Stuff I Like:

I just got back from a run tonight that was frustrating. I wasn’t frustrated with my performance, but with my lack of direction. About 20 minutes into the run I realized that I was turned around and at that point I knew that I wasn’t sure how far my run was going to end up being. That’s about when I almost stopped running just to walk the rest of the way. I did walk for about 4-5 minutes, but got moving again when I realized that my body had the capacity to keep going, but my mind wanted to give up because of the frustration.

You see, I like to know how far my runs are going to be before I go. The tool that I like to use is It’s basically a Google Maps mash-up that lets you plot the route your are going to run/walk based on all the turns you’re going to take. Basically it’s the modern day version of driving around the neighborhood with your car to see how many miles a route is.

The cool part about the service, other than it being free, is that it uses the hybrid view, which lets you see both street names and landmarks. I’ve really enjoyed using it to make up new runs for me to go on. It’s kept me from getting bored with the same old run every day.

Oh, and when I got home, after I cleaned up, I logged back on to see how far I ended up running. It was 3.25 miles, which was .25 further than I planned to go, but not an excessive distance.

Motivation: Finding the desire to workout when I really don’t want to do it.

It happens to almost all of us. We’re going about our everyday lives with not a care in the world, but it all changes. What prompts it, though, is different: hitting a milestone year of life, taking a good long look in the mirror and not liking what we’re seeing, getting winded from a short walk up a hill, or a number of other reasons. What I’m talking about is the workout bug striking.

That’s right. Many of us decide that it’s time to get in shape. So we join a gym, start running, sign up for a sports league, or just start eating right. I’ve done it before and the motivation lasts for about 10 days and then, POOF, it’s gone. Whatever reason or motivation that started the workout bug has passed and I go back to my old habits.

That hasn’t happened to me this time. I’ve been working out consistently (strength training 3x a week and running 3-4x a week) for over six weeks now. On top of that I am still motivated to keep going. That’s not to say that I actually want to work out or run every time I do it. I just got back from a three mile run tonight that I was coming up with every excuse I could possibly think of as to why I didn’t need to go. But I went anyway.

Looking back over the past six weeks I’ve thought of a few things that I’ve done differently this time around that have kept me going.

  1. I set goals that were big enough to be audacious, but within reason so they seemed reachable. The first thing I decided was that I needed specific, measurable goals that I could aim for to keep me going when the “you should quit” birds start singing in my ears. The first one was to run a half marathon in under two hours and fifteen minutes. That seemed HUGE when I got started but still within reason to keep me from quitting. I also decided that I should get my weight down to under 200 pounds by the time I run the half marathon (December 14). I was 220 when I got started and I’m already halfway there. I have a feeling the next ten pounds will be harder to lose than the first, though, which will make me want to try even harder.
  2. I got a workout buddy that was in a similar fitness level. This one was huge too. I asked a friend of mine from church if he wanted to workout at the gym with me. I’ve done this before, but the person I chose, who happened to be the preacher, was so far above me in the physical fitness arena that it just wasn’t fun. I slowed him down and he pushed me too hard. The friend I’m working out with now and I do just about the same weight on all the exercises we do, so it’s not a competition and I don’t feel embarrased to go to the gym with him. The other thing that it’s done is held me accountable. We typically workout at 6:30 am, which I would NEVER do on my own. I can, however, get up out of bed because I know if I don’t I will be letting someone else down, not just myself.
  3. I had a daughter. I don’t really recommend having a child simply to get motivated to workout, but it really does change things. I realize that she will be depending on me to be part of her life for a LONG time and I want to be able to enjoy EVERY last possible activity. Being in better shape will make those experiences much more memorable and enjoyable.
  4. I started listening to music while I ran. This may not work for everyone, but it has helped me. I didn’t do it the first week or so that I was running, but I have for the past month. The way it has helped me has been two-fold. First, music has a physiological affect on us. Certain songs will give a boost of adrenaline and studies have shown that music played at a higher tempo (120-140bpm) cause us to run along with that same beat. Many of the songs that I hear give me an extra jolt of adrenaline exactly when I need it. The other thing it has done is drowned out the sound of me huffing and puffing. Again, you might not be distracted by this, but it really discouraged me when I would get winded so early in my runs. I would typically stop running and just walk for a while. Now I keep going even though I’m tired.
  5. I tracked my progress religiously. This really helped me a lot the other day. I got done with a run and I really wasn’t happy with my time. When I went to write it down and compare it with a similar run from a few weeks ago I saw that I actually ran at a faster pace! This made me EXTREMELY happy. It’s hard to trust your feelings in regards to your progress, but when you can see the objective numbers it can be encouraging or it can show you that you’ve had false confidence in your progress, which could serve as a motivator too.

