Sunday, December 4, 2022

Episode 70: Ragnar 101 & All About Florida Trail

 What is this Ragnar thing exactly and where does it fit in the running world?

Immortals Medals, after 12+ Ragnar relays in 2023

 Florida Trail Team of 8


Well, that's a surprisingly difficult question to answer, it turns out... In old norse it means "warrior", yet today it means so many different things to different people, and the experience is not the same from one team to the next either, which heavily depends on the particular location and event. There were over 30 this year to choose from. One thing is the same across them all, "experiencing true camaraderie", according to Ragnar.  And lest I forget: you get to run, and see some places you would probably never see by foot.

This included the end-of-the-year Florida Trail Ragnar, which I had the opportunity to participate in December 2nd-3rd, 2022.  Could this be an Ultra with a team of 4, or be a marathon with a team of 6, or something more fun with a team of 8? 
Yes, yes, and yes. That's one of the reasons Ragnar is so hard to understand from the outside, with so many possibilities and combinations of skill, experience, and speed, each story is unique on the other side of the relay experience.  We formed a team of 8 to accomplish the Florida Trail Ragnar in about 24 hours held outside of Tampa Bay at Alafia State Park, but our team dropped down to 7 after an early ankle injury. Those who accepted this challenge included Team Captain Mike Grinnell (interviewed for this episode), Justin Yarbrough, Justin Morris, Joe Bridges, Tito Velasquez, Igor Kornienko and our in-house musician / volunteer, Bob Shea. 

Trail Music Support by Nurse Bob Shea


In this episode, I start by interviewing the veteran team captain to see what it takes and how one gets into this Ragnar thing initially, and keeps it going for years. I also interview a relatively new Ragnar runner who is also volunteering to make coffee and hot cocoa as she keep the troops energized, just around the corner from the all night campfire and exchange zone where one "hands off the baton" between runners. We then hear from one of the organizers facilitating the sprawling event, informing us about topics from Ragnar route setup to "circus travels".  And lastly we touch base with a group of folks known as "immortals" (note the norse mythology continuation), as they have earned the title by completing over 12 of these Ragnar events in one year, and find out from them some of their lessons learned and favorites. Forty-five time Ragnar alum Rick Harold told me while cheering on fellow "immortals" that it wasn't really about finishing or times or even running necessarily, but about the community and feeling of challenge accomplishment together, after he had just finished cheering for over 24 hours! 
Exchange area at Ragnar Florida

Oh, and there are Road Ragnars and Sprint Ragnars as well. Perhaps more on that in a future episode, when I'm tempted to travel in a team van for 24 hours plus trading non-van time to run in who knows where!  To summarize, a quote from Ragnar webpage: "Set a crazy goal. Gather your tribe. Divide and conquer. Bask in the joy of achieving something together that you could never do alone (very true). With more cowbell, baby. Always more cowbell. "

You can find everything else you need to know at: www.runragnar.com  
Please reach out and share, connect with us on Facebook or IG: RunningAnthropologist

Friday, October 28, 2022

Episode 69: Writing about Running, with Terrell Johnson

 Episode 69 of the Running Anthropologist can be heard nearly anywhere you find your podcasts, including Apple, Google, Spotify and Anchor!


This episode focuses on the work of Terrell Johnson, running-focused author and journalist, founder of The Half Marathoner, which covers the most unique half marathons across the US, and beyond. For many runners, half marathons are much more manageable for goalsetting and running multiple races throughout the year than 26.2. One can for example work in a small, unique half marathon at a national park vacation, or find one in just about any state any weekend of the year! 

Tens of thousands of runners read his weekly posts on Substack, contribute and explore for themselves. He is not able to run all of these, but does his homework, and makes it to as many as he can. This episode is less about specific half marathons, and more about the process of researching, writing about and building the community around Half Marathoner over the 17 years. He often focuses on the internal life of runners in his work, and how running helps improve our lives all around. At times, his Substack newsletter reads as not just about half marathons or directly about running at all, but about our shared humanity and what inspires us, that runners also happen to be a part of.  

For any aspiring writers, this episode also has some hidden gems. For anyone hoping to run a half marathon, he explains why and how to find a good one- including using his own Substack site weekly to learn and share our own favorites! While this episode is certainly not a how-to guide of half marathons, there are some useful resources in his training plan and half marathoner online community. 

