Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Drive

Well folks, I'm back for some more fun. Since my last post (thank you to everyone who responded by the way) I have completed my third marathon down in Miami in 4:07. It was a fun time and I am looking forward to number four in just under a month up in Albany, NY. I was thinking after I got back to my hotel and nearly passed out from exhaustion post race, that perhaps I am a little off my rocker for trying to do so much so quickly. I mean, not even marathoners run 10 in a year, and most of them don't mix in a 50 miler or two along the way. And to top it all off, they are professionals; they don't look or feel like me after a race, it's not this hard. So why the hell am I doing all this then?

I want it. I want to do this; it makes me feel good, I feel healthy and clean and happy. I wouldn't do it if I truly didn't want to. I know there are probably a good amount of negatives some psychologist could probably come up with here, like activity addiction, masochism, some type of obsessive compulsion, so on so forth. But the fact is, I am not doing any of this blindly. I am training, preparing, recovering, progressing, learning, I am going about all of this as professionally as I know how. I am just very driven.

So I know this goes in line with my last post, with what motivates you. But "drive" is a very interesting thing, a whole different monster if you will. I think that motivation is what starts you on your path, what gets you going and moving, the kick in the butt to send you on your way and then supplies little kicks as you continue. Drive would be defined to me as just purely wanting something. I think it is an "ends" rather than an inspiration, a vision of what you want, where you want to be, rather than a push or a shove. I guess what I am saying is that perhaps the final goal is what drives, then there are personal motivators that keep you going.

But sometimes, sometimes the two are one and the same. The goal becomes the one and only source for you to achieve the goal and when this happens, I am quite convinced it is close to impossible to be stopped.

I'll tell you all a story about my road to professional baseball. Now mind you, I have not told this to many people, just like the last post, it is something I like to keep to myself because it is mine. With this one especially though, I feel weird talking about it because it almost feels like bragging. But along the way, with the few people I have told, I have gotten feedback that this is one of those stories that should be written down, or put in a movie or something. So, here you go; I tell this humbly and with the greatest respect to the game that I loved more than anything in the world (to my detriment sometimes). (I still love it way too much by the way)

I had a pretty good college career. I got accepted to all the schools I applied to, and more, and had the opportunity to play at some great Division 1 schools. While I stood out as a relief pitcher for my final three years of college, I was used very sparingly throughout the entirety of the season and when the draft came around, I was overlooked. This didn't really come as a surprise, seeing how other relievers being drafted had 30-40 appearances, 10 or more saves and ERA's around 1.something-low. And I was hovering around 3 with the ERA, had 20 or so appearances and 5 or 7 saves. But I was in the record books at Siena College, and I played exceptionally well against top schools, so I hoped for the best, as I always did.

But when nothing happened I took it upon myself to make it, somehow I would make it. I joined a team up in Jersey with a friend of mine, threw every day and called... I must have called 500 people over the course of May and June after graduation. I called minor league teams, major league teams, independent teams, international teams, scouting agencies, it just never stopped. Through all this, I learned a ton about how calling does pretty much nothing but introduce you to people.; which was something to me.

Then the tryouts started. My calls were replaced by tryouts. Once a week practically, I would drive out in the morning to some high school or college field somewhere in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and other states, even up to Massachusetts. I would wait around, pay a small fee, stretch and throw and throw a 20-pitch bullpen. Afterwards I would approach the scouts, introduce myself and ask for feedback. And every time, the same answer: "You throw the ball real well son, but because you're not a power guy, we just have no proof that you can get outs. We need to see you against hitters".

But I wasn't on a team! How could they see me if I couldn't play? I kept throwing out the college achievements, but they would tell me that that's college, that's over, you need to prove you can get the big guns out. I had nothing else to do but keep trying, hoping that someone would give me a chance. But no one would, nobody wanted to risk it. finally though, my friend, and a man who has helped a great deal throughout my career, found me a job in France. It wasn't very glamorous, it payed next to nothing (I lost money just on the plane ticket alone, not counting food while I was there), but it was professional baseball, and that meant I would become marketable if I could put up some decent numbers. So I went.

