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August, 2013:

Running and Head Games

My friend asked me to write about the head games when it comes to running, in particular how do I keep going when it comes to training for a race, not quit, and accomplish a goal. For me, once I’ve paid the race registration, not doing the race is not an option. The only exception has been the 2009 Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Phoenix when I was in a car accident three weeks before race day.

Running by Tomas Fano from Flickr

Running by Tomas Fano from Flickr

I don’t train for 5Ks. I rarely ever do 5K races because I think it’s wrong that I will spend more time getting ready for the race and driving to the starting line than I will actually spend doing the race. But on the rare occasion I do one, my performance may be completely pathetic if I haven’t been training because I forget that 3.1 miles will be painful if I haven’t been running.

For long races like half marathons, I lock in to a training program very easily. I like Hal Higdon’s half marathon training program for novices. Even though I’ve done the half marathon four times, I stick with this program because it gets me ready for the race without causing too much leg pain for my ex-gymnast body.

I’m really strict about sticking to the training program. I put it on my calendar and not doing a run is not an option. It doesn’t have to be pretty; it doesn’t have to be fun; but it does have to get done.  It’s just one foot in front of the other. I plan out my route in advance so I know where my turns are and I just crank it out. There are almost no excuses for not doing a run.

  • I’m tired: Suck it up. The faster you run, the sooner you get home.
  • It’s dark: Wear a reflective belt so cars can see you and a headlamp so you can see where you’re going.
  • It’s cold: Bundle up.
  • It’s below freezing and there’s ice on the sidewalk: Wait until the ice melts but you’re still going.
  • It’s hot: Run before sunrise and put on some sunblock.
  • It’s raining: Leave your iPod at home.
  • I’m traveling: Pack your sneakers.
  • I’m sick: Would walking your miles interfere with you getting better?
  • I’m sore: Stretch more.
  • I’m hurt: Take it easy or walk.
  • I’m injured: Stay home and get better.
  • I’m busy: Make it work. If something’s important to you, you make the time.

One tactic that works well for me is running first thing in morning. I lay out all my clothes and gear the night before so I can get up and out the door before I fully realize that I’m awake. Once I’m on the road, I’m fine, but getting out the door sometimes the hardest part.

And I take comfort in knowing that running isn’t always fun even for the die-hard runners. I was at Runner’s Den getting new shoes last year and it was comforting to hear a clerk say that the first two miles are always painful for him. That’s me too, especially on the longer runs. It takes 10-20 minutes for my body to get used to pounding the pavement and find a rhythm for that day’s run.

So how does this translate to setting and achieving goals the real world that require a long term commitment?

  • Have a plan of action that makes sense for who you are and your goal.
  • Commit to following the plan. No, really commit to the plan.
  • Set yourself up to succeed.
  • Confront your excuses.
  • Adjust your plan when sticking to it will likely keep you from achieving the ultimate goal.

Goals should be hard to achieve. That’s part of what makes them worth pursuing. Accept that it’s not always going to be a fun time and take comfort that everyone who’s working towards a goal isn’t happy all the time along the way.

In Memoriam: Rocky Kees (1949-2013)

I want my friends in my life. Because someday we’re gonna wake up, and we’re gonna find that someone is missing from this circle. And on that day, we’re gonna mourn. And we shouldn’t have to mourn alone.

-Chief Miles O’Brien from “The Sound of Her Voice,” Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

That day I’ve been dreading has come – Rocky Kees – my gymnastics coach, mentor, and friend of 24 years passed away last week. He was an absolutely incredible person who brought out the best in everyone around him. Rocky made your feel special and respected in every situation (which is an incredible gift when you work with teenage girls). He was the kind of guy you could hang out with for hours and just listen to him tell stories.

Rocky Kees (December 20, 1949 - August 14, 2013)

Rocky Kees
(December 20, 1949 – August 14, 2013)

Rocky scared me when I first met him. He was tall with long thin limbs but his bicep bulged out like a softball when he flexed. He had sunken eyes and thick glasses that made him pretty foreboding to 10 year-old me. And he pushed us to our limits – in a lovingly way. I never trained harder than when I was with Rocky. At first I hated it but I came to love it. He brought out the best in us and there was an incredible sense of security when it came to working with him. If he said you could do something, you knew you could do it. He had a wonderful calming effect on me.

For years, if you were looking for me, the best course of action was to scan the room for him, go over about two feet and look down. That’s where you’d usually find me. At the end of practice every night, Rocky was usually outside chatting with parents with his coffee in his left hand and a cigarette in his right. I liked to pad outside, velcro myself to his left side (so he wouldn’t ash on me), and wrap my arms around his middle. He would look down to make sure it was me but keep talking without breaking his cadence. When there was a natural break in the conversation he’d look down and say something like “How’s it going Baby Duck?”

He called lots of us “Baby Duck” (apparently it’s a movie reference) but it was fitting for me. I followed him around constantly, happy to share his company and glean whatever gems I could from him. Rocky shared so many lessons that applied to life as much as to gymnastics. Here are some of the ones that have been going through my mind for the last few days.

  • Life’s tough. Get a helmet.
  • Dump the cement bag and climb the ladder. (Translation: don’t make things harder than they need to be.)
  • Do what you know how to do.

