Training Update

This training update is in SOAP format, inspired by Art Clarke and his blog.


It seems that this was a breakthrough week for running. I made it up to 2.5 miles on the treadmill. I’ve heard from others in the know that that 2 miles is the bubble to push through and once you get there it gets easier. I honestly believe I will be able to go the distance in the triathlon.

Yesterday I had a crummy day and was really low on energy. I still managed to run 2 miles after a 25 minute session on the elliptical trainer. I must say I’ve come a long way, in a crappy workout is running 2 miles.

I did not do any cycling or swimming last week. These are areas that I’m fairly comfortable in, but I should be paying attention to them. I’m not sure I’ll double up this week, but I will be sure to get swimming and cycling in this week.


Running continues to improve. The distances keep going up. The headphones I wear while running keep catching on my hands, so there’s room for improvement there.

My last swim and bike rides were all over the distance I had to go for a triathlon. Since cycling comes after the swim I will be using it as a recovery from the swim, which should leave me in good shape for the run.


I would have liked to be further along than I am at this point. I have high confidence that I will finish the triathlon though and that makes it easy. The training program I’ve created for myself seems to be working well; I just need to stick with it. There is nothing like a triathlon looming to keep me motivated.


Continue with training at least 4 times per week. Volleyball on Thursday evenings is allowed if I get a workout in Thursday morning (probably a fast run to build strength) as Friday is a rest day and Saturday is usually a cycling day. My last volleyball session did not leave me particularly sore and I expect that to get better rather than worse.

Making Choices and Trade-offs

You might call it an embarrassment of riches. In the information technology world where I work we refer to it as “a find problem to have”. I refer to the problem set that arises when you have too many good things happening to you. Gretchen Rubin at The Happiness Project recently posted about her experience with such a problem which was the inspiration for this article.

Having too many opportunities can be really oppressive. Furthermore having too many things you would like to commit to is, mentally speaking, the same as living in a cluttered house. David Allen in his book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity makes a very good case for organization as tool to help you focus on the task at hand. In order to devote your whole self and creativity to your interests, you need to be able to free yourself of the baggage of all of the things you’re worrying about. When you choose to focus on one particular project/problem/interest your creativity and presence is boosted by the ability to know what you’re choosing not to be doing. Otherwise, you subconscious will keep worrying about all of those other things and rob you of the resources you should be using.

When you reduce all of that to practice, the result is that your brain works better at what you want it to after you’ve looked at your reliable to do list and made an affirmative choice not to do the things on it. Not doing things on your to do list is just fine, as long as you’re choosing and not forgetting.

In my life, I’ve been faced with situations similar to Gretchen’s. A friend recommended reading Having It All … And Making It Work: Six Steps for Putting Both Your Career and Your Family First . The most important takeaway for me had to do with making tradeoffs. The way I think about it, under heavy influence from the authors, is that making choices is easy. Do I want to eat pie, or be scalded by hot water? The choice is easy here. A trade off is what you make when you have to choose between two things and you want both: Do you want a piece of pie, or a milkshake?

In this way of thinking, making choices is easy (pie is much nicer than scalding) but trade-offs are hard (milkshake and pie are both good choices). I find that being mindful of the fact that I want both things makes it easier to select only one. To select one option over another does not have to mean you’re giving up on a goal or no longer want the option you did not select. Knowing that you don’t have to give up on the thing you’re not selecting makes the decision easier to live with.

I truly believe that framing decisions in a way that acknowledges that you want both things but can only choose one of makes me happier and more productive. Remember, it is a luxury to be in a situation where you’re only have good options to pick from.

Outsourcing Business Research with Elance

Hanging around with entrepreneurs can get to your head just a bit. After a while you start to think about things in a particular way. It turns thoughts like: “I really want to look into X but I just don’t have time.” into thoughts like: “How many dollars would I be willing to trade for task X being completed well enough?”.

So I’m taking the plunge. In my previous post I talked about outsourcing some of my business research using Elance. If you’re intrigued, read on as I chronicle the process.

The first step is to define your project. This step sounds like it should be easy, but it rarely is. If you want to find a way to frustrate your boss, the best strategy I know of is to give them exactly what they ask for. The catch, of course, is that hardly anyone asks for what they want with enough precision. One way to think about it is to write your to daily do list as though it’s meant for someone else (since 43 Folders has already covered this, read about it there). Forming this habit will get you a long ways toward writing tasks for others.

