I began this blog in August of 2014 at the urging of a few friends.
At the time I didn’t know much about social media, barely used Facebook and had never heard of WordPress.
The one thing I did know about was running. In 2014 I had been running for eleven years and had learned a lot.
Getting to 100000 views
In the first few years this blog averaged around 7,000 views per year.
Pretty modest by just about anyone’s standards.
But for a guy just starting out, it was exciting to know that someone was reading what I wrote. I could write what ever I thought, hit publish and at least a few dozen or perhaps a hundred people would read my post!
The best part was that a few times people actually talked to me about a blog post. It was amazing! I wrote something, someone thought about it and wanted to talk about it.
Even more amazing were the handful of times people told me they were moved by what I wrote. Other times, I could tell by the tone of their voice that I had struck a chord with them.
My words made someone feel something! Wow.
Was I becoming a writer?
When people told me they felt something when they read a post, I began to feel like a writer.
It’s one thing to write something provocative and make people feel pissed off.
It’s another to write about a run and have someone feel like they were with me at every turn. My words allowed them to join me on a little journey and see the run through my eyes.
I have always enjoyed writing.
In college one of my professors said she could tell that I liked to write. Somehow that felt embarrassing and neither one of us followed up on that comment.
Writing takes practice, patience and persistence, and in college I only wrote to pass in papers.
When I started my blog in 2014 I was undisciplined and had to find my way.
I had to learn how to write for social media which is different than writing papers for college. Google doesn’t seem to like complex sentences or paragraphs with more than three of those rambling run on strings of words all jumbled together that hopefully convey an idea or a feeling.
I learned to be concise and edit.
A blog is like a magazine
When you pick up a magazine you pretty much know what you are going to read about.
While most magazines have the occasional article outside of their strike zone, they mainly swing at topics right over the plate. A good magazine goes after the curveballs and fastballs, but never too far outside of the strike zone.
This focus allows them to build authority on their subject matter and attract readers who know they will get quality writing in a specific area of interest.
While some blogs are basically open diaries, most blogs have a focus just like a magazine.
A blog can be a great way to vent, and I’ve certainly done that on occasion. But unless you plan to vent most of the time and do it well, it’s difficult to build a reader base. Endless rants get old quickly.
My focus is running and I try to stick with that 95% of the time.
Part of being a writer is learning to convey ideas and feelings. Part of being a writer is knowing when to rein yourself in and when to let it rip.
As a solo writer, a blogger has to be their own editorial board and call strikes and balls.
But enough about baseball.
In 2016 I started to think more like a blogger and not just a writer.
That meant thinking more about what I was going to write. I used to just sit down after a race and start writing.
I still did plenty of that in 2016, but I began to think about subjects that my readers and I would be interested in.
While people enjoyed running a race with me, I also knew that runners wanted to learn about things and get some advice.
The advice part was why my friends encouraged me to start a blog.
I looked at my most popular posts and thought about subjects that I was interested in. A writer has to be interested in their subject.
In 2016 I turned from writing about anything and began to focus more on running.
I began to think about topics, words and how a post looked.
My Most Popular Posts
Some of my early blog posts were a mess. I think any blogger who looks at their early work would say the same thing.
A few strategies I use to manage my social media and email accounts to avoid being sucked into the black hole.
Managing Black Holes and Dead Ends
By “black hole” I mean those things in our life that suck up our valuable time. Here I’m specifically referring to email and social media.
I have multiple email accounts full of unread emails. At the end of 2019 I spent considerable time cleaning those accounts. I purged a lot, cancelled subscriptions and read a lot.
The reading a lot is the real time suck. It’s easy to go down the list and delete messages that are months old or that have uninteresting subject lines.
But some emails are from bloggers who write great articles full of interesting and valuable information.
Often, I end up saving them to a mailbox with the intent of getting back to read them the next time I have a few hours.
This is a bad habit. If I didn’t read the email months ago, how likely am I to go back and read it in two more months. Not very likely.
I have gotten better at letting these older emails go.
If I don’t keep up with the reading and purging, these accounts fill up quickly again.