Those are some of the things I’ve done. Do you have any tips on staying motivated to workout?

See also:
Minimalist Fitness: How to Get In Lean Shape With Little or No Equipment
Fitness is a Journey. Bring a Map.

Olympics online video = boring

NBC made it a major point of emphasis to brag about how many hours of live coverage they would be having on all of their broadcast channels and online. This year they’re streaming more coverage of the Olympics than they ever have. It’s paying off for them, too, with Michael Phelps bringing in HUGE ratings with his amazing performances in the pool.

I was really excited about the olympics this year for two reason. First, I’ve been getting into running for the past six weeks, so I wanted to watch the track & field events. And second, I was excited about the massive amounts of hours of live coverage available online. I thought that I would be primarily watching the Olympics online this year. I was wrong.

I tried to get into the online coverage. I check out their webstie quite a bit, but every time I have it has not been impressive. Most of the time the live footage is just the stuff happening before or after the comptetion is happening. All in all I maybe have seen three minutes online.

I must applaud NBC for the efforts, though. They are utilizing technology to expand their audience and I imagine that they’ll have even better options for watching online at the next Olympics.

Texas Rangers: I’m not sold…yet

It used to be an annual tradition: the great fall of the Texas Rangers in the month of August. For several years in a row the team used to be competitive until the All-Star break and then fall apart in the month of August. This year seems to be a repeat performance of that past trend. As of today, the Rangers are 4th in the Wild-Card standing and only 6.5 games back. I believe that they will freefall out of the race by the end of the month. I don’t see any way that the pitchers will be able to keep up their performance in the unbearable heat. It’s inevitable.

That said, the situation that the team is in is a direct result of poor planning by the city of Dallas in the early 90’s. The city had a chance to bid to be the host for the new stadium, but the city council and mayor did not even let the issue go to the public for a vote. The repercussions of that have landed the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington starting next year, too. If the Rangers’ ballpark was just outside of downtown Dallas their attendance would have been significantly higher, which would have given them more money to sign better pitching talent, which would have made them more competitive, which would also have increased attendance, which . . . I think you get the picture.

Last thought on this issue. If the Rangers were in downtown Dallas there would be no question about where to build the Cowboys’ new stadium: downtown. I know many people think that the tax burden on the residents of Arlington has been cited as why it’s bad to have a sports stadium built in your city, but a simple math equation should change that perspective. If I remember correctly, the city is responsible for funding $450 million of the cost of the stadium. The Super Bowl is going to be hosted at the new stadium in a few years and it is projected to bring in over $500 million in revenue to the city THAT WEEKEND ALONE!!! In only one weekend the city will have more than a complete return on investment. That’s good money management.

Of course, now that I’ve said all this, I’m pretty sure Tom Hicks could have found a way to make the Rangers terrible no matter where they were playing.

Running my first half-marathon

About a month ago, a friend of mine casually asked me if I wanted to run a half-marathon in December. My initial reaction was “no thanks,” but I didn’t rule it out completely. That question hung around in my head for the next day, so I decided to get up off the couch the next night and go running, just to see what kind of shape I was in. That first night was tough. I was huffing and puffing about two minutes into the run and when I got home I was drenched in sweat.

Fast forward a month later. Now I can very easily run one mile and a decent pace. In fact, that distance seems very short to me today. My average run is currently over two miles long. I’ve also ran a five, four, and multiple three mile runs, too. It’s really pretty neat to see so much progess in such a little time.

Because of this progress I went ahead and registered for the White Rock Half Marathon here in Dallas on December 14, which gives me plenty of time to train and get in good enough shape that I can aim for a good time. I also have a hole lot more energy in general and I’m sleeping better at night, too. It’s been a great month.

If you’re thinking about getting back into running and are like I was (not in good shape), I’ve learned a few lessons that you might find helpful.

1. Run slower than you think you should.
That first night that I went out to run the biggest mistake I made was running WAY TOO FAST. I’ve been used to playing sports where running fast in short bursts is the norm. But distance running is different, especially when you’re a novice like me. If you run too fast, too early you’ll wear yourself out to the point that you won’t be able to run fast, if at all, at the end of your run. For me I had to be satisfied with not having good times in running, since I was not in great shape. The faster times will come later, but when you’re getting started you just need to work your heart and lungs out and later you’ll be able to pick up the pace.