I played about 8 games; 2 each weekend. I pitched 4, and hit all the rest. It was fun, I learned a lot, it wasn't very good, but that was good for me, I did very, very well. And I worked my butt off. There were, like I said, two games every weekend, and two practices every week. But because it was just like a club sport to the Frnech, people didn't show up to practice, what was the motivation after all? I needed this though, and I would always be there as early as possible. I would also train every day there was nothing, and usually would be at the field a few hours before practice started to get my exercises in. I would run, do sprints, do agility drills and plyometrics on and around the track by the field. I would carry around these 2-liter water bottles everywhere, and after I ran I would fill them up and perform my shoulder exercises with them. A few times I would take the subway out to a park, hide a small bag with clothes in the bushes and go work out in the park. I just never wanted a day off, I needed to do well. My determination and love for the game rubbed off a little too. I coached the younger teams once a week and even though I couldn't speak a lick of French, and they couldn't speak any English, I really had an impact on the kids and was even asked to help coach the team when they made the playoffs. When I returned, I knew that this time around, when I went to the tryouts, and talked to the scouts and coaches, I would have something to sell myself with. I got great feedback from my friend who was helping me and soon enough I had offers to play the entire season in France, and two separate offers to play in Australia. But we both decided, along with help from my Dad, Mom, and girlfriend at the time, that I would stay put and try my luck in America. I wanted this bad. And I had about four months of winter to get better.

- Story to be concluded later (ha, ha, I am building anticipation!! Will he make it?! Will his dreams come crashing down on him?! Wait and see!) -

No, I just don't want to post an insanely long post is all.

Never Quit, GET FIT

Josh Courage

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Why I Run

There is this ongoing question to runners of "Why do you run?". A lot of people out there just think running is crazy, and I completely understand where they are coming from. Up until about a year and a half ago, I thought the same thing. The only reason I would run was because I knew it would help me with baseball. It was a discipline thing for me: if I can go run for 25 minutes, I have control over what I do, which means I can improve at baseball and play at a higher level. I also knew of the health benefits, and that always plays a major roll, for runners at all levels.

But the question still remains: Why do I run?

My interest in running seriously came when I read the book "Ultramarathon Man" by Dean Karnazes. Anyone who knows me has heard of him and his book because it was the sole source that inspired me to go for my first long run of my life; an hour and half around the Mall in downtown DC. He raises this same question in the book and it seems that his answer, while still a little vague to me, is because he was born to move, and, it just flat out makes him a truly happy person. I also think that he can't quite put his figure on exactly why he runs so much, perhaps a form of addiction? I agree that this is the never-ending question for all runners, and it very well could be a major part of the answer: to find the answer.

I have talked to many people about this; hardcore marathoners, untramarathoners, every day joggers and the two-a-weekers, all of them have different answers. The one thing I have found to be a major source of motivation for most of these people, especially the utramarathoners, is some past event in their lives. A traumatic death, alcoholism, drug abuse, physical abuse, getting fired from a great job, losing a husband or a wife, losing a child, obesity. All of these things can be a great kick in the butt to get out there and change your life. And for those who have chosen running as the means to change, have tapped into something absolutely incredible.

Running is a meditation. No matter what happens in each individuals head while he or she runs, it is always in the line of figuring something out. Coming up with new ideas, clearing the mind, learning about yourself, thinking through conflict, fantasying, it is all a process that leaves you a better, more fulfilled person in the end. But it's what got you there in the first place that I am interested in.

