Weekly Update – #17 – Finally Running Updates!

After a wild summer, running is starting to make it’s way back into my routine. This is my first update since June 30th, 2019.

Plumeria flowers (our garden)

Before high school I did a little bit of track and field, competing in the long jump event. In high school, most of my athletic energy was focused on marching band. That interest faded in college, and nothing really took it’s place. Several years passed until 2018, the year I started taking running seriously. Around August 2018 I committed by signing myself up for the Conqur LA Challenge, a set of 3 races of increasing distance, starting with 10K and concluding with the LA Marathon. I finished that marathon race in March, 2019.

For this season, I’ve signed up for three new events:

The first race already finished. I struggled my way through 13.1 miles for the SeaWheeze Virtual Half Marathon. This is how it works. I chose my own route. I ran and I recorded the activity with the Strava app. Once I finished the run and uploaded it to Strava, I was notified of my position relative to other runners. In 6-10 weeks a medal will arrive by mail. Weird!

A slow pace, but a finish nonetheless.

I was not nearly as well prepared for this race as my last half marathon. And I didn’t have the boost that comes with race day adrenaline, since I was on my own. It took me 3 hours to finish. I kind of miss the buzz of energy that usually comes with race day. It’s really fun to be part of a big pack of runners. It just wasn’t the same running by myself.

Actifit says it took me 24,000+ steps to go 13.1 miles.

A few days after SeaWheeze I am still sore. I regret skipping the usual Epsom salts bath. Other recovery methods don’t seem to be as effective. Word to the wise.

I have a few months to ramp up and prepare for the Palos Verdes half marathon in November. I’m looking forward to it. Let’s go!


Hi, I’m Torrey. Welcome to my blog. If you’re new here, I document my running experiences to help new runners learn about running. If you find the information useful, please consider ^^^following/reblogging/liking^^^

Running to Work in Summer Heat – Update #16

Hi I’m Torrey, this is my blog where I document my experiences as a runner , a reader, a writer and a thinker. It’s been four weeks since my last post, and I owe you guys an update. Sorry!

In this update:

  • Running to Work in California Summer Heat
  • Reading A Guide to the Good Life
  • Writing and Publishing the 22nd edition of Torrey’s Weekly Report
  • Thinking about Reducing Friction for Healthy Habits

Running to work in California Summer Heat

This month, I resumed running to work. I decided to alternate between biking and running. My bike route goes along the beach while my run route goes through LAX. I would much rather run along the beach but it’s 6 miles extra and it takes too long. So, LAX it is!

According to Strava I traveled 11.21 miles on foot. According to Actifit I took 20,148 steps to get there.

Strava stats for Commute Run #10.
Screenshot of Actifit snapped upon arrival. 20,148 steps.

The last time I did this run was March. There is a huge difference between March weather and June weather. June is hot and my island shorter-distance route doesn’t have much of a coastal breeze.


Reading A Guide to the Good Life

Since my last update I’ve been reading a couple books. I’ll share some notes from one of them I’m enjoying.

The book is called A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine. I’m just getting started with this book, but I like the concepts so far. First, Irvine covers a psychology concept called hedonistic adaption. To understand this concept imagine someone craving a fancy, new car. Once the car is brought home, happiness from the new car quickly fades and a new, often more expensive, desire sets in. The mind adapts to material pleasure and then seeks out some new pleasure. Hence, hedonistic adaptation, it makes us all miserable. The same idea applies to personal achievements like running a marathon.

The solution is to want what we already have. The way to do this is to remind yourself daily that you can lose everything you have, including your home, your relationships and your life. Visualizing loss of what we hold dear is a forcing function for counteracting hedonistic adaptation. It helps us not take things for granted. Stoic practitioners are known for creating daily (or more frequent), morbid reminders that say something like “you are going to die”. Talk about sense of urgency!

The second interesting concept is internalization of goals as a mechanism for focusing on things inside our Circle of Influence. I’ve talked about the Circle of Influence before in How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others. The idea here is about setting goals where you have 100% control of the outcome.

