Friday, March 24, 2017

Should I Have Dressed Like Elvis to Run Across The Mojave Desert?

I've had some running accomplishments that are somewhat unique in the ultra-endurance world. Perhaps the most unique is becoming the first person to run solo across the Mojave Desert from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to Badwater Basin, Death Valley by pushing all of my food, water and gear in a support stroller and not caching any water on the route. Some have said that I should be in the Guinness Book of World Records for that 2011 feat. However, I'm not.

In the recent Los Angeles Marathon there were many 'records' set that the Guinness Book of World Records is going to list, such as: (1) the fastest marathon by someone dressed as a car; (2) the fastest marathon by someone dressed as a three-dimensional bird; and, (3) the fastest marathon by someone wearing lederhosen. I'm not joking... these people will be listed in that world record book. Perhaps I should have done the 506-mile, 17-day solo run across the desert wearing a costume! Maybe Guinness would have taken me 'seriously' had I done so.

But the "records" don't stop there for the L.A. Marathon. In addition to the ones I've listed, there were other winning categories, such as the fastest marathons by people dressed as a swimmer, boxer, tennis player, fast-food item (hot dog) and in pajamas. Seriously, people not only get recognition for such things, but are listed in the Guinness record book.

For a feat to be considered for inclusion in the Guinness World Records database, it must be measurable, based on a single variable, verifiable, and breakable. I guess Guinness didn't see my successful Mojave Desert run as meeting its criteria. Also, Guinness World Records will not accept proposals for record attempts that aren’t sufficiently challenging, are too specific to an individual, or could harm or endanger anyone. Hmm... it's true that I could have died alone in the Mojave had something gone wrong, so perhaps that disqualified my accomplishment from consideration for the Guinness book.

Approximately 25-30 new records are approved and officially added to the Guinness World Records database each week, but the organization receives more than 1,000 applications per week. Only a small percentage of applicants go on to become official Guinness World Records title holders. According to the Guinness World Records' website, there are more than 40,000 records in the records database, but only about 4,000 of them are published in the book annually due to space constraints, and only about 11,000 of them are on the website for organizational purposes.

Fastest marathon dressed as a fruit; fastest marathon dressed as Elvis; fastest marathon dressed as a superhero; and, fastest marathon dressed as a cartoon character have been popular in recent years -- and there are many others! By the way, these sort of records are not only for marathon runners. There's actually a Guinness World Record category for the fastest 100-meter hurdles... wearing swim fins! Yep... you read that right! Hurdling in swim fins. I guess if you were to hurdle into a steeplechase water pit by accident the swim fins may come in handy! There are certainly some people doing strange feats that Guinness World Records seem worthy of holding a 'world record' title.

I've never been focused on setting world records. My accomplishments stand for themselves and I'm fine with that. I know what I've done in the world of running and don't need to have my name listed in a book next to the people that ran the fastest marathon dressed as a crustacean, a 3-D dinosaur, or a gingerbread man. And yes, there are Guinness World Records for those too!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg? Aristotle Pondered This!

Perhaps one of the longest debated questions in history has been whether the chicken or the egg came first. Even Greek philosopher Aristotle pondered which came first. Chickens come from eggs, and eggs come from chickens. So, how can one come before the other?

In 2010, an English research team concluded that the chicken had to have come first when they identified a chicken protein necessary for the production of a chicken's egg shell.

Evolutionists assert that birds evolved from reptiles over millions of years, so the reptiles eventually laid the egg that hatched as a chicken -- thus, the egg had to have come first. However, Creationists believe that on day five of creation, God created “every winged bird according to its kind” (Genesis 1:21) and that God created mature birds with the ability to reproduce. So, the bird was first, ready to lay eggs. You'll have to come to your own conclusion based on what YOU believe. What I can tell you is that if you were to place a live chicken and an egg on a track, I'm pretty sure that the chicken would come across the line first!

What about the nutritional elements of chickens and eggs? Which is the 'winner' in that race? Look at these numbers:


A generic roasted, broiled or baked chicken breast contains the most calories at 197. You can cut the calories nearly in half if you choose boneless, skinless chicken breasts (100-110 calories). A generic hard-boiled egg comes in at 155 calories. However, if you use medium sized hard-cooked, peeled eggs (farm fresh and cage free) you can get the calories down to 60 -- and it cuts the fat and protein level to nearly one-third of that of a generic hard-boiled egg. Looking for carbohydrates? Look elsewhere besides chicken and eggs because neither provide enough carbs for benefit (chicken has 0 grams of carbohydrate while hard-boiled eggs only have 1 gram or less).

