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Project run America is truly inspiring

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Well, I ended up missing the past two days during my 30 days of blog posting, but I have a good excuse. I was attending the Team Red White & Blue trail running camp at Camp Eagle, in South Texas. I didn’t have internet access and I was spending the better part of the weekend running!

While I was at the camp thought, I had the privilege of hearing the story of Ehredt (of Project Run America), who, “ran 4424 miles alone, from Astoria, OR to Rockland, ME placing 4424 flags, one every mile, for each casualty we endured in Iraq. Then in 2012 he ran 2146 miles and placed the same amount of flags in remembrance of every casualty in Afghanistan. We now have a wall of honor and gratitude stretching 6570 miles across America.”

His story was touching and inspiring. What seamed like a near impossible athletic endeavor was complicated even more by the placing of a flag every mile, with a handwritten name on each one, and lets not forget the logistics of food and arranging for places to stay.

To me, Mike’s story is more than just a story about honoring veterans, it’s a story of perseverance, determination, and overcoming the naysayers that told him it was just a nice idea. Not only did Mike pull off the extremely detailed planning of this grand memorial, but he executed EVERY DAY, no matter how hard it was. Rain didn’t stop him, flat tires on the stroller he pushed didn’t stop him, cold weather didn’t stop him, aches and pains didn’t stop him. No matter what, mike hit the road EVERY day and ran 26-30 miles, without fail.

One of the things that amazed me the most was that Mike never got weary of running those miles each day, every single day he looked forward to them. As an entrepreneur I strive to have that exact same consistent determination – to get up every single day and pursue my passion with the same intensity as the day before, no matter what new challenge lay in my way.

Please, take a few minutes out of your day to watch the video above. It’s truly inspiring. A full length documentary will be coming out later this year and hitting PBS channels across the country.


Passion and hard work go hand in hand

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One of my passions is running trail races, especially Ultra Marathons! It may be understood, but running 50 miles is no easy task, it requires a lot of dedication to a rigorous training schedule. Even though the actual race day is what I enjoy most, there are many days I struggle to get out the door for a run in the morning. So many times it’s very tempting to just hit snooze, or just flat out turn off the alarm.

There are days I do speed workouts, which I have a love-hate relationships with. Most of the time I just hate them. There are days on the weekends that I run for hours, but would rather be at home with my family. Training to run 50, or 100 miles essentially means you have to run A LOT, and many times you have to run even if you don’t feel like it.

Running a business based on your passion is very similar. You may have heard the saying, “do what you love and you will never have to work a day in your life”… well that is only a half-truth. Even when you are doing something you love, there will always be a “training” aspect to running the business.

For example, I also have a passion for healthy eating, and fueling my runs and rock climbing adventures with healthy foods, as well as educating others about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Out of that spawned my company, Bearded Brothers. We make delicious organic energy bars, which is not easy to do. We started our business from the ground up; we did the sales calls, we made the bars, we shipped orders, we swept and mopped the floors. There isn’t a single aspect of the business we were not involved in, and there still isn’t. I often still take out my own trash. But all of that served a bigger purpose – helping others to fuel their adventures with healthy organic foods.

Running a business based on your passion isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s going to take a lot of hard word and dedication. Many of the things you will do to serve your ultimate purpose will not be that enjoyable, but knowing that your passion is ultimately what drives you will make those less enjoyable but necessary tasks much easier. Since starting Bearded Brothers four years ago there hasn’t been a single day that I have not been excited about going to work.

I think one thing to remember when starting a business based on your passion is that anything worth doing is going to be hard. Nothing in life worth doing is every easy. So get out there and hustle after your dream – it will be worth every sacrifice you make!

How running a fast race is like running a new business

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The first 5K I ever ran, I ran in just over 17 minutes, or a 5 minute 30 second pace (prior to this I had run many other longer distances). I don’t remember the exact time because the race was not chip timed (digitally recorded). The craziest part of my time is, I have never run that fast in my life, not even downhill. Anybody that runs with me in my running group wouldn’t believe it if I told them.

But the reason why I ran this race so well applies directly to business startups. I went into the race without any real expectations other than to not let certain people pass me (yeah, I size up other runners). I also left my GPS behind and just ran! I had fun, and I just did it. I didn’t have a GPS unit displaying my pace to let me know I was going to fast. All I had was my own will and determination to keep up with a few other runners. As it turns out those runners were FAST.

Young and old entrepreneurs alike should enter a new business venture with the same mindset: to just run the race! You shouldn’t care if you are doing everything right, or if you are on pace to meet a certain goal. You should just pursue your venture with abandon and have fun. Doing so will get you farther and faster.

Had I gone into this particular race with a goal, (I’m not saying goals are not good) I would have set the bar much lower. I would have constantly looked at my GPS and kept a pace to help me meet that goal, not exceed it. Sometimes you just have to get out there and hammer away and enjoy the process without thinking so much.


