Friday, June 16, 2017

Becoming a Storyteller
by Chris Compson, Endangered Endurance Running Co. owner/coach

In his wonderful memoir, Shoe Dog, Phil Knight tells the hilarious tale of his first “business” trip to Japan. The great humor and irony of this particular trip was that despite proclamations in the high-pressure setting of a Japanese board room, at the time, Phil Knight did not have a “business.” Nike, and its predecessor Blue Ribbon Sports, was little more than a figment of Phil Knight’s imagination. Yet, Knight was making promises, conducting business, and signing purchase orders as if he were the multi-billion dollar CEO he would later become. As the saying goes, “fortune favors the bold.”

Friday, June 2, 2017

Breaking the Must Rut
by Chris Compson, Endangered Endurance Running Co. owner/coach

As a child, and admittedly as an adult, one of my all-time favorite movies is An American Tail. The story of Fievel’s harrowing journey to America and the search for his lost family through the mean streets of New York City never gets old. Add in classic songs like “Somewhere out There” and “Never say Never” and you have a recipe for me manipulating my 3 year-old daughter into choosing the film for the fifth consecutive family movie night. She has since started singing the tunes repeatedly and ad nauseum, in particular the latter. I don’t mind as I am often found humming or singing along with the iconic, and ironic tune, “Never say never, whatever you do…”

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Wash, Rinse, Repeat
Three “go-to” workouts for any distance
by: Chris Compson, Endangered Endurance Running Co. owner/coach


Maya Angelou rented a cramped hotel room for years where she wrote accompanied by a Bible, deck of cards, and bottle of Sherry.

The Beatles played 300 times a year for four straight years at the same German concert hall.

Personally, I have had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and Greek yogurt for lunch every day for the past 11 years.

The common link?...the common, the repetitious, the boring.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Forever Young – Three Lessons for Everyone from “Newbies”

by: Chris Compson, Endangered Endurance Running Co. owner/coach

There are thousands of articles written about the lessons that new runners can learn from their more experienced peers or their hero elites. From modeling our training and nutrition to favorite socks and sports bras, there seems to be no limit to the advice given to novice runners from the mouths and closets of the seasoned veterans. While there is certainly a point to learning from the best, or even just the slightly better, Newbies offer more to the veterans than just bolstered race entries and throngs to clean up the last of the post-run bagels.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Running, Happiness and Resisting the Abyss

Running, Happiness and Resisting the Abyss

Scan The New York Times nonfiction bestsellers list any given week and you’ll find at least a half-dozen books designed to help us live a happier, better, more fulfilled life. In fact, annual estimates of the “self-help” industry’s profits range from $9 - $15 billion dollars, and the trend is precipitously upward. Despite the vast resources we pour into improving ourselves, all the data suggests we continue to grow more and more dissatisfied with ourselves, our lives, and our world. (Happy way to start this spring morning, right?)

Running is certainly no panacea for this personal and social pull into the abyss, but those of us who run can attest to its power to resist that gravity. But why? Why is running so uniquely equipped to provide a counterbalance to discontent?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Tug of War

