Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New Jiu-jitsu

Last Saturday I attended a seminar with a pretty well known Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Professor Tio Chico Augusto. We worked Butterfly Guard which is a position where one person sits on his knees and the other sits with his feet hooked in behind the bent knees. The one on his knees in the other persons butterfly guard.

We worked about 5 transitions from one move and drilled them for a good long while until we felt pretty comfortable with the movements. After that, we worked guard passing for about 20 minutes as an open mat session. All these moves opened up some big doors for me and one of the biggest realizations I had while rolling was the use of your arms while you sweep your opponent. I have been feeling very comfortable lately (much more comfortable than a few months ago that is) and it has been a little easier for me to move around more freely on the mat, rather then just stay stuck in one area holding onto a position for dear life. My sweeps (when you transition away from you opponent, or move or flip your opponent into defensive position) have been getting much better because of this freedom I've been feeling. But what I found was that I use my legs a lot; I do this because my legs are strong and when I use them I end up staying on my back on the floor which is a little more comfortable for me, but it does not give me a better position. Now, I have the ability to use my arms to just nudge my opponent in the direction he is leaning and the sweep just happens, with me right behind in a perfect position. Beautiful.

Have I mentioned I enjoy this stuff?

Never Stop. GET FIT

Josh Courage


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Free Strength Class!!

Alrighty folks! I will begin running a FREE strength training class at the Georgetown location of the great clothing store lululemon athletica.

I have to admit, I've been a huge fan of lululemon despite the fact that their mens section is rather small. But their clothes are so cool! It's that wonderful sweat-wicking material but at the same time they move so freely and look pretty hip at the same time. I know it sounds like I'm giving a major sales pitch here, but ask any of my clients, I wear a lot of their clothes and recommends them all to go check the stuff out. I've even told all my Jiu-Jitsu guys about it too.

Either way, besides the fact that they have great clothes, they also represent a great cause. When I looked into their website I found that their mission is right in line with mine; help get the community active! Along with this, they offer free yoga classes all the time; and now, they are looking to expand their demographic so they are looking to get into other activities.

So I am now offering a free strength class at lululemon Georgetown every Saturday at 10 am. Come on by and join in the fun! My hope is to start offering more and more classes there, so let's get a huge group there!

Never Stop. GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Fox5 Coverage

A few weeks back I was asked to do a special on baseball specific training on Fox5 DC morning news. They titles the special "World Series Workouts" as it was to air live on the Monday before the World Series began.

There were a few teasers shot as the regular, in-studio news cut to commercial, and then we had two separate 4-minute segments where we covered quite a bit of materiel.

Link to Segment 1
Link to Segment 2

I invited a friend and player/client of mine to help out, Wes Walker. He had just received a large scholarship offer to play Division 1 baseball at Niagara (in the same conference I played in college!). And the reporter who was in charge is also a client of mine, Holly Morris, who went on to run the NYC Marathon only two weeks following the shoot.
Make sure to check out Fox5 News on Tuesday, December 2, around 11:45am to see another segment with me, where I talk about power running.

Never Stop. GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Brazilian Jiu-jitsu

Well, now that I'm getting into it a bit more, I figure I should write a little about it too. Since I finished my marathon goal and am working on my challenges, I have found a new hobby that I'm getting pretty serious about. The great thing about it is that it's becoming such a popular sport all around the world it seems that there is always a great selection of information and support wherever you might be. Just walk into any book store and look at how many books there are on the topic. Do a google search and you will see more pages, blogs and information on not only jiujitsu, but all Mixed Martial Arts then almost any other sports. MMA in fact is the fasted growing sport around the world; while it's huge in the US, it was just legalized in France, it's always been big in England, and of course, all of Asia and South America seems to have training spots in more places then America has Starbucks.

But besides the fact that it's all over the place, I have a great school in Renzo Gracie DC with a great instructor and in the short bunch of months that I've been practicing I have learned so much and hope the fun never ends.

So here's one of the many reason why I like this sport of jiujitsu so much: it is never ending. What I mean by that is there is a no final answer on how things should be done. One move may work for one person but not for another, one technique works against one opponent, but not another. When you get a take-down, or you get some sort of control on an opponent, there are endless possibilities as to what you can do next. As a Black Belt I had the privilege of rolling with said, Jiujitsu is like an ocean of information, and no matter how long you practice the sport, you will always be wading near the shore line looking out at the millions of new angles and moves you can learn and perfect.

Today for example, I had a very nice gentleman form Massachusetts come in to roll a little with me. He found me through my blog and wanted to come in when he was in town to get some work. We worked on some moves together and at the end I feel like I got so much more out of the session than he did. I ended up seeing a whole new perspective on the sport that I hadn't been able to work on in my school. It was frustrating, motivating and very exciting to get an outside perspective on it all and I am looking forward to when he comes back to town and we can work out some more.

What a great sport, what an amazing way to challenge yourself and keep growing. I plan on sticking with this for a good long while. I highly recommend giving it a try to anyone looking to find a good hobby.

Never Stop. GET FIT

Josh Courage

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Marathon Pictures

Here are a selection of pictures form some of my runs.

Running the Bull Run Run 50-Miler



A random picture from someone I don't know at the National Marathon in DC


Two picks from the Baltimore Marathon


Two pictures from the Odyssey Trail Marathon


After the Marine Corps Marathon (my 10th of the year). DC's Mayor, Mayor Fenty has his arm around me.

If you want to see more pictures, and some video of me running, I will have some up shortly in my other blog about marathon running. Check it out.

Never Stop, GET FIT

Josh Courage

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Marathon Goal Achieved...

...now on to the new goals!

I love the feeling of achievement, but I love even more knowing I am stronger and setting new goals to take myself to the next level. Here's what I got:

The single goal to go after right now is to dunk a basketball. I used to be able to dunk back in high school, but that was with a girls ball (or anything I could palm). Then, when I got into lifting in college, I lost that explosiveness. Now I want to get it back. The fun part of this challenge is that there are two other trainers going for the same goal. And each of us are writing our own programs and going about it in our own specific ways. Here's how I am working towards it:

An 8-week progressive power training program. Three weeks of base strength training with light power and speed worked in begins the program. An active rest week follows with speed, quickness, agility and plyometrics as the focus. The next three weeks will be heavy strength work with plenty of power training taking up the majority if the sessions.

Two days ago I was able to dunk both a tennis ball and a dodge ball, so I am pretty confident I will be able to get a basketball by January 1. But most of all, this is really a fun time getting back into this form of training. The marathon running really took a lot out of me and it's very clear that I lost a great deal of strength, and an amazing amount of power over the last year. So getting back into this just feels good.

I'll keep everyone updated about that but until my next update on that one, I have a few other interesting posts to throw at you all. Keep an eye out. And until then...

Never Stop, GET FIT

Josh Courage

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I DID IT!!

Well there you have it. 12 months, 10 marathons, 1 50-miler. All finished, all done; a challenge achieved.

(Pictures are coming)

It has been a pretty incredible year with this challenge, tons of ups and downs both while out running and in every other aspect of my life along the way. And because of the nature of my challenge and personality, I paid extra close attention to the entire growing process. I am in the process now of writing a memoir of sorts on the year and about the perspectives of running all those races. The emotional and psychological changes I went through because of and for the running that I did effected my life in such a constant way that I really don't know how I could live my life without always pushing and striving for change. But that is not the purpose of this post; this is all about the 10th and final marathon of the year for me. The 33rd Marine Corps Marathon.