For example, let’s say you are runner entering a 5K race. Your goal could be to earn a top 3 finish. This is an external goal, because you cannot control the outcome. You cannot control the weather, the other runners, and a hundred other variables. If you realize you have fallen far behind the top three, you will get discouraged knowing your goal slips out of reach.

An internalized goal would be to run the race to the best of your ability, to give it your all. You would be un-phased by your competition, and you’ll likely earn a better overall finishing rank because you won’t be discouraged. I call this idea Compete Against Yourself.

There are many chapters left to get through, and you can see I’ve already learned a lot from this great book. Shout to to Derik Sivers and Tim Ferriss who recommended this book during a podcast on the Tim Ferriss Show.


Writing and Publishing the 22nd edition of Torrey’s Weekly Report

This week I published the 22nd edition of Torrey’s Weekly Report, the weekly blog where I share knowledge and exciting news with my peers and colleagues.

I have settled on a sustainable and consistent schedule of publishing bi-weekly (once every two weeks). This schedule is working well (except for the obvious conflict with the blog’s name).

This week I shared a technology update, some SQL knowledge I recently gained, and a book review. I’m excited to publish report #23 in two weeks!


Thinking about Reducing Friction for Healthy Habits

I’ve been thinking about reducing friction for healthy habits, and increasing friction for unhealthy habits.

For example this month I started keeping a gym bag at work at all times. The bag contains a towel, change of clothes, shower shoes, extra shoes, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc. Having the bag ready each day, even though I may not need it, reduces friction. There’s less planning required to do one of my bike or run commutes. I can decide to do so any day of the week and there’s less reasons to say no. I’ve reduced friction between me and the healthy habit.

Similarly I’ve implemented a practice of having drinking water in front of me at all times, even if I’m not thirsty or I don’t think I need it. Doing this has dramatically increased the amount of water I drink. Because I’ve removed the friction, the healthy habit becomes super easy.

The same thing works in reverse. You can insert friction to curb unhealthy habits. Hiding the TV remote in your closet or trashing the chocolate chip cookies creates friction and makes it harder to maintain those habits. Spending way too much time on social media? Delete the app from your phone every day and reinstall it when you really need it.

What do you think?


Thanks for reading and as always,

Have a great week!

Passion Fruit vine flower in my backyard.

Weekly Update – #14 – May 12th, 2019

It’s been about a month since I last posted an update. One of my readers reached out to ask what’s going on. This is really, really cool, and I appreciate the nudge. One of the main reasons I started sharing updates is to create accountability. Accountability for three habits that are important but often slip: Fitness, Reading, and Writing. So the nudge is really useful. Thanks Antin!

Succulent flower in our backyard.

Running

Nope! Haven’t done any serious running since the LA Marathon (which I finished in around 5 hours 45 minutes). Because, excuses! There has a lot of other stuff going on but that’s not a good excuse. I have learned a lesson many times: being active has a positive impact on everything else. It’s good for the brain. And long solitude runs are great for deep thinking.

At times like this it’s useful to remember your “why”. I want health and wellness to to live a long, robust life, and to have plenty of energy for family and everything else. So, it doesn’t really make sense to slow down and lapse back into old habits. I need to maintain the training habits and set new goals.

I’m really wanting to hop on the bike for some commutes along the beach, like I talked about. Let’s do it!

Reading

I’m slowly making my way through Richard Feynman’s QED: A Strange Theory of Light and Matter. I haven’t been reading much of anything else, forcing myself to get through this set of physics lectures.

I did just buy a book I’m looking forward to reading in the future. It’s a biography of JRR Tolkien by Henry Carpenter. The biographer gained access to all of Tolkien’s notes and interviewed many friends and family. Should be an interesting read!

Writing

I have been putting a lot of energy into Torrey’s Weekly Report, my work blog. It had gone dormant for a while, and we brought it back to life. In the past two weeks we published the 17th and 18th editions.

I’m happy that TWR is back up and running. What helped is shifting the schedule from Monday to Wednesday distribution. Now I don’t have conflicts with weekend activities and I have more time during the week to ready the next edition.