Last week, I was giving a presentation to a group requiring the use of a projection screen. I was unfamiliar with the auditorium, but figured, “How hard can it be to lower a screen on a stage?” The answer, not surprisingly, is very.
When I went backstage, I was confronted with a row of 15-20 pulleys, all labeled with various letter and number combinations. N-3. J-21. S-14. I felt as if I had drifted into some strange bingo hall without my placard. For about 10 minutes, I searched for some instructions, perhaps a key laminated to the wall, a Rosetta stone hiding next to the Beauty and the Beast costumes. As the presentation drew closer, and mild panic began to set in, I did what anyone in my position would have done. I just started pulling.
I began with the “S-labeled” ropes, figuring they might be the abbreviation for screen. Sure enough, S-7 began raising and lowering the screen. Unfortunately, it began raising and lowering the entire screen housing. With the screen housing now sitting just above orchestra pit height and my presentation minutes away, I resorted to blind yanking. Like George of the Jungle swinging haphazardly to doom, I pulled, yanked, grabbed, and twisted every rope within reach. Stage lights danced up and down, curtains lurched back and forth, and my recently arriving audience stared awestruck at the maelstrom wondering if this was all part of the show.
Eventually, I found a stagehand who actually knew what he was doing. With a stern look of disapproval, he flipped a switch under a light casing labeled “screen motor” and effortlessly the screen descended. Among the many lessons gleaned from this experience, one can see parallel pitfalls in many of our approaches to endurance training.
As we train, we expect to see results. In fact, if we see no results, we are encouraged to review, revise and reconsider our training approach. However, like me as the small crowd of attendees began to arrive, as our goal races and events draw nearer, anxiety and the uncertainty that accompanies any competition can get the best of us. We search for signs everywhere that we will meet or exceed our goals, and when we are confronted with their absence, we resort to yanking on as many pulleys as we can reach.
There are relatively few variables available for manipulation in any training plan. But when we begin scrambling for certainty, instead of making small adjustments to one, we grab rope after rope, tugging with all our might, hoping it will result in some magical (and immediate) breakthrough and benefit. We watch as our training swings wildly, and ultimately ineffectively, until we either give up, crash and burn, or find someone who can more easily pinpoint the small flip of the switch we need.
In a recent Tim Ferriss Show episode, Tim spoke with founder of The Happy Body project and weightlifting guru, Jerzy Gregorek. One of Jerzy’s core principles with all his clients is the concept of micro-progressions. In the show, Jerzy recounts the decade-long work with a single client to move him some 20-inches in depth in a single Olympic lift. The approximately 2-inches per year development is the heart of micro-progression and the antithesis of our far too common “pulley panic.”
As endurance athletes, we must trust in a long-range process. We must be vigilant and attentive to our training, making small adjustments when necessary, but allowing those adjustments the ample time needed to reveal results. We must avoid the temptation to “shake things up” too significantly, or in the hopes of finding the magic combination for confidence, while being willing to change our approach to break from a rut, or see new and unexpected gains. In endurance training, no one wins the tug of war.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Turning Pro

Turning Pro

Here in upstate New York, March has given new definition to “coming in like a lion.” After a devastating wind storm which left more than 100,000 people living in the cold dark for over a week, Mother Nature decided to drop more than 24 inches of snow on our already weary and weather-beaten community.

As a coach and athlete, I have delivered and heard innumerable speeches about the evils of excuses. However, when roads and trails are buried and the wind chill hovers in Antarctic temperature, no inspirational speech or motivational quote is enough to avoid the excuse trap. Indeed, despite looking at our race calendars or training plans, given these circumstances, we will rationalize and reevaluate. As people, we are adept at justifying our actions, especially when they assist in avoiding a challenging or unpleasant task.

In his 2012 book, The War of Art, Steven Pressfield describes these and other hurdles to unlocking our creative potential. While his work primarily focuses on the creative arts, there is one process that when applied to our athletic endeavors can be the difference between days on the couch and days that count.

Pressfield advocates for adopting a “professional” attitude as opposed to an “amateur” attitude. The difference between the two is what separates many of the successful runners I coach from those who are constantly frustrated and disheartened. The essential element to the “professional” attitude is not being paid to do something, it is the prioritization and “business-like” approach a professional brings to any endeavor.

Whether it is our baking hobby or our running, a “professional” approach inhibits us from finding excuses. Certainly, a little snow, wind, or busy week would not keep us from punching our time clock at our place of employment, and similarly, it should not keep us from punching our clock at the activities we value.

A common hesitation to adopting a “professional” approach to our “hobbies” is the fear that somehow professionalism and enjoyment are mutually exclusive. However, consider why certain activities give us pleasure. Is it because they are simple, easy, lack challenge and therefore meaning? Most likely, not. Otherwise we would all take great satisfaction in folding the laundry and filling the car with gas.

No, indeed the things that we draw the most enjoyment from are endeavors that we commit significant time, energy, sacrifice, and effort toward. In short, we find the most pleasure in the activities we approach most professionally. Therefore, by adopting a professional attitude toward running, we are far more likely to achieve our athletic and enjoyment goals.