Out of all of them, this was the very first repeat. My first marathon ever in my life was the 32nd Marine Corps and that was one of the greatest memories of my life. This one was a great one too, but had so many other qualities to it that made it completely different. Just like the first one, I met up with a big group at Mayor Fenty's house in NW DC. We loaded into three Navigator's and drove on down to the VIP tent right at the finish line. It was a familiar scene pre-race for me; I ate my bread and fruit, had my sports drink, kept bundled up and about 45 minutes before the starting gun, instead of GU, had a few Cliff Bloks. With about 5 minutes before the gun, we all walked towards the starting line where I looked back to see the 25,000+ runners behind me all eager to get going on this crazy 26.2 mile journey. It was exciting.

What was even more exciting about this one was the amount of people I knew. Most of the Mayor's group I had gotten closer with. I now was referring to the Mayor by name, which I think is pretty cool. I had a client running, another trainer and his client ran it (they met up at the start line just before the gun), and I had a bunch more people along the course that would be yelling for me as I ran by. The one thing that made me a little nervous was the fact that 5 days ago, when i went out for some light sprint work, I wore my fancy new Vibram shoes (see post on running shoes). This left my calves more tight then I have ever felt in my life, and come marathon start time, they were still pretty tight. Oh well, it was nothing that would hold me back, but it was definitely something I was very aware of. We all high fived, said our good lucks, and the gun sounded.

The pace was set pretty quick; we were going fast. By mile five, and this was through the hilliest part of the course, we were averaging a sub-8 minute mile. For reference, that is about two minutes per mile slower then my average marathon pace. We hung together as a group, most of us that is (there were a few real runners in there that took off, finishing well under a 3:30 total time), and just chugged along enjoying the amazing experience of running with so many people through the great city. Around mile 7 my client and friend Andrew met up with me and jumped in to run through Georgetown with me. We chatted and caught up (he's off to college, playing baseball at Princeton), and when he broke off I joined the group again and we headed towards Haines point, my least favorite part of the race next to the 14th Street bridge. This is where the halfway point was and we all felt strong through hat point. But just through that point. Mile 14 is where I crashed. And I crashed hard.

Now here's what I found out. A man of my size, running 10 marathons and a 50 miler, plus hundreds and hundreds of miles in training runs all in 12 months, makes it pretty tough for the body to handle at a very respectable pace. This is also not counting starting a regular Jujitsu practice, lifting on a regular basis and actively training some 30 sessions a week throughout, just to name a few other activities I was involved in through the year.

From that point on in the marathon I was just trying to get to the finish. I felt like I was wearing a 100lbs weight vest and running straight up a ridiculously steep hill the entire way. But I refused to stop. I decided that even if I wouldn't break the 4-hour mark (my goal going into the race), I would at least run the entire race without stopping or walking. And that is what i did. I ran as best I could, step by step, mile by mile, until I crossed that line. I was so certain I would just collapse that I immediately moved to the far side near the fence to catch myself. But it didn't happen. I got my medal, got my space blanket and headed back to the VIP tent to hang with the group and eat some food.

I crossed the line at 4:21, one minute above the male average for the marathon. The crazy thing about it, I felt bad. I even felt a little depressed. I realize now that this was the feeling that a lot of people feel after spending so much time training for such a huge event, and then when it's all done, they have nothing to do. And talk about feeling empty all of a sudden. I had a huge run almost all but one of the months out of the year, and then, just like that, it was all over. I sit now, three days after the run, and it's just starting to hit me now just what I accomplished. Best time of 3:50, worst of 6:18, six just slower than 4 hours and couple in the 4:20-4:30 range. Oh right, and that 50-miler. Man what a year.

Man what a year.
10 marathons.

Never Stop, GET FIT

Josh Courage

PS - Pictures are coming

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Random Post...

...because I'm watching game 7 of the ALCS and am a little anxious, I thought it would be great to distract myself a little by posting up a little somethin somethin. So here we go: I haven't talked baseball in some time so I figure throwing up a little love for my sport would be a nice thing. I know the sport is probably up there with one of the most boring things around, but when you take the time to understand all the little intricacies of the sport, it arguably becomes the greatest sport around. Let me throw a situation at you and you will see how challenging this game truly is:


You are a pitcher who relies mostly on a power fastball. You personally have faced this batter 52 times already in the past four months and he has gotten a hit only 14 times in those at bats. Out of those 14, 10 have been on the fastball on the inside part of the plate (he struggles low and away). Today you are facing him for the second time (the first time he struck out, on the fastball) and your team is losing by one run in the 7th inning. There is a man on first and second with only 1 out and the next batter has already hit a home run off you. The count is 1 ball and 2 strikes (all pitches were away in the zone) and you are playing at your home field which has a very short left field wall, but a long right field one and this batter is a lefty who naturally pulls the ball towards the right side. So...what pitch do you pitch here?

Well, to get an idea as to what goes through a baseball players head, this is more or less what happens every pitch. And each player has something similar to think about. The batter has all this but the opposite, the fielders have to go through this to figure out where to play. The coaches have to factor all this in to judge how the rest of the game will be played out. Each and every player, going through all options each pitch. And to think that on average, there are around 200 pitches pitched by each team every game.

It's a pretty amazing game.

(oh yeah, and if it were me...I'd pitch a high and in fastball hoping he chases it and changing his eye level. If he swings, great, if not, it'll set up a great change up away that will be hard to lay off.)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Marathon Nine - Completed

Well there you go. Nine down in my overzealous goal of ten marathons in a year. And of course, as is always the case with me, this one has an interesting story to go along with it. I mean, how could I ever actually just go out, train for a run, run the race, and take my time coming home? No, not me. I have to make an adventure out of everything I do. I wouldn't have it any other way! It's all so much more fun this way anyway.

So, this one's adventure was the two weeks leading up to the race, not necessarily the race itself, although, the race itself was a doosie I must say. On Tuesday, September 30, I went in to get a small surgery in my left chest. It was relatively harmless, but the doc said I wouldn't be able to weight train for about three weeks, and I wouldn't be able to do any cardio for 7-10 days. This sucks for me like crazy because I am pretty sure three weeks is longer than I have ever gone without weight training since I started weight training over 12 years ago. But, what can you do. Also, 10 days of no cardio puts me literally the day before my marathon. But then again, I am one to do wierd things pre marathon just to see how they turn out (see: MASS marathon, ALBANY marathon, OAR marathon etc.). So, I would proceed to go just under two full weeks of literally zero exercise before I would run a marathon.

It turns out, I am not good at not working out. I mean, physically it really wasn't all that bad. I got pretty restless in the evenings but besides that, my body probably needs the big rest (i will come back on a tear next week, just wait and see!). It was the mental aspect that really got me. I actually need to work out to keep my mind at somewhat normal. I guess in a way, you could argue that i have a slight addiction to exercise. I say that that's not the case because exercise doesn't interfere with my life. Ultimatly, exercise makes up my life. I describe not exerciseing at all for two weeks for me, is like a normal Joe Schmoe not being able to take a shower for two weeks. It is just a staple in my life that plays a huge roll in defining who I am. Needless to say, it was quite a challenge in itself to lay off it for so long.

But the even bigger challenge was running a marathon on so much rest. It was a tough one. I finished in 4:32, my third worst time. I had a great pace going, a nine minute mile pace, and I had a goal of finishing under 4:20 which is the average male marathon finishing time these days. But around the half way mark i started to get very nausous, something I've never really experienced running. I kept my pace going through mile 18 or so and then i just couldn't take it anymore. I walked a bit and ran, very slowly.

