7 Ways To Make Money NOW

(i rented a room in this house where i started my first business)

(i rented a room in this house where i started my first business)

When I was in college I was pretty broke so I started a business in Missoula, Montana in my tiny 75 square foot bedroom in a 6-bedroom house where I lived with 4 girls and 1 other guy.

I had no space and very little money but sometimes our constraints are advantages.

I was an outdoor athlete along with many others in Missoula, so I used my Dad’s company “Equipment Sales Company” (a company that built machines for the ceramic wire industry) to open accounts with outdoor gear companies. I posted handwritten signs around town “Wholesale Outdoor Gear 30-50% Off. Call 406-555-5555”

They would order the gear they wanted, save a ton of money on gear and I would get a 10% cut risk-free. It wasn’t huge but it paid rent. I’ve gone on to start 3 or 4 more businesses, help turn around a $50M company, help raise money and build a company into its IPO and I’ve got a few new projects I’m working on. I have a different perspective on things, but sometimes you need money NOW.

A lot of us are broke but the thought of starting a company is intimidating. We don’t know where to start or what to do. We’re afraid we might do something wrong or we need an accountant or an LLC, SCorp, CCorp, and so on. In short, we talk ourselves out of doing it because we’re afraid of the scary monsters in the lurky business forest.

But it’s not that scary. You just haven’t seen the forest during the day when the ferns and trillium are lit by sunlight. There are no monsters, just opportunities, and you’re standing there in the middle and I’m going to try to help.

(the forest seems scary at night)

(the forest seems scary at night…)

(...but it's not so scary afterall)

(…but it’s not so scary after all)

Before you start, this is what I recommend:

1. Write down ideas every day. What’s an idea? the idea and the next step it takes to start the idea.
2. Look around at your resources: somewhere to live, a talent, a car, bikes, boat, skills like cooking or drawing, maybe you know something unique, maybe extra space, a dock, a piece of land.
3. Be specific about how much money you need. Maybe it’s $50 for food or $1,000 to pay your mortgage.
4. See where you can cut expenses now so you can relieve some pressure. Give yourself some freedom.
5. Forget about the big details. Once you get traction (money coming in) worry about the rest. Maybe you never need a business structure and can just stick to nothing and file a Sole Proprietorship at the end of the year with your taxes.

With our smartphones and the web in full force, you have a powerful platform and tools to make money.

Here are 7 of the ways you can make money NOW:

(rent a place to crash on airbnb)

(rent a place to crash on airbnb)

1. Rent your space. Use Airbnb, Vacation Rental By Owner or Craiglist. I was in Maui and people were renting tents in their back yard in Hana for $45/night with sleeping bags, refreshments and breakfast. There are no boundaries anymore. Rent your couch, rent your deck, rent your sleeping bag. Turn a room into a pirate ship and rent it. Throw in an eye patch and hot buttered rum. Offer your space for storage-  use a small corner of the garage and rent it for $100/month. Maybe your shed. Anything you have – get creative. Rent the space that is just sitting there.

(rent your tools on craigslist)

(rent your tools on craigslist)

2. Rent tools. Growing up I was oblivious. We had a barn full of tools we hardly used: a wood splitter, a chipper, power tools, several lawn mowers. I could have put an ad in the paper and rented the tools and made a ton of cash (well, a ton for a kid anyway). Use Craigslist and rent your tools. Someone needs that tile saw in your basement.

(sell your cookies!)

(sell your cookies!)

3. Sell your food. My aunt won Illinois State Fair awards for her chocolate chip cookies. Her recipe could be bigger than Famous Amos. In grad school I built her the front page of a website called “Aunt Bee’s Bakery.” It had bees buzzing around a chocolate chip cookie and the chips were each a different menu option that popped up on scroll over. She hasn’t done it but maybe you can. Sell food in parking lots in front of busy stores, rent a small space and start a little tail gate restaurant at a food truck lot. Offer to cook for parties. Sell at Farmer’s Markets or other events. Dave’s Killer Bread started this way and is huge today. Grow something (no, not that) – trees, flowers, vegetables, anything, and sell it to local stores or florists or nurseries.

(build stuff people want)

(build stuff people want…)

(the bubble tea collar from the  pet product company i cofounded)

(…like the bubble tea collar from ii inu)

4. Build stuff. In 2004 I cofounded a company called ii inu (ee-ee-new; Japanese for “Good Dog”). It was a designer pet products company started when my partner created a cool looking collar for her dog. People stopped her to ask where they could buy. First we built them ourselves, then I outsourced manufacturing to a company in Seattle. Within 6 months we were in stores in 36 states and 12 countries. Our cost was $2.40-$4.30 and they sold for $42-$60 retail. It was a good business. What can you make that someone else can buy? Sell it on Etsy.com, eBay,  get a Shopify web store or in local stores. No local stores? Find other stores and call them or send a free sample.

(do this, but not creepy like this guy)

(do this, but not creepy like this guy)

5. Offer other services. If you’re a student you should launder peoples clothes for $7.50/basket. 100 loads is $750/month. Maybe it’s 1,000 loads. Offer to create facebook pages and twitter accounts for $20/month for businesses. Get 10 businesses and you’re making $200/month for just a little effort. Get 100 businesses and you’ve got $2K/month. Would that change your game? Do yardwork, mow lawns, serve elderly or handicapped by running errands, offer a coffee delivery service to offices near you. Drive someone – sign up with Lyft or Uber and user your car as a service. People in cities are making $50K/year doing this. Think of a service you can offer right now to people in need. One idea I think would be a great business is helping other people convert their extra space to being Airbnb ready or driving people to airports at 1/2 the cost of a town car. Decorate Christmas trees, power wash decks, string lights or shovel driveways.

(entertain people)

(entertain people)

6. Entertain people. Can you play music, edit video or do some other fun thing? Offer to perform at parties or services for local active events. Teach music or sports or tutor kids in those activities. Belly dance. I know one girl who teaches belly dancing and practically owns the market for belly dancing costumes.