From a protein standpoint, chicken comes first. From a fat standpoint, eggs come first. Hmm... looks like the debating as to which came first into existence -- and which comes first in nutritional value -- between the chicken and the egg will continue.

Now, with that out of the way, we can address the other question on everyone’s mind -- why did the chicken cross the road?

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Spring Track & Field in Alaska Can Mean Shoveling The Track!

I grew up in Alaska and loved running track and field during junior high and high school. Since spring seems to come a bit late in the westernmost and northernmost U.S. state, my track team often ushered in the first day of track season by having to shovel the track! The coach would arrive at the track in his truck with shovels piled in the back, and the first day of practice would be a shoulder/back workout as we shoveled the lanes of the quarter-mile track.

If you've never shoveled a track before, I can tell you -- it's quite a workout! The important thing is to not scrape all the way down to the track surface, or you can damage the track. It's best to shovel down to where you leave just a little snow on the surface, and then let that melt off on a day with some sunshine. Also, it's not a good idea to try and run in spikes on the shoveled track because the surface will still be firm and frozen. Just wear running shoes after shoveling.

Before you grab a shovel and head to your local track for a quarter-mile back-breaking workout, make sure you have permission of the school, college or institution to which the track belongs. If they give you the green light, then go for it! Just be sure to use a shovel that doesn't have a metal edge on the blade and don't press a corner of the shovel into the track's surface. Remember, leave a little snow and don't scrape all the way down to the surface. Also, shovels with an ergonomic handle (curved) are easier on your back... especially when going a quarter mile!

I invite you to take one minute (literally) and watch a video of a high school runner who shoveled a track so that he could run on it rather than a treadmill.



Happy shoveling runners!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

OH FOR GOODNESS' SAKE! FORREST GUMP IS FICTION!!

It has been 10 years since I ran across America solo in 108 days on the road. My first attempt was in 1986 at the age of 21, but which ended in injury. In 1994, the movie "Forrest Gump" was released and for the past 23 years people have equated running across America with Forrest Gump because the fictional character did it on movie screens worldwide.

When I made my first across-America run attempt in 1986, hardly anyone had ever heard about running across America -- likely because not many people had actually accomplished the endeavor. Of course, the Internet didn't exist then and there were no movies in existence of anyone running across the country. Well, today more and more people are attempting to run across America to be just like Forrest Gump. Here are some fairly recent news headlines:
  • Englishman runs across America just like Forrest Gump
  • Real-life Forrest Gump finishes run across America
  • Inspired by 'Forrest Gump,' man begins charity run across America
For goodness sake... "inspired" by Forrest Gump? If you've never seen the movie, it is one of the most far-fetched cinematic scripts to ever be played on movie screens. Sure, it was the first film to introduce people to the thought of running coast-to-coast across America. However, several people had actually accomplished the task BEFORE the fictitious character of Forrest Gump. In fact, THOSE people are "inspiring" and are the ones that should be learned about by anyone interested in running across the country.

Yes, there are actually people who have accomplished many things you see in movies BEFORE the movies were actually made. Look beyond movies. Look into the history of something that may spark intrigue or inspiration in you. Be a student of the past and don't just try to mimic scenes created by cinematographers. Be innovative, not imitative!

In the movie Forrest Gump, he says, "I ran clear to the ocean. And when I got there, I figured, since I'd gone this far, I might as well turn around, just keep on going. When I got to another ocean, I figured, since I'd gone this far, I might as well just turn back, keep right on going. When I got tired, I slept. When I got hungry, I ate. When I had to go... you know... I went."

Forrest sure makes it sound easy to run solo across America, and all of the coast-to-coast running scenes in that movie make it look like a jog in the park. Well, I guarantee... it's nowhere near as easy as the fictitious character "Forrest" makes it look. Speaking from 3,260 miles of experience between the Oregon coast and the Delaware shore I can tell you... it's actually incredibly demanding physically, mentally and emotionally. Many "Forrest" wannabees have found out the hard way what it's really like to try and cross the country all alone on foot... many pondering that realization as they sit on a bus, train or airplane to head back home with aching feet and legs without having conquered even 5 percent of the country.