I ended up breaking the research task into two components. The first component is to identify 5-10 possible suppliers and their contact information. Submit that list to me for review. The second part of the task is: upon approval, contact each of those suppliers and ask about a list of topics e.g. minimum quantities, time from order to shipment, etc.

The plan is that this structure allows me to keep control of the research and identify early on if things aren’t right. This is essentially a check to make sure the researcher and I are communicating well. If we are, then the results will be from companies like Small Batch Manufacturing, Inc. If we are not, then this list will be full of Million Minimum Manufacturing Corp. Yes, the names of these companies are made up, but you get the idea.

To make sure things are presented in way that’s useful to me, I specified that the completed work will be in an excel spreadsheet. I specified which fields that spreadsheet should have filled out, and the minimum number of entries that it needs to be considered complete.

Thanks to the folks over at 43 Folders for the inspiration.

Training Update (the 2 mile marker!)

This training update is presented in SOAP format, inspired by Art Clarke (see his blog  Running Naked in the blogroll for more info).


I feel like training is on a sign wave, The peaks are great, and the valleys not so good. After Monday’s bummer of a workout (I identified 2 broken machines at the gym, including the treadmill that was available) I came back in full force on Wednesday with a triple play of elliptical, treadmill, and swimming. My running distance was up. It seems that once I get past 1.3 miles, I can go for quite a while

On Thursday I had planned the usual elliptical/running workout but I happened upon a volleyball game in the gymnasium. For those not in the know, I played on my high school team and still love to play. I was watching for a moment trying to figure out what was going on when I was called into the game. Not one to decline the chance to play (I haven’t played indoor in years) onto the court I went.

The upside is that I had a great workout playing volleyball. The downside is that it wasn’t the intensive cardio running workout that I needed. I followed up volleyball with a 1 mile quicky on the treadmill.

Volleyball uses completely different muscles than running, cycling, or swimming. Certain parts of my body ache. I feel strong. I’m much hungrier than normal.


I’ve passed the 2-mile marker!

Wednesday’s workout was a 15 minute warm-up on the elliptical trainer, 2.15 miles on the treadmill, and a 1/2 mile swim. I would have preferred to do the swim first, but the availability of the pool dictated the order of operations.

Pain is still relatively low. The running on sidewalks did hurt a little bit. The treadmill is currently the friendliest surface to practice running on, but I suspect it’s not as good a workout as actual running.


Half of the time my training program is working great. The other half I feel fatigued incredibly early on the treadmill. I’m at the point where swimming and cycling at reasonable paces don’t tire me out much. My cardio fitness is improving though at a potentially slower than planned rate.


Continue with 4 sessions per week. Ice knee after running even though it will be a bit annoyin. Swimming and cycling both once per week seems to be working fine, so continue that. (Swimming and running workouts happen on the same day.)

Make sure at least one workout per week involves running a significant distance. This week, break 2.5 miles. Cardio endurance remains the biggest risk.

Find a way to incorporate volleyball into workouts somehow. This will make training for the triathlon harder, but ultimately more rewarding.  Possibly make Thursdays a light run day followed by volleyball.

Set a date to practice swimming in open water (harder and colder than a pool).

If anyone has any advice as to what a proper running speed is, I’m interested. A coworker whose done a number of triathlons suggested that i slow down (I was running at 6.7 mph). This last workout I ran at 5.8, or at least I tried. After a 1.5 miles I couldn’t take it any more and went up to 6.4 mph.

So you want to start a (web 2.0) website?

It’s not hard to find a story about a geek who made a website and a year later is a high-tech millionaire. You might even be thinking “yeah, I’ve got an idea that’s a least half that good”. Here’s the rub: you’re not a coder. You’re not web developer or java programmer, and don’t know a thing about running web services.

If you’re just a regular Jane, you might be thinking: “OK, I’m good at managing projects but I’m not a coder or a web developer”. If you’re Guy Kawasaki, you already know what to do. Guy started Truemors on a sum of money he describes as “credit card debt”. If you have any inclination toward entrepreneurship, I highly recommend reading about it on his blog (also found on the Running With It blogroll). The specific entry is here.

