Posts Tagged ‘Motivation’

The Boston Marathon is undoubtedly one of the well-known marathons and serious runners from all over the world dream to take part in this prestigious marathon. It is held yearly and it attracts at least 500,000 spectators and participants each year. Both amateur and professionals run in this most-sought-after event and this year, the first american man to win the Boston Marathon since 1983 crossed the finish line. It was Meb Keflezighi, 38 years old, who finished and won the men’s division with a time of 2:08:37 (which is technically a 2-hour “sprint” for most people).

Read more about Meb here.

Boston 2013 Through the Eyes
of the Runners

The Boston Marathon has encountered lots of issues and controversies through the years, unfortunately including the Boston Marathon 2013 bombing, but did you know that women were not allowed to run in this race until 1967? Women were barred from running the famed Boston Marathon for over 70 years!

History tells us that women were generally excluded from participating in sports, and this includes running the Boston Marathon. However, a woman named Kathrine Switzer made the first attempt to run over this barrier and succeeded. Kathrine was a student from Syracuse University and she was only 20-years old when she registered for the Boston Marathon  using her initials K.V. Switzer. No one realized that she registered a woman and she was able to officially sign up for the race and was given a race entry number.

During the race, a marathon official (balding guy in the photos) realized that a lone woman was running the Boston Marathon among hordes of men. This official tried to stop Kathrine and physically forced her to run the marathon when he discovered K.V. was a female runner. Other runners including Kathrine’s boyfriend helped Kathrine continue running and blocked the official from stopping her. The lone female runner in the 1967 Boston Marathon made headlines around the world and proved that anything can be done in spite of hindrances.

boston wo


After running the Boston Marathon, Kathrine Switzer engaged in promoting sports participation among girls and women. With the help of other passionate women, the Boston Athletic Association  finally was convinced to drop their discrimination against women and allowed them to participate in the race in 1972.

Because of Kathrine’s dream and perseverance, the Boston Marathon opened its starting line to women, and by 2011, almost 43% of the Boston Marathon runners were female! Apart from the Boston Marathon, Kathrine Switzer also helped lead the drive to include women’s marathon in the Olympic Games which was achieved at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

To know more about this trail-blazing woman read her biography, Marathon Woman: Running the Race to Revolutionize Women’s Sports by Switzer, Kathrine (2009)

Kathrine also has a book entitled Running and Walking for Women Over 40 : The Road to Sanity and Vanity by Switzer, Kathrine [1998] which is very inspiring for people over this age. It’s never too late to run!

Also check out 26.2 Marathon Stories written by Kathrine Switzer and Roger Robinson, an elite international runner for thirty years (1966-1995)!


Did you know that today in 1992, the National Hockey League Players began their first strike after 75 years in the league?

image from

We all enjoy watching our team win. If we play the sport that we watch (I have only tried playing on a hockey table game. Do you play hockey for leisure?) then we recognize how much hard work, discipline, and sacrifice is put in that single game. However, professional sports have gone a long way from just playing for the game. As it is, they are called “professional sports” because the players are payed for their performance – being an athlete has become their “profession.”

Shouldn’t Professional Athletes be Paid for their Skills and Talent?
We can argue that these players deserve to be paid because of their talent, skill, and dedication. But sometimes, this incentive becomes the motivation for the players’ whining.

Throughout the years in sports, teams and even individual athletes threaten not to play unless their demands were met – and these demands usually involves (getting more) money. Labor unions got involved and by forming player associations such as MLB, NBA, NFL, and the NHL, these athletes have been having more ‘power’ to demand their wants. This results in what we know as either a strike by the players or a ‘lockout’ by the owners.

The 1992 NHL strike lasted for 10 days and ended with unresolved issues. 2 years later, NHL had a worse lockout which reduced the games from 84 to 48.

Here are 9 Most Significant Strikes and Lockouts in Pro Sports History


Why do Professional Athletes Hold Strikes and Lockouts?
It all usually boils down to money but issues such as playing conditions, benefits and feeling that the owners are unfair are also common reasons for staging these strikes. No matter what the reason may be, these whining and complaining costs lost games, discouraged fans, and even broken relationships between athletes and managers.

Athletes ought to play for the love of the game. They used to, and many still do. But some act like spoiled brats forgetting their fans and teammates and the contract they already signed to ask for new demands and opportunities. Athletes become self-centered and egoistic. They won’t ask for more money if they don’t think that they deserve to be paid more. In the American Hockey League (AHL), the minimum salary that a player can receive in 2012-2013 is $32,500. However, there is no maximum salary that they can earn.


