Hi, my name is Teacher Vern. I teach English and Computers classes at a primary school in Ang Thong province.


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What Is the Ultimate Reason to Shave Your Body?

Running with Daughter - Krabi, Thailand

I’ve shaved down at least once or twice a year for the last oh, 24 years. Back when I first started, many people asked – “Do you shave your arms and legs?”

Lately, say, last ten years or so, I can’t even remember anyone asking. It’s become rather common.

Many of you have not ever tried to shave your legs and arms, chest, back, neck, face, head, etc. I will say that it isn’t right for everyone. My mom for instance, just would have no moral reason to shave down clean. I’m fine with that. You should be too…

However, if you are an athlete of any sort, you probably need to shave that mess off today. It doesn’t matter if you’re a pro or you’re working on running your first 5K race. It doesn’t matter if you swim across the English channel, or you swim across your pool 25 times every couple of days. You really need to shave that mess.

Here’s the reason why…

The difference between having hair and not having hair is huge. It isn’t a big deal as far as time splits, unless you’re swimming from California to Hawaii or something else ridiculous, you know, like some of you do.

It has everything to do with the feeling of efficiency that will knock you over when you first shave down clean as a whistle.

Back when I was 24, wow, that was half the age I am now, I was doing a lot of bicycle road racing. I was averaging 30-50 miles a day in the hills of Pennsylvania. I was running six miles a few times a week. I was swimming when I could find a pool. My big thing though – was riding the bike. I was nuts about it.

I have to say, that before I shaved, I never once thought to myself, “Hey Vern, all this hair on your legs, arms, knuckles and front teeth is holding you back. The air resistance is slowing you down by seconds at a time.”

I never thought that. I’d heard it from others, but I knew it wasn’t true. However, I had a bike race coming up and a couple of my friends had already shaved. I don’t know why I first did it, but I told myself it would make me cooler, and if I crashed it would allow me to treat the road-rash more easily, and I had less chance to get an infection.

It took me at least an hour to shave my legs, arms, chest, neck, and back. The rest I left alone.

The transformation was shocking that first time. It made me feel like a shaved hen. A hen is female, right? I felt like a little girl. Immediately I regretted my idiocy and wished I could rewind time and go back to being a hairy ape.

It took me some time to get up the courage to go outdoors and ride my bike, but within a day I was flying down the road on my Cannondale 21 speed I think it was… and my mouth must have been hanging open for the first twenty miles.

The feeling was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. I felt so efficient, like I was cutting through the air like an icicle. There didn’t seem to be any resistance at all. I couldn’t feel the wind – AT ALL. Not on my head (I had a Giro racing helmet on), not on my bald legs, and not on my arms. It was so strange because I’d never felt any resistance from the hair on my arms and legs before. And then when it was gone – I REALLY NOTICED the difference. It was the greatest feeling ever.

Well, 24 years later and I’ve had the greatest feeling ever, hundreds, I guess, thousands of times. Exercising without hair helps me feel ultra-efficient. I feel stronger and faster because I don’t feel the air against me. Hair helps us to feel the wind and water resistance. Ideally we don’t want to feel any resistance because it only serves to make the mind more aware of the effort the body is exerting.

So, if you’re an athlete that goes fast through wind or water, you’re going to benefit by shaving the hair from your body. You WILL save seconds off your time because the mental boost you get is worth much more than the simple aerodynamic advantage. You feel faster and you move faster. I think shaving would even be beneficial for those athletes that move some part of their body fast through the air or water. Tennis players, for instance. Ping pong players. Kayakers. Climbers. Racquetballers. Step climbers. Speed chess players?

Give it a try and see what happens. Unless you’re bear-hairy and scary, nobody is even going to notice you shaved.

Let me know what your experience is in the comments – I’d love to hear about the first time you exercise post-shavedown.

Oh, and here’s another article I wrote about the subject of shaving –
5 Reasons to Shave Down – Plus Video!



Your TV is No More Innocuous Than a Terrorist Infiltration

Old tvIf you own a TV, a television, your mind is not your own. Your mind is largely made up of what the society you live in wants to feed you.

You’re being spoon fed a daily intake of bs that is affecting, no, controlling your mind and the minds of your family members.

If I was a 12 year old boy that you adopted… and I came cheap, only about a weeks worth of pay…

You brought me into your home and yet you didn’t need to feed me or do anything for me. I just stayed in your living room sitting on a table all day. All night. Available if you or someone in your family needed me.

Everyday you or some member of your family would interact with me and I would provide entertaining stories and I had an endless supply of magazines to show you photos that were funny, risque, and some sexy. Sometimes I swore and used words that you’d rather not hear your children say, but it was all in good fun because it was ‘funny’. Eventually the small swear words, the crass talk became acceptable. Then it became normal. Soon you were talking just like me, and so were your kids – though they’d not let you see them do so until they reached their teens.