I was having dinner with a “Regular Jane” a couple days ago. She has an idea worth looking into and had some questions about what was possible as far as connecting the web and SMS messages. Since my job involves the frontier between the internet and the phone I was in a pretty good place to answer her questions. (She asked about how one would generate SMS messages to a mobile phone from a web-based application. The short answer is to use an SMS gateway provider, which you can throw into Google or read the wikipedia article about it.) I also told her about a blog entry by someone who is not a web developer built a Web 2.0 company in short order.

Giving a friend regurgitated advice from the web isn’t so hard. In fact I have not much in qualifications other than what I’ve read in blogs and books (to be fair, this is not a trivial body of work). In the interest of gaining empirical knowledge of the kinds ideas I think are good, I just opened a research project on Elance (sounds like freelance). Elance is a site that aggregates freelancers from around the world to bid on your project. It can be anything from customer service, web design, application development, or in my case, research. I have an angle on a traditional business that I think might be worth my time to persue. I need to determine what the start up costs to get in are. If it’s on the scale of a ten year old car, I’m in. If its on the scale of a luxury car, I’m out. I’ll let you know if a couple of weeks when the research is done.

Training Update

Training updates are in SOAP form, borrowed from Art Clarke at Running Naked.


In some ways things are not going as well as planned. Last week a running workout ended early. Running gets to my stamina in ways that other activities (swimming/running) do not. I came back two days later and met the intended running goal for that day which was great. Yesterday’s run also did not go as planned: the available treadmill was broken, so I ended up just going outside and running. As expected running in the normal way is more work than the treadmill.


The last three running workouts were supposed to be 1.6, 1.8, and 2.0 miles respectively. In reality they were 1.0, 1.8, and 1.0. The last 1.0 mile run was non-treadmill run. There is slight pain in the knee after running outdoors.


Running remains the greatest level of risk. Discussions with other triathletes suggest the goal of “just finishing” is appropriate and I agree.


  • Increase number of training sessions from 3 per week to 4 per week
  • Focus on building running endurance. Every session will involve running in some way.
  • Swim at least once per week.

Why am I here?

What is the point of all of this?
To make me better. To make you better.

Being the best me that I can be is the most important goal I can imagine for myself. Anything I post here will endeavor to describe things I’ve done to better myself that might help or inspire you as well. Some days, the bar will be low and I might post something that is amusing. Amused, I think, is better than not. The next day I’ll talk about methods for processing email that reduce stress and increase your efficiency.

If I had to make a list of themes, this would be it. Everything relates to one of these:

  • Fitness
  • Happiness
  • Motivation
  • Organization
  • Productivity

The caveat: I’ve been working on this post for nearly a month. It still does not feel done and I suspect it never will. I’m never done learning, and to declare this entry finished would, in a way, be declaring boundaries for what might be covered here.
The Goal in Context:
I have not been very active with technology for the last 5 years (being a manager will do that to you). The management path has been good to me: I’ve learned numerous skills that help to keep teams functioning, productive, and motivated. That being said, I’ve been witnessing the power of the internet lately and thinking about how it might be leaving me behind. What better way to play a little bit of catch-up than to run a blog (how Web 2.0 of me) that allows me to explore all of the interesting new technology. For some perspective, the last time I touched the web was pre-adsense; my how things have changed.

Training Update

Since I’ve found Art Clarke’s (Running Naked) SOAP format for reporting on training so interesting and useful I am adopting it for my own use as well. In short, SOAP is a method used by physicians to aid in treating patients. SOAP is a way to organize thoughts that helps the physician (or anyone really) examine all parts of a problem eliminating natural biases. For an explanation on how and why, read Art’s entry about it.


Overall training is going well. I feel great, although I feel hungrier than I used to, but presumably I’m burning the calories off in training. The bicycle ride on Sunday was harder than I expected it to be (I decided to go fast and see if I could lap my training companions on a 2.2 mile course. I failed, but not by much.) The cycling may be my biggest risk because I have a tendency to hyperventilate that may need to be managed.


Running is up to 1.4 miles. Swimming is at 1/2 mile.  I did a cycling workout that was 13+ miles this weekend. No soreness or pain of note to report.


I’m arguably in the best shape of my life. I have no doubts that I will be in shape to finish the triathlon. It is beginning to occur to me that the triathlon is a race and that I may want to be more competitive than previously thought. The original idea was just to finish but the competitive spirit may take over.

Keep increasing the running distances; this is the most important. By the end of the week I should have run 1.8 miles. Do at least one swimming workout this week (Friday probably). This week is challenging from a scheduling standpoint, so I’ll have to be creative to stick to it.