I’m not happy about the lack of public content. For months I wanted to share content from Torrey’s Weekly Report on Medium.com. I need to establish a process for this.


Thanks for reading, and, as always,

Have a great week!

Weekly Update – #13 – April 14th, 2019

Hi, I’m Torrey. Each week I share updates in three areas: running, reading, and writing. This helps create accountability and keep in contact with my team. My team includes family, friends, and you, the reader.

Welcome back! Last week I took a week off from writing while spending time with family. I don’t have a whole lot to report this week, so I’ll talk about what’s coming up in the near future.

Flowers in our backyard.

Running

After the marathon, what’s next? Running the marathon was always more than a checklist item for me. I plan to maintain my running ability and work towards triathlon races. To commit to this I will register for the 2020 Big Sur marathon. And when I’m ready I will register for my first triathlon.

While preparing for the marathon race, I found a really nice commuting route along California coast line. The total distance from home to work is 16 miles. Because of the time commitment, it’s not tenable to run that route often. However, it is a beautiful and reasonable bike ride. So, my plan is start biking to work via this route once per week. I’ll report back on how that goes.

Lastly, it’s almost summer time. So it’s a great time for me to get back in the pool and resume lap swimming to build water endurance.

Swim, Bike, Run!

Reading

This week I’ve continued reading Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry by David Robertson and Bill Breen. It’s a fun read for me, since I grew up as a die-hard LEGO kid.

There are some useful lessons in the book about business. The book talks about the innovation benefits of co-located, small teams. Large projects spanning multiple time zones and hundreds of employees resulted in big losses for LEGO, while tiny teams working underground produced smash hit products.

It also talks about the importance of engaging communities and gathering market feedback. LEGO has used online forums and focus groups to improve products which ultimately boosts profit. Essentially, adult designers creating products targeting 9 year old kids can’t succeed without market testing.

Writing

Last week, I took a week off from writing. I need to put extra energy into my blogs to regain momentum.

However, I have been thinking about this. I want to share my work-in-progress list of ten principles/values I aspire to live by. I often fail at these! Here are the ten:

  • Knowledge has limitless value — be very generous about books and learning.
  • Time is more valuable than money — be very conscious of where your time goes.
  • Have a bias towards action — take action at the first available opportunity, don’t overthink it.
  • Share knowledge freely — learn teach learn. Write down what you learn and share it with others.
  • Kill ’em with positivity — remain positive always and smile!
  • Music, movement and sunshine are essential — go outside, exercise and enjoy some beats. Especially do this when you feel off.
  • You are entitled to nothing — gratitude is a path to happiness.
  • You are the project — get 1% better every day.
  • Take care of the team — the team includes yourself, friends, family, community.
  • Ask more questions, even more stupid ones — don’t be afraid to ask.

What do you think of these? Drop me an email or comment, I’m interested to hear your feedback.


As always, thanks for reading, and

Have a great week!

Weekly Update – #11 – March 16th, 2019

Hi, I’m Torrey. Each week I share updates in three areas: running, reading, and writing. This helps create accountability and keep in contact with my team. My team includes family, friends, and you, the reader.

This week was a battle of battles. Both of the twins caught a virus (in series, not parallel). A remarkable number of parts of our house were discovered broken. And a handful of other obstacles popped up.

Running

Despite all the chaos, I managed to run 27.7 miles on Tuesday, with a long break in the middle. This was my last long run before the LA Marathon. Just one more week to go.

Here’s the proof — thanks Strava and Apple!

Going to work…

Coming home..

Apple Health includes all the other walking throughout the day. 53,000 steps , and approximately 6 hours of intense activity. Crazy!

Apple Health provides another data point.

The LA Marathon provides Gatorade Endurance Formula Lemon-Lime throughout the race. I picked up a cask of the powder to get adjusted to it before race day. It’s not soo bad. Iron Man!!