Just remember, Forrest Gump is a fictional story and if you truly want to learn about running across the country, do a Google query of those who have actually done it. I believe you'll be genuinely inspired!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Friday, March 17, 2017

NEWS FLASH FOR PARENTS: An iPad is NOT a Babysitter!

There are numerous research studies which show that inactive childhoods cause immediate damage to physical development, attention span and academic performance. Now, recent studies have shown that just one in ten of the "iPad generation" of toddlers are active enough to be considered "healthy."

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends zero smart device use for children younger than 18 months. Guidelines show that at 18 months you can begin introducing the child to electronic devices, like iPads, but at no more than 30 minutes per day. Then, at 2 years of age (and until 5) you can allow for up to an hour a day. Ultimately, it's important for parents to monitor a child's electronic device use, allow such use in moderation, and to do what is best for your family.

Many psychologists agree that watching a screen at a young age can limit time for active play and learning, reduce opportunities for language development, reduce the length of time young kids can stay focused, and affect the development of the full range of eye movement. Some studies suggest that prolonged screen time can inhibit creativity, lead to slower development of social skills, and even lead to obesity.

All parents need to keep in mind that an iPad (or any other electronic device!) should not be used as a babysitter!

A U.S. survey recently reported that 70 percent of parents allow their toddlers and young kids to use their iPad. The same polled parents have downloaded an average of eight apps designed specifically for kids. A parent should be interacting and bonding with their infant and toddler, not just turning on an iPad for the child to stare at. Remember, as a parent you are a role model to your child. If you are always reaching for your phone, laptop, iPad, or some other electronic device... the child will likely mimic your actions. If your child consistently begins choosing a smart device over other types of playing, it's time for you to step in.

An Australian news report recently stated, "Studies overwhelming say real-world interactions are vital to healthy development of children. From birth to the age of three, children’s brains develop rapidly, are extremely sensitive to their surrounding environments, and need real-world stimuli to develop healthy neural networks. Being flooded by images and sounds from a screen can actually stunt proper development, as the brain is allowed to passively observe, instead of actively engage. As children get older, experts suggest the gradual introduction of TV and screen time, but still advise parents to allow plenty of time for physical play."

I've raised four children (my first born in 1993, when the Internet really came on the scene) and I understand how intriguing electronic devices can be to a child. I'd like to think that it isn't much different than when I was a boy in the late '60's and early '70's and wanted to watch television -- but I wasn't able to take the television in the car or into a restaurant. It's important for parents to keep in mind that while smart devices are fun and can be used to enhance learning, nothing can ever replace a parent's love, attention and time!

So, I challenge parents to be creative and engage in educational (and sometimes just 'silly') play with your kids. Does it require more thought, planning, effort and energy on your part as a parent? Yes, it does! However, just as you don't want your child to miss out on having a healthy and active upbringing, you shouldn't want to miss out on being a parent who is willing to focus on your child, give time to your child, and love your child while you play with toys, color pictures, create with Play-Doh, and make castles out of building blocks. The young years of your child will go by quickly and you don't want them looking back on their childhood years feeling that they spent more time with "Peppa Pig" or "Elmo" than you!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Thursday, March 16, 2017

C'mon Parents! Teach Your Child How To Ride A Bike!

I read something yesterday that -- as a father of four children -- frustrated and irritated me. A Canadian company is opening four locations in Chicago to teach kids how to ride their bikes this summer so that parents don't have to deal with it. The classes are for kids ages 3½ to 10 and run for five days. Teachers expect to have beginners riding by the end of it and the rate is a whopping $100 an hour!

I have fond memories of teaching my children how to ride bikes when they were little. My "kids" now range in age from 17 to 23. I look back at old pictures of them riding their bikes and recall running along next to them as they were learning... encouraging them and helping them. To me, it is a special time in a child's life (and in a parent's life)... and to pay someone else $100 an hour to teach them so that a parent doesn't have to deal with it is, in my opinion, absolutely ridiculous! Are parents too busy these days to teach their children how to ride a bike? If so, then they are TOO busy!

The company even has a couple of other programs for kids as young as 2½ called "Trikes & Trainers," dealing with youngsters on tricycles or bikes with training wheels, and another class for "balance bikers," for kids on those beginners' coaster bikes without pedals. The lessons for either of those programs are $109 an hour. You think that's expensive? You'll have to dig deeper into your wallet for the company's private lessons for older students (at any level), which are available at a sky-high price of $229 an hour.