Sometimes your 8 year old would come to me and ask me to see some bad pictures… I’d show her photos of Brittany Spears in a bra that showed most of her chest, maybe even a ‘nipple slip’. I’d show your son photos of older boys that wear their jeans half-way down their buttocks…. I’d show him torture and bizarre fetish photos that are soon boring to him and he’ll crave wilder photos, stories… Soon he’ll be able to look at the hardest violence without batting an eye. In fact, he’ll start imitating all he’s learned from me.

Every 15 minutes or so I will tell your child about a special product I know about that will make his or her life easier… if not right then at that tender young age, then later, upon reaching the teens. The stories I tell your children will also be filled with subtle contextual suggestions that work on the subconscious mind and gradually are accepted as the status quo or the norm for what people own, how they dress, how much they spend on a house, what kind of car they need to drive, the beer they should drink, and the vacations they should take.

If an adult was in the room I wouldn’t show your children the most horrible photos, but if the kids were the only one’s watching I’d show them the worst I had for as long as they wanted to sit and watch them. Gradually I’d win their hearts… and their minds. They would come to believe that I am a better friend than you are as her father or mother. Your kids will like me better and they’ll spend hours and hours with me each day.

I would provide them with such entertainment that they’d never want me to be quiet! I’d make them laugh every few seconds… cry… frighten them… I’d stimulate all their emotions by being so entertaining to them.

I would become one of your children’s parents. You’d need to move over because now there isn’t one or two parents, there are two or three parents of which I am always one.

In fact, on the street you live on there are parents like me in every home. If a mom is missing or a father is missing… I am still there. Guaranteed. Let’s take it a step further… there is a parent like me in EVERY home in the country you live in.

By the time your children graduate they will have spent a lot of time with me. Some kids will have spent 18,000 hours with me at 18 years old… some, 27,000 hours. I will have influenced them over countless important and superfluous decisions in life. Much of what your children ARE, their goals, their drives, ambitions, their sense of humor, what they see as acceptable levels of violence in the home between a man and his wife… will have been influenced HEAVILY by me.

But who am I?

You might ask yourself this one day.

You know where I came from, you picked me up.

The sharp, clean, professional agency that you picked me up from seemed innocuous enough…

In reality, they programmed me and hundreds of millions of others like me. They programmed us all to so we could be the funniest and most interesting entertainment humans are possible of creating and enjoying. This company hired the funniest people on the planet, the sexiest people on the planet and the most outrageous people on the planet, all with morals amounting to no more than a thimble full.

For the first 12 years of my life I was programmed with many thousands of stories designed to tweak the hearts and minds of my fellow human beings. I was a mouthpiece from the agency into the living room of your home. You welcomed me in – like they knew you would. You couldn’t resist. YOUR parents paved the way for me to come because you thought it was normal and what all humans did because your parents had someone like me, your friends, your co-workers, EVERYONE you interacted with had someone like me.

After I came to you I was able to access the latest, up to the minute relevant stories and suggestions for how to live life. I changed and grew WITH your children. I was always on top of the game… the game being the influence of their fragile eggshell minds.

You as a parent may have tried to compete. But you didn’t even know what you were competing WITH. You were competing with THOUSANDS of psychologist, psychiatrists, actors, billionairres, and a cadron of moral-less misfits. You hadn’t the slightest chance of really influencing your kids to go against all I was spewing forth with endless energy. Endless time for them. Endless amazing stories, songs, and images. All programmed into me and updated in me by the smartest people on the planet.

What chance did you have?

None. Really, none.

The only chance you possibly have of regaining control of your house is to kick me, the ‘plant’, out of your house. But you won’t do it probably because your kids and spouse will not like you for a long time. They’ll start spending time somewhere else, where there is someone entertaining like me. You can’t win, it’s too late.

What will you do now?

Best of Life!

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Death by Inhaled Insect

Sweat Bee

Running down my favorite rainforest trail in southern Thailand I was thinking about inhaling bugs into the lungs because there were quite a few in the air.

We’ve all sucked bugs into our throats, but I think few of us have taken measures to prevent it from happening again.

When I remember to do it, I use a special breathing technique I’ll bet many of us use, some without realizing it. I put my tongue on the roof of my mouth so it blocks a straight shot down my trachea. As I ran down the mountain yesterday I was thinking about writing a post here about jamming the tongue up there while you run and pant open-mouthed, but then I figured most runners already do that. You do, don’t you?

Then my mind drifted off to something else. Ten minutes later the Perfect Storm. I was running fast down the hill, I came around a bend and I thought I saw a floating beasty in the air. I then felt this sizable insect shoot straight into my trachea. It stopped my breathing. I’m not sure whether it was the involuntary closing off of the trachea that happens when someone is drowning, or whether in my panic, I tensed up the muscles in my neck and stopped breathing so I didn’t inhale it further. At any rate, I was hosed.