Terrell fills a void in those of us searching to find corners of running culture, that is the half marathon is often neglected in articles and writing. In fact, before he started one in 2006, there was not website dedicated to half marathons specifically. Most of the content of his newsletters are completely free, although one can subscribe and get much deeper if you find you like it and want more. 

You can find Terrell's The Half Marathoner Substack at www.thehalfmarathoner.com and you can find us on IG or Facebook @RunningAnthropologist

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Hurricane Ian Rebuilding "Miles for Dollars" Challenge

Hurricane Ian Rebuilding "Miles for Dollars" Challenge:

We in the distance run-walk community are organizing a solidarity "miles for dollars" fundraiser to support families through Convoy of Hope, including serving those not covered by FEMA such as community/civic centers, and spiritual centers/churches in the area, which can distribute aid quickly to their communities, help with housing, etc.
Basics: You can pledge/dedicate a certain amount per mile you hope to walk/run through the end of 2022- donations will be MATCHED by a generous donor in Tampa Galloway and added to Convoy of Hope every week at the end of the week (you donate on your own), which folks can do/view online with this Google Spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/19k94vpJmb0pp9JJzknVWW6A6fdPgDqo0HJfzRDJjKh8/edit#gid=0
This aerial photo shows damaged homes and debris in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, September 29, 2022, in Fort Myers, Florida. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)



Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Logotherapy, The Power of Purpose and Pilgrimage

Recovey Camino Run-Walk-Run 2022

What is a life purpose?  How do we live in a way that aligns with our core values?

Am I willing to do difficult things, worthy of my effort and energy, along "the way"? 

Coastal Spain, along the Camino de Santiago, May 2022

Logotherapy
A few years ago, I set out to answer these questions as I started training in something which would transform the way I see the world: logotherapy. It is the psychology of purpose and meaning-making amidst difficulty. It is especially useful in recovery from past trauma, current suffering and addictions, and is part of many inter-religious chaplains' training. The podcast episode this month, primarily from a talk recorded after our recent run-walk pilgrimage in Portugal/Spain along the Camino de Santiago, outlines how identifying our purpose can help us to have the courage, faith and willingness to begin difficult things, grow and change, in all aspects of life.

Building & Crossing bridges together

Response-ability
Dr. Viktor Frankl (founder of logotherapy) would assert that modern epidemics of depression and anxiety are rooted in our existential reality (some is inevitable), and require a "meaning re-frame", reframing a seeming problem to be meaningful and part of our purpose in life. Logotherapeutic practice asserts there is ALWAYS MEANING in every situation, that life challenges are a spiritual springboard to meaning, and that we are called to "response-ability" (the ability to respond to any given life circumstance in a positive way).

Purpose is Powerful
Many of us have goals and dreams, and maybe even good habits to make them happen. However, research has shown that life purpose and values are much more a director of our actions than these arbitrary goals we set, and our latent higher purpose or faith determines many of our daily habits. In other words, we will live out the actions and attitude that we purposefully choose.

Sometimes, other life events or circumstances get in the way of us meeting a goal or accomplishing a dream, but they can never get in the way of our purpose and values. Over these we have complete control. They determines how we see the past and make sense of the present. This is our true work.


Pilgrimage
This brings me to pilgrimage, movement along a physical path towards a destination, with the purpose of discovery and seeking spiritual growth in some form. 
Recovery Camino set out to help individuals in all these areas, we've trained purposeful pilgrims and welcomed 2 amazing groups over the past year, each with the goal of covering ~200k over 10 days, about a Half Marathon each day. Some did miles joining virtually too!
Pilgrimage is much like an endurance event with many legs. Only in our case, we sought to grow in willingness by utilizing the 12 steps/spiritual principles as a pathway to recovery, together. 

Attitude and Actions: How Logotherapy Works
Consider any large problem you are facing... Is there some ability to respond? Something within your control? Even if you do not have a solution or know when this will end definitively, a good guide is to mindfully recall that the only thing we truly control are our own actions and attitude, a.k.a. our responses to the situations life presents. 