7. Help local businesses make money. What local business can you help? Approach restaurants, stores, anyone and offer to help them advertise or run special events. Take a % of the money from each event or that day’s sales. Help a different businesses every weekend and observe to find more services they need or opportunities to extend the money you make.

But there’s just one catch. In any of these ideas, do it differently. Be remarkable. Give people more than they expect:
-if you’re mowing lawns, dress up like a clown. Be “Clown Mowing”. Every time a car passes they will be like “hey there’s a clown mowing a lawn!” When they need their lawn mowed, they will want you. Maybe they’ll start using you every week just for laughs
-if you’re renting a space on Airbnb throw in more than the guest expects. If they rent your couch, throw in dinner or a free Netflix movie. Surprise them to the upside so they give rave reviews or come back again
-if you’re cooking something throw in a sample of something else you cook or give them a recipe for anything they’re interested in. Help them learn to cook themselves

Being remarkable will do two things: 1. It will get you a lot of attention. Imagine how many people would share “Clown Mowing” on facebook, twitter and Instagram. 2. It will make you more money. More people will want to have that experience and they’ll be willing to pay more for it.

Colonel Sanders started KFC by selling chicken at his gas station. Ray Croc wasn’t too good to flip burgers. Conrad Hilton started with one crappy hotel, built a business, lost it and rebuilt it. You’re not too good for whatever idea you have. Just do the work.

When I feel uninspired or unmotivated I remind myself that everything, EVERYTHING, starts small. Microsoft was just a few guys in a room. Facebook was one kid in his dorm. Famous Amos cookies was an eccentric guy and a recipe. McDonald’s was a single diner. One thing is all it takes.

Right now I am working on at least 3 projects. I’ll share the details when it’s time. Some of it won’t work out, hopefully some of it will. No matter what, I’m not going to stop, because everything I want is just ahead.

And when I feel like stopping, I go to Wikipedia and read about Colonel Sanders, Conrad Hilton and others who started from nothing.

Sometimes I wonder what is missing in the world today because so many other people quit just before they became a huge success.

If you feel like quitting, read these stories and don’t give up. I believe in you:

Colonel Sanders

Ray Croc

Conrad Hilton

Sarah Blakely

John Paul DeJoria

Howard Schultz

Nick Woodman

(inspiration)

(inspiration)

How To Run 50 Miles (part II)

(cliff young is one of my heroes. he was 61 when he won the 544 mile ultra race in Australia and changed the way modern runners run distance)

(cliff young is a hero to me. he was 61 when he won the 544 mile ultra race in Australia and changed the way modern runners run distance races)

Running far means being on your feet for a long time and eating right.

Using the tricks I’ve discovered over years of training I can run about 30 miles any time I want.

The two keys are: Nutrition (what you eat) and Conditioning (how you get and stay fit).

Not all food is the same. Not all conditioning will prepare you the way you need.

Most people overemphasize their training and underemphasize their nutrition. It’s almost better to do the opposite so let’s start with food.

Recap:
1. no more than 300 calories per hour; avoid sucrose aka Gatorade, Powerade, junk food, and so on
2. no more than 16-20oz water per hour
3. you need electrolyte supplements if you are prone to cramping or are exercising past 2 hours
4. you need to take in protein supplements if you are exercising past 2 hours or your body will cannibalize itself

(I only use hammer products because they keep my stomach calm, taste good and work)

(I only use hammer products because they keep my stomach calm, taste good and work)

Specifically, I use Hammer Nutrition supplements. I use them exclusively because they use long-chain carbohydrates that do not upset my stomach in flavors that are easy to digest, and they explain each of their products so you can tweak your intake to specifically what you need. Everyone has their preference and I’m not compensated by them in any way.
The products I use from Hammer are: HEED carb drink with electrolytes, Perpetuem protein fuel, Endurolytes electrolyte pills, Hammer Gel energy gel (with electrolytes) and Recoverite recovery drink.

This is how I fuel (based on time, not distance):
1. runs up to 1 hour: 1-2 Endurolytes prior, generally nothing while I’m running unless I just feel crappy that day in which case I’ll take 8-10oz water with 1/2-1 scoop HEED mixed in
2. Runs up to 2 hours: 1-2 Endurolyte pills beforehand then a 16-20oz water bottle with 2 scoops HEED; if it’s a tough 2-hour run I’ll take 2 water bottles (each with HEED) and carry 6-9 Endurolyte pills – 3-4 per hour (1 every 15-20 minutes); if it’s hot, I’ll take 12-15 Endurolyte pills (4-7 per hour with a couple extra in case I drop them)
3. Long runs of 2+ hours: 1-2 Endurolytes ahead of the run; 16-20oz/hour in a camelbak or I’ll plan a run past a water source where I can fill up. Along with this I’ll take a multi-hour bottle of Perpetuem: mix 1-2scoops perpetuem + I mix in 1scoop HEED per hour of exercise (3 hours would be 6 scoops Perpetuem + 3 scoops HEED mixed together for me) and add water. This will be my fuel source for long runs – a single thick gooey bottle of running food, then 16-20oz of pure water (48-60 oz for 3 hours) from a Camelbak. On top of this I’ll plan 4-6 Endurolytes per hour or 12-18 Endurolytes for a 3-hour run + a few extra in case I drop some along the way (inevitable when you’re juggling them as you run down a steep trail).

Summarized:
1 hour – 1-2 Endurolytes + 1/2 bottle of water mixed with 1-scoop HEED
2 hours – 1-2 Endurolytes prior + 1 bottle per hour containing 16-20oz water + 2 scoops HEED; 4-6 Endurolytes per hour (1 every 15 minutes, more if it’s hot)
2+ hours – 1-2 Endurolytes prior + 16-20oz water per hour in a Camelbak + a bottle filled with 2 scoops perpetuem + 1 scoop HEED for every hour planned (3 hours = 6 Perpetuem + 3 HEED scoops in the bottle mixed with water to form paste + 48-60oz water in the Camelbak I use to wash the paste down and sip frequently)

This food model is scalable, so just adjust it to the length of your run and your personal needs. Some people can run for two hours without drinking anything. I am not one of those people and you shouldn’t try to be. It’s dangerous, especially when you’re considering ultra-marathons. You might feel good one hour and completely blow up the next.