I finished very dehidrated and about to keel over, and once I got some nutrients in me, and plenty of water I had this crazy burst of energy. It was a very nice course, all through Baltimore. Very hilly but I really enjoyed how it was set up. All I know, is that i have one more to go to reach this year long goal of ten (along with the 50 miler), and I am very, very excited to have done so much this year!

Keep on ereading!
Never Stop, GET FIT

Josh Courage

Monday, October 6, 2008

Crazy, New, Exciting, Fun Stuff!!

Ok, ok, I'll calm down a little, I am just overflowing with new things I want to get out and am excited to be able to let everyone know what i have going on here.

I don't really know where to start with everything, so I think I'll just throw things down and talk about them a little bit in no particular order.

This happened a bit ago and I realized i never really made the announcement. Before I took on the roll of an assistant baseball coach to a great select summer baseball team this year, I was announced as Directer of Strength and Condition for the great DC based sports company Headfirst Sports. I have known the guys who run this company for some time, in fact, the president taught me how to pitch the way I did. We have finally got together and I will be putting together plenty of camps and clinics for all the athletes that go through their program. You can check them out at www.playheadfirst.com

I will be on FOX News this month, and probably again next month as well!
It has been confirmed that I will be on to talk a bit about how baseball players train off the field in preporation for the World Series coming up so soon! The other spot will be on power running (sprints, agility and resisted running), all part of a four part running series they are having through November. I am pretty excited about that. I will announce the dates these spots air when I know them.

There will soon be other trainers working along with me!
I am in the beginning stages of hiring employees for the up coming camps I will be putting together along with Headfirst Sports. It will be fun to have another trainer or two, who share my passion for heath and fitness to be around and i am sure all my clients will get the privilege of learning from them as well. I of course will announce that hire when it happens.

And finally, most people know about it already but just in case you haven't seen it. I have started another blog called Challenge Me To Train. This is where I take people's challenges and I train for them in the most detailed manner I know how and post up the entire process. As of now I have chosen the three challenges I will be attempting (Run A Marathon, Jump Rope 2000 Times With No Mistakes, Finish The "300" Workout In Under 18 Minutes), and I have already begun the process for running a marathon. Please go check it out and leave any and all feedback you would like!

www.challengemetotrain.blogspot.com

Well there you have it folks! New things are always around the corner with me, I can promise you that. And of course, I have only two marathons left to complete my Ten Marathons In A Year challenge!! Look for those posts, number nine is this coming Saturday...

Never Stop, GET FIT

Josh Courage

Sunday, September 28, 2008

New Gear

Today I went down to visits my friends at the Running Company. Their new store in Friendship Heights looks great and I knew I wanted to get some new shoes for my last two big runs of my ten marathon challenge. I spent a few minutes checking out all the new fall products, the jackets, the tights and other fun nick nacks; then I headed over to the shoes to go through the picking out process.

Now, most people I know go in for shoes in general with a few set points in mind. First would be the look of the show, second the feel, and third, the brand. but this is really all backwards when it comes to picking out the right running shoe. First should be the brand, but not for normal reasons. You see, different companies have different aspects to their shoes that others may not have. Some companies are focused more on all different genres of shoe while others are specifically for running. One should really get to know what brand of shoe works the best for oneself before going in to buy them.
For example: Nike has some great shoes but they are known to wear down much faster than any other shoe. Reebok, Mazuno and Brooks all are generally pretty narrow shoes but Brooks has wider options, as does New Balance, Asics and Adidas. The most used shoes by runners is by far Asics, and other very common ones for serious runners are New Balance, Brooks, Saucany and The North Face (the latter is seen more on the trails). This is the case because they were mostly started as running shoes, rather then tennis shoes or cross trainers. Companies like Nike, Reebok and Adidas all have focuses in other fields.

A great story by the way is where Nike got it's start. The famous runner Steve Prefontaine had a great coach named Bill Bowerman at the university of Oregon. Bill used rubber in a waffle iron to make extra support in the shoes they were using and called them Nike after the Greek Goddess of Victory. Pretty cool stuff.

Anyway, I got myself some Adidas Supernova running shoes after I had so much success with the trail version of them in the 50-miler and two other marathons, including that last brutal trail one. They remind me very much of the classic Asics 2130 running shoe but with a little more stability support. This means, they are wide, light, well cushioned and look pretty cool too (which by the way, should be the last of your concerns when picking out the right shoe. It should be brand: feel, then look...)
I then bought another pair of SuperFeet. These are great slide-in soles that give some good solid arch support. I like to tell my clients to get these for everything, walking, running, baseball, soccer, anything. they really help with placing the foot correctly on the ground when you move and that will always help with alignment and stability as you work out.
I also picked up some Cliff Bloks. I love those things for some reason, but only when running. I would say try them out on a long training run or ride and see how they make you feel. Something about the texture and taste just gives a great little boost of needed energy on a long run.

The one other thing I intend to purchase today is a pair of "shoes" that I have wanted for a really long time. These things fit perfectly in with my mentality of allowing your feet to do what they were meant to do: move around and adapt to the ground. As people around me know, I generally work out with no shoes on and tend to wear at least two different pairs of shoes every day so that my feel never settle into one set position. These babies are perfect, I can lift in them, go to Jiujitsu in them, run in them, climb in them, and look like a ninja in them...

Check 'em out!
Never Stop, GET FIT

Josh Courage

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Number Eight!

I know, I know, it's been forever since I've posted anything but at least I can tell you it's been pretty busy over here on my end. The end of the summer was all over the place with baseball tournaments, games, so many clients, training, running and a whole slew of new ideas. But that's not what i want to talk about today; today is about marathon number eight of my ten-in-a-year.

This was a last minute registration as I was not able to run the Lehigh Marathon a couple weeks ago. I searched through trying to find something in September and i found this one in Millboro, Virginia...up in the mountains. A company called Odyssey Adventure Races (OAR) puts on all sorts of fun, outdoor adventures and this big race was one of their main ones. A 13.1 mile loop that shoots you up over 3,000 feet into the mountians and back down. You can sign up for the half (one loop), the full (two loops) or the 40 miler (three loops). I obviously took the two loop option.

The race started off fine enough, I was lucky enough to have a driver to get there and I was able to sleep from our 2am departure time all the way up to the arrival, 30 minutes before race start at 6:30am. When we got there, which was a bit of an adventure in itself, we hustled down to pick up the shirt and packet and get some last minute things done before the run began. I ate some food, hit the "facilities" (nasty I might add, i hate public bathrooms with a passion), changed into my gear and hit the starting line.

I would say about 100 runners in total were there, split about evenly between races, we all started together though, and in the early morning breaking daylight and mountian fog we took off into the woods.

The course led up past a huge lake and through a think campground before the trail broke off into the mountains at around mile 1.5. But when it hit, it hit hard. From that point through mile 6.5 was straight up, no rest at all. The first run though wasn't so bad, the scenery was great and I had a few good conversations with other runners. I was also carrying a video camera to get some shots for my "Challenge Me To Train" ordeal (check out my other blog in my profile), so I was able to distract myself from time to time by turning that on. After a bee sting on mile 6 and a great, great view at mile 7, the down hill began. And this is around when the day became interesting for me and a few others.

I was flailing down the steep declines, camera in hand, following the orange markers and the faint colors of two other runners a bit in front of me, when all of a sudden we all ended up on a road. It seemed a bit off but we knew there was a 200 yard road portion to the race. So, we walked 200 yards one way, then the other. At this point we began to get worried, not only because we could find the markings, but also because we couldn't see any other runners. It was then that we figured we took a wrong turn.

Crap.