So Many Accounts so Little Time
I have email accounts to receive special offers and newsletters from companies. The problem with many companies is that they send multiple emails each day.
Do they really think anyone is reading these emails?
Those accounts are easy to clean out and I get to them about once a week.
For work I have two email accounts and subscribe to multiple newsletters and web sites that send me stuff every day.
Getting curated articles sent to me is the only way to keep up with industry developments. I’m in healthcare IT, so things are changing rapidly.
I get sucked into the black hole with these emails when they are highly relevant to my work. Being in the office it’s easy to look up and realize that it’s time to get back to work.
As a blogger, I have more email accounts than most people. I can’t possibly keep up with all of them all of the time. I follow almost 300 bloggers and businesses and receive a tremendous volume of emails from them.
The pull of this black hole is even stronger. I would not have followed these bloggers unless I thought they had something to say.
As a blogger, I spend a lot of time at the keyboard and productive writing time is limited.
To manage the black holes and remain productive, I’ve come up with a few strategies.
Strategies to manage Black Holes
To get anything done and still have time for work and a life, you have to actively manage your email and social media accounts.
Here are my strategies.
Monitor several email accounts daily on your phone. When I have a minute I go into an account and clean it up. I’ve found that if I spend 5 minutes a day on these accounts I can keep them under control.
By segregating different types of emails into different accounts or mailboxes, it can be quite easy to clean up the commercial emails.
The account where I receive blogger email is tougher to clear on my phone, but if I can read or clear 20% during the day I have fewer distractions during my productive writing time.
Content Specific Email Accounts
As I mentioned before, I have email accounts for specific purposes.
I have a few email accounts that I use for Omni Running. To keep these accounts under control I manage them daily.
These are high volume accounts, but receive mostly high interest emails. I have very few general interest emails going to these accounts.
I can’t possibly manage these accounts on 5 minutes a day. My strategy is to scrub these accounts about every three months. I do manage to clean out some email daily, but the deluge is too much to keep up with.
My work email accounts receive a barrage of email daily. I manage to keep on top of these in real time as it is part of my job.
Many emails are from customers and colleagues and need to be addressed in a timely fashion. Other emails are from vendors, partners or industry web sites and newsletters.
It’s the industry related emails that are the real black hole here. Many have fascinating articles and information that I need for my job.
My strategy here is to only read what is truly important to my work. Interesting is not enough, it has to be important for my work. I don’t have time to be entertained or learn about things not central to my work.
By segregating different types of email into different accounts, it is possible to keep the clutter out of your main email accounts and still see the interesting but non essential emails.
Strategies to manage Dead Ends
This brings me to Dead Ends.
I follow close to 300 bloggers. Over any three month period several bloggers will abandon their blog.
New bloggers often decide blogging isn’t for them or they don’t have the time to write, so they shut things down.
Some blogs are removed and some are just abandoned. While I no longer receive emails from these blogs, sometimes I’ll go to a blog to see what’s new.
When I find an abandoned blog, a dead end, I’ve just wasted valuable keyboard time.
Blogs turn into dead ends for other reasons also. Sometimes I loose interest in the blogger’s topic or they change direction. Until I click “unfollow” their emails continue to flow into my mail box.
It’s easy to delete the bloggers who gave up. The ones I’ve lost interest in are harder to delete. I’m always hopeful they will have something interesting to say, and don’t want to miss it. I usually give these guys a few passes, but eventually they get cut.
When I do my email clean up, I delete the abandoned blogs from my feed also.
Twitter Black Holes and Dead Ends
Twitter can be another massive time suck. The torrent of tweets never slows. Not only do you get tweets from people you follow, you also get tweets from people who pay to get in front of you.
A few times a year I go in and clean out tweeters I’ve lost interest in. I also clean out the hyper active tweeters and the dormant tweeters. Some twitter accounts can send 20 or more tweets a day!
To manage the Tweeters I do want to follow I’ve been using lists to keep things organized. By grouping Tweeters it makes it easier to find tweets relevant to what I’m interested in or working on.
With limited time to read and write, I’ve had to develop and practice these strategies. I’m still buried, but I am actively trying to manage the situation so that I can spend more time reading what really interests me, and of course trying to write what really interests you.