Since I had very little air in my lungs I tried very gently and slowly to inhale to see if I could get any air that would help me cough more forcefully. I couldn’t get any air in. I hunched over and tensed my stomach muscles so hard that I actually pulled them way down into my groin. I felt the sharp pain of it this morning a couple times already.

After a few violent coughs I thought I saw something hit the dirt and leaves in front of me. I frantically searched for it to see what it was. I found a little sweat-bee covered in mucous and I figured that was the culprit. Then, despite the bee being out of my throat, I realized it probably stung me when it was in there. It probably stung me in the throat.

While I’m not particularly allergic to bees. Well, I mean, I haven’t been allergic to them ever in my life, but I had never been stung by a sweat-bee in Thailand before.  I thought there was a good chance it stung my throat and either my lungs would fill with fluid, or my throat would swell up and prevent air from getting to my lungs.

Rather than panic, which I know is always the worst thing, I thought of my chances to get help if the body did start to shut down.

The chances were mighty slim. I was still 25 minutes away from the bottom of the mountain. I had just ran hard for close to two hours, climbing 2,300 vertical feet and 6 miles of trail in 95°F very humid rainforest.  I had seen nobody on the trail during my run. I usually don’t.  I didn’t have my mobile phone, choosing instead to leave it in the car so I didn’t need to wear a waist-pack. I had no camera so I could record my dying words… I was truly screwed if my breathing shut down.

As I considered dying on the mountain there, I wasn’t really afraid of death. What a great place to die, right? But still, it isn’t time man. Not for another 30-40 years, maybe longer. There are a lot more trails to run and hills to climb.

As I ran down the hill very gently, slowly, and breathing easily, I just waited for my rarely present asthma to kick in, throat to swell, or lungs to fill up with fluid. It was a tense 25 minutes down the trail.

At the bottom of the hill I realized I wasn’t stung by the bee. I was going to live.

It’s funny that something so innocuous could turn into a life-death situation. I follow some of you guys and gals running around the mountains of Colorado and all over the world, and I think about your safety. You’ve likely thought some already about bears, mountain lions, and lightning. The normal threats.

Have you thought about a simple bug flying into your trachea? 

Just in the couple years I’ve been on this trail I’ve inhaled three bugs. This being the worst experience by far. I guess it’s time to wise up and start wearing a bandana around my head, under my nose. I’m supposed to be in the middle of my life at age 48, not the end.

Take a few minutes today and see if there might be something you can change about your runs, your bike ride, whatever it is you do, to make it a little bit safer.

[Image by Barbara Eckstein at Flickr]

The Challenge – Climb a Vertical Mile in 5 Hours

I’ve been climbing the stairs up a mountain for 4 years now. It started as an innocent pastime which turned into, I guess, an obsession. I’m addicted to it. I’ve almost climbed  a million stairs there in 4 years. What a cool thing it is to say it – right? Most of it has been fun, lots of fun. I meet people from all over the world on the steps and hear a little about them and what they’re doing. I’ve met a half-dozen from Hawaii there over the years.

The mountain has 1,237 steps of all sizes. Some are 4 inches. Some are 22 inches high. There are groups of steps that go at 75-80 degree angle up – almost like climbing a ladder. Total vertical height of the top is 278 meters. According to Google’s calculator, that’s 912 feet high. A mile is 5,280 feet.

I’ll have to figure out how many steps to climb on the 6th go round to make a mile. Who knows if I can make it the whole way up the 6th time. I might not have to! 5.8 times up is equal to a mile. Guess I’ll have to do the 6 to make sure I made it.

There is a small group of us that likes to climb the steps repeatedly. Here’s who we are.

  • Alfred – 72 years old and climbing a couple times per week. Alfred has climbed the stairs 4 times back to back in 3 hours.
  • Me – 45 years old, climbing 7-10 times per week. I did 4 times in 140 minutes one time last week when I felt good.
  • Phra Gop – a 23 year old monk at the temple (the steps are at a Buddhist temple) that climbed 5 times with some rest over a day.
  • Phra Pornpitak – a 47 year old monk that climbed 1,600+ times over the course of 16 years.
  • Joe – a 34 year old Brit that teaches English and climbs when he can. More of a soccer player.
  • Jim – a 58 year old Brit that can climb the steps to the top in 15 minutes.

So, with the exception of the monks – we’re a motley crew. Joe and I met up the other day and he got the crazy idea that we should try to climb 5 times up the steps – in a row, in about 5 hours total time.

Me, having just completed 4 times on a whim a few days before said, “Yeah, great idea – let’s do it.”