So we headed back up. straight up.

Turns out, we had taken about a 2 to 2.5 mile side track down the mountain and when we got back on the trail, we had added 5 miles to the race. What a blow to the mind and body that was. Talking through it with one of the runners, and having my camera to vent to helped me get over it pretty quickly, and I finished up the first loop as fast as I could. But then I had to go around the damn thing again...at least i knew where to go this time.

The second time around was brutal. Headed up (you walk this part unless you are some crazy elite trail runner...I am not some crazy elite trail runner by the way) was alright for a few miles as I had two other runners walking with me and we shared some good stories of our running lives. Around mile 5 I headed off on my own and from there on out I was completely alone through the end. I found myself complaining quite a bit to myself as I trudged up the mountain, it just never seemed to end and it was getting later and later. But I decided not to stop at all, no matter what, and just keep pushing forward to the down hill.

I eventually got there and sped through the second half faster then the first time (thanks to cutting off 5 miles from the first time...). I came around to the finish, feeling pretty good at about 6 hours and 15 minutes. Based on the fact that the course record was 4 hours 9 minutes, AND I ran an extra 5 miles, I was pretty pleased. The drive home was painless and the legs are tight, but I will be back into my training on Monday, ready for next months two marathons. Almost Done!!!

I will post pictures of this run up very soon!

Never Stop, GET FIT

Josh Courage

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Olympics

As the 2008 summer Olympics move on I sit in awe of the collection of athletes that have made it so high to the top of their skill. These people work hard!

One of the best aspects for me as I watch, is the ability to see sports that i do not normally get to watch with my basic cable TV set up at my house. Sports like swimming and gymnastics, and judo, and water polo. I wish we all had the ability to watch all sports and I wish that these athletes had the same amount of respect in America as football, basketball and baseball players do. When you really look at them, most of these sports require much more all around athleticism than the most popular American viewed sports.

So watch these Olympics, watch all the different sports and applaud the dedication these men and women have as they compete with the world and for the world.

Perhaps they will inspire you...

Never Quit, GET FIT

Josh Courage

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Marathon #7

Well here's an adventure for you...


To start I will go back a week or so to when I began a program designed by well known athletic trainer Alwin Cosgrove called "Warp Speed Fat Loss". The program has a pretty strict workout program and nutrition program as well that I decided to test out over a 28 day period to see what would happen. Things were going fine and I was going strong until just one week in I realized, I have a marathon!


This one was the North Face Around The Lake Run. It was organized as a 24 hour run, where people run around the 3.16 mile lake for 24 hours straight; but they lopped a marathon onto it as well to bring in more runners. For me, it was a perfect race. It was located about 5 miles from my Aunts house and it was just under two months from my last one. So I signed up for it. But I forgot this as I started my new workout program.


This had nothing but messy written all over it. But it tested my physical and mental limits in a grand new way, so it was perfect.

I awoke at 5:30am to get to my 6am client and after I trained him I had my own workout: Deadlifts, two 10-minute circuits and about 12 minutes of interval training. After that I showered up and jumped in the car to head up to Wakefield MA. I was on the road by 9am and my crazy long drive began. I stopped 4 times to use the facilities and grab some snacks and some major caffeine to make it through the drive. I also realized I hadn't carb loaded at all, so I stopped at a rest stop and got some horribly tasting Sbarro's pasta. Not gonna lie, at that point I was seriously concerned as to whether or not I would actually be able to run this thing, or even make it there on time.

I hit southern Connecticut around 2ish and that's when the traffic really started. I had planned on getting there with a couple hours to spare (even with a little traffic) so I could nap a little and get a little more solid food in my stomach; but I could see that was not about to happen. Boston traffic was miserable and I rolled into the hotel parking lot, where the start and finish was, at 6:45pm. I ran to the registration tent, got my number, ran to my car and through my running shorts on, down 16oz of water and ran back to the start. The race started at 7pm.

On the first lap my brain was already telling me to stop and I could already tell it would be a tough one to finish. My body felt pretty good, and with the help of my Aunt and Cousins, I was able to down a few packages of Cheese Its which really helped my body out a lot (a phenomenon I discovered during my 50 miler). Now folks, I'll have you know that my worst marathon time was my last one, the Vermont Marathon, where I finished in 4:14. This one I finished in 5 hours!

At midnight I crossed the finish line, downed 8 Oreo's and some Fig Newtons and headed to my Aunts house to pass out. By far one of the most difficult mental challenges where my mind and body both were just destroyed. But I pushed and I eventually finished, giving me that great feeling again and putting me only 3 marathons away from running 10 in one year!

Never Stop, GET FIT
Josh Courage

Friday, July 18, 2008

Back Into It

Well folks,

It's been a long while since I last posted, and I'm sure most of you know why.

A little over a month ago, my mother's miraculously long loved tussle with cancer came to an end. I was there as she passed and my family and I shared an absolutely incredible few days of mourning. She was always, and is now more than ever, my greatest inspiration for living the life I want. She did so well and in doing so, she touched countless people with her generosity and kindness. I am honored to have had a mother like her and to have had someone like that a part of my life. I hope, and make it a portion of my life's work, to help people in the way she did. I thank everyone who sent their prayers and support.

As for training, it has been a little unorganized, but it has been intense. Since my last post I have gained a huge amount of ground in my summer goals. 12 were written down in my private notes, and I am confidant this time around that all 12 will be reached. Here they are:

10% Body fat (started at a little over 14 when written, and around 12 now)
Sub 6 minute mile
225 Clean and Jerk (got 200 easy for 3)
400 Deadlift (got 405 trap bar for 3)
375 Squat (knees are aching, got 320 fine though)
Legit Muscle Up (wanted it with a swing, got it from just the hanging position)
1/2 Body Weight Pull Up (got 100, 5 lbs off!)
1 Handstand Push Up
5 1-arm Push Ups with Both Hands
1 1-arm pull up
8 second handstand (got about 5 seconds)
10 marathons (been a goal, have 6, am registered for final 4 already)

Because of the marathon goal (10 in a year, Marine Corps to Marine Corps, Oct 07 to Oct 08) I am allowing myself through October to get all of these goals. I think that will be more than enough time to get them.

Besides that, I have tones to talk about and get out to the world, so, keep you eyes peeled for regular posts!

Never Stop, GET FIT

Josh Courage

Monday, June 2, 2008

Training and Health Survey

Hello all,

I have a survey up and running that I would like as many people as possible to take. It is a quick 15 questions and should only take 5 or so minutes to complete.

If you would, please take the survey and forward the URL link to as many people as you can. My hope is to get at least 100 people to complete the survey.

Here is the link: www.zoomerang.com/Survey/?p=WEB227VSPVDJVK


Thank you so much for your help and participation, with the information I gather, I hope to continue to grow and better my business.

Thanks again,

Never Stop, GET FIT

Josh Courage

Friday, May 30, 2008

Welcome Summer

I hope everyone gets outside this summer, no matter where you are, to get active and moving. There is so much to do when you have all the outdoors to enjoy.

No one should be too busy to play at least a few times each week, shoot, in my opinion, no one should be too busy to get out and do something active every day.

So, get out, get active, get moving, get physical, get happy, get healthy and...

...as always

GET FIT

Josh Courage

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Learning to Calm - Jiu-Jitsu

For the past three months, almost on a regular basis, I have been practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It has become an outlet, a relaxer and so far, almost as humbling as baseball was. The thing about it is, it is helping me use my body and think in ways I have never really thought I could.