Logotherapy helps us to identify how to respond in alignment with our own values. It also helps to identify the latent purpose found between the music of our soul (our intuition, conscience) and life circumstances. 
We manifest our purpose through the things we can control, responding using our values as guideposts within all areas of our lives; be it in running, family, or other vocation. This is well-researched and has a proven track record, as both clinical and pastoral therapy.

What we cannot control (other people, places and things) we learn to let go of, lest they get the better of us and take up large amounts of our mental energy and life.  This is not to say we simply throw up our hands on social issues we care about, or the change we seek in the world- the exact opposite- it is to say that we are destined to find freedom within purpose, to act in response to our values, and create that change first from within, then spreading into ever widening circles. 

Ultimate Goal of Recovery and Logotherapy
When we consider our purpose, those on the path of recovery often understand the 12th step as asking, "How can I love fully and be of maximum service to others?", which forms part of our life purpose. However, each person does so in unique ways that only they are capable of, based upon their life experience and values. Some reflection and coaching/guidance from another may be useful in doing so. I have found I'm never disappointed by the results; as a logotherapist, in my coaching, running, teaching and family life.  I would love to share this with you...

If you'd like to learn more, please navigate to my Insight Timer Teacher Page, where I have a 3-part course on logotherapy, recovery meditations, and several short Guided Meditations for Runners.

I also invite you to join our Recovery Camino fellowship online weekly (WhatsApp and Zoom meetups)
To schedule a 1:1 consult and talk more with me about discerning and living with purpose, just click on the button below. 


Happy Running & Look forward to seeing you soon along "the way"!

- Mark Lane-Holbert, PhD(c), Educational Psychology
Book Logotherapy Appointment Now

Recent articles published about Recovery Camino-
1) I'm excited to announce that we will be featured in "Like the Wind" Magazine: Why we Run, in issue #34- coming out at the end of the year!

2) Also featured in the Winter 2022 APOC, and cover photo with fellow pilgrims:
Link to "La Concha" American Pilgrims of the Camino Winter Edition

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Episode 67: Mindful Movement & Tai Chi / Qigong, with Dr. Larry Cammarata

Episode 67 of the Running Anthropologist project is available just about anywhere one listens to podcasts, including Google, Apple, Spotify and Anchor!


How can I cultivate and balance energy in my running, and in life? What is mindful running? What is the difference between Tai Chi, Qigong, and other martial arts? 

All these questions and much more are answered in this mindfully moving interview conducted between Tampa, Florida and Ponte de Lima, Portugal- shortly after a chance meeting while on pilgrimage along the "Camino de Santiago" (Camino Portugues route). APOC link to find out more about the most traveled pilgrimage routes in the western world, finishing in Santiago de Compostela (Spain), a true path of discovery for all seekers, walkers, bikers, runners or even on horeseback!

Back to our topic: Dr. Larry Cammarata is a self-described "Chi Runner", which means he applies the eastern traditional concepts of chi energy work to his running, most notably techniques of relaxation and energy balance, developed by Danny and Katherine Dreyer. He knows this eastern tradition well, and is in fact an instructor of Tai Chi Chuan and Qigong, and has received advanced training in China and in the US, as well as a practitioner over the past several decades. There are many tutorials out there, but I have found this one from C. Tolle Run, produced about a decade ago now, to be a great introduction to Chi Running. So many of these concepts have been integrated into current distance running techniques and "big guys" coaching methods without the origins, it is hard to believe it was revolutionary not long ago. Nontheless, it is still true and many elements can be practiced and examined in more depth.

"Mindfulness" has been used much more often in practical ways throughout society in recent years, and applied to many facets of life. Larry is on the peaceful edge of this work, and is encouraged by the movement to slow down and bring awareness to our daily practices, including running, something he fosters in his work and life. He and his wife Linda (RN, RYT) are a dynamic team who also happen to run mindfulness retreats exploring different cultures and places across the globe. In his work as a licensed psychologist who specializes in mindfulness-based therapy and education, he includes the science and practice of mindful movement. 