Also important: as soon as you finish a 2 hour run or longer, you need to take vitamins right away. I used to get sick when I was training hard because my immune system was compromised. Taking vitamins post-run will help recharge your body and protect your immune system. A single big general supplement is good or you can buy vitamins from Hammer.

And I always drink Recoverite after any run. Replaces protein and muscle glycogen that will prep you for the next run. This is critical and shouldn’t ever be skipped. If you skip a recovery meal it’s likely your next run will be harder and more painful.

As for the actual running part…

When was the last time you were on your feet for 10 hours nonstop? It’s probably been awhile. So we have to start small when we’re training for an ultra and this is how we start. Start standing up for 3 or 4 hours. You can start by going for a long walk (time, not distance). Anything to get you on your feet.

Once you can stand for hours at a time start jogging. Walk, jog, walk, jog, walk, jog.

Set the bar low, then build it up once you have a base.

Actually, this is the key to finishing ultramarathons that few people talk about. Until you’re ultra-conditioned to run for 50 straight miles, the way to do an ultra (and any other longest distance run as you’re starting out) is to avoid redlining.

You avoid redlining by jogging flats and downhills and walking uphill or walking any time you feel like you’re starting to overexert. The key to going far is going slow.

As my pro athlete friend Chuck once told me “go slow to go fast.” And I say “go slow to go far.”

Once you can do that, you switch it so you are running while taking walking breaks whenever you need to: jog, walk, jog, walk, jog, and so on.

Once you’ve got that, you start running, slowly, for short then longer runs.

Once you can do this, you start running short and fast, then mixing in really slow long runs. This builds muscle and endurance. The skyscraper on the foundation.

Running short-fast sets followed by running long-slow sets is the training method we’ll use to build your foundation.

After doing this for a few months, you’ll be ready for anything.

So here’s the specific program I follow when I’m training for a long race:

During the week I hate going on pre-planned long training runs. It’s hard to find the time and it’s boring. I’d rather have fun with running, so here is the in-week plan:

Go outside or to a trailhead and just run at a moderate pace (for you) for 15 minutes to wherever you end up. Note exactly where you end up and remember it. You should be working a little bit but not stressing the distance or overexerting. This 15-minute distance point is your new benchmark, and around which your running plan will be built.

Turn around and run back to the start. This should be about 30 minutes of running total.

On weekends, we’re going to do subsequent longer, slower runs consecutively both Saturday and Sunday.

So your plan will look something like:
Tuesday – 30 minute(ish) run
Thursday – 30 minute(ish) run
Saturday – long run
Sunday – long run

That’s it. This is where you start.

Your weekly runs (Tuesday/Thursday) don’t change in length, but they do change.

Once you have your 15-minute benchmark, you are now going to stress yourself on these short runs.

You will run these short runs for speed.

Every Tuesday and Thursday you’re going to do the same run. But you’re going to do it as fast as you can on the way out. On the way back you can run at a slow recovery pace, but try to go a little faster than that.

You will find that your 15-minute mark actually drops to 14 minutes, then 13 and even 12 minutes one-way and your total 30-minute run drops to 25-27 minutes total as you get faster.

Why? This builds strength, power and your VO2 max (lung capacity). And as your weekend distance runs increase you will be going out tired from the weekend run and stressing your body on these short, but hard runs.

Also, this becomes a palatable running program that doesn’t force you to run for 3 hours after a long day at work or when it’s dark. You can run in the morning before work, at lunch or whenever is convenient.

Just be sure you’re running as fast as you can to your original marker along the same route, then back to the start. It will feel very hard.

If you travel a lot, you can still do this program during the week while you travel. Just use the 15/30 minute run as a guide – run as hard as you can for 15 minutes sustained, then turn around and run back at a slower recovery pace.

You can also use  a treadmill with the same program.

As your base builds, you build your weekend distance:
Saturday – 1.5 hour run
Sunday – 1.5 hour run

1 month in:
Saturday – 2 hour run
Sunday – 1.5 hour run

2 months in:
Saturday – 2 hour run
Sunday – 2 hour run

3 months in:
Saturday – 3 hour – 3.5 hour run
Sunday – 2 hour run

4 months in:
Saturday – 5 hour run
Sunday – 2 hour run

By the time you reach a 6 hour run on Saturday you’ll be at about the 60% distance (30-31 miles or so) that is long enough for you to be ready for the Ultra.

It’s important to rest. If a weekend comes and you feel totally destroyed, drop down to consecutive 1-hour runs, do a really slow long run or even take a day off. Recovery is crucial and risking injury can sideline you from your goal.

You’re also allowed to use the run-walk strategy during training. It’s likely the first month that 1.5 hour runs on consecutive days will be very hard for you, especially through the mountains or hills. In that case you jog (slowly) flats and walk anything uphill. OR, you jog until you feel tired, then walk until you feel better. Just keep repeating the jog-walk-run strategy as you progress.

And don’t beat yourself up. The goal is to finish, not to break a record. There are no additional points for suffering.

Put it all together and you get short, fast runs during the week building your power and then long-slow runs on weekends building your endurance and teaching you what your body needs and when it needs it.

You will start “feeling” your muscles craving food and electrolytes and you will see what the effect is of various caloric intakes.

Most importantly, listen to your body. My guide is just a reference. If you’re cramping more than you should, bonking or feeling tight in your legs: increase electrolytes and carbs during your run. If you’re feeling bloated or salty, reduce electrolytes or food. Tweak slowly and look for the response.

Don’t run through injuries and remember why you’re running. It should be fun, not torture (sometimes torture is fun, but be smart).

