How I Meditate

Life has been a chaotic mess of work, family obligations, failed fitness routines, and unfinished books. Time to refocus the mind and body on the things that matter the most to me, time to begin again a meditation practice. The practice is simple. Routinizing it, prioritizing it, those are the hard things.

This is how I do it.

I set a timer, or a meditation app, for the desired amount of time. Right now, its ten minutes, soon fifteen, then twenty, then perhaps longer. If I don’t have time for ten minutes, I’ll do five. Something is always better than nothing at all.

I sit comfortably, in a chair, on a cushion, or on the floor. With my eyes open I take three or four deep breaths, in through the mouth, out through the nose. I set my attention to be present, to be here now.

I close my eyes and begin breathing normally again, in and out, in and out.

I attempt to notice the sounds around me without judgement or concern. There, a siren, there, a car. They’re just there. Neither helping or impeding my practice. Just there.

I perform a “body scan” wherein I start from my head and move down my body noticing its state. Does my shoulder hurt (it usually does) Is my back tight? My feet tired? I notice this aspects of my body. They’re just there. Neither helping or impeding my practice. Just there.

Then I try to focus on my breath. In and out, in and out. I count my breaths one on the in, two on the out, three on the in, four on the out, five on the in, six on the out, seven on the in, eight on the out, nine on the in, ten on the out.

Then again.

My mind wanders, it always does. I get hung up on the car, or the ache in my shoulder. I don’t make it to ten breaths. I don’t make it to four.

As soon as I notice my mind wandering, I start again.

I do this, over and over until the timer goes off.

Almost always, I feel better afterward. I try to remember that feeling the next time I am making an excuse for not meditating. The process isn’t hard, remembering how important it can be is. Be Here Now

Running is a Cruel Mistress

  1. I am not as young as I think I am.
  2. I get injured too often to make any real progress.

In the last two years of my taking running reasonably seriously, these are the two things about myself that I have repeatedly failed to understand. I’ve gotten into a bad pattern where after injury, I upped my mileage too quickly, causing a new injury, causing more time off, and then another quick ramp up of mileage. It just hasn’t worked.

Here’s a chart of my weekly mileage for this year.

That is what running looks like when you cannot stay healthy. In the whole year, I never put together a single sustained period of serious training. No wonder the fall racing season was such a disaster.

What happened? I got greedy and stupid. Repeatedly. I would get up to fifty miles and then do something stupid during a speed workout, get hurt, and have to cut back. Or I’d be training at thirty miles a week and suddenly up it to fifty. These were stupid mistakes that a 22 year old could perhaps have recovered from, but which left this 36 year old limping around the park.

This time, I’m going to go about things old school Sean. I’m going to build up slow and steady, and I’m going to stay healthy for the long term. My best period of running, when my times were coming down, and when I felt the healthiest, was early this summer when I strung together four weeks of forty five plus miles with no speed work.  I want to get back to that level and then stay there. That is going to take some time and I need to remember that.  I’m not built like a runner, I’m not young anymore and it is going to take a longer time and a lot more miles for me to get where I want to be.

I’m currently nursing a fucked up ankle, but once that heals, I’m going to hit the road and do yet another slow buildup of easy miles. No speed work, just slow and steady miles building up over the winter so that when summer finally arrives, I’m not digging out of another injury hole.

Running is a cruel mistress; she will accept no short cuts. I need to remember that.

Paleo Running: Day One Reflections

I may not be cut out for dieting. Yesterday started off fine. Eggs with spinach for breakfast, then a salad for lunch, but by three o’clock I was having a really hard time concentrating, and in my line of work, concentrating is the name of the game. If you can’t think clearly, you can’t work and if you can’t work, shit goes off the rails fast. So I broke down and had a bag of chips from the vending machine. I know, I am not grok.


Immediately after I felt so much better. I knocked out the section of the brief I needed to get done and then met a friend for dinner where I cheated again and had some bread with my meat. Yesterday was a diet disaster. I’m going to try and do it again today, but honestly, I don’t have high hopes.


I know some of you are going to think “Sean just needs to tough it out; it’ll get better in a couple of days.” Maybe. But I don’t really have the luxury of being headachey and spacey for a couple of days. My job is pretty demanding on the brain and my boss doesn’t care that I am experimenting with some quack diet from the internet.


And why am I doing this anyway? Stephanie asked this in a comment to an earlier post. As I told her, the main reason is to lose weight. The secondary reason is answer the question of whether or not I can train on this type of diet.


I’ve no doubt I’d lose weight if I kept this up, but perhaps there are better ways to lose weight. Like running more and drinking less beer. And as for the question of running on this diet, I only did a stupid one mile run last night, but it sucked. If this suckiness keeps up through today and tonight’s eight miler, I’m just going to call this a bust and go back to eating bagels.

Paleo Running?

In the world of training, we are all experiments of one. How much should you run? When should you run? How Fast?  What kind of shoes should you wear? What should you eat? How much should you eat? All these questions get debated endlessly in the running community with few definitive answers ever emerging. Whatever makes you faster is usually the right answer.

I’m not training for anything in particular right now, and I’m feeling like a little experimentation, so here goes. I’m going to try to answer a question I’ve wondered about for some time – can I a relatively big, relatively slow, runner train successfully on a “paleo”, “primal” low carb type diet?

The Paleo/Primal diet thing is based on the concept that our prehistoric ancestors did not eat the type of processed food, nor the amount of grain based products that we eat today and that it would be healthier for humans to return to a diet based on meat and vegetables with little to no carbs or sugar. The science behind all of this is hotly contested, and I am not in a position to judge it. Many people think this is merely a fad, the repackaging of the Atkin’s diet for the crossfit crowd, Maybe it is.

The diet its applicability to the world of endurance sports is still in question. Most of the leading internet promoters of the Paleo diet hate “chronic cardio” and advise against running the kind of distances I run. But, never ones to miss an opportunity to promote the diet, they are willing to make concessions and highlight some athletes, including a triathlete and world class long distance rower, who use the paleo diet with some success. Other corners of the internet more focused on running are generally less impressed with the diet. But then again, that corner of the internet is populated largely by very skinny, very fast people who love beer.

All that said, the diet, broadly defined, has been gaining support in some sectors and has worked for some of my fittest friends. That has made me curious. Would it work for me, A large runner with plenty of fat to burn or would have me bonking on my easy runs? I think it’s time to find out.

So, for the sake of pseudo internet anecdotal “science”, here is the experiment:

What happens when Sean continues to train between 40 and 50 miles per week while maintain a “paleo” style diet? For the sake of this experiment I am going to define the paleo diet as one in which I eat meats, fish, vegetables, fruit and nuts, and do not eat grains, legumes and refined sugar. Dairy, caffeine, and alcohol are debated topics within the world of this diet. I’m going to drink coffee, drink wine (but not beer or spirits), and eat dairy sparsely. I am going to try and maintain the diet for 21 days starting on Monday.

I’ll try to blog here as often as possible describing what I eat and how my runs feel. I am going to make a real effort to go the full 21 days, but if I start to get sick, injured, or otherwise begin to this this is an incredibility stupid ideal I reserve the right to quit. We’ll see how it goes.