If you've never seen the movie The Big Lebowski, then I highly recommend you put it on your to-do list immediately! It's one of my favorite movies of all time and at one point in the movie, Walter (played by John Goodman) yells "YOU'RE OUT OF YOUR ELEMENT DONNY!" because his friend can't comprehend what is happening. I'll come back to that.... This past weekend I was fortunate enough to compete in the Xterra Trailrun World Championships held in Kualoa Valley. This is where the best trail runners in the world come to battle it out for the title of world's best trail runner. As you would imagine, the competition was fierce! Days leading up to the race, there was a lot of talk and hype about a runner named Ryan Hall. If the name doesn't ring a bell, he is a two-time Olympic athlete who ran a 2:04 marathon. That's fast! Really fast! So of course, this made me very nervous! How was I supposed to compete with an Olympic athlete? But I snapped myself out of it and thought "who cares who else is in the race, I need to focus on myself and do the best I can". Fast forward 9 miles into the race, there is a section of the course called "Heart Attack Hill". Based on the name, you can imagine that this hill is brutally steep, long, and makes your heart beat so fast it wants to jump out of your chest! Until this point, I kept a pretty good pace and I was feeling good, but knew what was coming so I slowed myself down to a power hike in order to save some energy to get up this giant mountain! As I was trying to keep my breathe under control, I happened to look to my right and noticed the one and only Ryan Hall, nonchalantly cruising up this 50% grade hill with a smile on his face. He gave me a few words of encouragement as he strolled right passed me, barely even out of breathe, and I thought "There is no way this guy is human!" Once at the top of Heart Attack Hill, the course sends you into the jungle on a single track trail. If you don't live in Hawaii, then let me paint the picture. We had several days of heavy rains prior to the race, so these single track trails were like ice skating rinks where placement of each step was crucial if you didn't want to go sliding down the mountain. As we crested the hill and started our decent down, I noticed Ryan and a few other racers were not far ahead of me. This is my chance I thought! If you've ever ran in the mud, you know that it's not easy. However, growing up in Hawaii and having run in the mud since I was young, I have figured out how my feet react and therefore I can still move pretty fast through these sections. As Ryan and the others timidly made their way down the mountain, I skated (literally) right passed them and was able to create a large lead on the pack. Refer back to the start of my story, this was when The Big Lebowski popped into my head and all I kept thinking was "You're out of your element Ryan". I'm not trying to take away from Ryan's amazing athletic ability. Remember, he passed me on the hill with ease and could have stopped to eat a sandwich at the top by the time I caught him. But his past experience is a flat, road style runner, so being in muddy conditions like this was not normal. In addition, he has put on some serious muscle since he retired from the professional running circuit. If you read this article put out by Runner's World, he states "I’ve been small and weak my entire life—just, like, totally underdeveloped, I’ve always wondered what it would feel like to be big and strong.” Being a larger, more muscular runner myself, I could relate to what he was saying. Jono, what does any of this have to do with me and my health/fitness journey you ask? I'm not some crazy athlete that is running a half marathon through the jungle!" Let me explain... 1. If you have your mind set on a particular goal, then be sure to cater your training to focus on the specific elements of that event. This "event" could be a muddy/slippery race or it may just be losing a few pounds to get your health back. For example, if you have candy/sweets in your kitchen, then YOURE OUT OF YOUR ELEMENT! How can you stay focused on your goal if you're constantly tempted and sliding down the sugary candy coated mountain. Eventually you're going to fall and smack your knee into a large doctor's bill! 2. Do what makes you happy! Ryan retired from professional running because he noticed he had no strength and his testosterone levels were dangerously low. So now he's put on 40 pounds of muscle, may be a little slower, but is much happier! So don't force yourself to run on a treadmill for hours on end if you hate it. Find a way to move your body in a way that makes you feel like a rockstar and be the best version of you that you could possibly be! If you need help to bring out that inner rockstar, then give me a call and we can figure out what works best for you! Now that your're done reading this, go watch The Big Lebowski; and if you really want to make it fun, have a White Russian every time you see the Dude have one! Wooo! Have a great week!