In our conversation, we discuss mindfulness practices and the joy of running in the classic methodology of Danny Dreyer, Chi Running, which is described as "a revolutionary approach to effortless, injury free running" (Dreyer, 2003). Perhaps not completely effortless, this method relaxes the body and allows the energy to flow in such a way that hard effort is not felt, breathing is done with ease, and there is less stress on the body. No doubt you have seen large crowds of people doing Qigong or Tai Chi movement together at sunrise in a part, in just about any big city in the US that has a significant Asian presence?  Or perhaps traveled to Korea, China and Japan and heard music blaring early morning from public speakers at parks, as hundreds follow the same choreographed rhythm?  It is truly a spiritual and uplifting experience, seeing so many dedicated to seeking body-mind-spirit connection and community. In some ways, this has always reminded me of a running club warm-up, with the same camaraderie and spirit of encouragement. And in fact, there are many parallels, which we discuss in this episode.
This is what I had to compare it to when I was teaching in Korea, and found my way to a neighborhood group and teacher of Qigong, now over a dozen years ago. I have also found this practice incredibly helpful to warmup and cool down, calming me when revved up, or lifting my energy levels when down. Also, we discuss with Dr. Cammarata how movement can connect us to our senses, and prepare us for a more mindful and interconnected run/walk.


If you would like to know more about the above retreats or his ongoing travels and running adventures, Larry welcomes you to reach out through his own website:  www.mindfulnesstravels.com  
He is the Director of Education of Mindfulness Travels, and Director of Training for the East Bay Mindfulness Center.  He was also designated as an "Author-Expert" by IDEA for his writing, teaching, and service in the field of mind-body health, fitness, and wellness. His mindful movement work has been presented at many venues, including the 11th Annual International Scientific Conference of the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine.

Danny Deyer's "Chi Running" (and walking and living) runs an international training program, in which you can find instructors and groups, or do training online, at https://chiliving.com/chirunning/

"Shut up and Run" also have a great synopsis of Chi Running, as well as PrisChew and Wellthyfit, with some diagrams, including below!


Finally, you can find and reach us on Facebook or Instagram @RunningAnthropologist.
Until next time, Happy Running!

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Episode 66: Gretchen Shoenstein, on Autoimmunity & 100 Half Marathons

This episode can be heard and shared on nearly all Podcast Apps, including Apple, Google, Spotify and Anchor! Please support by paying it forward/sharing, and giving us some stars on your favorite platform.

Gretchen Rock n' Rollin' thru another 13.1!

What would you do if you woke up and couldn't run around the block? What makes someone a dedicated distance runner? Is it the distance, number of steps training, effort, or the obstacles they overcome to finish? Or to even toe up to the start line? Maybe it's just the act of trying despite all difficulties, day in and day out? These are just a few of the questions we ponder in Episode 66.

Gretchen Shoenstein has dealt with these existential questions regularly, and many more, during her battle with several autoimmune disorders in her running lifetime, including one which attacks her lungs. The diagnoses she has received would normally mean an end to distance running, and truth be told she heard this from doctors... However, having a purpose to run 100 half marathons and give back to autoimmune disease research was a worthy enough goal to keep her running, even during the pandemic. And spoiler alert: she made it, just under her 10 year goal! She did so on her own schedule and with the support of an intentional village she has built, and also with intention in every mile. 

However, remarkably this is not the most impressive part of Gretchen's life or Gretchen as a person, rather it's her attitude and gratitude which shine through in every word, as she recounts stories and life lessons during this lifelong battle. It is as if running were the tap through which this force de vivre lives and shines, rather than "the answer". In our conversation, we examine how perhaps running is best as a catalyst for community, strength and purpose building, i.e. finding out what running can teach us about life, and vice versa. It has been part of the solution, for her and for me.  Among the best interviews I have done at Running Anthropologist, she demonstrates what it means to truly be grateful for each step and each breath, with her mantra "Every mile, every step, counts". She has so many good ones. Below are just a sample of what she shares in the episode.

Tips/Life hacks:

1) Have grace for yourself. Best way to do so? Pause and breathe.
2) Have a light, nimble touch on goals - know that you can pivot when need to.
3) Every. Step. Counts. (as does every mile) With each step is the possibility of joy and awe.
4) Listen to your body - *you* know best. Find that voice that tells you when to push and when to let off the gas.
5) Create your own finish lines - set smaller goals to achieve to keep the momentum going.