2. Get a good pair of running shoes.
One of the things that has kept me running this go around has been the fact that I actually bought a decent pair of shoes that are specifically running shoes. In the other times that I’ve ran I’ve just slapped on my everyday cross-trainers, but my feet and shins would always be so sore after a run or two that I would quit. I’ve been able to keep at it with my feet and legs feeling great afterward primarily because of the shoes that I wear.

3. Stretch before and after your runs.
Even though my shoes have helped with my legs feeling good after my runs, the day after the run for the first few times I went my calves and hamstrings would be sore. I didn’t figure it out at first, but then I realized that I was stiffening up after the run. Once I started stretching when I got home this went away. Don’t skip this part or you’ll regret it the next day.

4. Register for a race at a distance that seems VERY LONG.
While I have a lot of confidence in my ability to run distances now, there were plenty of times in the first two weeks that I did not feel like I could make it very far. The only thing that really kept me going was knowing the 13.1 miles is a lot farther than what I was running that day. I knew that the more I ran early on the better I would be when race day rolls around. Having the race looming over my head has also given me enough motivation to go out and run on the days that I really don’t feel like running. Whatever distance seems long, whether it’s a 5-K, 10-K, half marathon, or longer, sign up for a long run and you’ll find the motivation to get out there and train.

So there you have it. Those are the things I’ve learned so far. I’ll update my progress as it gets closer to race day.

Rating the Mavs Players’ Playoff Performances

The Dallas Mavericks were bounced from the playoffs in the first round for the second consecutive year. They have lost nine consecutive road playoff games (their last win on the road was to clinch the Western Conference Finals in 2006, which now seems like it was ages ago). They are 3-12 in their last 15 playoff games.

There are a lot of things that aren’t going well. There is plenty of blame to go around. Mark Cuban has addressed one of the problems by firing Avery Johnson, but there is still plenty of blame to be pointed toward the players.

Here are my ratings of the top seven players (not including Devean George, who might not be back next year):

Dirk Nowitzki: A+

Dirk was one of the only bright spots for Dallas this postseason. He stepped up his game from the regular season, high ankle sprain and all. Unlike last year when Golden State made him a non-factor he imposed his will against the Hornets. He averaged a double-double, scoring 26.8 ppg (up 3.2 compared to the regular season) and grabbing 12 rebounds per game (up 3.4). He also average 42.2 minutes played per game (up 6.2 minutes over the regular season). He won’t be in the discussion of MVP candidates this year, but his performance this series should silence those who are critical of him not being clutch.

Brandon Bass: A

Bass played extremely well against his former team. He played 26.6 mins per game (up 6.9 compared to the regular season), shot 96% from the free throw line (only missing one shot), grabbed 6.8 rebounds per game (up 2.4 from the season), and scored 11.6 points per game (up 3.3). He never looked like he gave up on the series, always playing with passion. It looks like the Mavericks might have decent 2nd-tier player in the making.

Jason Terry: C+

While Bass and Nowitzki were the lone bright spots throughout the series Jason Terry had his moments. His three point shooting was impressive at times and he was one of the main reasons the Mavs even won one game. He basically gave the Mavs the same performance that he gave them all year, but he didn’t do it the whole series.

Jason Kidd: C-

Mark Cuban & Co. pulled off the trade for Kidd for a number of reasons, including his experience in big games, playoffs, and his self-described ability as a closer. Those traits did not come out this year. His assists dropped by 2.7 per game (which may have been partly because of the lackluster performance around him). The biggest flaw in the series was his free throw shooting—he shot 62.5% from the line (down 19%) which led to a drop in scoring to only 8.6 ppg (down 1.3 pts). I’m not sure, however, how much of a difference Devin Harris would have made in this series.

Jerry Stackhouse: D-

The only thing good you can say about Stack’s performance against New Orleans is that he didn’t miss a free throw (5-5). Everything else about his game was terrible. His overall shooting was bad (31.6%) surpassed by atrocious three-point shooting (16.7%) and scoring that most any D-league player could put up (6.2 ppg). Former coach Avery must have had a man-crush on him since he played 20.4 ppg. He had recently been inactive from a groin injury, which may have contributed to his bad performance, but if a player is hurt in a way that it negatively affects his performance he should not be on the floor.

Erick Dampier: F

Erick Dampier might has well have taken the series off. He was a liability on defense being unable to contain either West or Chandler. He averaged 4.2 rebounds per game. I cannot adequately express how terrible this stat alone is. Chris Paul, who is a foot shorter than Dampier and plays point guard, averaged 5.6 per game. That’s embarrassing, but it doesn’t stop there. He shot 41.2%, which may not look bad at first but it is 23.1% worse than he shot during the regular season. It’s also bad when you consider that his shots are typically 5-7 feet from the basket. To top it off, Dampier shot 40% from the free throw line. That’s very Shaq-like. This makes me wonder if Mark Cuban ever regrets not offering Steve Nash the money that he ended up offering Dampier???

