Category Archives: entrepreneur

Comrades Update: Darkness Befalls Me

This post is one in a series about my preparations to run Comrades Marathon in South Africa next May.  Comrades is the world’s oldest and largest ultramarathon.  The 2016 race is a “down run”, so its 90KM (about 56 miles) will start in Pietermaritzburg and run to the coastal town of Durban.  I am planning on running with my dad, an avid runner since the early 1960s who has dreamed of running Comrades since I was a child.


In any training cycle, there are low points.  I think I’m in one now.

I’m just under two months from my target qualifying race, the Dallas Marathon, and I’m feeling a bit sluggish about it.  Thankfully, my training is right where it should be.  But anyone who does distance running knows that it’s 90% mental, even on the best day.

The biggest wet blanket in my training right now is the darkness that has overtaken my mornings.  I’ve always been a morning runner, enjoying the quiet and relative solitude of my just-out-of-bed run.  I like that I get my run done before anything else interferes with my day.  I like that even if the rest of the day goes to hell in a handbasket, I’ve done something good for myself that day.

Oh, but the darkness!

On a practical level, the darkness isn’t very runner-friendly.  Of course I ensure that I wear light-colored clothing with reflective strips, and I usually wear a clip-on blinking light as well.  The courses that I have mapped out are all well lit by streetlamps, and there is a “just right” amount of traffic on them: I don’t feel isolated or at risk, but I’m not dodging cars all the time, either.

Personally, the darkness is a challenge because I don’t have great depth perception.  I carry a headlamp with me while I run– can anyone actually wear one and run?– so it’s not an issue of not being able to see.  It’s that I spend so much energy trying to decide how to place each footfall that I find the whole run exhausting, regardless of pace.

There’s also the mental drudgery of going out for a run– and coming back from the run– in the darkness.  While some may be inspired by this get-it-done-before-the-sun approach, I don’t feel the uptick in energy.

Despite all of this, I had an A-HA! moment while on a dreary morning run recently.  And that is– wait for it– I don’t *have* to run first thing in the morning.  I have enough flexibility in my schedule most days to wait until it’s a bit brighter to head out for my run.  Sometimes it might mean pushing my four-year-old in the BabyJogger on part of the run, or asking my husband to do a bit more of the morning parenting, or being willing to shift my running plans if a personal training client needs to shift session times.  All of those are variables I can work around, and I’m fortunate to be in a position where I have so much control over my time.  I should use that to my advantage!

(The real A-HA came from the realization that I can still get up at my usual 5.30am.  Instead of heading out for a run in the dark, though, I can use that time to write emails, plan client workouts, and do other business-related tasks that I normally do during the morning hours in between clients.  I am one of those annoying morning people, so there’s no use sleeping through my most productive hours of the day.)

There’s also the rare evening when I might be able to squeeze in a run.  I save evening runs for emergency purposes only, as 4pm to bedtime is family time.  But I could plan to run during the hour while The Monkey is in his piano lesson.  And, bonus: there is a 400m track about a half a mile from where his lessons take place.  It’s just a matter of making sure that I’m properly fueled and in the right headspace for an evening workout.

None of these issues are unique to me.  Most distance runners struggle at some point with fitting in the mileage to prepare themselves for race day.  This type of training demands commitment, but it really helps to develop the understanding that perseverance pays off.

Good health and great happiness to you.



GUEST POST: My Great Cycle Challenge

Today OnBalance readers have a real treat: my friend and fellow women’s wellness advocate Darline Turner has written a guest blog post.  Just read the story, and you’ll know why I asked her to share.  She’s a real go(al)-getter!


So what would cause me, a nearly 50 year old woman and mom of two busy kids, to cycle 1000 miles in four months?

I got divorced on December 21, 2012, “The end of the world” according to the Mayan calendar, and I have been trying to figure out what to do with myself ever since.

I have a Master’s Degree in physician assistant studies, but I really had no desire to return to the clinic after 12 years. So I decided to grow the small business I had started, Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond.

Growing a business is about as easy as getting divorced! My focus is community outreach in Maternal and Infant health and I have spent the better part of the last three years getting entrenched in the Austin medical and public health communities. In April of this year, after a particularly frustrating day, I uttered this off-hand prayer:

“God, I feel like such a failure! I need a win!”

I felt like I could do nothing right, and every door I knocked upon remained unopened, or was quickly slammed shut after opening.

A few days to weeks later, I saw an ad for “The Great Cycle Challenge”. Cyclists were preparing to ride and raise money for children with cancer. I had just asked family and friends for money for other campaigns, so I didn’t want to ask for more cash. But I decided to do the ride anyway.

I had been out of the exercise loop and this was just the inspiration and accountability that I needed to get going. The challenge was for the month of June, and I set a goal to ride 150 miles in 30 days.

June 1st rolled around and I set out. I rode 8 miles that first day. Those first 8 miles were tough as it had already begun getting hot in Austin. But I got through the ride and lo and behold, felt great the next day! So I kept riding, gradually increasing my mileage every few days. Midway through the month, I was riding 15-20 miles at a shot and realized I was very close to my 150 mile goal.

So I increased my goal to 200 miles; my total mileage for June was 207 miles.