What makes an Athlete a Winner?
No one likes a player who always complains and whines. Surely, being a whiner is not a characteristic of a winner. The character of athletes is seen in what he or she prioritizes. Yes, the discipline, hard work, and sacrifice that athletes give for their sport is priceless, but getting the rewards should not be the focus when playing sports. There are lots of values that can be learned through Sports. Children and Teens look up to their ‘sports idols‘ as an example.

What Values can the Youth Learn through Sports and How?

Above is a link to a blog about what values that the youth can learn through organized sports. It listed discipline, hard work, sacrifice, dealing with success and failures, striving for goals, prioritization, and overcoming adversity. Another value that I think is very important but is usually neglected in the sports world today is “Humility.” All the praises and fame that a athletes can receive makes them forget how they should keep their feet on the ground. Unique skills are adored. Displayed brutal talent is admired. Humility is forgotten and sometimes thought to be for the losing ones.

Being humble doesn’t mean that we should not stick to what is right and fair even if the conditions are really bad. Humility is about thinking less of ourselves and honoring others in our team which includes our teammates, coaches, fans, and even managers. Ralph Sockman noted something worth remembering about Humility:
“True humility is intelligent self-respect which keeps us from thinking too highly or too meanly of ourselves.
It makes us modest by reminding us how far we have come short of what we can be.”

It is awesome to see how a player can do amazing stunts that others struggle to do, but it is more wonderful to see people go beyond their own comfort to make the life of others more meaningful. Only a humble person can do that. Only humble athletes can play in spite of hard opposition and difficult circumstances that put them down.

Do you feel like whining when things don’t go your way?
Do you quit easily when walk out when you get hurt or things seem unfair?

Be a winner, not a whiner!


This post may be a bit late as the less familiar Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games had their closing ceremony almost two weeks ago, but I believe it’s not too late to be inspired by these amazing athletes who did not let anything keep them from doing their best.

It is only the 11th Paralympic Winter Games held for athletes with disabilities under the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). The Games featured 72 medal events in five known sports from the Olympics, and is the first Paralympic that held a snowboarding event. Amidst the stark international tension regarding the country’s intervention in Crimea, Ukraine the Paralympic Games went on. Canada stayed in top 3 with a total of 16 medals having 7 of them Gold. The host country had 30 Gold medals from 80 medals in total which kept them in first place. Forty-five National Paralympic Committees joined in Sochi 2014 Paralympic winter games with Brazil, Turkey, and Uzbekistan joining for the first time.

Here are some notable quotes from the athletes who overcame obstacles to reach their goals:

Brian McKeever wins his 10th career gold medal.

“It’s all about my own shape and knowing [that] if I’m going to be half decent or a bag of wet towels: You don’t know that until you start racing and pushing.”
Brian McKeever, Canada’s cross-country skier and biathlete who began skiing at the age of thirteen. He lost his vision at the age of 19 due to Stargardt’s disease. He won gold in men’s 20km visually impaired cross-country skiing race in Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games.


If we all looked the same, it would be a boring world.

Oksana Masters is a Ukranian-born Paralympic rower and cross-country skier from the U.S. Nordic Skiing Team. She was born with several radiation-induced birth defects including different leg length, missing shin bones, webbed fingers with no thumb, and six toes on each foot. She was sadly abandoned by her birth parents at a Ukrainian orphanage until 7 years old. Then she was adopted by Gay Masters, a professor who had no children of her own.


Obviously at the end of the day, it’s not what we came here for, but for the rest of my life, I’m never going to remember [Vancouver Olympics]. I’m going to remember that big hunking medal that we’re going to get on our necks in a couple of hours and what it means to bring a medal home for Canada.
Billy Bridges is a Canadian ice sledge hockey player who has spina bifida, a congenital disorder that causes the spinal cord to remain unfused and open, sometimes protruding through the bones. He and the Canadian team won the ice sledge hockey bronze medal in the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games.


You can read other quotes from the Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympic Games here.


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Sometimes, taking the first step is the hardest thing to do. We haven’t even started the task yet, but we already are feeling anxious. This usually leads to procrastination and we’ll be unproductive. Most people who want to start their healthy lifestyle have lots of reasons for not taking that first step. They may feel intimidated by friends and people in the gym or group class. They might think they would injure themselves. They are not sure on how to exercise properly. But all of these fears are in our minds. We won’t finish if we don’t get started.