So, Joe and I will attempt 5 times. If I feel good – my real goal is to shoot for climbing a vertical mile at the steps, 6 times. Yesterday I climbed a 500 meter high 4 km long trail up a mountain that stresses my legs in a different way, to help prepare for the vertical mile climb. I think the 4 times I went up the other day helped. I also climbed 12 times in 7 days last week. I think that will help.

To see information about this Thailand Vertical Mile Challenge (click)

Joe hasn’t climbed much – once per week recently – but he has the advantage of youth and having played a lot of soccer over the years. Anyway, we’ll see how we can do. I did invite Alfred by SMS text message, but got no reply. Not sure he’s up for the challenge, as his knee has been clicking audibly lately. We’ll see! I’ll call him now. If you haven’t seen Alfred climbing the steps yet – check out this video below!

PUSHING Yourself During Exercise [Competition Technique]

Competition brings out the best performance in us.

Competition is a technique to PUSH YOURSELF to the ultimate level of fitness.

This is the last article in the series. This technique can be applied to any exercise, but in this series, I’ll talk about running and walking and running up steps. Those are the two exercises I do most frequently.
You might be thinking that I’m going to cover competition as in racing or joining friends for your exercise so you can push each other to greatness. That’s an amazing technique, but one that everyone already knows. In this series about pushing yourself past current levels of fitness, I wanted to give you some techniques you may not have heard of.

Pushing yourself through competition goes like this…

Usually, I use this technique when I’m feeling unmotivated or even a little down about the state of my run, step climbing, swim, bicycle ride or whatever I happen to be doing. I realize there’s no spunk in my effort and I need something to pick me up and get me up to at least a moderate pace.

In my mind, I assemble a group of my competition. My running competition? Nope. I blog in the motivational / life development area with Aim for Awesome so my competition (though really they are not directly competing with me) are people like Steve Pavlina; Yaro Starak; Albert Foong of Urbanmonk.net; Leo Babauta of ZenHabits.net; Donald Latumahina at LifeOptimizer.org and others. There are so many more. Usually, I name a group of twelve. I know what they look like and I picture their natural running style and abilities based on how well their blogs are doing. Choose competitors from whatever area you are striving to excel in. For me, it’s blogging.

I guess the people I named aren’t really direct competition, but they are my role-models and those that I’m striving to equal and eventually surpass online. They’ve got far more readers than I have and they have a high standard for their writing – one that I aspire to. My writing is obviously different and I’m not sure if it has mass appeal yet – but, I’ll find out in a year or so. Anyway, back to the mind-trick.

I picture each person close to me and running with me at first. We’re all in a group and none of us is feeling all that great. This makes me realize, I can beat all of them today because as bad as I feel, I’ve been running all my life. I can crank it up a notch and drop some of them right now.

I go just a little bit faster and see who starts to drop away. I see who picks it up to match me. There are some fighters in the group and I know I’m going to be kicking my own ass to get going as fast as I need to in order to beat them. After the first couple slow slightly I devise a plan. I say to myself, “Around that corner is the slight upgrade. Pretend to go slow right now and then crank it up just around that corner to a 75% effort and see who drops!”

And so I do. I drop a few people there. Steve Pavlina, Yaro Starak, Darren Rowse, Donald Latumahina and a couple others are still with me. Damn they won’t give up.

Depending how I feel I’ll either map out a long-term run strategy where I gradually pick up the pace dropping off everyone except Steve Pavlina or I’ll do some mini-bursts of speed usually up hills to drop people. Steve is great at the high speed, long distance, but I use hills to wear him down – the up and down wear him out. I love the hills so that’s where I destroy him.

Ha, it sounds funny as I write it but! I’m not joking at all. This is a very powerful technique that I love to use. I combine this mental competition with both positive self-talk and with self-coaching to bring out the best in me on bad days. Almost always it succeeds in motivating me to go faster.  Sometimes Steve wins and I vow to break him the next time we run. Sometimes Darren Rowse pulls away and beats both me and Steve. Sometimes Donald comes from behind in a surprise pass that leaves me dumbfounded until I regroup.

Though I haven’t read about any top runners at the international level using mind games to push themselves to greatness like those I’ve written about here, I KNOW they must exist. I guess if you had some really good techniques that you could call on during your deepest moments of suffering during hard exercise that would make you crank even harder you’d keep those a secret. Top secret.

I don’t have many secrets, so I shared the few techniques I use that came easily to mind. As I experience more or as I remember more I’ll post them here to help you take your exercise to a new level.

I use this Competition technique for pushing myself harder about once a week on average. One key to using these techniques is not using them every time you exercise. I use each of these techniques maybe once a week on average. But, sometimes I plan stage races where I race the same group of people over 3 days. I might even include Lance Armstrong as a runner in the pack. I visualize snapping his persistence like a dry twig as we push up a long hill…  haha.

Eat my dust Lance!