I run because of my Mother. This is not how it started, or even the main reason I run every single time I go out there. But deep inside, my Mother is on my mind every time I go out to enjoy the clear air. My mother has cancer, has had it for around ten years now and it has gotten progressively worse ever since. In fact, it has been so bad off and on over the past bunch of years that most doctors have proclaimed she will not live very much longer. But she keeps going. Sticking to her ideals of living and eating balanced and organically, she has dedicated her life to getting to the root of her own self, knowing that the body is an unmeasurable force that can beat any sickness. And when you step back and look at it, she has done just that. She has survived certain death multiple times, she has kept a smile on her face even while the cancer ate away at her bones causing her spine to collapse, and yet she still had the strength to get outside and walk every day. Mind you, the doctors said she should be paralyzed if not dead, and if not that, at the very least, bedridden. But she still cooked for herself, went for walks, played with her grandchild, did more than most healthy Americans claim they have the time or strength to do.

Now, as things have gotten worse and worse, she has needed to resort to certain medications, and staying in bed for most of the day because of how extreme her situation has gotten. Some people now are arguing that clearly the lifestyle she chose for herself has brought her to this point, where she is in pain 24 hours a day and can barely sleep. But, in fact it is her lifestyle that she chose that kept her alive and moving for many years beyond what any health professional could ever have imagined. She has defined strength to me.

I run now because she can't. I run because while I have two feet, working legs, a healthy mind and the physical ability to do anything I want to in the world, I will take full advantage. I push my body to the limits because I want to understand myself the way she understands herself, because no matter what pain I feel, hers is worse, and she fights though it. I have no excuse to not be healthy, I have nothing in the world that can stop me. And every time I think I can not do something, think I can not make it, or that something is too hard, I think of her and know that while my challenges are difficult and should be taken seriously, I can prevail if I truly want to.
She is the strongest person I know, the most dedicated and the most passionate. Because of her I will never stop working to get better, healthier and happier.

Thank You Mom!!

Never Stop, GET FIT

Josh Courage

www.joshcouragetraining.com

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Are You Kidding Me?

Well, today I had a pretty funny experience while on my run.

It was a great run planned, wasn't sure how long exactly, but when I drew it out on google maps it measured in at 16.1 miles, it was perfect. Leaving from my place around the Woodley Park metro stop, I ran down around the White House and to the Washington Monument. I ran around the Monument and headed towards the Lincoln Memorial where I crossed the Arlington Memorial Bridge. From there, I took a paved path to Roosevelt Island and when the path heads up to Rosslyn, VA, I veered off and took the Potomac Heritage Trail, a pretty tough trail that leads to the Chain Bridge in Virgina. From the trail I took the Toe Path back through Georgetown and up Rock Creek Parkway to my house. It was a pretty tough one, especially with the trail, but it was great.

So, this "incident" occurred about 2 miles into the trail. I was really focused on the ground seeing how I was trying to be extra careful on my previously sprained ankle, and the trail...well...to say the least, is damn hard to run. I just passed a pretty hard slope with some jagged rocks I had to maneuver around and was coming up to a little creek. I got excited here because I just love finding ways to run through small streams and creeks, there's something "adventury" about it. My excitement got put on hold though when I saw an older gentleman, clearly a hiker on the path, standing on the other side, directly in the middle of the path looking into the water. I slowed up a bit as I rounded the last couple turn through some small trees trying to make a little extra noise so that he might hear me and step aside so I could storm through. But, he was a little too focused on what he was doing.

As I rounded the last tree and came up towards the creek, I noticed that, yup, he was in fact standing directly in the middle of the trail, taking a piss right into the creek.

Come on now man! Couldn't you move three feet to the side and stay off the path at least?

The worst part was, he didn't even realize I was coming up, not until I was literally 10 feet from him about to jump down the slope towards the creek. He quickly put away his...um...you know, and grumbled some sort of surprised sound and turned quickly keeping his head down.

Perhaps next time he needs to relieve himself he'll move off the path and keep his eyes open.

Anybody have stories they might want to share like this one? People are strange sometimes...