Reading

I’m reading Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry by David Robertson. There’s a great story towards the beginning of this book. Founder Ole Kirk caught his son Godtfred bragging about cutting corners while making a shipment of wooden duck toys. Ole Kirk ordered his son to retrieve the shipment from the train station and immediately fix the ducks. Godtfred stayed awake all night fixing the ducks.

Later, Godtfred took over at the helm of LEGO and turned this lesson into the company’s motto: “Only the best is good enough”. The outcome is remarkable: each one of the billions of LEGO bricks manufactured since 1958 snap together, they are 100% backwards compatible.

I received a handful of new books this week, adding to my growing pile of unread books. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, Discipline Equals Freedom Field Manual by Jocko Willink, and a box of Mouse Books (On Service).

Mouse Books is neat. You pay for membership and quarterly you receive 3 little books.

Pictures below.

I read through Discipline Equals Freedom Field Manual. It’s a quick read and more of a quick reference for healthy habits. Beneath the layer of super-macho male energy I found some good tips, some of which I’ve talked about before on this blog.

* Wake up early, preferably before dawn – get to work before the rest of the world does

* Compete against yourself – bring out the best in you instead of comparing yourself to someone else

* Work out every day – even if you don’t want to

* Eat clean – junk food is poison

At the end of the book there’s an appendix of tons of weightlifting routines. I’ll experiment with these later.

Writing

A few new people joined the team this week by subscribing to Torrey’s Blog. The group has grown to around 130. Welcome!

One of the new folks, Brandon, shared some valuable feedback over email. Thanks Brandon!

My internal work blog lost some momentum. I failed to publish this week. There are a few things in the pipeline I need to get done, but I haven’t given them enough attention. Other stuff is eating my head. Post-marathon I want to spend more time and energy on writing.


As always, thanks for reading, and

Have a great week!

Weekly Update – #10 – March 10th, 2019

Hi, I’m Torrey. Each week I share updates in three areas: running, reading, and writing. This helps create accountability and keep in contact with my team. My team includes family, friends, and you, the reader.


Running

I set a new distance record this week. I ran my long commuting route, racking up a total of 17.1 miles over 3 hours and 33 minutes. Next week I will attempt a 26 mile day. There’s only 2 weeks left until the LA Marathon. Last chance training!

I don’t take enough time to reflect on progress I’ve made. Luckily, Strava helps me with this on a monthly basis. I received this summary of February activities in my inbox. 69 miles traveled on foot, 23 miles more than January. Insane! Last September I could barely run 10km.

I decided distance running is 90% mind and 10% body. Training is all about training your mind, must less about training your body. The mind quits first.

In The Dip by Seth Godin there’s this chart showing distribution of runners who quit during marathons, with the X-axis representing the distance reached before quitting. The peak is around mile 18-19. Most runners who quit, quit 7-8 miles before the finish line. Their mind gives up before the finish line is in sight. The mind quits first, so train your mind.


Reading

I’m still reading Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss and Lead Yourself First by Kethledge and Erwin.

In Tribe of Mentors one passage that hit me particularly hard is from Muneeb Ali, a computer science PhD who co-founded a company called Blockstack. I had never heard of Ali until this. When asked what has most improved his life in the last five years, Ali answered:

Asking myself the question, “When I’m old, how much would I be willing to pay to travel back in time and relive the moment that I’m experiencing right now?”

If that moment is something like rocking my six-month-old daughter to sleep while she hugs me, then the answer is anything. I’d literally pay all the money I’d have in the bank at, say, age 70 to get a change to relive that moment. This simple question just puts things in perspective and makes your grateful for the experience you’re having right now versus being lost in thoughts about the past or the future.

Mic drop!

In, Lead Yourself First one concept which struck me is the difference between analytical thinking and intuition. Analysis works well with limited information and fails when there’s too much information. You can get stuck in analysis paralysis where you go through a loop of measure and evaluate over and over. Intuition works well when there’s too much information. With intuition, your gut tells you which way to go and you look for data to prove that assumption wrong.