The author Clement Stone said,

“All personal achievement starts in the mind of the individual.
Your personal achievement starts in your mind.
The first step is to know exactly what your problem, goal or desire is.”

The first step may be the hardest, but you won’t get something done unless you take it. Don’t let your fears overwhelm you and keep you from reaching your goals. Fix your mind on your goals and be determined to achieve it.


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Being motivated to continue doing something difficult is usually a struggle. When we’re doing something and then in the middle of it we’re suddenly faced with a big challenge, sometimes it seems hard to press on. There are times that our negative experiences and failures keep us from continuing. We become fearful of making mistakes again. Other times, we just lose our focus and direction. Our environment may suddenly change and we find ourselves getting ‘lost‘ in transition. We forget what our goals are and why we started in the first place. In any case, when you start losing hope and feel under-motivated to continue, keep these things in mind:


1. Be Thankful. We often lose confidence from past failures and personal weaknesses which then kills our motivation. We have to focus and think of what we want and why we started in the first place, but sometimes it is the same reason why we start to lose confidence in ourselves. As time goes by, our brains start to question why we still aren’t getting what we want. We become jealous of others’ achievements and compare ourselves with them. The solution for this is to focus on gratitude. Be thankful for your small achievements. Remember your accomplishments and what it took for you to get there. If you are a runner struggling to make it past sub-30 or your sub-1 or whatever your target is, be thankful for those few minutes or even seconds that you scrape off from your time. If you have been going to the gym to lose weight, be thankful for the capability to work out and sweat every day, and remember that you are on the road to fitness. We lose hope when we tend to forget about our strengths and dwell on our failures. Make an effort to feel grateful and you’ll realize how competent and successful you are.

2. Focus on Positive Goals, not just on results. We sometimes set unreasonable goals for ourselves and when we don’t reach them, we lose confidence in ourselves. Some people set goals like “I want to lose 30 lbs in 1 month” which is totally unhealthy. I once had a client who wanted to improve her figure by having a thigh gap. I had to patiently explain that this is an anatomical difference and can’t be easily modified with exercise or any weight loss program. Also, being skinny does not mean being healthy. When you run, you don’t reach the finish line by thinking about the finish line, but you focus on each grueling step that you take to reach it.

3. Set Your Direction. If focus means having positive and specific goals, then having direction means to make a clear strategy of your day-to-day actions to achieve your goals. Without an obvious next step, we tend to procrastinate. If possible, make a sequential list of things to do until you reach your goal. Identify the activities that lead to success. Some actions that you take can be good, but may not lead to your goal. Remind yourself everyday of what you need to do next. I think a good analogy of this in sports training would be Periodization. You have an ultimate direction towards your goal with the Macrocycle -your year long or season-long training plan. But you should still have your Mesocycle and ultimately your Microcycle which is specific to what you do for each training day.

It is inevitable to encounter failures and problems along the way as you take steps toward your goal. What’s important is that you strive and persevere and keep negative thoughts from killing your confidence and motivation. Martin Luther Jr said “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”  And after that first step, keep focusing on the next steps ahead of you.


Be thankful for each step. Focus on positive and reasonable goals. And set a clear direction for every action that you take.


The best Basketball player of all time Michael Jordan once said:

“My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness,

then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength.”



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Michael Jordan didn’t start off as a champion – he and his team went through lots of challenges and defeat before they claimed back-to-back championships. One of the things that we can truly admire about him is how he continually strived to improve himself. He kept pushing himself to the limits, until the Chicago Bulls win one game after another.

For us, we wouldn’t really know what we are capable of until we push our bodies to the limit. Improvements won’t come easy and there will be lots of sweat and soreness, but after a certain point in time, we’ll be sure that everything will eventually pay off.

We wouldn’t know how fast we can run, how high we can jump, how deep we can swim, or how long we can perform unless we train to push ourselves to the limit.

Upon reaching that point, we’ll realize how much we are able to do not just for ourselves, but for our family and community.

Larry Bird, another Basketball great, also said:

“Push yourself again and again. Don’t give an inch until the final buzzer sounds.”

No matter how hard the challenges you face may be, remember that the game won’t be over until it’s over.

Push yourself to your limits.

Fight until the end of your battle.



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Here’s the motivation for the week:





If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you!