So far, a 2 inch circular bruise on my arm, a 4-5 inch bruise on the inside if my knee, 2 bloody lips, cracked cartilage in my ear, a ripped big toe and a 5 inch long, deep cut along the side of my neck have been the only wounds I have received, which, honestly, I think I'm pretty lucky so far. Every class I leave exhausted, drained and sore. My hands won't close fully and I pretty much always feel a little light headed. But, the best part? As I walk out the door, I always have a big smile on my face and know that I have just learned something new, bonded with a bunch of buddies and got a damn good workout. This is something I will do for a long time.

When you're on the mat rolling with someone, you immediately find that the majority of your natural learned instincts are, in fact, wrong. Strength isn't the primary factor, but neither is quickness; someone with great endurance does not automatically submit someone who might be in less cardiovascular shape. It is a combination of all tools your body comes equipped with, and if you choose to, or have trained yourself to over the years, use just one or two of these aspects, you will find yourself tapping out in no time. It's a chess game where you have to be on the defensive AND the offensive at all times, attacking weakness, adapting to attack and constantly moving to see where you or your opponent will go.

But the best thing I have found as I enter into the middle of my third month (it feels like a year now, I have learned so much) is the fact that the sport is not about what everything else in America is about. All other sports are about defeating your opponent, about hurting, demoralizing and knocking him or her out. It's always kill or be killed, cause as much damage as possible to the other guys so that you can walk away a winner. In Jiu-Jitsu though, it's different. It's about submission. It's about working with your opponent, outsmarting him or her, using his or her strengths and weaknesses against them and forcing them to give in to your superior ability. It is an amazingly respectful and humbling sport that has no room for trash talking and showboating. Toughness helps, strength helps, mobility helps, but it's not about having one or the other, it's about having it all.

I strongly recommend trying a class if you ever get a chance and if anyone is interested in joining me at my class it would be a blast. My instructor, Cesar is in the process of opening his personal website up and when it is up and running, I will have a link of it up on my site and my blog. I can't wait to get back into town next week and back into class. For now, it's Vermont and marathon number 6.

Never Stop, GET FIT

Josh Courage

Friday, May 9, 2008

Changing It Up Again

Well folks, running has officially moved down on my list of major goals. I still have pretty specific goals, like get 5 more marathons in the next six months, but it's the mentality I will be taking towards my training that is changing the most. You see, after a while I get bored with the monotony of training for one type of goal. Running has brought me great joy, and has positively effected me in more ways then I thought was imaginable. But there is more out there that I want to try out.

This summer my training will be focused about 85% on speed and power. The other 15% will be endurance. As always, stability, flexibility and strength will be worked throughout as they should be staples in any workout no matter what the goal.

Also, I'm pursuing some new athletic endevours besides endurance running:
Jujitsu - I've been practicing this pretty regularly for about two months now and have fallen in love. The focus on body control and leverage attracted me and I have found it to be quite a learning experience to have someone half my size move me around so easily. I strongly suggest anyone who thinks they are tough, go roll for a couple minutes and you'll be humbled on the spot.
Biking - I've always been into biking, but know the idea of triathlon is appealing and I am slowly getting into taking it a bit more seriously.
Swimming - This is tough for me. I can run 50 miles, rep out 20 pull ups and deadlift 400+, but I can barely make two laps without stopping for a rest. It'll be a great learning experience getting into this.
Climbing - I've never actually done this seriously, more of just, going out to Great Falls and stupidly risking life and limb by bouldering the toughest rocks I can find. Now it's about time I get my own gear and take this up for real.

I'll be talking about all those things in future posts, so for now, let's just focus on the training schedule and the lifting.

Thanks to a friend I have learned some great rules of squats, cleans, jerks and high pulls. Soon enough I'll be working on perfecting the snatch, and deadlift. I will be lifting three days a week, focusing on building up in weight and speed through the Olympic lifts (cleans, jerks and snatches), and weight on the power lifts (deadlifts, squats). I also will be focusing on some body control moves like handstands, pull ups, pistol squats, push ups and the planche. I also will be focusing almost all my running on speed work; intervals and sprints. Weekends will be set aside for a nice, good run, I can't just stop doing that. Jujitsu will be practiced at least three times a week while biking and swimming will be scheduled in whenever I can fit. Eventually I will probably incorporate the biking and swimming a little more structured, but for now, the lifting and sprint work are key to me. As ,y clients and friends know about me, it's all about goal setting, so, here are mine for the summer:

Body Control -
5 full handstand push ups with feet on wall
8+ second still handstand
1 one-arm pull up
10 one-arm push ups
L-seat to handstand
Muscle up with no jump

Running -
Sub 6 minute mile
5 more marathons (already 2 scheduled for Oct.)
1 more ultra (already scheduled 50k in Sept.)

Lifting -
425 lbs deadlift
400 lbs squat
225 lbs clean and jerk
185 lbs snatch

Speed/Power -
30+ inch vertical leap
Dunk a basketball
4.8 second 40 yard dash

So, for now, that's what I got. I have a few other goals that I'm putting together and working on and I will let everyone know about those as I get into them. I will also post up progress reports as I go, but from here on out, I'll be posting more posts on ideas and such that I hope can raise some discussion out there.

So, until next time - Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Things I'm Thankful For (on a long run)

Pushing on two weeks after I completed my 50 mile run I have already moved on to planning my summer goals, workout and nutrition plans. But before I move on to bigger better things in my training, I want to take some time a post a quick one on some of the things that helped me out through my big goal of running an ultra-marathon.

Here they are, in list form, in no particular order:

- My Mom
When the going got tough during the race, I thought about her inability to move comfortably, how challenging it is for her to even move her arm. And my pain went away.

- Adidas Supernova Trail Running Shoes
These bad boys felt great mile 1 and felt even better at mile 50. Through mud, water, sweat, rocks so on, these things held up and felt so great. I walked away with pretty good looking feet given what I just went through.

- Injinji Socks
While they look funny (they are like gloves for your feet!) but they kept my feet blister free...well...I had a small one, but really, after 50 miles, having only one small little blister is pretty good.

- Jim
My trainer friend Jim Bathurst (who can do some pretty impressive exercises. check him out at www.beastskills.com). He was great support and helped push me through a few pretty rough patches. It's great to have a friend there for support when you're attempting a run like that.

- Cliff Blocks
Man these things are a life saver. Since the last marathon and then through this run, these things just taste great and somehow give me some great energy. I will be using these for a long time.

- Fig Newtons
Holy cow man! These things were like steroids for me during this run! I never would have thought it, but I looked forward to getting a handful of these at every aid station. Can't say enough, so good.

- James
My friend, who on the same day attempted a 100 mile run; this guy has been great help for me over the past half a year. He took me out on my first training run before my first marathon and has been some great motivation for me. I hope to pace him on his next 100.

- Cheese its
Even soggy from sweat in my waist pocket, these things are wonderful. I have to admit, I'm a sucker for them running or no.

- Other runners
I swear to god, the longer the run, the friendlier the runners are. Everyone is supporting one another, everyone is willing to help. It is a great feeling when you know you are surrounded by crazy people just like you.

- Volunteers
People we have never met coming out to wait on you hand and foot. They come out and stay out there in any weather and for hours on end. These people are unbelievable!

There you go, ten things I'm thankful for on a long run. I'll be posting up my new training program and goals early next week after my 26th birthday (Sunday the 27th!!). Hope everyone is well and training hard!

GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Thursday, April 17, 2008

BRR 50M Cont'd

I'm back to tell you about the rest of the run...36 miles down, 14 final grueling miles to go...please read my last post before you read this one.