(overtraining is a serious problem. go slow to go fast. go slow to go far. go slow and have fun. don't overtrain)

(overtraining is a serious problem. go slow to go fast. go slow to go far. go slow and have fun. don’t overtrain)

This plan will get you ready for your first 50-mile ultra marathon and it works for other endurance events too.

Let me know how this works for you and if you have any “tweaks” I’d love to hear about them.

Oh 1 more thing: use sunscreen always, wear a hat with a bill to protect your face, get some arm warmer sleeves that peel away, invest in a good thin running shell and always have a great playlist – those runs can get boring after a couple hours. Email me or add a comment below if you want my gear suggestions.

That’s it. Have fun. Go run. Stay healthy.

(I run in Altra zero-drop shoes exclusively. wide toe box and zero-drop is comfortable and prevents injury. these are not minimal shoes, but they do help you run naturally)

(Lastly: I run in Altra zero-drop shoes exclusively. wide toe box and zero-drop is comfortable and prevents injury. these are not minimal shoes, but they do help you run naturally)

Take A Deep Whiff

“You have to smell it. Take a deep whiff.”

Their grandfather was in his 90s. It seemed he was in his 90s for 15 years because when you’re a child age is constant. Until he passed away.

But before he passed away, he was in his 90s and lived with them, C & B (initials for privacy), our friends.

We grew up on the end of a dead end street in Illinois. You could now call it a suburb of Chicago. But then it was just rural Illinois.

It was the dead end of a street with a 2-acre yard bordered by thousands of acres of woods and wetlands, streams and ponds.

It was a small neighborhood so us kids formed a gang.

(it only took 1 google search)

(it only took 1 google search)

We had a plastic urinal from their grandfather because there’s a lot of schwag that happens with an old person and a plastic urinal seemed useful. We hid it under a large spruce tree in our yard.

So my older brother and our neighbor, B, made an initiation out of it.

After lunch someone convinced someone else to stick their finger down their throat and puke into the urinal.

We ate a lot of summer sausage and cheese. What can you expect? We lived not far from the border of Wisconsin. And so it began.

“Take a deep whiff.”

I was the first after my older brother and B initiated themselves.

I whiffed. But it wasn’t bad at first.

You’d hold the handle, pop the yellow lid with your thumb and stick your nose to the edge. At first it required the help of a finger in the back of the throat because the smell wasn’t horrible yet, but you could visually identify sausage rinds and cheese curds if you looked closely, so the visual and the finger kickstarted the gag reflex.

I puked. They cheered. We passed the urinal in a circle for a second round.

We puked, laughed and cheered.

It was fun.

The next day it was worse.

It smelled of ripe meat and rotten cheese mixed with fermented fruit. Enough to trigger the gag reflex, no finger required.

We invited friends over.

It grew riper as each new member’s initiation succeeded.

“Take a deep whiff.” If it didn’t happen on the first, we’d repeat “take a deeper whiff…”

Friend after friend whiffed and puked. Another kid’s reflux was added. We dry heaved and celebrated.

The yellow lid was flipped down and urinal placed back at the base of the great blue spruce.

(this is a blue spruce. perhaps the most valuable lesson of this entire post)

(this is a blue spruce and this is perhaps the only valuable piece of information in this post)

We forgot about it for awhile.

It was a hot July in Illinois. Degrees of heat = humidity in percentage.

It fermented and gestated.

Until an altercation.

Our neighbor, B, and his sister, C, notoriously fought.

She said something. They yelled at each other. They tugged and pulled.

He stuttered back and disappeared under the great blue spruce.

He emerged. Yellow lid open, urinal in hand, she wide-eyed in panic.

We dry heaved at the sight of the yellow lid, trained like Pavlov’s dogs.

His arm arced broadly. Drops, then streams, of puke and loogies and pee and maggots spewed forth.

We scattered like mice from a cat.

We arched our backs and ran, extending our bodies as far from the smell and funk as possible.

(everything was in slow motion)

(everything was in slow motion)

I’m sure we screamed. But I remember only silence and slow motion like a tranquilized Will Ferrell in “Old School.”

She ran, he chased and sprayed until it was empty.

A drop on the hand was cause for panic. A spray on the shirt drew tears.

Clothes were shed as we ran inside.

Friends raced home to shower.

The yard was abandoned to all but the lonely, dirty urinal tossed back under the great blue spruce where it sat for 3 years until receiving a proper burial in the trash.

It was an upchuck tornado and the second most disgusting memory I have of childhood. I will not recount the first.

“Take a deep whiff.”

But we all have our own urinals.

News, commercials, war, poverty, hunger, sickness, cancer, injustice, death, traffic, anger, hate, fear, drugs, slavery, and so on, and so on, and so on.

Virtual urinals people stick in our faces and tell us “take a deep whiff” because we just have to smell what they’re smelling and add to their collection of puke.

So we whiff. And with each whiff we throw up a little bit inside, filling up our urinal a little bit more. And we feel better when we share it and someone else throws up in our urinal.

Each day it ferments and gestates into something more disgusting that we hold onto until something triggers us and we pass it on, telling them “take a deep whiff.”

We’re trained like Pavlov’s dogs.

Our urinals are no longer obvious like they were then. They are anything that makes us feel worse about ourselves or our lives or our relationships, eroding our happiness.

So I’m not whiffing any more. I quit awhile ago.

I’m keeping my stomach acid where it belongs.

Digesting goodness into energy that I can use for my well being and the well being of my friends and family.

I whiff only the fruits and flowers of Maui, roses of Portland, autumn in Washington, Jasmine in Southern California, sharing it with those I love.

What would you rather whiff?

(stop and smell the flowers or the urinal. it's your choice)

(stop and smell the flowers or the urinal. it’s your choice)

Chicago Bears vs Green Bay Packers: The End Of The Rivalry?

(bears v packers 1941)

(bears v packers 1941)

I may end up like Salman Rushdie after the people of Illinois and Wisconsin read this.

Companies will ban me. My family will quit speaking to me.