Never Quit, GET FIT

Josh Courage
www.joshcouragetraining.com

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A New Goal Set

Today I got 20 Pull Ups!
video(This is 2 weeks ago where I squeeze out 15)
It was crowded in the gym and I couldn't really express my emotions, but my heart rate was pumping like I had just run 10 sprints, I was so pumped up. There really is something amazing that happens when you achieve a goal you set for yourself, whether it's a huge one like quiting the job you hate to pursue your life long dream, or small like trying to stop drinking soda. Whatever the goal you set forth to achieve, it is something that you know will be a challenge.

I put up 10 goals to achieve my February 1st of this year as part of my participation in my own "Children Get Fit Challenge". So far, I have only achieved two, and right now I am fully aware that I won't get a handful of them. I don't want to get into that just yet though, I was planning on posting something about goals, motivation and passion in the next few days, then, about failure near the end of the month and what it means.

Today I want to talk briefly about the 20 Pull Ups. It's kind of funny, I actually didn't really expect to achieve that one. I haven't been focusing on them, or any other lifting movement because I have been really baring down on the running (I had two weeks off because of a twisted ankle). So today, I just felt like giving it a shot. I had gone on a fast run, my normal Rock Creek run that takes about 53 minutes, and I got it in 44. So I was a little fatigued, but I wanted to go for it anyway. I loosened up, grabbed the bar with a neutral grip, and did it.

The great feeling was right around rep 17; I paused for a second and realized right there I was going to get it. It was an invigorating feeling knowing that I would get this goal, no matter what. The same feeling I had when I saw the finish line at the Marine Corps Marathon. A sort of calm in knowing that I did it, even though I wasn't there yet, I did it. That calm gives me a an extra adrenaline boost and I end up feeling stronger for those last few moments than I did at the start. I think that's why I made a good closer in baseball, I came in at the end and got fired up, and closed the door when everyone else was at their end. I really feed off that last moment, the build up is great, but it's all in anticipation for the successful ending. It's knowing that even though all could be lost in a blink of an eye, that it is the easiest time to quit, I won't do it, I will bear down here and finish strong.

So what do you do when you are faced with a challenge? Do you put up your defenses? Do you turn around and run the other way? Do you find an excuse? Or do you stare it in the face and embrace it, win or lose?

Never Quit, GET FIT

Josh Courage

Monday, January 7, 2008

Welcome to My New Blog


Well folks, it's been a while since I've last posted anything as as you can see, things have changed a little. I switched over to this blog site because it's easier to post up pictures and I just think it's all around more user friendly. The other major change here is the switch from a journal, or diary, to a straight up blog. Today is the first of many fun posts that will keep everyone updated with myself, my life and my company while trying to raise questions for discussion on health and fitness.

The last time I posted I was headed to bed before my second marathon in as many weeks. I completed the Richmond race in 4:13 and then headed off two days later to Paris for a week long recovery (where I had some pretty difficult times walking). While there, though, I signed up for the Miami Marathon which I am training for right now, it is coming up on the 27th of January. In related news, I will be running the National Marathon in DC in March, the Cherry Blossom 10 miler in DC on April 6th and the Bull Run Run 50 Miler in Manasas, VA on April 12th. Following that run I'll be headed off for an Adventure Getaway to New Zealand for two weeks to celebrate my runs and my 26th birthday.

It'll be a full year in only four months. The other fun news is the "Children Get Fit Challenge" has picked up lot's of supporters and we are less than a month away from the finish, hope everyone who participated is well on their way to achieving their goals!

Next on the challenge list is a running challenge for the month of April (more to come soon). I am also headed over to Wilson High School next week to work with their coaches on training their athletes in the new gym they just built, and I am also in talks with Fitness Anywhere (the company who made the TRX, my clients know what I'm talking about here) on making some baseball stuff, we'll see where that one goes.

As you can see, plenty going on. I have the joy of working with a lot of great clients and I hope to get all of them up on my site at some point soon. And besides that, I think I'm going to call it a wrap on my first blog post. Any questions or comments, or points of interest people are wanting to discuss, feel free to throw them my way.

Never Stop, GET FIT

Josh Courage