There are so many Rocky lessons I use in my everyday life. They’ve gotten me through law school, training for half marathons, and challenges in my professional and personal life. In so many ways he’s become the voice in my head, always guiding me in the right direction. Even when he wasn’t physically with me, he was still there.

Since his passing, it’s been wonderful to connect with my gymnastics coaches and teammates to share pictures and memories. The world lost an amazing person and we were the lucky ones who got to know him.

Why the Office Slacker is Getting Ahead

I’m a member of a new group for women rainmakers. We get together about every other month to chat about our marketing efforts and challenges. They’re wonderful women but I cringed at our last meeting when one member suggested that we make a concerted effort to refer each other business.

Summertime lunch @ Bryant Park Aug 2009-03 by Ed Yourdon from Flickr

Summertime lunch @ Bryant Park, Aug 2009-03 by Ed Yourdon from Flickr

I understand why she made this suggestion – the ultimate purpose of networking is to get more business, but I think too many people miss that the point is building relationships. I avoid all referral-based networking groups like BNIs. These groups only let one person from of each type of profession join the group and the overt expectation is you’ll give referrals to other group members. This might be a good idea if you’re new to town and building a network from scratch. But I’ve lived in my city for nearly a decade so even though I’m a relatively new lawyer, I already have my go-to network professionals that I know and trust. Why would I refer work to someone I’ve had lunch with in a big group setting three times over the person I’ve worked directly with for years?

A lot of professionals, and especially women, don’t get that relationship-building aspect of networking. My female counterparts who work in firms mistakenly believe that working hard at their jobs will eventually get them what they want. And I don’t think that’s true – that method will keep you where you are. The reason why the “slacker” in the office is moving up the ranks faster is because they’re taking the time to form mutually-beneficial relationships in and outside the company. Their connections lead to the opportunities that get them ahead. This is why Lois Frankel advises women that they need to spend 5% of their day “wasting time” and building relationships.

The most successful people I know have meet and greet meetings at least three times a week, who never eat alone, and really get to know people. They don’t just talk to people about their work. They talk about their kids, where they like to travel, their favorite hobbies – stuff that feels irrelevant in the professional world, but is the stuff that matters most. They don’t have a list of contacts; they have a network of relationships.

And let me tell you a secret – I have a bad memory when it comes to people. I have to meet you at least 3 times to remember who are. I maintain a database of my contacts and I keep track of what you do and also what we talked about in terms of kids, vacations, upbringing, etc. It’s the personal connections that become the basis of our relationship. (If you’re a jerk, I will write myself a note that reminds me to never send business your way.)

I will almost never refer business to someone I’ve met once and exchanged business cards at a networking event. I refer business to people I see on a regular basis and who I genuinely like as a person. It happened this year with my friend Jeremy Rodgers who I met about a year ago. He works at Community Tire Pros and Auto Repair. I see him at events all the time. We never talk about work beyond the generic, “How’s business?” We chat about things that are way more interesting. He’s a nice guy and I like what his company does in the community. When I needed new tires this year, I didn’t think to go anywhere except Community Tire. (BTW – They took wonderful care of me and my car.)

In a world where, “It’s not who you know, but who knows you,” relationship building needs to be a priority. People hire people, not businesses so making connections with others is critical. And it can be a challenge to give yourself permission to make building relationships a priority – it is for me. I constantly remind myself that going to events and especially doing the one-on-one follow-up creates the foundation on which my future success will be built.

How Should I Respond to the Guy who Hit on me via LinkedIn?

When it comes to social media, the easiest places to connect with me are Twitter and LinkedIn. Anyone can follow me on Twitter (and all my tweets are public) and as long as you look like a real person and not spam, I’ll accept your invitation to connect on LinkedIn. I only seek out people on LinkedIn if I know them in real life or if there’s someone I want to meet and LinkedIn is the only way I can contact them.

Question 1 by Virtual EyeSee from Flickr

Question 1 by Virtual EyeSee from Flickr

I recently accepted an invitation to connect with someone on LinkedIn who lives out of state, who shortly thereafter sent me a question about whether I could help with a tax question for him and his business. My profile says I do business law so I’m not surprised to get a question about taxes that’s related to running a business. For the record, I don’t do tax law and I suggested he contact his state or county bar association and request a referral.

He responded and thanked me, and then he asked ask if I was married because he’s “simply stunned at [my] beauty.” He wants to be my friend and get to know me better.

How do I respond to that? Who hits on someone via LinkedIn? It’s weird, especially since we live in different states! I look at LinkedIn as a forum for professional networking so it threw me off guard to have someone approach me with a romantic tone, especially since he doesn’t know anything about me except what’s on my profile. It’s like he wants to date my resume. Is that bizarre to anyone else?

I haven’t responded to this and I’m not sure if there even is an appropriate response. I’m not interested in getting to know him because (1) I don’t know him (and don’t plan to since he doesn’t live anywhere close to me) and (2) it’s weird that he hit on me via LinkedIn. (And people who do know me in real life know what a big deal it is for me to consider something “weird.”)

If you have any suggestions about what I should say to this guy (or not) please leave it as a comment.

PS – In case you haven’t figured it out, anything you do or say in my presence can and will end up on my blog. Life is blog material!