My hometown city – the Greater Chicagoland Area – may have me killed.

But, after much study, this is what I believe:

The Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers should give up their rivalry. Everyone in Illinois and Wisconsin should become fans of both teams.

That includes you.

If you’re not from Illinois or Wisconsin you probably won’t understand.

So stop reading.

If you are from WIIL , I know you hate me now.

So read on:

(no longer brewed in Milwaukee, Wis)

(I’m sorry, hipsters)

The Wisconsin/Illinois relationship is like North and South Korea with some waterskiing, beer and bratwurst thrown in. We live with each other because we are forced. Otherwise, we’d build a wall right on the border and guard it with large-diameter guns, allowing only a chosen few to come and go. Probably Johnsonville brat trucks and maybe some Sargento cheese deliveries (if you didn’t know this, Pabst Blue Ribbon is now brewed in Illinois and will be moving to Los Angeles).

(in the midwest, this is your life)

(in the midwest, this is your life)

In the Midwest you grow up on football. It’s not a decision, it’s a rite of passage – whether you like it or not.

You grow up learning that your team is the best.

Midwesterners live and die by these allegiances.

I haven’t lived in Chicago for 11 years but if you ask me, the Chicago teams are still my teams. You know what I mean if you live there.

But I’ve learned some things. I was very close to football growing up.

And my belief in the Green Bay Packers started when I was introduced to them in 4th grade.

(this is the guy that started me down the wrong path)

(this is the guy)

I had to write a book report. I wanted to be cool. I chose a football book: “Bart Starr: A Biography” by Gene Schoor. At the time I knew nothing about the Packers except everyone in Illinois hated them. I’m sure the book was planted in my Northern Illinois school as propaganda.

It was a legendary tale of Coach Lombardi and QB Bart Starr. But  I was struck by the humanity. The story of Starr’s brother’s death from tetanus and how it affected him. The story of his rise from an unremarkable college football career to a leading NFL QB, MVP and ultimately head coach of the Packers career. The story of this tiny nowhere town and it’s host to an NFL powerhouse team. It explained how the Packers rose into a hugely successful NFL competitor and why the people of Wisconsin care so much. It’s a legacy and I get it. I dig the story.

In Chicago more recently This story about Derrick Rose got it right and explains the allegiance and the feeling behind Chicago sports teams. And the humanity of its players. It’s truth in the highest conviction.

So I did the report and I realized those huge guys on TV, and Bart Starr in the book, were people. Players had stories unfolding on the gridiron when the game was passion and everything off the field was kept private.

The Packers-Bears rivalry is one of the longest in the league, trumped only by the Packers-Lions rivalry in length  (and only by a few games), but trumped by none other in belief and fan dedication. Until now, passion pulled fans in polarized opposite directions.

It started in 1921 when the Packers Joined the NFL and the Bears moved from Decatur (where they were known as the Staleys), playing each other in their first game (Bears won 20-0). The rivalry began then and grew more furious.

In 1924 a fight broke out at a game. Punches were thrown between Frank Henry and Tillie Voss. People were ejected. The first players ever ejected from an NFL game. Fans have diverged ever since.

But the Packers are the only team in the league never to have left the city where they started (not counting expansion teams), and they never will. The GBP are owned by the public and they’re profitable. They’re stuck in Green Bay until the end of time.

This is the first reason for my love of the Green Bay Packers: They’ve always been in Green Bay, and they always will be in Green Bay.

And this is the first reason why you should start warming up to them if you haven’t already. The Bears, though I love them, are just another team. They could leave Chicago tomorrow if they had a buyer.

Imagine that: THE BEARS COULD LEAVE CHICAGO.

(imagine if the bears left chicago)

(the bears could leave chicago)

And this is the first reason why I’ve expanded my allegiance to both teams. I am prepared for imminent departure. But why would the Bears leave?

The Veeck Convention.

The Veeck convention is an IRS rule allowing team owners to depreciate the purchase price of a sports team over 15 years.

Basically, the Veeck convention creates a tax shelter and a loss where there really is none. Many, if not most teams, make cash but can be shown to lose money under the Veeck Convention.

The Veeck convention is a primary reason for ownership turnover and the elephant noone talks about when sports teams change hands (oh, you thought it coincidence Jay-Z is selling his stake in the NJ Nets? It’s the end of his tax shelter: $1M/8 years = $125K/year in tax writeoffs).

It’s more complex than that, but we’re talking Packers-Bears here not franchise accounting and finance…the point is ownership turnover is more likely than people realize for reasons that have nothing to do with history or tradition.

The Veeck Convention is an incentive for an owner to sell and a new owner to buy, though the transfer might include a move to a new city. Could it happen in Chicago? Yes (but please don’t, Virginia).

Now that I have your attention, there’s more.

The Packers play in Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI, population 105,809 as of 2011. Not only are they the only franchise to remain in the original town, Green Bay is the smallest town of any NFL franchise.****

The average city population of an NFL franchise is 1.3M (not including surrounding suburban populations), making Green Bay 1/13th of the average NFL franchise city size, yet they are ranked 12th in franchise value of $1.2B (Almost exactly at the average NFL franchise value)**, just below 8th ranked Chicago at $1.3B.

Comparatively, the population:value ratio between the Packers and Bears is 111.81 vs 4.63. The Packers are 24.17 times more valuable per person than the Chicago Bears.

You let me down, Chicago!

Adding insult to injury, Lambeau holds 80,750, Soldier 61,500.

But Lambeau has sold out every game since 1960 with a backlog of over 81,000 names on the waiting list. The Bears have sold out every game since 1984, but the stadium capacity:population ratio is only 2.27% for Chicago. It’s 76.32% for Lambeau.

Holy Cow, Harey Carey.

I call this my fanatic rating.**** The Packers draw from a smaller population but have a higher overall % attendance rate, trumping the Bears by 33.62X!

And you know what? I get it. I’ve been to a few games in Lambeau Field. Lambeau is in a neighborhood, easy to access if you live nearby and has the energy of a college game. Even the cheerleaders are collegiate.