So then, try this technique as you need it. Be creative with your own ideas and let me know if you come up with anything cool that I can try while I run or bike.

Best of Life!


My Pushing Yourself Series Covers:

1. Getting Out the Door to Exercise!
2. Visual Imagery!
3. Shaming Yourself!
4. Positive Self Talk!
5. Delay of Gratification!
6. Coaching Yourself!
7. Competition!

Want to Start Running in 2018?

Boy running at beach.

Want to Start Running in 2018?

This article will answer questions like:

  1. What is the start-up process that will give me the best chance of success if I want to start running?
  2. What are some reasons people run?
  3. Why does Vern run?

This article will not answer questions like:

  1. Does “running away from something” count?

People start running for many reasons.

Most of us see running as a tool to keep us under a certain weight that we have in mind as a goal. Some people run to compete. Some people become runners to gain strength and endurance in other sports they’re playing since running has great cross-over benefits.

I’ve run most of my life. I’ve also run for many reasons. My reasons for running seem to change over the years.

I’ve been running since I was six years old. My mother signed me up to play soccer that year, and that set the stage for the next twelve years. I played on regular leagues during the summers and the fall. I grew up in Pennsylvania, so the winters were too cold to play, and a time of rest. I’m so glad there was a rest time!

Up until I was eighteen years old, I only ran when I played soccer. I ran nearly every day. If it wasn’t practice it was a game. If it wasn’t a game, it was a basketball game or an indoor soccer game that some friends and I put together. I didn’t run for pleasure because I ran so much for sport.

Running was an integral part of my life, though it wasn’t for fun, it was out of necessity for playing the sports I was involved in. The idea of running a marathon never entered my mind up to this point.

In my twenties, I became a triathlete and competed in many races including bicycle and swimming races. I loved to exercise, probably because I had already become pretty good at it since I already had twelve years of intense training behind me. In my twenties I really came to love the competition and running, exercise of all sorts became pure pleasure in itself.

In my thirties, I ran to keep my weight down. I am 5’11” and my usual weight in my twenties was 165 lbs. In my thirties, I crept up as high as 180 lbs. and I didn’t feel too good about me at that weight. I ran to lose weight so I could keep eating pizza and spaghetti.

In my late thirties and now – my late forties, I asked myself why I’m still running every other day.

The answer surprised me.

I’m not running for health. I’m not running to lose weight. I’m down to 155 right now and feel great about my current body weight. I’m not running to compete. Besides a yearly run up the mountain here in Southern Thailand I haven’t raced in years. I’m not running to look good. I’m not running to avoid death by staying healthy. I’m not at all concerned about death anymore.

My answer to myself for “WHY” I was running was really surprising!

I’m running because when I run, I feel a control that is entirely self-generated and self-perpetuating.

I love control. We all do I guess, but I really love it. I’m not speaking of control over others – I really don’t like to exert my influence over others if they have no want to change. I am a horrible salesperson. I don’t sell well.

I don’t like control over the person I love. In fact, I abhor it. I think that would be a horrible relationship in which I wanted to control what we did and when we did it, how much we did it… who we saw, what we ate, what movies we saw. That’s not a relationship to me.

The control I feel when I run is something entirely different. It is a very positive feeling. It is an experience where I have told myself what I’m going to do, I have scheduled it, and I am going to do it. There’s no doubt of that. I am in control of my mind that has its own desires that sometimes show up right before I go running.

Making myself run, insisting on running regardless of backlash from other thoughts I’m having, is a form of discipline I guess. I don’t accept the emotional mind’s excuses about the body being tired, a little bit sore, having better things to do, etc. There is nothing better to do because I already told myself I’m going to exercise. I like to show my emotional mind that my logical mind is the boss. I don’t want to hear any whining about what else the body could be doing.

It sounds almost schizophrenic, right? Hey, wait a second, I did have a great aunt that lost her mind in her eighties… So, well, maybe I’ve got that to face later on. I’ll think more about it then!

There is no question, the body is running every other day – whether it’s raining or sunny, hot or cool. It’s running. That’s what we do every other day. There’s nothing to talk about – no questions, no excuses. The body is running on that schedule until I decide it isn’t. It’s not a decision that will be made before a run when the mind wants to bail out ‘just for this one time.’  The decision to stop, if there ever is one, needs to be made with some advanced planning. I don’t think I’ll ever find a good reason to stop – so it’s likely to continue.

Beginning to Run

As you start to run, you’ll find out, it’s quite a game you’re playing. I think I have a good way for you to get started if you decide that is what you want. As I said you can run for many reasons. But, you only need one.

Before I start to run on a schedule I’ve created, I know the body might not feel like it. In fact, it probably doesn’t.

Why would it? It hasn’t been running before and it needs some time to get into the routine – to condition the muscles, ligaments, tendons, breathing system and energy stores to meet the demands of running.