At this point I was set into a pretty good grove of trudging up the many hills and jogging/running/flailing down the downhills and shuffling/running the flats. The pain was a recognizable fatigue in the legs and I knew if I tried to keep a quick pace with the walking parts, it would make the running parts that much easier. The only problem I was having at this point was in my torso. My chest ached and my kidneys hurt to no end. I was sure I was experiencing kidney failure, mainly because of the pain, but also because of the lack of piss throughout the course. The downhills were the worst just because I would get so short of breath. This happened because I couldn't take a normal sized breath and was relying on short breaths to fill up the lugs as I moving along.

I recognized areas as I ran back through already charted path and at this point, besides one other runner, I was totally alone between stations. This led me to lots of thinking and pondering about pain, about my life, about why people would do such a thing as run distances beyond explanation. I wish I could tell you I came up with some wonderful revaluation, but I didn't. Looking back on it now, I realize I did more zoning out and looking around than actual deep thinking and the greatest thing i got during, and now after the race was this: the body really can just keep going. The times in life where you can't seem to move, or you're in too much pain to do something; well, chances are you can do it, you can move, you can perform. It really isn't the body at all that holds us back from being able to accomplish amazing feats, in fact, I think there is still a complete misconception as to what the human body can actually do. I think it's the mind that holds us back. Our own brains, how we think and what we tell ourselves. When you're out on the path and every second you go over the problems, the negatives, the excuses you will give when you quit, the justifications for quiting, they are overwhelming and they happen in any and all situations. But do you listen to them and act on them? Or do you push on through and overpower them? Believe me you can. And when you do, the next time you are challenged, they;re are less, then less, then even less. My goal is to one day be in a place where my mind and body are on the same level and are constantly working together. Where there is never "I can't" and always "keep going".

The last 5 miles were a mix. I walked the first 1.5 with a couple others who spent the majority of the time complaining about just about everything; one of them even had the nerve to say that he thought Dean Karnazes was taking steroids!! That was about the last straw and I said "screw this, I am running to the end". It was the longest 3.5 miles i ever ran, but I ran just about every inch if it. At that point I just wanted to be done, wanted to be sitting down and eating something. Wanted to be away from the woods and on to other things.

As I approched the finish line I felt a surge through my body of the same feeling I had near the end of the Marine Corps Marathon, I did it. I crossed the line at 12 hours and 7 minutes, a slow pace but I crossed the line. As the wonderful Ultra saying goes, "to finish is to win", and I was so happy I was done. I sat with Jim in a little grassy area, eating a hamburger and talking a little about the day as we watched others cross the finish line. My mind was not totally clear but one thing I remember very clearly was telling Jim that I could finally get back to weight training again, distance running was going on hold.

Close to a week after I finished my first ultra, I know i will do it again, I know I want to go further too. I think it will be a while before I get back into it but I am not done with running. I am planning on running marathon whenever I can, and I plan on running a 50k in September. Besides that, I am happy that I did it. I learned so much and feel like a new person. The world seems easier, pain seems less harsh and happiness and comfort seem more regular in my life. Running works wonders and the further I go with it, the more wonderful I feel.

I will never stop running, I will never stop training, I will never stop moving.

Josh Courage

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The 2008 Bull Run Run 50 Miler

On Friday, April 11 at around 3pm I packed up way to much running gear and drove on down to Clifton, VA to Hemlock Overlook Park. The park rests about 15 miles or so outside of Centreville, VA, near Manasses right along the Bull Run River. Through some traffic, I got there around 4:30 and walked my way up to a small cabin where I picked up my packet, shirt and for $5 got a blanket, a hat and another shirt (not a bad deal). I can say at that point I was already beginning to psych myself out a bit just seeing some of the other runners. They were all older, had runners bodies, seemed excited and chilled out. I, on the other hand probably looked like a rabbit walking through a pack of stray dogs. So I grabbed my stuff and scurried to my car to hang out, reserve a hotel room, and wait for the pasta dinner at 5:30 (the wonderful pre-7pm dinner we runners enjoy the night before).









I walked up with a small crowd to another cabin for the dinner and while we all waited around outside for things to get organized, I chatted with a couple other runners. One man, who seemed pretty uneffected by the fact that tomorrow he'd be running all day reiterated one piece of advice I kept hearing and reading: walk anything that looks uphill, "run" the rest. The other piece of advice I found pretty funny, and, it turned out to not only be some great words of wisdom, but also, what the majority of these ultra runners live by:

"Start slow...then taper off". Turns out, there's no avoiding this (unless you're a freak of nature and run these things under 8 hours).

Dinner was great, I hid in the corner a guzzled two heaping plates of pasta, chicken, salad and bread; then I hit the road to find the hotel. I was in bed at 9pm, my running gear layed out, my drop bag packed up, my water bottles filled and my gut and brain a little overwhelmed with what the hell I was about to do.

I pulled into a grassy parking area around 5:45am and trudged my way to the start line with a bunch of other runners. I put my bag down in the drop area and applied Body Glide to every possible part of my body. I strapped my water bottle belt around my waist and secured my 3 packs of Cliff Blocks, 2 packs of GU, 1 small Body Glide package, 1 tube of Chapstick and a few kleenex into their appropriate pockets and walked up to the start area. I felt surprisingly calm and sat there on a large rock just watching all the runners gather together. We all crammed into the small up hill, all 350 (I think a little less than this actually). When the Race Director yelled GO, we were off!










The crowd spread out through a small loop around Hemlock Park and when we returned to the start and took a sharp right turn into the woods, we were already in single file formation. This is how we would have to stay for the rest of the entire run.

Things went well from the start. I felt great, nothing ached, the people were fun to chat with, we all just moved slowly along, walking up, running, sliding down. The weather was warming up and was humid, but I wasn't worried, I like humidity after all...I just never ran for a full day in it. I hit the first aid station at Centreville Road feeling strong. I drank a couple cups of Gatoraid, refilled both water bottles, had a bit of banana and a cookie and was on my way back to the trail. My first obstacle came right at this point. It came in the form of a Cliff Blocks packet. It literally took me about 8 minutes to open the damn thing, and by the time I did, I was a mixture of pissed and compeltly cracked up that it took so long. The lady I was talking to the whole time just kept laughing at me, then stole a couple blocks and we went about our run. I guess it was a good distraction, I mean, it did take about a mile for me to figure out how to open it. Just about then we hit the turn-around and headed back to the Centreville Road aid station again.

With my bottles refilled, and a bit more fuel in my system, I retraced my steps to the start at Hemlock where I would pass the 16 (ish) mile marker.

This upwards loop was pretty flat, from that first aid station, around and back there were no major hills, some mud and some great views. I gave a "good work" to everyone I passed (I got to see the entire group because of the narrow path and the turn around) and I soaked in the beautiful scenery.













Just after the Hemlock aid station is when I started to feel it. I started to cramp up in my calves. Now, I don;t know if you've ever cramped up, but it hurts, a lot. And not only that, usually when it happened, you get to spend a bunch of time laying on the floor screaming, but not this time; I just kept running. y calves, my hamstrings, my right hip flexor and my groin, they all were right at the edge. If I straightened my foot out, abducted or adducted my legs too much, I'd be done, tumbling down one of those 35 foot rock and root infested slopes. So I walked, I hobbled, I just kept moving and at any time I felt them tightened up a bit too much, I stretched very quickly and then kept moving. This kept on through the Bull Run Marina station at mile 21 and the Wolf Run Shoals station at mile 26. I was so unbelievably close to quiting at that point it freaked me out. I was thinking as I hobbled along about what i would tell people, how i would feel, would i have to go to the hospital? All this was going through my mind. At each stop I consumed as much salt as possible and received 0 sympathy from anyone. They just said "have some salt man!". So I did. And I kept going.