(lambeau is a great stadium)

(lambeau field)

Soldier, though iconic, is hard to get to with a car, expensive and has a commercial feeling.

Then again. Lambeau is hard to attend if you live far, it’s frigid in the winter and you usually have to drive a hundred miles or more to get home when the game is over. No Capital Grill for cocktails after a Packers game – you’ve got a long drive ahead.

But the Packers are reliable.

The Packers are a great story you can invest your hard earned money in because they’ll never leave you in the middle of the night (Colts, Bears?).

But Green Bay doesn’t have The Cubs, White Sox and Blackhawks. They aren’t in one of the world’s best cities. They don’t have public transportation, they’re ranked 14/32 in team loyalty vs Chicago’s 7th place rank* and they don’t have the Winning Record (Chicago leads Green Bay 92-88-6) in the rivalry.

Take that Wisconsin.

I love the Bears and have memories of watching every game with my family eating popcorn in front of the fireplace while the wind whistled outside. But now I’ll always love the Packers, too.

The Packers may not be the coolest team, or have the coolest jerseys. But they have the best story in the league. It only takes one game in Lambeau Field to understand what I mean. You can’t help but feel the energy.

If you don’t feel the ghosts, the history, the passion and the meaning of real football  in Lambeau Field, you’re not a real football fan.

Then again, maybe I’m wrong.

Maybe it’s true the Packers, despite all of that, are still a terrible team with ugly uniforms and the second worst name in the NFL.

But I don’t think it is and I don’t think I am.

Because numbers don’t lie.

So there’s room in your heart for both teams. I know there is.

Join me on the Dark Side and share the love.

End the rivalry.

*Emory University 2013
**Forbes 2013
***Under the 2004 tax revisions allow 100% of the purchase price to be depreciated over 15 years. If a team was purchased for $1.165B, annual depreciation allowance is $77.7M which would save approximately $27.2M at a 35% annual tax rate or $408 million dollars over 15 years.
****Link to dropbox download of the spreadsheet I built for the information in this article: https://www.dropbox.com/l/0OcctgtTHayvClPWCaUSU9 (contains all franchise value and key performance indicators by team, calculations are solely my own)

(thanks to Gary Treangen for comments on improving this post)

How To Run 50 Miles (part 1)

(these guys are running 100 miles. let's start with 50)

(these guys are running 100 miles. let’s start with 50)

You may have just finished the 33rd Annual ING New York City Marathon, in which case you might agree:

Running can be miserable.

While running I’ve been:

Screamed at by passing cars in the middle of nowhere and black-smogged by those jacked-up diesel engine redneck trucks (you know the kind with tennis balls hanging from the trailer hitch).

(yah. that's the one)

(yah. like that)

Warned by a US Navy Seal “You are in a restricted zone with unexploded ordinances. Go back the way you came. IMMEDIATELY.”

(if ever I am sponsored, I want it to be Honey Bucket)

(Honey Bucket please sponsor me)

Hit with runner’s distress more times than I can count: squatted in a patch of recently mown poison oak (I didn’t know, obviously), relieved myself behind bushes a few feet from other people who are lucky they didn’t look over, relearned how to pray (“Please, God, let there be a Honey Bucket!”) and sacrificed more underwear to the trail gods than I care to remember.

I’ve bonked* in the mountains 10 miles from home, cramped badly hobbling the last couple miles, and suffered from heat exhaustion while running in 100 degrees through the desert.

Jumped over rattlesnakes, chased by coyotes, gotten way too close to a mountain lion, brushed up against tarantulas, been sunburned, stung by bees and bitten by ticks.

Rolled my ankles so many times that it doesn’t phase me, and suffered from near hypothermia as rain and ice poured down on my jacketless body.

I even ran on a broken leg once. Yes, it hurt. No, I didn’t know it was broken.

This year I projectile vomited at 1:30AM on a rural highway in Oregon. Four times. (it looked pretty awesome in the light of my headlamp but scared me thinking I was not going to finish the race (it could have been an instagram that made even @JoseCabaco proud) note: later diagnosed with e-coli)

(a first time for me, but it was at night and looked awesome in light from my headlamp)

(like this but at night and looked awesome in the light of my headlamp)

But I still run. I can’t stop. I’m an addict.

I just spent a week living in a van like a dirtbag, sleeping in parking lots and weird places, running remote trails on Maui because it was one of my dream trips. If that doesn’t say ‘ADDICTED’, I don’t know what does.

But my torture is your salvation.

There is no logical reason to run 50 miles. None.

There is no rainbow. No pot of gold at the end. No leprechaun.

(this will not be there)

(this will not be there)

You will not get rich. You will not get famous.

You will suffer. You will question yourself. You might burn your skin and get bad blisters. If you’re not prepared, you could get dehydrated or overhydrated.

Your body could fail. Your kidneys could shut down.

You may lose control of your bowels.

But a few people out there still want to do it.

I get it.

And you know what? They can.

I’ve seen 77 year old women finish ultramarathons.

(at 70 he's run the 135-mile Badwater Ultra 14 times)

(at 70 he’s run the 135-mile Badwater Ultra 14 times)

If you do, it will change your life. It will change your context and your perspective.

When we look at our bank accounts, our jobs, people driving fancy cars, the things we always wanted to do but haven’t, we sometimes lose our way and think those things are bigger than us. We need to remember. We are humans and we are bigger than anything material that we’ve created.

Doing something you never thought you could makes you realize that if you can do that, you can do anything.

You are bigger than money or cars or jobs or skyscrapers or 50 mile races. You are part of what created those things. You are not a victim. You can manifest anything with the right focus and effort. You are still alive.

If you don’t want to run 50 miles. Stop here.

If you do, I have to warn you.

I’m a running hacker.

I’ve never done a marathon (at least not a sanctioned one).

I hate running on pavement.

I want to do the most by putting out the least effort.

I may not be fast, but I can go forever.