I think generally reading books builds our muscles of intuition. Most of us do not remember specifics of most of what we read, its too much information. However, we do build intuition which can be called upon in the future to get us unstuck. When facing a challenge, you vaguely recall a similar situation and solutions which worked before. So, stand on the shoulders of giants.


Writing

I have not done a whole lot of writing outside my weekly updates and Torrey’s Weekly Report (TWR). The 16th edition of TWR covered some new technology under development, some market observations, a secure code training announcement, and a few other odds and ends. I’m still working on a Medium post about what I’ve learned from publishing TWR, but I haven’t found time for rewrites this week.


Thanks for reading, and

Have a great week!

Weekly Update – #9 – March 3rd, 2019

Hi Team,

This week I have a very light update on running, reading, and writing.

Running

I ran my beach route to work again this week. The run clocked in at a slower 15.3 miles. I have 3 weeks left to prepare for the LA Marathon. It’s gonna be awesome!

Reading

I’m still reading Tribe of Mentors by Tom Ferriss. And I just started reading Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude by Raymond Kethledge and Michael Erwin. It’s a book all about utilizing solitude to harness intuition and make tough decisions.

Writing

I didn’t do much writing this week. I started writing a summary of what I’ve learned from publishing 15 editions of the internal corporate blog called Torrey’s Weekly Report. I’m planning to publish that post on Medium.com as well. I wasn’t satisfied, and decided to delay publishing and spend more time rewriting it.

Thanks for reading and,

Have a great week!

Weekly Update – #8 – February 24th, 2019

This week I have some quick updates on running, reading, and writing. At the end I’ll talk a little about innovation.

Running

This week I ran farther than ever. 16.5 miles I ran from home to work. My route runs along the California coastline from Manhattan Beach to Marina Del Rey, providing beautiful views of the ocean and mountains. Because it has been cold and rainy in LA, the mountains are snow-capped. I wish I took photos!

Stats from Strava.

Making some good progress towards marathon distance. 10 more miles! 4 weeks left until the LA Marathon. Let’s do it!

Reading

I’m reading Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss. Tim is known largely for his breakout book “The Four Hour Work Week” and his podcast “The Tim Ferriss Show“. Holy cow, Tribe of Mentors is packed with so much wisdom. Tim asked 13 hard hitting questions to dozens of high performing people. Their backgrounds span a wide range of fields. Athletes to chefs to business executives, to film directors, … you name it. This book is not quick if you want to read cover to cover, it’s really dense.

Writing

This week I don’t have too much to report here. I published the 15th edition of Torrey’s Weekly Report, which covers some new technology being shipped by the team and some new projects spinning up.

I wanted to start publishing a public version of Torrey’s Weekly Report in January, but I’ve missed the target. This week, for the 16th edition I am breaking from the usual format to produce something I’m comfortable publishing on Medium.com.

Innovation

How do I accomplish more today than myself one year ago, five years ago?

I recently heard a story about a teenage girl working at McDonald’s. This employee stumbled upon “would you like some fries with that?”. It turned out some crazy number of customers answered ‘yes’ to that question. The store became an anomaly, selling unusually large volumes of french fries.

Word traveled up the chain to the corporate office, and eventually all McDonald’s cashiers were trained to endlessly repeat the phrase “would you like some fries with that?”. This is innovation. And anyone can innovate just like that teenage girl.

Innovation is just simply something useful that you didn’t do yesterday that you’re gonna do today.

Manoj Bhargava, Founder of 5-Hour Energy. Video.

The general strategy is to constantly experiment. What works is useful, keep that stuff and iterate. Develop systems that produce the results you want.

And when you take on a new job or hobby, start a new system. What worked elsewhere may not work here. You need a new set of behaviors and habits.

Experiment! Innovate! You can improve everything from your commute, morning routine, gym routine, evening routine. One thousand little changes compound into huge results.

Thanks for reading, and

Have a great week!

Weekly Update – #7 – February 16th, 2019

This week I have some quick updates on running 🏃, reading 📖, and writing ✍️. Then I’ll top it off with some hand-wavy philosophical mumbo-jumbo.