This kept on, the cramping, the pain, the negative thoughts, through the Foutainhead station. I got passed by what felt like every single runner who signed up, but I kept moving. At this point, every step I took was longer than I had ever run before and I wanted to finish so bad. At mile 28 I got to Foutainhead and saw my main man Jim Bathurst waiting. He hooked me up with some more Blocks (he cracked them open for me) and reiterated some advice: "have salt man". So I did; and I kept going. Do Loop was coming up and all I kept hearing was "survive the Do Loop and you're good to go". I had no idea...well, at this point, I had a pretty good idea to expect the worst.

And then, somehow, by some miracle, the cramps disappeared. I was leaving the Do Loop station, about to enter into certain death as I assumed, and all of a sudden I felt as good as new. The path was wide, slightly down hill, a lake could be seen and crew teams were out practicing. No one was around me and for about 15-20 minutes I cruised. I could not believe that after all that pain, almost giving up, feelings so strong I have never felt them before, it all just got better.

Then Do Loop hit. Thank god I was feeling fresh, they were not kidding. Steep slopes where you had no choice but to sprint and/or slide down and then, right at the bottom you had to stick your foot out to stop from running into the uphill. And they weren't 10 feet, they were longs; 30, 40, 50 feet and more, over and over and over and over again. Talk about taking a beating 33 miles into a run. But I felt strong, and came out of the Do Loop, and pushed on back to Fountainhead with no serious problems (except I hadn't pissed in 20 miles).




My friend Brendan was waiting there with Jim and it was great to see them both. I got some more blocks, some more salt and snacks, and refilled my bottles. Brendan gave me some good motivation telling me I only had 14 miles to go, and even HE could run that far. The good thing was, at that point I could still laugh. I also decided that at each station I would ask as sincerely as I could if i was winning. Only a few people laughed at this, most of the time they just said yes. I kept saying it anyway. I guess it was my subconscious way of making light of things; it numbed the pain a little.

14 miles to go. My body was starting to fatigue. My stomach and chest started to hurt. My legs were heavy. And worst of all, my kidneys started to hurt. I couldn't take a deep breath, I would tire out if I moved to quickly because I couldn't breath. I had pissed, but only a little, and I don't care to share the color of that with you all. I tried to just forget about it and keep going. I did keep going...but I couldn't forget about it all. 14 miles to go. I told myslef that I was going to finish. And that was all I needed.

I'll finish this up tonight or tomorrow when I get back from MA where I'm helping out with my mom. Please feel free to comment as much as you'd like!!!

Josh Courage

Finished!




I just ran 50 miles straight.



I hurt


But I feel so good


(full story to come soon)


Josh Courage

Saturday, April 5, 2008

A Week To Go!

Well ladies and gentlemen, in a week, on April 12th to be exact, I will be out in the woods, along a bank of the Bull Run River in Manasses, VA ready to cross the start line of my first ultra marathon; the Bull Run Run 50 Miler. It's been a while since I made up my mind to cross over to the super exciting side of running and ever since then I have been getting more and more eager for the day to come (at this point I can't honestly tell the difference between sheer fear and excitement...so...I'll say woo hoo! bring it on!).

Physically I'm pretty sure I'm ready to go. I've run 5 marathons in 6 months and have felt stronger at each one, telling me my legs are really beginning to adapt to this concept of running for extended periods of time. My cardio is up, I can go forever, especially when it's at a nice easy clip and I stay steady. Mentally, I'm almost at 100%. I will say that the reactions I get from a lot of my friends hasn't really helped: a lot of them just say that I'm crazy and should rethink what I'm getting myself into. Well, as some of you will know, my response to that is to laugh and say thanks for their concern and worry, but I'm ready, and I highly doubt anything too bad will happen to me, and if it does, I am prepared to take responsibility for it/them. BUT, in my head I'm really saying "shut up! A great way to support a friend is to acknowledge that he is relatively smart and has prepared well enough for the thing he is attempting and if you want to say anything in response try "good luck", "man, that's great", or, "go get 'em tiger" or something like that".

Ahem...well, now that I got that off my chest I can move on to talking a little more seriously about what this next week will entail for me. I will be taking it very low key, sleeping a lot, sitting around a lot, eating a decent amount. My nutrition plan will be to limit my carbohydrate intake through Tuesday and then begin my carbo loading through race day on Saturday. I will be studying the course a bit, mostly to figure out where the aid stations are and where I can time and place some of my crew (if I actually can get a crew together). You see, there will be an aid station every 5ish miles, but crew is only allowed to be at a select few of them. While I can refill my water bottles and get some light food and such at the aid stations, the crew will be carrying extra socks, shirts, towels, shoes and so on that I am hoping I'll not need, but assuming I will. So, I need to figure out a general time when I'll be hitting each aid station so that I can be sure a crew member will be there to help me out. The other big thing to mention here is the moral support they supply. I imagine around mile 30 I'll be needing a few major pick-me-ups, and that will really be the main job of the crew; as well as jog with me here and there for the last 20 miles or so.

All this is where I feel a bit under prepared. I really don't know what to expect out there. I have read tons on ultra running, I have read up on the course and taken everything I can from it. I have continuously fought with my conflicted mentalities of just getting out there and running the damn thing, and, being super prepared and comfortable with every tree and rock along the way. As I think about it, I'm pretty sure I am more than prepared and I really have nothing to worry about. But, when you're sitting around with a week to go before embarking on an event greater than anything you've ever imagined yourself doing...well...you tend to over think a thing or two.

But I am ready. I'm ready for the pain. I'm ready for the bumps and bruises and falls and cuts. I'm ready for the water fills and the food. I'm...not quite ready for the bathroom situation while running through the woods for ten hours... I'm ready to push myself farther than I've ever gone before. I'm ready for the unknown, the excitement and surprise of it all. I'm ready to humbly challenge myself to go beyond, to keep going, to not stop when everything I've learned is to collapse and give in. I'm ready to completely change my life in one day.

This is SO exciting!

Josh Courage

P.S. Pictures will be added on Monday when I return to my computer (I am up at my mom's place for the weekend)

Monday, March 31, 2008

Our Mayor is a Freakin Animal!





Well, as a lot of you know I am coming off my 5th marathon in 6 months and am just under two weeks away from my 50 miler on April 12th. This last marathon was great in all aspects; the weather turned out to be pretty much perfect, the course was challenging but fun, constantly changing and lined with support, it marked the start to a great weekend of sports (go Nationals!) and, I ran the whole thing (well, almost the whole thing) with our great Mayor, Adrien Fenty.

I've been training with him and his training group off and on since before my first marathon last October and have really enjoyed the group and been inspired by everyone in it. So it was exciting to be headed down with them to another race, especially since it is technically the only marathon in DC. Alot of the group was running the half, even Fenty was considering it seeing how he was feeling under the weather; but there were a few of us there planning on getting the whole thing in. I needed to because it would be my last long run before the real long one. Either way, it was great to ride down there with everyone and to share in the freezing cold excitement of the start of a race.