In 2009 I got ready to run The Leona Divide 50-mile Ultra in 4 months. Since then, I can pretty much run anything up to 30 miles with little preparation more than my standard running schedule, and this training method.

I don’t cramp. I don’t bonk and I don’t stress over it.

But how is this possible? People kill themselves getting ready for 26.2 miles.

They cramp, they puke, they bonk, they cry.

But I don’t:

Because most of what people do for marathons is wrong.

Much of what you’re doing is probably wrong.

Because you’re trying too hard and ignoring your nutrition.

Running a long distance is possible (unless you have a condition that makes it particularly difficult); it’s a 3-step process:
1. Stand
2. Walk
3. Run

And the key to everything, the under-appreciated and under-discussed secret – is your nutrition.

You have to eat and drink while you’re exercising or your body will shut down.

More importantly, you have to eat and drink certain things. The right things.

Someone once said to me “I feel like you’re one of those people who just got up one day and decided to run 50 miles and did it”. I was slightly offended by this because it’s not that simple. I put tons of work into preparing, it just wasn’t traditional preparation. Then again, I’ve always been an outlier.

I may have never run a marathon or been stereotyped as a “typical runner” going out and working my way up from 5k races to marathons to ultras, but I did something different that applies to any endurance sport: I gained experience bagging alpine peaks, competing in 8-12 hour cycling or adventure races, and climbing long technical rock routes in Washington, Oregon, Montana and elsewhere.

I spent hours reading books on endurance nutrition and testing theories. It was almost 10 years of learning, trial and error. Then after all of that “I just got up one day and decided to run 50 miles…”

It was during those adventures that I found secrets – what works and what doesn’t. Especially for nutrition.

Here are the secret nutrition rules no one ever told you (probably because they never knew):
1. you can only absorb 16-20oz of water per hour
2. you can only digest ~300 calories per hour
3. the wrong kinds of foods will not only upset your stomach (runner’s distress) but will also cause your endocrine system to go berserk. Mass changes in insulin cause mass changes in energy. Eat the wrong thing and you may bonk or worse.
3a. if exercising <2hrs you can get away with long-chain carbs and electrolytes in energy drinks and that’s it
3b. if exercising >2hrs you need to add electrolyte supplements and protein to your fuel plan to avoid body cannibalization (i.e. your body breaking down muscle into energy)
4. your body has a certain amount of muscle glycogen stored up within muscles and your liver. for me, it’s about 54 minutes of intense exercise. You may have more (up to 90 minutes) or less. Beyond this threshold you need to eat and drink.

These rules mean you will always be operating at a caloric and hydration deficit during endurance events and there is nothing you can do to change it except ingesting the right things at the right time in the right amount.

If not, you will bonk, DNF or worse, during races – they may train hard (even too hard) but they lose when it comes to their food and drink.

Ingesting proper food and drink will save you, even if you’ve undertrained.

So This Is What You Do
Combine the secret rules above and this becomes your formula for success:
A. For each hour after your initial hour (or whatever your limit is for not needing food) of exercise, you should drink no more than 16-20 oz water and eat no more than 300 calories per hour. If you know you’ll go for a long time, you can start eating and drinking as soon as you start exercise.
B. For exercise beyond 2 hours at a time, you should supplement with concentrated electrolytes and protein supplements
C. Once you finish exercising you should eat recovery food immediately that consists of a combination of electrolytes, protein (like whey) and fortified with something that will quickly replace muscle glycogen (like glutamine)

Chances are, you’ve been eating too much or too little, drinking too much or too little and haven’t been supplementing with electrolytes: all your bonking, cramping, and other distress is for naught.

In other words, you’ve been torturing yourself trying to get better and thinking you’re not capable when the secrets were right there hidden out of sight.

If you master nutrition, you’ll master ultra-marathons (or marathons or whatever athletic even you’ve always wanted to do).

(me just before I ran Haleakala, Maui rim-rim October 26th, 2013

(me just before running Haleakala, Maui rim-rim October 26th, 2013

If you’re just starting out, heed this advice: it’s critical for performance and will save you a ton of trouble. Your training will be less painful, more fun and your gains will happen faster.

At the end of the day, if you get nothing else, you will at least appreciate your couch a whole lot more after running 50 miles.

(part 2 of this post will explain the running regimen that will train you without killing you, and I’ll tell you the supplements I use when training and heading out for long runs)

*Bonking is a term that means you feel like your body can no longer move; like you’ve overexerted yourself and run out of gas, whiich, in a lot of ways you have

0 to 50

0 to 50*

(50 miles of bliss: this is where you run the Leona Divide)

(50 miles of bliss: this is where you run the Leona Divide)

“Oh shoot.” She yelled.

Mom’s white knuckles twisted the steering wheel violently. Everything went black.

Restrained by the lap belt, my upper body swung forward. My left arm, encased in plaster, swung directly into my face. The cast broke my nose and left shoulder simultaneously. My right arm punched the dashboard and broke instantly above the wrist. My eyeglasses flew off and everything was blurry. Red droplets fell from my nose and popped as they hit the white plaster cast. Red streaked my t-shirt as I went into shock.

We were hit by a drunk driver attempting an illegal pass. It was 5PM, she bar-hopped since 11AM.

I woke and slept unaware of day or night in the intensive care unit of Northern Illinois Medical Center. Everything was hazy. It wasn’t until 5-days later I received a 2-pint blood transfusion (1/3 my body’s capacity) that I woke fully. I was moved to the pediatric ward and spent 6 weeks isolated in my bed..

My left arm fused at the elbow, left humerus stunted from the broken shoulder, and my right arm was thin and weak in its cast. My leg muscles atrophied from all the time prostrate in bed. I could no longer walk.

I was at Zero.

Unaware laying in the hospital bed I never considered that I couldn’t walk. I grew up outside in rural Illinois, rode my bike to school, built half-pipes and climbed trees. Walking was assumed. I did not understand how my legs no longer worked.

Walking became my singular focus. I learned again like a child, one step at a time, every day for weeks in the hospital.

