommend this course if you’re looking to change your swimming for the better in 2010. Kevin’s one of the best and his new site is very impressive.

    413 Views 0 Comments Permalink
    1 2 3 4 5 Previous Next