C'mon parents, stop digging into your wallets and purses expecting someone else to teach your child something that you are more than capable of teaching him or her. Make it a priority, block out some time, and teach your child something that they'll be able to enjoy for a lifetime. The memories you'll create from teaching them how to ride a bike will be priceless -- both for you and your child!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.comt

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

If You're Not Ready To Fall, You're Not Ready To Hurdle!

Several years ago, USATF Masters Hurdle Champion Dexter McCloud said:

"The hurdles require a high skill level.
You have to run a bit out of control because you are running at 10 fences
and you are throwing your private parts at them, while running full speed."


There's a rather old saying in hurdling: "If you're not ready to fall, you're not ready to hurdle!" Falling is a part of hurdle training. You just don't want to make it a part of hurdle competition -- and yes, those are Olympic athletes in that picture! Three of them didn't even make it to the second hurdle.

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso
www.paulstaso.com

Friday, March 10, 2017

You Can Lead Someone To A Blog, But You Can't Make Them Read!

You've likely heard the idiom, 'You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink!' The same can be said about blog viewers. As a blogger, I can do all sorts of things to try and lead people to my blog, but I can't make them read. My blog viewer statistics show that every day I have people from around the world visit this blog. As a writer, I can only hope that they're actually reading.

It's estimated that there are over 150 million "blogs" on the Internet. In case you weren't aware, a "blog" is what you're reading right now. It's a particular website address (in this case http://paulstaso.blogspot.com) where you can find frequently updated content from someone who writes about something of interest and/or importance to him or her. In this case, you're at my running blog where I write on health, fitness and nutrition topics for people of all ages. The aim of this blog is to inspire and motivate others toward a healthier lifestyle.

Statistics show that over 409 million people view more than 22 billion blog pages every month, and that roughly 2 million blog writings worldwide are posted on the Internet each day. The average blog post length is around 900 words. I try to keep my daily posts to no more than 500 words. On topics that require more information, I'll go as high as 800 words. I've exceeded the 'average' of 900 words on only a few occasions. Although there are many blog platforms to choose from, I've chosen to use blogger.com, which was launched in 1999 and purchased by Google in 2003. By the way, the term "blog" is a shortened form of weblog.

I first began writing a blog in 2010 when I set off to run solo across Germany. Up until that time, I simply had a personal website where I would post frequent writings about my training and adventure runs. In 2012, I closed my blog and deleted the content. It wasn't until the summer of 2016 that I would return to blogging to try and provide content that would be encouraging, inspiring and motivating to others. Based on my blog statistics, my daily blog posts are read by people from around the world. I will never meet most of my readers, but it is nice to know that my writings can reach into the life of someone around the corner in my neighborhood or around the world.

I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and have enjoyed writing since I was 13 years of age when I joined my junior high yearbook staff. Ever since then, writing has been a way for me to communicate what is important to me and, hopefully, catch the eye and interest of those who choose to take five minutes to read my writings. If you've read the 483 words so far in this blog post, then you must have an interest in what I'm writing. Perhaps you should consider writing your own blog to share something that you feel strongly about, a topic that inspires you, or a subject that you believe you can educate others about. A blog can be about anything, and with 409 million people viewing Internet blogs every month, you're bound to capture some readers!

To those from around the world who take a few minutes to read my blog whenever your time allows, I thank you.

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

70-Year-Old Runner Does 7 Marathons on 7 Continents in 7 Days

Chau Smith resides in Kansas City, Missouri, and recently ran seven marathons in seven consecutive days on seven continents in celebration of her 70th birthday.

From January 25 to 31, 2017, Smith ran marathons in Perth, Australia; Singapore; Cairo, Egypt; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Garden City, New York; Punta Arenas, Chile; and King George Island, Antarctica. It's part of a challenge called Triple 7 Quest, operated by Marathon Adventures, which planned the itinerary and logistics.

Of the eight people who joined the quest, six ran full marathons, and of those six, Smith was the oldest. Smith says she may have broken a world record for the oldest person to run seven marathons in seven days and will be applying to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Smith was born in Vietnam in 1947 and ran her first race in 1995 at 48 years of age — a 5K in Kansas City. To date, she estimates that she's run close to 70 marathons across the globe.

So, what did she do to celebrate after her seventh and final marathon in Antarctica to complete the Triple 7 Quest? While resting at the southern tip of Chile, she heard about another race. Two days later, she tied on her running shoes and was ready to go for an eighth marathon!