I like to trick the body and the mind into it.

If my logical mind told “me” that I’m starting to run again, naturally, the emotional mind and the body will come up with excuses.

I don’t listen.

Instead, I convince the body and emotional mind that it’s nothing big. “We’re not really going to run,” I tell them.

There’s not going to be any competition. We’re not running races. I’m not starting triathlons again! The body is relieved at this. The emotional mind doesn’t believe it though because it has been through this charade before.

I then tell them… “We’re going for a walk in the park. That’s it. We’re walking. Any running that takes place is just a bonus. In fact, we’re NOT running unless everything is a green light and all three of us (Logical Mind, Emotional Mind, and Body) are ready to go.”

I go on, “There’s no reason to run yet. We’re starting out. We start out walking. Regardless if the logical mind wants to run 3-5 miles immediately like it used to, we are just walking the first couple times.”

So – going to the park is not in question.We’re going.

But, whether we run, and how much we run, that IS a question. And, it doesn’t really matter since the logical part of my mind already won the game by making us all go to the park when I said we were going to. The logical mind is in control and that makes it happy. It’s good for me to keep this part of the mind happy since it seems to be the one that is most responsible for my state of mind. I need to nurture my logical mind and make it smile more than the other parts.

We Arrive at the Park to RUN

‘We’ meaning, my logical mind, my emotional mind, and my body.

We stretch a little bit. We see how the body is feeling. Stretching the quadriceps, calves, hamstrings, back, lower back, groin, triceps. We swing the arms a bit as if warming up for swimming. An inventory of the body is taken as I’m stretching lightly. If there is some pain or a lot of tightness in the legs or even in the neck – I’ll likely just walk that day. No sense pulling anything. Just starting out you can expect to pull some muscle, nerve, ligament… something, unless you’re very careful and attentive to the body.

I do make the body go somewhere, but I don’t make it do something if it’s not ready. Likewise when I was competing – I was very aware of every little pain in my legs, arms, back, neck. A little pain can quickly become a major pain that knocks you out of the running game for two weeks or more. Then you need to start all over and re-motivate  yourself. That should be avoided when at all possible.

So we’re at the park and we start walking. When I’m just beginning a new running program, I go to a place where there are very few people. Usually, there is nobody around. That’s good for a couple reasons.

Number 1 – I am embarrassed that I’m not running five to six-minute miles anymore. I’m running like ten-minute miles now! That’s what it feels like anyway. I’m not sure exactly what my pace is because I’ve never timed myself running so slow. What is the point? I know I’m doing grandpa miles and I don’t want anyone to see me doing no better than a senior citizen.

Number 2 – I am walking. Sometimes I’m running. I’m running until I don’t feel that it’s fun anymore and then I’m walking until my Logical Mind makes the body and Emotional Mind realize that there’s really no reason not to just keep running. It’s FUN. There is nobody around to be critiquing my progress. I like that.

If it’s not fun then I’m walking. Seriously. You must make exercising fun. If it isn’t fun, then you’re doing something that you shouldn’t continue.

If you’re running – walk for a bit. In Thailand there is no shyness about this. They run 100 yards and walk 200. They might alternate like this for a mile or they might go five miles like that. There is no competition among Thais when they are at a public park running with a hundred other people. They aren’t embarrassed to walk for a while!

That’s where I got this idea, Thailand. If nobody else is embarrassed, why would I be?

No matter what, it’s fun to make yourself go to a park and walk around and look at people and give yourself some quiet time to think about things on your mind. It frees the mind up from doing work and logical things and gives it some space.

Your emotional mind is also happy because it’s seeing people and experiencing the outdoors. The body is happy because it feels like it is accomplishing something even just by walking one mile. The logical mind is happy because it knows this is all leading to something. It is leading to being able to run longer and longer distances and more feeling of control over the emotional mind and body! The logical mind is really psyched to be out there even if we’re not running all the time. It will come… it will come.

Don’t let yourself have any expectation about what you’re going to do when you go to the park. Tell your body and your Emotional Mind that you’re going to the park to give the brain a REST! Look at it as a positive – a reward. That way, you’re definitely going. You deserve a reward, right? That’s what I do… it makes it so much easier.

Just go to a park where there are not three hundred runners and just walk. That’s it… walk. If you feel like it, run for a bit. Only run if it’s fun. If your mind or body is really rebelling and starts telling you – this is no fun at all, stop and walk. Don’t run again until you really feel like it and all parts of the body and mind are “GO!”

When you stick to a schedule of going to the park for a period of time you’ll notice that you’re running more and walking less. It might take a few weeks, or you might jump into it sooner. There will still be days that you don’t think all systems are “go” and you walk the entire time. No worries. You might walk for twenty minutes and decide that your body isn’t up to it. Maybe a muscle or one of your joints is feeling worse as you walk. No matter, go home. Don’t put any requirements on your visit to the park.