Funny thing about exercise: it’s kind of addicting! My body literally began craving my rides! I noticed that my mood improved, I lost weight and I was happier than I had been in a long time. So I decided to continue. In another very off-handed comment I told my Facebook friends, “I think I’ll see if I can ride 1000 miles by October 1st.” I have never ridden that much in such a short amount of time, and coupling that with the hottest days of summer in Texas was really going to be a challenge!

Like all good challenges, this one had its ups and downs. I got a flat tire one day while riding at the Veloway and had to walk home about four miles. I got a nasty cold/allergy attack and rode the last 6-8 weeks often congested. But by then I was committed and nothing was going to stop me!

On September 27 I completed 1013.9 miles with a 25.08 mile ride. On September 30th I rode 15 miles and completed the challenge with 1029.15 total miles cycled

I learned so much about myself during this challenge.

  • I can set a goal and achieve it.
  • It is never too late to start an exercise program.
  • Exercise really is medicine. My cycling boosted my spirits and lifted me out of my depressed state. The added benefits of weight loss, muscle tone, improved sleep and lots of support and encouragement from my Facebook family and friends were icing on the cake!
  • Sometimes, you have to create your own “win”.
  • No matter what, I now know that I am “good enough”.


This challenge was so much more than a bicycle ride. It was a HUGE self esteem boost, a huge physical health boost and a huge connector to my friends and family! I had been moaning and lamenting the fact that I am so far from friends and family (I a from New England) and yet, each day, with each ride, family and friends were right there to cheer me on! In today’s cyber world, we can remain connected.

I invite any of you who are feeling down, shy, unsure or even really great to challenge yourself to do something different, something “abnormal”, something totally out of your comfort zone! You will learn amazing insights about yourself and experience a tremendous boost of confidence as you attack and achieve your goal.

Whatever it is, I wish you good luck.

Feel inspired by Darline’s awesome example?  Her next challenge is raising $2500 to start a chapter of The Birthing Project in Austin. The Birthing Project is a non-profit organization that supports Black women through pregnancy and childbirth to have term pregnancies and healthy babies. Black women in Austin have 2-3 times the risk of delivering a premature, low birth weight infant and those infants have twice the risk of dying before their first birthdays. Please consider a donation towards this challenge and thanks so much for your support.



How to Do a Pull Up- Step Five

Are you ready?

Can you feel the excitement?

After all of your hard work over the last month is about to pay off.

To recap what you’ve done:

STEP ONE- Flexed Arm Hang

STEP TWO- Slow Descent


STEP FOUR- Mixed Grip

I know you’re ready for it!


Start with one.

See how you feel.

See if you can add ONE more.

Go ahead.  You can do it!


What’s next?  Keep working at the pull up.  Even if you try it every other day now (rather than every day like you’ve been doing), see if you can add one rep each week.  You’re using muscles in your arms, shoulders, back, chest, abs, and legs.  What a great full body exercise!

Learning to do a pull up is a WAKE UP CALL for your kinetic chain.  You have to have all of your muscles firing together in order to be successful.  If you can carry over this awareness of muscle synchronicity to other exercises in your workout, you’ll develop a stronger, better coordinated, more efficient body.

And isn’t that what we’re all aiming for?

Want to make my day?  Leave me a comment and let me know of your pull up success.  I want to congratulate you on your hard work!

How to do a Pull Up- Step Four

How’s it going?  Have you been following along on our Pull Up challenge?

If not, go back to the beginning, and get yourself caught up:

STEP ONE: Flexed Arm Hang

STEP TWO: Slow Descent


And, for today, we’ll move on to STEP FOUR: Mixed Grip

Aim for 8-10 repetitions of the mixed grip hang + slow descent.

Practice daily!

By next Thursday, you want this to feel smooth and easy.

Stay tuned for the final video, STEP FIVE: The Real Deal, next Thursday!

Leave me a comment to let me know how you’re doing!

How to do a Pull Up- Step Three

If you’re just joining us on our quest to FINALLY learn to do a pull up, I recommend starting at the beginning:

STEP ONE- Flexed Arm Hang

STEP TWO- Slow Descent

Once you’re feeling strong and in control with those moves, go ahead and try


Go for one good-form chin up to start.

Your goal is to keep working each day so you can do 3-5 good-form chin ups by next Thursday, when we’ll talk about STEP FOUR: Mixed Grip.

Leave me a comment to let me know how you’re doing!

How to do a Pull Up- Step Two

Last Thursday I introduced a five-part series to help you build the strength and muscle coordination necessary to execute a good-form pull up.

Today, we’re back with STEP TWO: The Slow Descent

Hold the flexed arm hang for 3 seconds, then slowly descend.

Aim for 8-10 repetitions.

Practice both the STEP ONE Flexed Arm Hang and the STEP TWO Slow Descent daily for fastest progress.

Leave a comment to let me know how you’re doing!

How to Do a Pull Up: Step One


You’ve been wishing you were strong enough to do a pull up for ages.

You’ve thought about how you’re going to achieve your goal.

You’ve had a few days to get your plan and materials together.


Here’s STEP ONE: The Flexed Arm Hang


Hang for as long as you can (up to 10 seconds).  Drop down and repeat.

Aim for 8-10 repetitions.

And before you ask: yes, it’s okay to use a chair to get up into the hang position.  (Just watch out for it on the way down!)  You can also jump up into the hang position.  This first step is all about building strength in the biceps as you hold your body weight.

Leave a comment to let me know how it goes!