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

I've Never Been Into "Road Racing," Just Road Conquering!

I've been a runner for 42 years, starting in 1975 at the age of 10. Over the decades I've come across several runners who keep the race bib from every running event they've participated in, some having a wall dedicated to displaying those bibs. I've never had such a wall, and the number of "races" that I've participated in probably wouldn't be enough to cover a wall. You see, I'm not a racer.

Perhaps my passion for running across states and countries  which was born in 1984 when I was 19  is the reason why running races don't appeal to me. Once you've pushed yourself all alone over a vast amount of land through any and all conditions that might arise... a "road race" just isn't as appealing, at least not to me. Please don't get me wrong, I salute anyone who runs a 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon, 30-Miler, 50-Miler, 100-Miler, and so on. It takes dedication to be a runner and I've stood on the sidelines of many races cheering for others as they've reached for the finish line. However, reaching for the finish line in a road race doesn't ignite in me the desire that reaching for the horizon does.

Most of the road racing that I've done was between the ages of 16 and 35. Usually, those races were done for fun and as a distraction from my regular routine of logging mega-mileage as I aimed to prepare for some big endurance endeavor. For the most part, I have fond memories of the races and 'fun runs' that I did. I would have to say that my favorite would have been in 2006 when I did a one-mile fun run event with my two sons, who were only 6 and 8 years of age at the time. I always enjoyed watching my children run in races, and this summer my eldest daughter (who is an elementary teacher) is aiming to run her first half marathon!

Sure, I still have some road racing bibs from years gone by. However, you won't find them hanging on a wall. They're tucked away in a box somewhere. As a runner, you do whatever helps you to stay motivated. For some, that includes having a wall covered in racing bibs. To that I say wonderful! Stay motivated, encouraged, and uplifted by your achievements! After covering tens of thousands of miles in my running career, I can honestly say that conquering the roads behind me has given me a deep satisfaction... a satisfaction that is at the core of who I am  both as a two-legged human striding on this planet and as a "runner." I may not have worn a 'bib' as I conquered those land masses, but I have deep-rooted memories that hang on the wall of my heart.

For those of you who begin this life wearing a baby's bib and end it wearing a runner's bib, I applaud you! Run on road racers!

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Don't Stand and Stare. Take The Stairs!

We've all been there... standing in an elevator staring at the numbers illuminating with each floor reached. I've seen groups of people (young people!) waiting to take an elevator rather than walking up nearby stairs. I work in a law firm with plenty of stairs, and no elevator. I ascend and descend many stairs every work day. Stairs should not be something we avoid. Research shows that even short bursts of stair climbing can improve heart health. According to researchers, even one-minute bouts of exercise can provide health benefits.

Stair climbing requires 8-9 times more energy expenditure than sitting and burns about 7 times more calories than taking an elevator. Climbing stairs raises your heart rate immediately -- maximizing your cardio benefits. It also strengthens your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, abs and calves. I've read that climbing just eight flights of stairs a day lowers average early mortality risk by 33%. Seven minutes of stair climbing a day can cut the risk of a heart attack in half over 10 years. Just two minutes of extra stair climbing a day is enough to stop average middle age weight gain. Stair climbing is officially classed as a 'vigorous' form exercise and burns more calories per minute than jogging.

I've read that you can burn 0.17 calories per stair climbed, and 0.05 calories per stair descended. Say there are 12 steps in the average flight of stairs, heading up and then back down would burn you somewhere between 2.5 and 5 calories. Climbing stairs is twice as much exercise as walking on a flat surface. Within the same amount of time, slowly climbing stairs burns two to three times as many calories as walking quickly on a flat surface.

Where I work, there are 19 steps between each floor. I go up and down the stairs many times in a day. I figure that I average about 304 steps each day on the stairs in my office building (8 times up and down the stairs -- which equates to one time per hour), and that would burn about 65 calories. Over the course of one year (taking into consideration only the days I'm at the office), I estimate that I take approximately 73,000 steps on stairs annually at work (which equates to nearly 20 miles) -- burning at least 15,200 calories (or approximately 4.3 pounds). I'm also getting heart health and cardio benefits.

