As I reflect back on the summer of 2014, one word comes to mind. It’s a word that none of us can thrive without. It’s more than the word though. It’s the community. It’s the Love. It’s the action, the verb of it. That word is support.
I knew the Poplar was close. I had been on this section of trail dozens of times. I was just here three weeks earlier and knew that it couldn't be too much further to the finish line of my first 100 miler (103.3 miles). It was getting chilly again as I was well into my second round of darkness by now. My attitude was going sour and I took my light sweatshirt from around my waist and put it on. The closest point was the finish line so I wasn't worried about getting there. It’s a weird feeling when you have trained so hard for something and it’s about to end successfully. I’m at a loss as I write about it now. I’m going to tell you a story of adventures that sum up the summer of 2014 for me.
Superior was a culmination of unmentionable support shown all summer long. There was my brother, Jesse, who was at three of the four events with me. There is the ultra – running community that has supported me unknowingly through some of the darkest times of my life. Here’s a podcast I did earlier this summer with a friend Denny Krahe.
There’s the Ninja Runners http://ninjarunners.net/ who are incredibly inspiring, especially my friend Maranda Lorraine. My wife at home, who is so supportive in taking care of our three young children as I spend blocks of time on the trail. There is Rocksteady Running http://rocksteadyrunning.com/ and my friend John Storkamp, TC Running Company http://tcrunningco.com/ and all the guys over there, and all of the sponsors, event coordinators and volunteers who make these events possible. At Superior, I had a crew of eight people who made the 5+ hour journey to support me and see me to the end. I had the opportunity to spend time on this trail I love so much with people who I had never shared it with before. That was extremely motivating for me and I am so grateful for the opportunity. I am only hopeful that I was able to somehow impact their lives. I’m sure the experience did because you can’t spend five minutes at an ultra – marathon event and not be inspired. All of the runners out there on the courses throughout the summer being supportive and encouraging.
My year started with training as it always does. I took the winter off from running and focused on skiing for the first time. In February I completed my first ultra – ski event, the VasaLoppet https://www.vasaloppet.us/#, which finishes on Main Street in Mora, MN. Once the ski season ended, it was time to work on some general strength and conditioning with more of a run focus. I moved away from balance and continued to work through training my nervous system for the running season ahead. Hips, gluts, core, shoulders are all important areas of focus. As soon as the trail was runnable, I was looking for mud. There’s a hill on the South side of Elm Creek Park Reserve which is always the first to thaw in the spring. It’s not real long but it’s perfect for some early season repeats. There’s an old game trail so the mud can be thick.
Event 1: Zumbro 50 Mile
I scheduled a hugely impactful meeting for the Friday of the event. I like to do that. I’m always hyper focused just before toeing the line. The race started at midnight which is a very strange time to start a 50 mile race. There were a number of people who had already been running for 16 hours who were attempting a 100 mile finish. The Zumbro races are in mid-April in Southeastern Minnesota and it is fast becoming known for its unpredictable and nasty weather. Check the race report here http://www.trainingedgesports.com/blog/zumbro-50. I did not finish this event. Instead I dropped at mile 34, hypothermic and terrified…
Event 2: Superior 50k
It’s the 3rd year of our annual trip to Lutsen, MN for the spring races. They fill up fast now and this year I decided to do the 50k event. Todd, Tom, Jesse and I made a weekend of it, all finished our races, and we had an amazing time with the community I've grown to Love. Tom and Todd finished their first ultras and Jesse took to the trail for the first time and finished the 25k. Success everywhere. This event was mid-May and the season was just getting cranked up.
Event 3: Voyageur 50 Mile
This was a solo trip for me but I was not alone, not by a longshot. Superior 100 was looming and I was going to use each event this year to refine my approach to finishing that event. This was no different. I headed up a bit early and ran 13 miles on Friday night. The race was Saturday. It was hot and late in the race I had the good fortune of running into John Taylor, who I mentioned in my Superior 100 2013 race report. http://www.trainingedgesports.com/blog/superior-100-2013-my-story He’s a living legend in our sport and it was an honor to spend a few moments with him on the trail. I would be fortunate enough to also spend some time with him at Superior. The heat gave way late in the Voyager 50 mile to thunderstorms and the lightning continued to chase me all through the summer of 2014. It was a 50 mile PR and I established what I thought was a pace I could sustain at Superior. Again, showing up at the finish line drenched and cold, the amazingly supportive community that I belong to showed their support once again, brining coffee and soup.
Event 4: Superior Training
This event wasn’t supported by an organization; it was supported by my brother, Jesse. He has been with me throughout this whole journey and without him, I would not have finally achieved my dream of a 100 mile finish. Read about this adventure here. http://www.trainingedgesports.com/blog/superior-commitment-63-mile-prep-run I had a lot of fun with the GoPro during this August weekend and looked back on the footage we got a number of times leading up to Superior. It will give you a little look into the rugged, relentless, remote nature of the Superior Hiking Trail. I was able to cover 63 miles in under 48 hours and would draw on this training sacrifice during my 2014 Sawtooth 100 http://fall.superiortrailrace.com/race-info/100-mile/ a number of times.