Are you buried in emails?
How many email accounts do you have?
Do you un-follow and un-subscribe?
Read well my friends and watch out for black holes!
Physical fitness is key to a long life and good health.
Many of us judge our fitness level by what we see in the mirror, how fast we can run or what we can do in the gym.
These are all good indicators of physical fitness, but there are other factors that we cannot see in the mirror or on the stop watch.
One of these factors is cardiovascular fitness.
Cardiovascular fitness is a key health factor and indicator of fitness.
Your body’s capacity to transport and use oxygen during exercise (VO2 Max) is the most precise measure of overall cardiovascular fitness.
There are two ways to measure your VO2 Max.
Based on extensive research, The K. G. Jebsen Center of Exercise in Medicine at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, developed a survey that you can take to easily estimate your fitness level (VO2 Max).
The survey takes about five minutes to complete and requires information most of us know about ourselves.
The survey is anonymous and free. The data you provide is added to their database for research purposes.
The results of my October 2014 worldfitnesslevel.org questionnaire are below. Click my 2014 results and go to the Worldfitnesslevel.org website to calculate your fitness level.
I knew I was in the best shape of my life in 2014, but these results were surprising.
The survey asks questions about your weight, height, exercise routine and your diet. They also ask for your resting heart rate.
That’s probably the most difficult question for most of us to answer.
In 2014, I used a resting heart rate of 50 in my calculations. At that time my resting rate was usually below 50.
The best way to find your resting heart rate is to check your pulse before you get out of bed in the morning. Count your pulse for 15 seconds and multiply by 4. At a doctor’s office it’s not unusual for your heart rate to be slightly elevated!
Either method is fine as you are getting an estimate and not a diagnosis from this survey.
I took the survey again in March of 2019. This time I estimated my resting heart rate to be 56. It may be lower than that, but I’m certainly not in the same shape I was in 2014.
I weigh a little more in 2019, but my exercise and diet are similar if not a bit better. A question that I do not recall seeing five years ago was “How many hours a day do I spend sitting?”
Between work, commuting and sitting around the house, I estimated 12 hours per day. It’s probably more than that!
I am now five years older and weigh about 5lbs more than I did in 2014.
My results show that I have the fitness level of a 34 year old. That’s not bad for a 55 year-old. But five years ago I was as fit as a 24 year-old.
I didn’t dig into how the calculations are made, but the details are on their web site.
I’m pretty sure my pulse, weight and sitting time were the biggest factors to my loosing 10 years of fitness over five years!
I have read that it is important to know your VO2 Max for training. I never knew how to make these calculations and my doctor would not do it or refer me to a specialist to get the calculations.
Having a calculator designed by scientists is a good way to get a good approximation of your VO2 Max and fitness level. These calculations may not be 100% accurate, but it’s a good place to start.
Age can be measured by more than years
An October, 2014 New York Times article by Gretchen Reynolds discusses the research study conducted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)that helped develop this calculator.The NTNU have conducted studies on fitness and how it relates to wellness for more than 30 years.
This study, begun in the 1980’s, collected data from 55,000 Norwegian adults. They used the data to calculate the subject’s VO2max and fitness age. The higher your VO2max in relation to others your age, the lower your fitness age. Then they checked the death records for the study participants and discovered a relationship between VO2max and mortality.
It turned out that people whose calculated VO2max was 15 percent or more below average for their age— meaning that their fitness age was significantly above their chronological years — had an 82 percent higher risk of dying prematurely than those whose fitness age was the same as or more youthful than their actual age. According to the study’s authors, the results suggest that fitness age may predict a person’s risk of early death better than some traditional risk factors like being overweight, having high cholesterol levels or blood pressure, and smoking. Source: NY Times
The NTNU study collected data from Norwegians and the researchers understand that their results may not be accurate world wide. They plan to expand their study group and update the questionnaire to help make the calculator more accurate for people around the world.
Precisely Measuring Your Fitness Level
The most accurate way to measure your fitness level is a direct measurement using calibrated equipment.