You too can figure out how many miles of stairs you do in a year. First, you have to estimate how many stairs you do annually (both ascending and descending). Once you have that total number, here's what you do:
  • Take your total number of steps and multiply it by 17, which is the standard number of inches for most steps. This will tell you the total number of inches you are doing in steps. For me, my total number of steps annually is 73,000 -- so I then multiplied that by 17 to arrive at 1,241,000.
  • Be aware that one mile is equal to 63,360 inches.
  • Compare the number of inches of stairs you have climbed to the inches in a mile to see how far you have gone on stairs. For me, I divided 1,241,000 inches by 63,360 and arrived at 19.5 miles.
Remember, the choice is yours -- stand in an elevator for one minute and burn approximately 1 calorie, or take the stairs and gain the benefits from stepping up your health! Stop 'staring' and start 'stairing!'

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Kids in the 1970's Ran a Mile 90 Seconds Faster Than Kids Can Today

Children today take 90 seconds longer to run a mile than kids did 30 years ago, according to data from 28 countries. Children's aerobic fitness has declined by 5 percent since 1975.

Researchers at the University of South Australia used running speed as a simple proxy for aerobic fitness, because it measures cardiovascular health and endurance. Aerobically fit adults are much less likely to have heart attacks and strokes, and children who are aerobically fit are more likely to be fit as adults.

The researchers analyzed 50 studies that included 25 million children ages 9 to 17, in the United States, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Asia.

Children's speed started dropping in the 1970s, and kids have continued to become more snail-like ever since. The research shows that increased weight explains 30 to 70 percent of the declines in children's aerobic fitness. Lower levels of physical activity, both in organized sports and at play, account for a lot of the rest.

Children are much less likely to walk or bike to school than they were in the 1970's, at least in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. Neighborhoods are increasingly suburban and people are driving more.

However, it's not just the kids that we should be concerned about. Research has also shown that adult aerobic fitness has been falling at pretty much the same rate as children!

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Do You Think You Have A Strong Work Ethic?



If you were to Google "work ethic decline" you would be given an array of studies, editorials, and articles debating which generation reflects the greatest work ethic. It seems to me that the slant of the study, editorial or article often depends on the age of the one pushing the pen. I was born in 1965 and was taught a work ethic from parents who were born in the 1930's. I've always appreciated the work ethic that I was taught as a boy growing up in the 1970's and I believe that work ethic has served me well in my 52 years of life.

Anyone who has truly studied the topic of "work ethic" will agree that there are seven core work ethic values: attitude, reliability, professionalism, initiative, respect, integrity, and gratitude. Rather than write about each of those seven values, I'll simply challenge you to think about each one in your own life and to rank them in order from which value is your strongest to which is your weakest. Then, focus this week on improving your weakest value. Each week re-evaluate your efforts with each value in the work that you do. Aim to improve your values every week. If you can maintain this focus weekly, your work ethic can only improve and as a result you will likely feel greater satisfaction in your work and may experience positive outcomes from your improving work ethic -- perhaps even financial benefits.

It has been said that passion doesn’t fuel work ethic; work ethic fuels passion. In his book Reviving Work Ethic, Eric Chester explains that most people want to go about it backwards. They want to let their passions propel their efforts. They want an emotion-driven life, but our emotions don’t always lead us where we need to go or keep us where we need to be. You won’t produce heat in your fireplace by saying, “Once there’s a fire, I’ll put in some logs.”  You put the logs in and build a fire, and then you’ll see some heat. Likewise, the passion you have for a job is directly related to the initiative you put into it. Mr. Chester writes:
Over the past ten years, I’ve interacted with, listened to, and surveyed more than 1,500 employers (business owners, C-level executives, HR professionals, managers, supervisors, etc.) in an attempt to understand what work ethic looks like from their perspective. In each exchange, I listened to their various laments about that lack of work ethic and responded by asking this question: “What do you expect from each and every employee?” At the risk of sounding simplistic, I can summarize hundreds of responses in one sentence: Employers are searching for positive, enthusiastic people who show up for work on time, who are dressed and prepared properly, who go out of their way to add value and do more than what’s required of them, who are honest, who will play by the rules, and who will give cheerful, friendly service regardless of the situation.
I've experienced various successes in life -- both personal and professional -- due, in large part, to my work ethic. I won't list my successes because I don't want this blog post to be about me. I want it to be about you, the reader. Life is a long road of many mileposts and along the way certain mileposts are forever ingrained in our memory due to an event that greatly impacted us, either positively or negatively. I hope that as you take those occasional glances back on the path you've traveled that you'll see moments when your work ethic truly rewarded your life.

In closing, keep in mind this old (and true!) saying: Well done is better than well said.