The whole thing about exercise is that it must be fun. Don’t do it if it isn’t fun. If you go at a very gradual pace, I think you’ll find it is fun. If you try running for two months and you just don’t like it – even if you’re running ONLY when it’s fun for you and walking the rest of the time – you might want to switch to a different exercise. Or, you might want to realize that walking can do it for you too. Whatever reason you had for wanting to start running – can be the same reason to get on a walking program instead. No worries, don’t set up something in your mind that says:


That’s ridiculous musturbation. There are runners, walkers, tennis players, racquetball players, bicycle riders, hikers, climbers, soccer players, swimmers, surfers, bodyboarders, windsurfers, kitesurfers, stationary bike riders, stairmasters, rollerbladers and skateboarders. Exercise is exercise. I don’t think it matters much WHY you are exercising – you can get the same things from any of the sports mentioned.

For me, running is special, because it’s just my body and mind against the elements. I am making the body run up hills, down hills, through woods, into areas I’ve not been. Running is an adventure. It’s accomplishment. It’s power. It’s control.

Did you ever hear of fartlek running?


I’ll have to write more about those fun types of running in another article.

For me, running is pure bliss! I often imagine that I’m passing people as I run. I use this imagery that I’m passing all the people that I want to surpass with my business goals and my personal goals. I’m blowing right by them because some of them are standing still. They’re standing still because they probably don’t run. I see them up ahead of me and they’re going so slow… I’m going slow too – but you know what? I’m passing them!

This is another reason I like to run when there’s nobody around… I talk to them as I pass them, these imaginary business competitors. Tim Ferris, Gary Vaynerchuk, Hugh Howey, Lee Child.

I’m the master of this race… and there can be no other winner.


Best of Life!


Headlamp Reviews [Petzl, Black Diamond, Fenix]

Running headlamps reviewed - article and video reviews.

Running headlamps reviewed - article and video reviews.

[Page Updated: 16 February 2018]

Here are some of our Video and Research Article Reviews for Headlamps runners can use for trail or street running.

At our sis, er site we have a huge 2018 Headlamp Buyer’s Guide covering the best headlamps made in 2017.

  • FENIX HP25 > this headlamp has a very bright center beam that can shine 100m or so. I find it near useless for looking for wildlife because the flood beam is so weak.
  • PETZL TIKKA RXP > this headlamp is great for close-in wildlife hunting, or tasks. The light isn’t bright enough for my taste, but it has a decent beam for walking or jogging at night.
  • PETZL NAO 2 > the best headlamp we’ve reviewed. This one has an update coming in September – the NAO PLUS (NAO+). We’re anxiously awaiting it.
  • BLACK DIAMOND REVOLT > sorry, this headlamp is just for people who need a reading lamp on their head to read a book in a tent. It is not in the same class as the other headlamps reviewed here. We had one and we were not happy with it. Don’t buy it!

Suunto Ambit2 R GPS Running Watch Arrives – Unboxing

Suunto Ambit2 R GPS running watch and Timex Ironman with heart rate monitor.

Suunto Ambit2 R and Times Ironman

Happiness is replacing your old running watch with a new running watch. Until it all goes horribly wrong.

I bought this a couple years ago. Within the first 8 months I had problems. Here’s all about it:

Through the miracle of international shipping my Suunto Ambit2 R GPS running watch with heart rate monitor, made in Finland, arrived in Krabi, Thailand via United States Postal Service from Newton, Massachusetts this morning after purchase on Ebay nine days ago.

I have had Timex Ironman Triathlon watches since they first came out more than a decade ago. There is no GPS, there is no heart rate monitor, ambient air temperature, etc. It’s basically a stopwatch on my wrist that keeps track of my laps whether running, swimming, or cycling. The Ironman has served me well, but I’m way overdue for a serious upgrade. Lately I’ve been checking out the SUUNTO Ambit2 R running watches and finally I pulled the trigger on one last week when I found it for a good price.

As I write this, it is charging via USB from my notebook computer, and at 63% charge. I’ll do a full review, or a “Vern Review” in the next couple days, but just some initial thoughts, first impressions.

The SUUNTO Ambit2 R is HUGE. It’s a beast. It is a full half-inch wider at the face. The display is 3/8″ wider than the Ironman and about the same in height. The band is much thicker, and the watch sits higher off my wrist by about 1/4″.

The heart rate monitor sensor is HUGE. If you’ve been looking at photos of the Suunto Ambit watches and heart rate monitors, you’ve probably seen a photo of them that looks like this:

Suunto Ambit2 R HRM Strap

It’s a trick. The sensor on the heart rate monitor is NOT a fraction of the size of the face of the watch, it is in reality, BIGGER than the face of the watch at 2″ in diameter.