We started from the front line and began running towards the capitol. I ran next to the Mayor as he was pushing a perfect pace for me and I wanted to be able to feed off someone for a while, even if he did break off at 13.1, I would make decent time having been by him that long. We passed the half way point and kept on trucking, never slowing down at all. I stopped looking at my watch around mile 3 and just enjoyed the fact that my body didn't hurt as bad as my last four (and the fact that after the half way point, it was me all alone, running with the Mayor (another one of the group was with us through the half)). At about mile 20 Fenty started to pull away, or, a better way to look at it is, I started slowing down. I felt my legs starting to get heavy and we were entereing a long, straight and very windy portion of the course. This kept up for about 3 miles until I realized something: I wasn't really as fatigued as I thought. My legs didn't hurt, they just felt tired, I wasn't out of breath, nothing like my other runs. Fenty was out of reach at this point, on a great pace I assumed, so, I would just pick it up and go as hard as I could if I felt fine enough to do so... so that's what I did.

The last 3 miles I ran in under 8:45 per mile and I crossed the finish line with a time of 3:50:22, a PR (personal record) by around 7 minutes. The best part, I felt totally fine. My legs were tored of course, but I could walk fine, I could bend over, I could move around; it was great. And then, to add to the craziness of the day, I got to our meet up point and found out that Fenty had finished in just over 3 hours and 40 minutes, a PR by about 16 minutes (a record he held from the age of 16 he told me). We both had a pretty good run is what I'm getting at here people. Granted, his was a bit better than mine, but, I am so happy with my finishing time and hope to work on improving that over the years; maybe even besting him at some point.

(The Mayor has the Fleet Feet shirt on, I am to his left)

But this isn't why I call him an animal. If you haven't read my article on him by the way, please go to my website www.joshcouragetraining.com and check it out in the articles section. I call him an animal because today I went out with the group, two days after 26.2 and figured we'd go on a nice easy 4 miler or something. Well, with Fenty at the front, we blazed through 55 minutes of street and trail probably covering a bit over 6 miles. I was not planning on running today at all, and then, when he asked me to come out, I figured "come on, he's got to be about as sore as me, it'll be a nice jog"; but noooo... good ol' work horse himself, a guy who has got to be 20 times busier than me, sleeps 2 or more hours less than me, has a wife a two kids more than me (I have neither for those who are wondering) and beats my best marathon time has the toughness to push on through 6 more tough miles...and you know he'll hot the pool and the bike tomorrow.

What a great leader.

I am proud to know him and to be able to run next to him.

Thank you Mayor Fenty!

Josh Courage

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Failure


It seems I am stuck on some somewhat grim topics these days. But through it all, I am certain that I am coming out with very optimistic opinions on all of them. It seems this is what I like to do; take challenges and find ways to get the positive out of all of them, no matter what happens, always come out with one or more good lessons learned.

So I've been stuck on the idea of failure; what it means, what it feels like, how to react to it, so on. I have talked to many people about it, pessimists, optimists, apathetic folk (there are a lot of self proclaimed apathetic people around by the way). Talked to my mom, my dad, clients, friends and all along, I really sat down and thought about how I felt about it.

What I have found is that everybody seems to have a different definition, everyone feels one way or another about it especially when it's surrounded by specific events. People have positive views on it when it's about things they love, they leave with great lessons learned and happy for the experience. But when they are experiencing something they do not like, failure becomes an excuse, something that's dirty and bad. I came away from all these chats and self-analysis with a very new perspective on what it means to truly fail, and I think I like what I've found.

"True failure is never having tried at all"

What I think this means is that failure (the kind it seems we all think about...you know, the negative kind) can only really happen if you just don't try something you want to try. As I'll explain here, just because you do not succeed does not make YOU a failure (in the negative view of it). I really only think that being a failure (being or doing something that could be looked at in a negative light by most people) is when you want something, but don't do anything about it. Or, if you did not succeed and then never try again because of that lack of success. I really think that a lot of people construe what failure really means; and because of this, they make life very hard on themselves.

The definition of failure is simply: to not succeed. If it was always simply looked at like this, I think there would be way more happy people in the world. Failure is not a negative thing, it does not mean you suck at life, or even at the thing you are trying, it simply means you put forth a goal, and you did not achieve that goal at that time, or in that effort, that is it.

Now I don't want to take away from the disappointment of failure. It does hurt to not achieve ones goals, and a lack of success should never be taken lightly. But that old saying "it's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game" really has some meaning to it. What I mean here is that if you set forth to achieve a goal and train for it, and work towards it, and never compromise your pursuit in any way and still somehow don't get there, that is not true failure, that is reaching your limit. From there you know that you gave it your all and the only thing you can do now is work harder to achieve it next time. You learn from your experience and you push forward. During this time of pushing to your goals you'll realize that every day is filled with smaller versions of what you are attempting. Every day, every moment you try something (a miniature goal) and you either succeed and move on, or "fail" and try again a new way; or, after you re-evaluated your first attempt. The next day is filled with much of the same, as is the next, and the next, until you final goal is either reached, or just out of reach. If you really looked at failure in such a negative light all the time, according to this process, you'd probably be the most depressed human being in the world, even if you reached your goal. I say this because all along, you just keep failing over and over again. But the funny thing is, most people don't see those failures as failures. Trial and error isn't failure, it's trial and error. Well, not achieving a bigger goal can really be seen as just trial and error on a grander scale.

Be pissed, be frustrated, be bothered that you did not succeed. But then take that and use it as motivation to learn from your mistakes and go after it again. Too many times have I seen on the ball field, or in the gym, or (and this is the scary one) in life, that people do not succeed and proptly call themselves failures and walk away with their head hanging. Well if you walk away and never come back then yes, the harsh truth is, you are a failure! But if you sit back, look at why you did not succeed, and come back in a new and stronger way, you never really truly failed, you just hit a speed bump, found a door that was a little difficult to open, or tried to run before you could walk.

If you take this attitude, you will never truly fail in life. I can say this because if you are constantly pursuing your goals, without giving up, you will come to two conclusions no matter what:

You will succeed.

You will learn that you actually can not do it in a healthy manner.

The latter is not failure by the way. If I have a goal to squat 1000lbs, but every time I keep pushing I just keep injuring my back and knees. Well, perhaps, if I were smart and very concerned for the well-being of my back and knees, I would stop. I would accept that my body can't handle it, I reached my bodies limit (a wonderful thing to find by the way) and hold off from pushing further. And if I want to return to this goal another time, well, so be it, but for know, I am at a limit. That is not true failure.

But, if you make a goal and never really put all (and I mean all) your effort into achieving that goal; then walk away. You failed. Or, if you put it all and just went about it the wrong way, and in the end you don't succeed. Then, you re-evaluate the process and still want the goal but still just walk away. I think that is failure too. This last one is a little iffy but let me tell you a story...

A guy wants to pack on about 15lbs of muscle and become a better athlete. Without knowing a thing about lifting he hits the gym six days a week and spends a good two hours in there working and working and working. After a couple months of great results he starts to realize his strength, energy and level of play start to deteriorate. So what does he do?

Well, if he says "shoot, I guess lifting just doesn't work, what a waste of time, I can't do this" and walks away; well, I think that's a failure. But if he says "man, maybe I went about this all wrong", then he reads up on lifting and nutrition, and his sport, talks to some professionals and begins again from a better angle; well, that is a process destined for success.

The point here is folks, life is full of little failures; but if you sit back, look at what happened, and keep on going failure is not a negative thing at all. In fact failure can be one of the greatest lessons we can learn, and should be welcomed as one of our best teachers. I have not succeeded many, many times in my life; but when I look back over the years I can say with much confidence that I am not a failure. I have always pushed for more, for better, always wanted to find that limit with the hopes that I would never reach it and could keep on pushing. My experiences have been and will continue to be recorded in this blog.

Share with me some of yours...

Never Stop, GET FIT

Josh Courage