Thoughts on fitness, health, good nutrition ... and running.

Welcome to Bald Man Running, a blog launched by Frank Murphy on January 1, 2015.

In March, 2013 I was selected as a contestant for the sixth season of Fort Wayne's Smallest Winner. Through this amazing program, I learned about good nutrition, sound exercise and accountability. By October, I would lose over 88 pounds (almost 37% of my original weight)! One of the many things I acquired through FWSW was a love for running. You can retrace my weight loss journey and discover how I became a runner by reading those entries labeled "fwsw" ...

Note: Many of the blog entries on this website predate 1/1/2015. Prior to launching BMR, I had written articles for various projects, and I have imported many of them into this blog (labeled "retro").

Saturday, February 11, 2017

I Like Being Pushed

In my Ultimate league, we almost always play man-to-man. Double teaming is not allowed, and you just don't see zone defenses very often at this level of play. So, games are usually a series of one-on-one matchups the entire time.

In one game, I just happened to line up against folks that were significantly less experienced than I was and I scored seven times (that's a lot). In another game, I was matched up against someone who was younger by twenty years, faster, taller, able to jump higher, etc. He forced me into half a dozen turnovers and I scored only once. Guess which of those two games was more satisfying to me? The second one. By far.

This kind of attitude shows up in my running too. For example, I've been doing speedwork on an indoor track at a local gym. When I started doing these workouts, I had the gym to myself, but a few weeks ago, the University of Saint Francis track team has been there when I was. They're an impressive group of young people and clearly on a much higher level than I am. I've noticed that when we're sharing the track, the intensity of my workout goes waaaaay up. While I'm not directly competing against any of them, there's something about being next to amazing talent that inspires me to train harder. When I show up for a speed session, and see those college kids warming up, I know that I'm going to be working hard.

Within the last month, I was selected as an irun4ultra ambassador and as a member of the Three Rivers Running Company Ultra Racing Team. In both cases, the other athletes on these teams are far more accomplished than I am. One of my ultra teammates set a world record by running 73.3 miles on a treadmill in twelve hours! I am clearly surrounded by superior ability, experience and talent. I've ran trails with some of these folks before, and they make it look so effortless while I'm pushing hard just to keep them in sight.

I want to point out that I applied to these teams ... I really wanted to be a part of these teams! I wasn't motivated to apply because I thought I was great and they'd be lucky to have me ... I wanted to a part of these teams because I knew that it would help me to become better. I enjoy a challenge most when the ability of those around me is higher than my own. They push me. They inspire me. They sharpen me.

Don't get me wrong ... I don't want to always be the least capable athlete on the court or trail. I really enjoy introducing people to Ultimate and running. This is a topic for another day, but it's worth mentioning that it's important to intentionally invest in others and to help them improve.

When you break it down to principle, both of these attitudes are variations on the theme of accountability. I want to be pushed and I want to be the one pushing. My personal improvement is a function of the people I choose to be around. I will succeed because I am not alone.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Willpower and Knowledge

Here's a quote from an article by Scott Adams (the creator of Dilbert). While I often disagree with what he says, I found this one statement to be quite insightful:

"... replace willpower with knowledge."

A lot of people try to take control over their health and fitness by using good ol' fashioned willpower (such as making a new year resolution to go to the gym every day). While you need to be determined and a resolution can be helpful, you've got to address the underlying problem.

From my limited experience, I believe one of the biggest problems is ignorance. People want to make changes, but they're not sure what those changes should be, so they kind of flail around a bit trying what they think will work, and while they're looking for their footing, their willpower dwindles until nothing is left.

Fort Wayne's Smallest Winner (FWSW) was a great way for me to lose weight and reclaim my health. I want to make sure you understand why it worked so well for me. My success was not due to physically demanding workouts. More important than the exercise was the excellent nutrition course that was designed to eradicate my nutritional ignorance. FWSW taught me to change the way I think about fuel (See what I did there? I called it "fuel" instead of "food.").

I would like to amend Scott's statement to "... focus willpower with knowledge." FWSW equipped me with the knowledge I needed to make good choices, and that magnified my willpower. As I became more informed, I became exponentially more capable.

If you live in the Fort Wayne area, have considered applying to this upcoming season of FWSW, but are still "on the fence" about applying, ask yourself why you haven't applied yet. If your indecisiveness is tied to being afraid of the workouts, trust me when I say that you can absolutely do the workouts. FWSW meets each contestant right where they are at and you'll be fine. Don't worry about the workouts. They're not easy, but they're not overwhelmingly difficult either.

Instead of focusing on exercise, remember that the battle is fought in the kitchen and not in the gym. Because of my significant success in the kitchen, I am capable of pushing myself to attempt intense physical challenges.

Note: a rough draft of this blog entry was posted to my Facebook wall on 2/1/2016.