Comprehensive Review of Suunto Ambit2 R here.

Here’s my photo, minus the hocus-pocus:

Side by side comparison Suunto Ambit2 R heart rate monitor with watch.

So, don’t think you’re getting this little micro-sized sensor. It’s as big as a big piece of pepperoni. Mmm. Speaking of which… tonight is looking like a pizza night.

I digress.

After 25 minutes of charging, I’ve gone from 34% to 68%. I know I need not wait to play with it, but I’m stuck in that late 1990’s mindset where it was taboo to stop the charge before it got to 100% when you first purchase an electronics item. My mind won’t let me set it free from the charger clasp and play with it yet.

The information on the display is easy to read. It isn’t as easy as I hoped it would be. The info is not that dark. It isn’t anything like true black. It’s more like 70% black. One thing I’d hoped in buying this upgrade was that I’d be able to read my time very easily as I ran. With the Ironman watch it was quite difficult. The contrast just wasn’t there. The brightness of the light, just wasn’t there. I’m anxious to try reversing the background to black and the info in light color to see if it’s any better. If the light helps tremendously, I can get along using that. I just need to see the time instantly when I look at my watch, not hold it nine different ways to catch ambient light, or avoid reflections.

73% charged. Tick tock…

I just popped the battery compartment open on the ANT heart rate monitor and was surprised to find a battery in there. Nice.


Garmin has a very similar product – but probably better made overall.

More on why I chose this watch over some of the others in the Ambit series:

1. It’s black. I like black. I don’t want blue, lime, white, or pink. I don’t want silver on the watch face, I just want black.

2. The Ambit2 R is specifically for running. I don’t need a watch that works in the pool to record my heart rate. If I’m in a pool or the ocean, it’s because I’m trying to recover from a running workout, not trying to work out some more.

3. Cost. Even the older Ambit2’s are still way out of my price range. I couldn’t justify spending $400 on a watch. The Ambit3 Peaks are $500+. They work with iPhones. I don’t have an iPhone. I don’t want one. I love Apple’s MacBook Pro and Air notebook line, but their phones suck IMHO. Give me a Galaxy S3, S4, S5, or Note anything, and I’ll be much happier. And I am.

4. GPS based altimeter readings, not barometer. I saw a great review where a guy in Australia took his Ambit2 to various elevations alongside his other GPS device. The Ambit2 was off GREATLY every time. I couldn’t imagine paying extra money for the Ambit2 or Ambit3 Peak and then having it feed me bad readings one after another. I’d be disappointed in the device and probably return it. The Ambit2 R doesn’t have an internal barometer, so it just goes by map data for elevation. I think that’s good enough for me because that’s what I’ve been using for years.

78%. Man, this wait is killing me. When I started charging the watch, it allowed me to choose English, set the time and date, my weight, and my date of birth, but that’s about it. Right now it’s showing time, date, and percentage of battery charge. It won’t allow me to do anything else while that charger is plugged in I guess. That sucks a bit.


Reading the PDF manual I found online. It says fully charging the Ambit2 R takes 2-3 hours. Yikes. It also told me the buttons are locked while charging. Bummer.

I just found out I can increase or decrease the display contrast! HA! Perfect. My faith in mankind has been restored. That’s what every electronic device with a screen needs. Really looking forward to tweaking that.

86%. Seems like it is charging quite quickly. I’ve added 50% or so in 48 minutes. Not sure it’s a steady charge, but if it is then it should fully charge from zero to 100% in less than 2 hours.

97%. Just went through the entire PDF manual. Good information there. Can’t wait to play with it.

Full review coming within 2-3 days. Stay tuned.

99%. Now, watch this take like 25 minutes to hit 100%!

It took 10 minutes. Now I’m out the door to try it out.

Comprehensive Review of Suunto Ambit2 R here.

Suunto Ambit4 Speculation HERE!

Here is a video of the unboxing:

Suunto Ambit2 R Glass Pitting – Broken

Suunto Ambit2 R broken glass - has some pitting.

I had this watch for one year. I don’t remember ever banging it hard, or even semi-forceful on anything. The other day I was thinking about selling it to upgrade to the next Suunto Ambit4 when it is released, and I checked it out carefully – and found pitting in the glass.

Pitting, a crack, I don’t know. Doesn’t look like a crack, just looks like the glass was affected by something and started to fall apart. Looks like pitting in the glass.

Closeup photo of the broken – pitted glass issue:

Pitted glass close up on watch face of Suunto Ambit2 R GPS runner's watch.

Anybody else having this issue?

So now, my Suunto Ambit2 R watch has a broken watch band, pitting in the glass, and the heart rate monitor died and I had to pay $70 to get it replaced.

Six months ago I was sure I would upgrade my Suunto Ambit2 R to a Ambit4 model.

Today? Not sure at all.