I spent a year in physical therapy , progress kept in a training log. My first results-measured training. It was a long process but I achieved an almost-full physical recovery, though emotional injuries endured.

Struggling in school the next two years having missed so much. I got picked on for my weakness. Replacing low social status in school with adventure, I focused my hyperactive, shy demeanor, into singular goals: earning a black-belt in karate, achieving Eagle-Scout, ski racing, and, skipping two years of high school finishing college at the University of Montana with two degrees before I could legally drink. I trained, obsessively, as a climber and pushed my limits.

I redpointed 5.12’s, a hard rock climbing grade, always pushing harder, at one point leading the Western Montana Mountain Rescue Team on the first successful recovery mission with another teammate. I combined climbing with endurance training, doing peak marathons with my friend Chuck. Each goal got riskier. Success was fleeting, perpetual and elusive.

The impact of decelerating from 50 to 0 reverberated throughout my life. I was changed forever by the Cub Scout den mother who drank too much.

But we were lucky.

More than 47,000 Americans were killed in car wrecks in 1988. 3 million people on average are injured in crashes each year according to the NHTSA.  Almost 341,000 receive permanent, incapacitating injuries, not to mention unmeasured, debilitating psychological inflictions.

In August 2008 I entered the Mt. Baldy Run-to-The-Top, a Southern California race. I was hardly running but trained for 3 weeks and finished a decent 1h38m on the 8 ¾ mile, 4,000 ft elevation gain course.

On the drive home I wondered.

I’d done triathlons, raced XC mountain bikes and adventure-raced, but I could only think of an ultramarathon. I wanted a 50-mile, kick-my-ass ultra. This became a metaphor for the last 21 years: how I faced every goal in my life.

The Leona Divide is a 50 mile race with total elevation of 9,500 feet. I looked at the website daily and studied the elevation profile. Huge spikes and valleys kept me motivated, so I planned.

(this is what a kick-your-ass ultramarathon looks like)

(this is what a kick-your-ass ultramarathon looks like)

An ultra is a mentally and physically demanding journey. It requires constant nutrition and pace calculation.

The 50 mile plan became a symbolic capstone from learning to walk again.

I went from 0 to 50 and it changed my life.

I trained using what I learned alpine climbing: I combined speed running for strength, weekday runs averaging 4.2 miles, with weekend endurance running up to 31 miles in terrain similar to The Leona.

I trained alone.

Previous experience and common sense defined my training:

1. Nutrition
2. Recovery
3. Mileage on terrain
4. Speed & Endurance

My longest organized run prior to the Leona was 8 ¾ miles. My longest personal run was 31 miles.

I focused longer runs in the Santa Monica Mountains. The plan gave me elevation gains/losses similar to race conditions. This strategy paid off by knowing my thresholds and avoiding redlining.

I filled my training runs with constant nutrition calculations and iPod earbuds.

My approach to nutrition was simple:
a. <400 calories per hour intake with no refined sugars (sucrose, glucose)
b. 30% replacement hydration, soy-protein enriched supplements for exercise longer than 2 hours
c. electrolytes to avoid cramping and B6 to prevent exercise-induced depression
d. recovery meals combining whey protein and glycogen. This prevented energy peaks and valleys, and sped recovery.

I let go of my training schedule as a law and used it as a guideline letting my body define its recovery.

By two months prior to the race I ran 30 mile training loops with 6-8K elevation gain/loss improving my speed but I was stuck in training mode. I needed optimal recovery and race day performance. I needed team advice.

I called Tracy and Chuck, two world-class athlete friends that gave me the same advice: taper carefully while running during the week prior to the race. The strategy provided recovery time, optimal muscle glycogen, and kept me race-ready.

The race began at 6AM, about 60 miles from home. I woke up at 4:46 and freaked thinking I’d just blown it.

I arrived just 8 minutes late, I started the race, dead last with feet wrapped, drop bags in place, nutrition loaded and iPod ready. I started the 174-track playlist and started up the first hill – a 700 foot climb over 4 miles, Pink Floyd’s Animals kept me calm and focused.

The sun was at the angle that turns the dry desert valleys into ovens. We ran up and down like broiler chickens roasting. I passed several people suffering heat exhaustion so I leveled my pace to avoid overheating. A blister popped in mile 37. A minor issue and far from hydration, heat stroke, digestive, or structural injuries that can debilitate and cause a DNF or worse. The roughest miles were 42-48, climbing 1,100 feet in a baking valley with a taunting blister. The iPod luckily launched into a favorite Foo Fighters set and I cranked the volume, found solace in the pain and gulped fluid.

I finished the LD 50 in 10:53:10, qualifying for the Western States 100.

The Leona Divide changed me. I’d competed against the clock in a sanctioned event, exceeding my own expectation.

(gratuitous picture of a picture of myself throwing a shaka while running the LD50. hanging on Mom's kitchen wall. thanks MOM)

(gratuitous picture of a picture of myself throwing a shaka while running the LD50. hanging on Mom’s kitchen wall. thanks MOM)

Reflecting on my path over the last 21 years and its relation to my most recent finish, Chuck sent some encouraging words:

“I warn you now – you have started a very crazy cycle where each accomplishment is judged by the previous one.  Each time you have to go bigger and better to see what your body can accomplish.  Welcome to my world… Walk the path grasshopper but know that it never ends for guys like you and me.”

I guess everyone has their own “50”: that one thing they dream of doing that they believe is out of reach. I imagine for most it is anything scary, testing your own capabilities to learn that you’re more capable than you think.

Some of us seek our gifts in the outdoors, pushing our limits in the raw environment to commune more closely with nature’s beauty, and to unlock hidden mysteries within ourselves. I just bought a surfboard and found my new “50” in the waves of the Pacific. Thanks to the Leona, I feel less fear and more calm as I paddle out into the twilight towards my new “50”.

*part of this post appeared in a 2010 issue of UltraRunning Magazine; this is the full, unedited version