Event 5: Sawtooth 100
For three years I have been trying to finish one of these things. I first tried in the Ozarks in 2012, then Superior in 2013. Those events both led to failure. I learned a lot though. Isn’t that true about anything? Productive failure is one of the greatest gifts out there. If we fail and we don’t learn anything, that’s a pity. If we fail and come out better on the other side, good on you. That’s the way it should be. As the event approached, more people kept stepping up and declaring their support. They weren’t just saying they would be thinking about me as I was on the trail. I do appreciate that too and it is a very real way of showing support. They committed to showing up. They would leave their lives and drive to see me finish. I’m inspired. At every aid station, I knew that there would be a small army waiting to change my socks, fill my water bottles and encourage me to the finish line. I’m at a loss for words. Read more about my first 100 mile finish here. http://www.trainingedgesports.com/blog/superior-100-mile-endurance-run-2014
This brings my summer full circle. We are hours away from substantial snowfall here in the Twin Cities. I won’t run through the winter. Instead, I’ll strap on my skis and embrace my Scandinavian roots by gliding through the woods. A whole new series of adventure awaits come February and March of 2015. I ran the other day, for one of the last times in 2014, and took a moment to reflect on all that I’ve been blessed with in 2014. I am truly grateful for and truly blessed by the amount of support that I’m shown as I take to the trails in search of adventure.
This is the first of a three part series chronicling my transition to winter. Next time I’ll be sharing my plan of transition. I’ll include the process I use to develop a plan around exercise and show you, in detail, what I’ll be up to through the middle of December. Then, I’ll strap on the skis again and begin training for the four events in five weeks I’ve got planned for early 2015. They are all 50k or longer. Look for that plan as it unfolds as well.
My purpose is to inspire everyone I talk to, who sees a video or reads my writing. Help me live my purpose by sharing this link to join our mailing list. In it, you’ll receive inspiration, special pricing opportunities on our EDGE Training Group products and my personal Exercise Integration Strategy FREE. Here’s the link. http://forms.aweber.com/form/01/590959201.htm
Jon Howard - Husband and Father of 3 | Ultra Endurance Athlete | Owner - Training Edge Sports
How we spend our time determines how effective we can be. What we spend our time doing represents what is important in our lives. This week, instead of spending your time and letting that determine what's important to you, plan the activities that are most aligned with your purpose and honor your commitment to living your life driven by those priorities.
I have begun editing EDGE Training Group - Career Integrated Wellness Pro. The coaching videos will begin soon and I'll have this product available to you by the middle of November.
This challenge is from week 5 of the Career Integrated Wellness Pro experience. I've included the schedule worksheet as well. Each week there is a different focus. This program focuses on discovering where you would most like to spend your time and what your priorities are. Then, there are activities for you to work through as you discover and take committed action on living your life according to your priorities.
Week 5 - Block Challenge
I’ve got a challenge for you this week! Follow your schedule. Guard your time and post your schedule where you will see it multiple times per day. You can even post it in multiple places.
I challenge you to schedule all of your time. This week is a chance for you to step out of this process and see what kind of changes you’ve already begun to make in your life. How have you already been able to shift your calendar to be more effective than before?
There are four activities that will set you up for success, four mandatory blocks I’ve already set up for you. At what time and for how long you do them is up to you.
1. Meal Planning – At least once per week take a look at what you will eat and plan it out. Think about what you will eat and when you will eat. The best time for meal planning, I've found, is just before a trip to the grocery store. Spend whatever time you need to spend to “get it right”. You’ll be glad you did and by spending 30 minutes a couple of times per week to schedule your food, it’s one less thing you’ll need to think about in the moment. I'm including a FREE meal planner for you!
2. Exercise – The benefits of regular exercise are well documented. Not only will regular exercise be good for your body but it will help you be more productive in all other areas of your life as well. Schedule it in as you engineer your weekly block schedule. Whether it is 15 minutes five days a week or 120 minutes three times a week, it doesn't matter. The point is to make space for exercise. You and the people around you will all benefit and you’ll be primed to be the best you possible. (schedule at least three blocks during the week)
3. Efficiency Window – There is a time of day when you are most productive. The sooner you realize when that is and find a way to carve out that time, the better off you’ll be. You probably already know when you're most efficient. Confirm it this week, schedule creativity during that time and magic will happen!
4. Sleep – I've already talked about it a little bit. Set yourself up for a productive sleep with a consistent bedtime. Start preparing for sleep 30 to 60 minutes (read, meditate, pray) prior to that bedtime and stick to it. Your body will appreciate the rest. Reverse engineer the amount of sleep that you need. Determine what time you’ll likely be waking up and create a bedtime based on the amount of sleep you individually need to optimize your productivity. As you exercise, you’ll need more sleep to adequately recover.
I’m including a block challenge schedule for you this week. Fill it out early in the week, post it in three locations you’ll visit often and stick to it like glue.
This meal planner has been pulled from our EDGE Training Group - Nutritional Habits Program. If you use it, it will change your life. Plan your meals and live your life ahead of your nutritional choices in a rhythm aligned with your purpose. Enjoy!
Leave a comment below with how this challenge affects you. Also sign up to receive inspiration, updates/discount opportunities and my personal Exercise Integration Strategy FREE on the sign up form below.
Jon Howard - Husband and Father of 3 | Ultra Endurance Athlete | Owner - Training Edge Sports
Next Up... Career Integrated Wellness PRO!
I tell you what, it feels so good to be able to keep moving here folks. You inspire me to continue creating products and programs that serve you. If you have feedback or would be interested in more, let me know. I've got four more to bring to you in the next couple of months and I'm excited to keep moving.
This program is one that I've been living now since I stopped reporting to a boss. I now am my own boss. While this is great, it definitely comes with it's own challenges. If you are a stay at home mom, a business owner, retired or even if you hold down and job but struggle getting everything done in your remaining time, Career Integrated Wellness PRO is for you.
Check out more details below. This is the second product idea that came to me during my six minutes of inspiration. If you haven't read that post, you can read it here http://www.trainingedgesports.com/blog/6-minutes-of-inspiration-new-product-overview
I know this program will help you identify your ideal schedule and the exercises included will help you actually live it out!