Life could be difficult and each day we face different challenges and difficulties, but remember that it is these challenges that makes life meaningful!


Are you up for some challenges today?



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“Courage doesn’t mean you’ll always win. Courage doesn’t mean you’ll always be the best.

Courage means you never give up on your dreams.”



And that is what the Jamaican Bobsled team did in 1988. There were no snow or ice in Jamaica, of course, but these athletes were determined to join and finish in the Winter Olympics!

Keep on Pushing” is a semi-documentary about the Jamaican bobsleigh team supported by Samsung Galaxy.


Watch the first episode here:



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The Professor doing the One Arm Elbow Lever (OAEL) at age 74.

The Professor doing the One Arm Elbow Lever (OAEL) at age 74.

Fred E. Samson (1918-2004) was a dedicated neuroscientist and a Professor of Biochemistry and Physiology at the University of Kansas-Lawrence Campus for 21 years. He spent another 29 years at the University of Kansas School of Medicine and became the Director of the Ralph Smith Mental Retardation and Human Development Research Center until 1989. He was recognized as Emeritus Professor of Molecular and Integrative Physiology until 2002.

He was a very active scientist and he involved in conferences that brought together neuroscientist and scientists from many fields (mathematicians, physicists, chemists, etc) to focus on the basics of brain function. Amidst his busy schedule, he still found time every morning to swim across Lake Quivira and commit to physical training. He also enjoyed water-skiing until his early 80s. He is a person who definitely understood the capabilities of the human body and maximized it!

What’s your excuse not to be fit?

Bonus: another old guy performing the OAEL.

Have a fit Friday!


My wife has successfully persuaded encouraged me to watch one of her favourite shows, The Amazing Race Canada. The last (and might have been the only) reality show that I remember watching loyally was the first Survivor season. I agreed to watching the first Amazing Race Canada because as my wife said, it’s very informative and even educational about the places, people, and culture in Canada.

True enough, from the latest episode that I saw, I learned about one of the inspirational people from Canada- Terry Fox. I researched and read about him after the episode and I learned how inspiring he really was:

Terry Fox (July 28, 1958 – June 28, 1981) was a student athlete: he was a long distance runner and basketball player in his high school and college days. At the age of 19, he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma and his right leg was amputated. This did not stop him from his passion in sports and he continued to run using an artificial leg. He even played wheelchair basketball in Vancouver and won three national championships!

His optimism, courage and determination to outrun and outplay his disability wasn’t the most inspiring. Three years after his surgery, he began a cross-country run to raise money for cancer research and called it the “Marathon of Hope.” He began his run from Newfoundland and hoped to raise $1 for each of Canada’s 24 million people for Cancer research when he finishes at Canada’s west coast at Vancouver, British Colombia. In his request for funding, he told the Canadian Cancer Society that he would finish the marathon even if he had to crawl every last mile. He was also quoted saying “I remember promising myself that, should I live, I would rise up to meet this new challenge [of fundraising for cancer research] face to face and prove myself worthy of life, something too many people take for granted.”

Terry fox memorial at St. Johns, Newfoundland

Terry fox memorial at St. Johns, Newfoundland

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His dream of raising money for cancer research was not really smooth. He met a lot of discouragements and road blocks along the way, and he had a hard time to get support from his mother and family. In spite of his disability and all the challenges, he was able to run a marathon everyday and even ran on his 22nd birthday (why not?). However, when reaching Thunder Bay, he was forced to stop his run as it was later found out that the cancer has spread to his lungs. He was able to run for 143 days and 5,373 kilometres, raising $1.7 million. Support still came in after his hospitalization and after a few more months, $23 million had been raised.

His condition worsened even after getting chemotherapy and he died after just a few more months. He was recognized and given high honours, and the Prime Minister back then said in one of his address Terry Fox: “It occurs very rarely in the life of a nation that the courageous spirit of one person unites all people in the celebration of his life and in the mourning of his death … We do not think of him as one who was defeated by misfortune but as one who inspired us with the example of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity

Passion, selflessness, and valor are the virtues which pushed Terry Fox to outrun his disability for the good of others. He didn’t let his condition bring him down, and he kept going forward for the hope of reaching his dream for others. It started with a dream to reach out to people in spite of his disability. He believed that a miracle could happen and he could do it, and he did.

Yes he is inspiring for how he overcame his physical condition, but more so, it was his desire to help people and his selflessness for others that made him honourable and truly worthy of life.

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