Running

Work and rain threw off my running plans this week. I ran 9 miles on Saturday morning from home to meet up with family at a local gym. I’ll run again Monday (President’s Day).

Only 5 weeks left until the LA Marathon. Get after it! I’ll be spending more time to extend runs and achieve longer distances.

Strava stats for my 9 mile run. Slow!

Reading

I finished reading ChiRunning by David Dryer and Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport.

ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless Injury-free Running is packed with practical, general running advice and exercises. I would only recommend this book to someone who is an amateur runner and seeks to enhance their running experience.

Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism reminds me of a Buzz Aldrin quote that goes “You promised me Mars colonies. Instead I got Facebook.” The book teaches being intentional about leisure activities and harnessing your attention. By doing this you can accomplish bigger things and find more rewarding experiences. In a year from now you probably won’t remember what you saw on Instagram or watched on Netflix, but you’ll remember learning a new language or musical instrument. Stop swiping through Facebook and go build his damn Mars base.

Digital Minimalism also introduced me to the Mouse Book Club. I signed up for membership and received 3 books in the justice series. I’ve read one of them called Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in all Its Phases by Ida B Wells.

Mouse Book Club packaging

I’ve just started reading a compulsive book buy. It’s George R. R. Martin’s Fire and Blood. The book jumps back in time 300 years before the Game of Thrones takes place. I don’t often read fiction but I think I’ll enjoy this one.

Writing

Not a whole lot of writing news this week. I published the 14th edition of Torrey’s Weekly Report, which covers some new technology for mobile and Mac platforms being delivered by our team.

Torrey’s Blog now has 120 subscribers. Woot! Thank you everyone for all of your support. I’m humbled.

Philosophical Mumbo-Jumbo

This section is dedicated to J, a loyal fan.

Gratitude is the mortar which holds together Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Maslow is an American psychologist known for Maslow’s hammer, stated “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. He is even more well known for inventing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Maslow’s Hierarchy is usually drawn as a pyramid. The lower levels are pre-requisites to the higher ones. Physiological needs must be satisfied before safety needs, for example.

Image source: https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MaslowsHierarchyOfNeeds.svg#mw-jump-to-license

Self-actualization means being your best self, letting your talents blossom, and reaching your potential. Esteem means feeling respected and appreciated including by yourself (self-esteem). Love/belonging is about being part of communities and higher causes. Safety needs are about not fearing harm. And physiological needs are basic things like food, water, air, shelter, and WiFi. Just kidding about WiFi.

Gratitude is a path to happiness. We know that practicing gratitude makes us more happy. But what do you practice being grateful for? You can start with the first level of Maslow’s pyramid, and then add in the other four.

By expressing gratitude in this way, you reinforce to mind the feeling all your needs are satisfied. The practice cements the pyramid’s bricks together, allowing it to build upwards. Through gratitude, you know you can worry less about finding dinner, and focus more energy on manifesting your given talents, and giving back.

Gratitude is the mortar which holds together Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Weekly Update – #6 – February 9th, 2019

Health & Fitness

I ran my commute (11.9 miles) for the 5th time. Because it’s unusually cold 🥶 this week, it’s tempting to stay home. But! Running gloves and beanies help.

21,500 steps!

 Actifit is the mobile dapp that incentivizes healthy lifestyle and rewards your everyday activity. You’re probably wondering what the heck that means. I’ll explain later.

Family

One of our twins fell and head butted me leaving me with a black eye. Boom!

This week we are celebrating Lunar New Year aka Chinese New Year. Happy year of the pig! 🐷

Reading

I got a new book! Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. It discusses being more deliberate using smartphones and social media. Principle #1: Clutter is Costly.

I’m also reading a great book called ChiRunning by Danny Dryer. It’s about tweaking your running form as to run with less effort and injury-free.

Writing

Torrey’s Weekly Report (my work-focused blog) now serves 85 subscribers.

And Torrey’s Blog (the one you’re reading now) serves 108 subscribers. Holy cow!

We hit the 💯milestone, team!

Thanks for reading and as always,

Have a great week!