Four ways running a business is like trail running

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Colorado Trail

As a business owner and avid trail runner I have realized lots of similarities in the two. Both are very challenging and rewarding. On a recent run after a day of hard work four ideas hit me for how running a business is like trail running. They are:

Ignore the naysayers

As soon as you start telling people you are a now a trail runner and plan on running your first 50 or 100 miler you are going to be called crazy. People will ask you why in the world would you want to do that. The same will happen when you decide to start your own business. Even family will show concern, mostly because they see it as a huge risk and don’t want to see you get hurt.

You have to ignore these people though, or you will never start. Fear wins in this situation if you give in. Yes, running an ultra marathon is crazy, but the rewards are many. The same is true with running your own business; you will have to work hard, just like you would have to train hard to run 100 miles. Neither endeavor is a walk in the park, but both have bountiful rewards.

Look up

In trail running it’s just as important, if not more important to look up (not down) while running. Looking up allows you to survey the trail ahead of you and avoid rocks, ruts, ledges, and branches. These are all obstacles that can slow you down or potentially injure you. Your feet tend to naturally adjust to the trail if you are constantly surveying the trail ahead.

When it comes to running your own business, look up – focus on what lies ahead. Survey for any potential pitfalls or dangers that could derail or slow down your business. For Bearded Brothers this means staying on top of industry standards and trends and taking care of the small but important things like paying taxes, and running payroll.

Start off slow

When running long distances, especially races, runners tend to start out too fast. I made this mistake when running my first 50 mile race, Cactus Rose. When I stopped at my first aid station 15 miles in I realized I was on pace to qualify for the coveted race Western States. It was at that point I knew I had started out too fast. It ended up catching up to me after I hit the 25 mile mark. The rest of my race was considerably painful and much slower.

When you run your business start off slow. Don’t be overly concerned with growth or the seemingly more rapid growth of your competition. If you go out too fast you risk not being able to meet demand, or meet your customer’s needs. Bearded Brothers has always grown at a sustainable speed. It’s also important to let your business grow naturally. If you have a great product, the demand will come to you.

Aid stations

Throughout the course of trail races are aid stations. They are different from aid stations you see in road races in that the tables are filled with not just water, but food for fuel, and people that will help encourage you along and help you when you are injured. If you have an awesome product or provide an excellent service you are sure to find aid stations (other people) along the way.

Aid stations in business can come in many forms. They can be investors that inject capital into your business to help it grow, or it can be somebody that is smarter than you in a certain area that helps your business grow even further, or it can be an avid customer that helps spread the word about your company. Don’t be afraid to stop at these aid stations.

Running for stress relief

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Running for stress relief

Running is a great way to relieve stress! For somebody like me that lives a hectic and stressful life running is often my go-to form of stress relief. This past week has been pretty overwhelming due to many business decisions I’m having to make and other things that are in process. Since I have been so busy and have a newborn at home I hadn’t been out for a run in nearly a week, until this morning and I already feel a million times better. Earlier in the week anxiety was starting to overtake me, but all I needed was a run!

Trail running in the Wasatch Mountain Range!

Trail running in the Wasatch Mountain Range!

One of the main reasons running can help to relive stress is the release of endorphins, also known as the “feel-good” hormone. Running, along with any other intense exercise releases this hormone. I’ve found from personal experience the harder I’m running the more I experience this. Even though I will experience loads of stress relief from a long run, I can get the same effect from an intense short run. Running not only helps relieve anxiety and stress, but improves the imune system, relaxes muscles, improves blood flow, and increases overall health.

I actually first started getting into running while training to climb the East face of Longs Peak, but continued my running regime after finishing the climb, and found I was in much better overall health, happier, and had less anxiety. I also used this as a time to meditate, pray, and escape the worries of the day. And, since getting into ultra running, it has proved to be an amazing way to escape my cares and worries, but at the same time solve problems and talk to the Creator as well as build relationships with other runners.

I’ve also heard countless stories of people that have turned their life around, just from running. There are said to be numerous recovering alcoholics in the Ultra Running community, and I know at least one individually personally that is a recovering alcoholic and found solace in running (and has completed numerous marathons). Plus, I can tell you from personal experience you just start feeling good about yourself as your overall health and well-being improves.

Trail Running in Austin, where I live!

Trail Running in Austin, where I live!

Trail running, I have found, is an even greater form of stress relief. I typically find I feel better after a long trail run as upposed to a run across town, or through a neighborhood. There is just something about connecting with nature, and being in creation that helps you feel more grounded. Plus, it’s more secluded, which leaves you more time to your thoughts.

So, if you are finding yourself stressed, lace up those running shoes and hit the road, I mean trail! It’s sure to help your worries fade away, and for those lingering anxiety causing problems, running just may be your way to solve them and experience numerous health benefits at the same time.