Last but not least, there is a worthy cause. She has both fundraised and raised awareness around autoimmune disease and autoimmune system disorders this entire journey, for "Operation Shooting Star" and "Benaroya Research Institute", who are on the cutting edge of treating, research and hopeful for the future of curing autoimmune diseases. Links to both of these organizations, and all the organizations and sponsors mentioned in the podcast can be found below under "services", provided directly by Gretchen (bottom of page).

Gretchen can also be found on her IG account @rungrateful

To read more about fundraising/awareness building efforts specifically and about her struggle and story of finishing an unexpected 100 half marathons journey, I encourage you to go to check out article: 

https://www.benaroyaresearch.org/blog/post/one-pandemic-three-autoimmune-diseases-and-100-half-marathons

As always, Message us @runninganthropologist on Facebook or Instagram with ideas, inspiration and input!

--Mark R Lane-Holbert, PhD(c) Educational Psychology, University of South Florida

Running Anthropologist, Copyright 2020-2022



Services Mentioned:

Seattle Acupuncture and Coaching, Ben Dorfman


Ascension Performance in San Diego

Training with Tucker Run Coach (anywhere)

Hot Yoga Experience in WA state

Products
Science in Sport 


Newton Running Shoes


AI Research/Awareness
Benaroya Research Institute

Operation Shooting Star

General inspiration/foundation
Brad Stuhlberg and Growth Equation

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Episode 65: Achilles International, with Ellie Cox-Nihill

 Episode 65: Achilles International, with Ellie Cox-Nihill can be heard on most podcast Apps, including Apple, Google, Spotify and Anchor!

Posing with a friend, organizing nearby races!

In this episode we discuss all things Achilles, including their work with athletes of all abilities, empowering and supporting relationships between individuals. Both learn and grow as a result of these partnerships, athletes and volunteer guides (also athletes themselves). The magic is in local clubs, and the practice and fun together throughout the year building up to a major event, like NYC Marathon or Disney races!

Ellie has a great deal to share, and has been with the organization since 2008, and is in charge of US Chapters development and the online virtual clubs who meet for those who do not have local chapters. I am the direct beneficiary of this new virtual space, and connect with athletes from across the country learning to run through a training program, and inspiring one another. I might add that volunteers learn as much if not more from the experience, and as anyone who has been a guide will tell you: it transforms their run/walking and their relationship with the sport.  

Ellie organizing virtual events!

Ellie also shares a bit about the history and how she became inspired by her local New York City chapter, and what she has learned along the way supporting athletes for over a decade in events they dream of completing. What many thought was unimaginable are empowered to line up toe to toe with the elite athletes of the world, and learn from each other, overcoming challenges and sharing joy and hope!  

Among the many resources, one can visit and find out how to get involved or contribute at www.achillesinternational.org

Reach out to us with questions or your own stories of running cutlture and inspiration, here at our blogsite, Facebook or Instagram @runninganthropologist 

Below are the essentials, at a glance about their mission and programs:

Achilles International, a global organization operating in 18 countries including the US, transforms the lives of people with disabilities through athletic programs and social connection. Since our founding in 1983, we have empowered over 150,000 athletes of all ages and ability levels to participate in endurance events around the globe.

Achilles International’s portfolio of programs includes the Achilles Freedom Team which serves wounded military personnel and veterans; Achilles Kids which provides training, race opportunities, and an in-school program for children with disabilities; the TriAchilles Team which expands our running program into biking and swimming; Achilles Chapter workouts; and, our signature Hope & Possibility® race which takes place in several cities worldwide.

While our programs focus on running, our main objective has always been to bring hope, inspiration, and the joys of achievement to all.

CHAPTERS AT A GLANCE

United States: 28 Chapters in 19 States (+D.C.)

International: 42 Chapters in 17 Countries

And a bit more about Ellie from her sporty bio, as she heads into retirement and new adventures... from Achilles -

"She joined Achilles in 1996 and ran the 2000 NYC Marathon. Ellie directed Achilles NYC from Sept. 2009 through 2010 and assumed responsibility for U.S. Chapter Development in 2011. She coordinates all aspects of the AWD Family Reunion area post-NYC Marathon. With a BS in Media and Culture from SUNY/Empire State College and a Project Management Certificate from Baruch College, Ellie is also certified by the American Sailing Association in basic sailing, cruising, and navigation and coaches whenever possible."