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Some Teens In Mexico Are Running For Their Lives

At a time when we're hearing a lot about illegal immigrants running for the Canadian border to flee the United States, I want to share with you information about some teenage runners in Mexico. No, they're not running for the border. They're actually running to compete... and ultimately, they're running for their lives.

Sometimes known as the Tarahumara, the Raramuri in Mexico are between 80,000 and 125,000 people scattered throughout tiny villages in the southeastern Sierra Madre mountain range. Coach Carlos Ortega takes a team of about 25 teenage runners from the Raramuri indigenous group to competitions, often having to compete against better-trained, better-equipped, and better-off teenagers from Chihuahua. The contrast between the city kids, with their modern running gear, and the slighter-framed runners from the mountains -- some of whom run barefoot, or in their school shoes -- is obvious. However, the Raramuri teenagers appear unfazed by the differences, standing apart, quiet and watchful as they wait for the starting whistle.

The Raramuri's true strength is in ultramarathons (distances beyond 26 miles) and they are weaker in shorter competitions. Coach Ortega says that the Raramuri runners can race in an ultramarathon and win 20,000 pesos ($1,006 U.S. dollars) easily. However, he wants them to aim for winning races where the prize is $30,000, or to go to the Olympics where they can win gold medals.

Although he has positive goals for the young runners, Ortega has his work cut out for him. The Raramuri region has been marked as a "red zone" of high marginalization, according to Mexico's National Advisory Board on Social Development, meaning that people living in the area regularly face hunger. The United Nations Development Index ranks the Raramuri region behind Niger in West Africa -- the world's poorest country -- on its league table. Many make a living as subsistence farmers, or as day-laborers, paid between $12 and $15 for 12-hour days in the fields. Making things more difficult is that the Raramuri's ancestral lands border Sinaloa and Durango, in the heart of heroin-poppy and cannabis plantations. The region has become a hot spot in the war between rival cartels.

It has been said that poverty and violence are producing a "perfect storm" for Raramuri teens, more and more of whom are being pressured to work for the cartels. In the eyes of the cartels, the Raramuri's endurance over long distances and challenging terrain make them ideal candidates for transporting drugs. Some Raramuri teens have been kidnapped by cartels and ordered to run drugs, some being killed and others being caught by authorities and imprisoned.

In light of all of this, Coach Ortega encourages his runners to be the best that they can be athletically. One of Coach Ortega's 15-year-old Raramuri runners is quoted as saying, "The freedom I feel when I run makes it easy... I love to escape into running." I hope the Raramuri teens can run toward their goals and dreams -- and escape the cartels and poverty which try to hold them back.

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Dog Can Be A Wonderful Running Companion!

I used to run with my black lab, "Fenway" -- yes, named after the famous baseball park in Boston. Fenway would accompany me on runs of up to 5 miles. That was about his max and I always made sure to share my water bottle with him. Fenway was a wonderful dog to run with. He kept a consistent pace and didn't stop every 10 feet to smell flowers, relieve himself, or to stare at birds in the sky. Fenway and I seemed to have an unspoken understanding... when we were going out for a run, running is what we were going to do.

I recently read an article in Outside magazine about running with a dog. The article states that the distance your dog can run depends mostly on his or her innate abilities and current fitness. I agree with that. You know your dog better than anyone and you need to know what his or her limits are. Pay attention to their energy level as you're pounding out the miles. If your dog is on a leash and pulling you along like a sled dog until the end of your run, clearly the dog has not been overworked. If the dog is trailing behind you and becoming less animated with its tongue nearly dragging on the ground as it pants heavily, the run was probably too much.

Fenway and I started out gradually. My first run with him was only a mile, and we gradually worked up to a 5-mile, steady run. Also, we only ran together every other day to begin with. I wanted Fenway to gradually become a runner, just like humans should do. I increased Fenway's mileage about 10 percent per week to allow him to adapt at a safe pace.

If you've never run with a dog before, know that it can take some time to teach your dog good habits. In the beginning, Fenway seemed notorious at the cutting me off to look at something on the side of the road or trail, causing me to nearly trip over him. It took time for him to learn how to run with me without interfering with my running. Remember, for most dogs, running on a leash is not natural and takes some getting used to. Be patient with your dog, correct the dog with a consistent and calm (but firm) voice, and enjoy the opportunity to have that special time with your pet.

I'll always have fond memories of my runs with Fenway.

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.