Josh Howard: F

This postseason went up in smoke for Howard. His career is starting to look half-baked. Ok, now that’s out of the way, Howard was terrible on and off the court in the playoffs. First, he voluntarily admitted that he smokes pot during the offseason on ESPN Radio about five hours before game three. He passed out flyers about his birthday party to his teammates after game four and reportedly the partly lasted into the wee hours of the night after Sunday’s loss. On the court he wasn’t good either. He shot 29.2% from the floor, 10% from behind the three point line (I might be able to make one of ten shots from there), and his scoring dropped by 7.3 ppg compared to the regular season. All of this leads to one inevitable fact: Howard should be traded. It’s unlikely that the Mavs will get comprabile talent back for him, but it’s looking like he has become a poison to the team.

Even with all this doom-and-gloom, I’m not one who thinks that this team’s future is gone. I fully believe that Dallas will be back in the playoffs next year and may even have home court advantage in the first round. The other teams in the playoffs that Dallas can compete with or beat in a series are Houston, Phoenix, Denver, and Utah. Golden State and Portland are the only two teams who were out that have legitimate playoff hopes.

That said, it was a sad, downward spiral that was the 2007-08 Dallas Mavericks season.

Wild, Wild Western Conference

There has never been, nor will there ever be a more insane last day of the regular season in the NBA. The top two seed are the only ones that have been locked up, and that did not happen until last night. Here are the various scenarios that can still happen in ONE GAME (

A. HOUSTON-PHOENIX-UTAH-SAN ANTONIO (Seeds 3 to 6) (Higher Seeded team has homecourt in first round unless otherwise indicated)
1. If Houston and San Antonio win:
3-San Antonio
5-Houston (homecourt)

2. If Houston, Utah and Phoenix win:
5-Houston (homecourt)
6-San Antonio

3. If Utah wins and Phoenix loses:
4-San Antonio

4. If San Antonio and Phoenix wins and Houston loses:
3-San Antonio
5-Phoenix (homecourt)

5. If San Antonio wins and Houston and Phoenix lose:
3-San Antonio

6. If Utah and Phoenix wins and Houston loses:
5-San Antonio

B. DALLAS-DENVER (Seeds 7 to 8)

1. If Dallas wins or Denver loses:

2. If Denver wins AND Dallas loses:

Dampier: The unsung hero of the Mavs.

Fans of the Dallas Mavericks have a habit of dogging on the team’s center. Since the days of Shawn Bradley people have found plenty of reasons to complain about the person who is filling this slot. I’ve recently heard people say that Diop was the better center between him and Dampier and were very upset to see him go to New Jersey.

I want to offer a suggestion to these people: stop whining and watch the games. With Bradley, people said that anyone 7′ 6″ tall should be a more dominate player. They thought he should block every shot and get every rebound. If you really watched Bradley play you would see that his presence greatly affected the game. He altered people’s shots more often than he was credited for a block and was a decent rebounder.

These days Dampier gets similar criticism. People think he doesn’t put up big enough numbers, nor does he affect the game as much as he should. I disagree. Dampier has become a force to be reckoned with on the defensive end, even if his stats don’t look that way all the time.

Take a look at the game against Golden State on Wednesday. Dampier’s stats were decent: 11 rebounds and 3 blocks. But was more impressive was what happened when he was off the floor. He first went to the bench with 4:28 left in the first quarter. Up to that point the Warriors had ZERO offensive rebounds. He came back into the game with 6:00 left in the second. During that stretch Golden State collected EIGHT offensive rebounds. At the end they only had three total offensive rebounds when Damp was on the floor.

This type of influence in a game does not show up on a stat sheet. Dampier did not collect every possible defensive rebound when he was on the floor, but he took up enough space to keep Golden State away from the boards and allowed his teammates to pick up boards as well. It also kept Golden State from getting second-chance scoring opportunities. His presence was one of the big reasons the Mavs were able to dominate this game.

Dallas needs him to stay out of foul trouble for the remainder of this year if they want to have a chance to make some noise this post-season, not to mention getting in the playoffs in the first place.

Bruce Bowen is Dirty

Check out this video of Bruce Bowen kicking the Hornets’ Chris Paul. The amazing thing is that Paul was called for an offensive foul and Bowen didn’t get called for anything. The NBA needs to suspend him for at least one game.

Can’t see the video above? Click here.

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