Archive for September, 2012

Some life advice from crazy runners

I run, but I’m no ultramarathoner.

I mean, the distances are further than a marathon at the shortest, 100 miles at the longest, and they usually involve hills, intense terrain and high elevations.

That’s enough to spell torture for me, and I’m guessing the same for 99 percent of the human population.

But I’ve gotta admit, the world’s craziest distance competitors may be wiser than they know. Because they know how to survive.

And on certain days, isn’t that all we’re trying to do?

We may need to survive hour-long commutes, month-long projects, chatty coworkers with boring stories, or that last hour or day or week of work before vacation. And who’s to say those challenges – while facing them, at least – don’t seem as insurmountable as a 50-kilometer run in somewhere like Denver, Colorado, beginning at 5,280 feet above sea level, and climbing.

So when it comes to survival advice, ultramarathoners may have some of the best around. And what wisdom can they share?

“If you’re running on a hill, and you can’t see the top, walk.”

Yes, these crazy runners actually are sane enough to suggest walking in select situations.

It’s part of an energy-conservation strategy, I’m told, by a friend who finds joy in running, and in a quest to perfect his gait, has read about ultramarathoners and what keeps them going.

If a hill is so steep that its top is out of sight, running there will just waste energy. And in a race that’s basically the world’s ultimate test of stamina, no one has energy to waste. No one.

Life’s the same way. Our lives are our own ultimate test of stamina, challenging us to try our hardest, give our strongest effort and constantly be the best person we can be – day in and day out.

It takes endurance. It takes stamina. And daily, it robs us of energy.

And while all phases of the ultramarathon of life can be tough, just like runners, the rest of us can tell when the paths of our lives are on level ground, coasting easily downhill or causing us to struggle with all our might and fight the proverbial “uphill battle.”

Conventional wisdom might tell us to keep battling the moment we reach an uphill challenge. Tough it out. Meet the challenge head on and soon it’ll seem easier. Closer. Smaller. The hill will shrink, and the top will come within reach.

But ultramarathon wisdom says a well-placed break can work wonders, especially when a challenge seems insurmountable, the reward for achieving it too far off to even visualize.

No one’s suggesting giving up or spending months or years away from pursuing an important goal, just making progress at a slower rate – walking instead of running.

Because when a challenge in life creates a hill so steep the top is out of sight, we all need to go into energy conservation mode. The faster we realize we’re in need of a slight slowdown, a break to catch our breath, the faster we’ll begin to see the top of the hill, and the faster we’ll regain energy to take on the next one.

And who knows? The top of the next hill may already be in sight.


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Twenty-something Times: A thought forum to inspire, motivate

It’s only a week until the official launch of Twenty-something Times, so I thought I should introduce myself a bit, as the author and all.

The name’s Marie Wilson. I’m a 24-year-old newspaper reporter who loves running, wheat beers, meeting new people and the Chicago Bulls. I could be called an optimist and a perfectionist, but most of all, I’m a words person.

I’m writing here to share my observations and analyses of twenty-something life in hopes these weekly columns will bring you inspiration, motivation, laughter and that indescribable feeling of comfort from knowing someone else is sharing in your challenges and triumphs.

I’m not trying to make money from this column (but hey, if it happens somehow, great!). And it’s not the pursuit of fame, name recognition or even my own book that drives me.

It’s a writer’s best blessing and worst curse: the belief that our thoughts and words have meaning and should be shared. I’m stricken by that belief. So I’m sharing, here, for you.

With that in mind, I’m asking for your help.

This is the Internet I’m using to share my thoughts, so I’m not asking for anything out of the ordinary. I’m asking for likes, shares and re-posts. I’m asking you to forward links to columns you read here and enjoy.

Did I sum up how you feel about smelly fridges at work, those really close friends you never actually get drunk with, or the laughability of some of the “meals” you cook for yourself? Then pay it forward and send the column along to someone else who would equally enjoy it.

Is there an aspect of twenty-something life I’m not writing about? A thought so compelling and universal to this stage of life that you’re dying to see it covered? Let me know. Especially if you can’t quite put the feeling into words, I’m your girl.

In exchange for asking you to spread the word, I pledge to be accessible, and I welcome you to get in touch. Leave me a comment here, if you’d like. Send me a message on Facebook, if you prefer, at . And you can follow, @reply or retweet my posts by finding me on Twitter @mariewilson9.

Welcome to Twenty-something Times. I invite you to read, think, share and enjoy – because this may just be the time of our lives.

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An open letter to … Twenty-somethings of Chicagoland

This is one of those letters.

You know, the angry letter you always wanted to write your mean fifth grade teacher, sloppy freshman year roommate, backstabbing acquaintance, etc, etc.

The snarky letter you began scrawling out to your spotlight-stealing co-worker or completely oblivious boss – but knew better than to deliver.

This is an open letter, and don’t worry, there’s more.

This is an occasional series for anyone who’s ever had something to say to the random figures that pass through our twenty-something lives.

The conceited (or hilarious) drivers with vanity plates like HVNG FUN or FT FETSH.

The tenants seeking roommates on Craisglist who promote their pet pigs (or massage therapy skills or love for shopping at garage sales) as assets of their lovely apartments.

Maybe even the druggies at the Starbucks in the local Dominick’s, or politicians, or parents or …

Let’s just leave the list open. Because after all, this is a welcome to an occasional series of open letters addressed to an assortment of people and messages that play a role in our twenty-something lives.

So, here’s a start:

Dear readers,

Please know that I am writing, from my heart and mind, my best, craziest and funniest observations about life as a twenty-something in Chicagoland.

Know that I’m a natural optimist who’s trying desperately to avoid becoming a pessimist (as I’m told often happens to those with “experience,” whatever “experience” means).

Know that every time I come to a positive conclusion at the end of a column, there were moments of doubt, negativity, or at least sarcasm, before I saw the good and spelled it out for you.

Know that I don’t know everything, and I don’t claim to.

Know that everything I write here on Twenty-something Times is an analysis of something about this stage of life. However seemingly insignificant, each column is designed to help all of us find inspiration, motivation and even laughter from the adventures, challenges, mishaps and triumphs of our twenty-something lives.

And know why I’m writing all of it – because I understand how relieving it feels to read something by someone my own age and think “Yes, that’s exactly what I’m going through! Someone gets it.”

Because this magical phase of life known as our twenties isn’t always easy, but it is often surprising, contradictory and exciting – someone needs to chronicle that.

Most of all, I’m writing because I believe in the power of words to provoke thought – and a thought allowed to grow is the most unstoppable force in the world.

Happy thinking, my fellow twenty-somethings. And here’s to a lot more where that came from.

Speak Soon. Stay Lucky.



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