Sunday, February 3, 2013

Make Out Like Bandit...Be Relentless

I recently posted a YouTube video showing The True Spirit of Sportsmanship.  I now want to share another video that should not only make you smile from ear-to-ear, but also inspire you to be relentless...

Before I get into the video, I want to provide an explanation, so bear with me.  If you're not someone who's particularly concerned about animal issues, then you can skip these disclaimers and go straight to the video below.  This video was shared by a group with which I'm involved - the Pit Crew of the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.  And no we're not an Indy 500 group...the "Pit" in "Pit Crew" means "Pitbull" and, technically, all "bully" breeds.  The goal of the Pit Crew is to spread awareness about pitbulls, hold training sessions and walks, and attend events.  It's a fabulous volunteer group, along with the Animal Welfare League of Arlington (where I volunteer as a dog walker).  

The video below was created by a group called Peace, Love, and Pitbulls, and has been circulating among a lot of pitbull groups and Facebook pages.  For the most part, it's received wonderful responses.  There have been a few people, however, who concerned or dismayed by the video.  The video shows a pitbull puppy - Bandit - who is trying desperately to get on the treadmill that another adult pitbull is using.  

For those of you who don't know the pitbull breed, treadmills are sometimes used to give pitbulls (and other dogs for that matter) additional exercise.  Unfortunately, some people improperly train pitbulls for fighting using treadmills and other equipment that pushes the pitbulls too hard; but, some people and trainers use treadmills more properly to help exercise them.  Whether that's an advisable technique or not is probably up for debate among dog trainers.  I'm not here to get into that debate.  

A few negative comments I've seen have said that the adult dog on the treadmill seems to be panting. Well, yes, dogs (and people) tend to pant when they're working out.  That doesn't mean the dog is suffering (any more than I was suffering on my run last nite in 17  degree temps!).  Another comment said that it's not safe to have the dog leashed to the treadmill and that the human should have used a special treadmill for dogs that stops once the dog stops walking.  Although I agree that having the dog leashed to the treadmill is dangerous, it seems that this human did that to allow the one dog to stay on the treadmill while the other three or four dogs were in the room.  Plus, the treadmill was moving at a very slow, safe pace, and the human was there the whole time (at least during the video).  Judging from the Peace, Love, and Pitbulls website, this is not a person who would just leave his pitbull tied to the treadmill and leave him there for hours.  

Also, one comment said that the treadmill was not safe for the puppy because the puppy was putting his paw under the end of the treadmill where it runs underneath.  Again, although I agree that can be dangerous, this person knows his dogs, knows his treadmill, had the treadmill operating at a safe pace, and was standing there the whole time.  

Finally, one comment chastised the person for being lazy and not walking the dogs himself.  As the description for the video reads, the puppy had not had all of his shots yet and therefore all the dogs were quarantined to the house for the time being.  As people who work with dogs know, puppies are very vulnerable to viruses and diseases their first few months until they can get all their shots.  So they typically are kept away from adult dogs when they are in shelters and not allowed outside until at least three months old.  The biggest threat to them is the parvo virus, which is extremely contagious and spread very easily - such as by another dog tracking in the virus from outside.  So, this person was not being lazy - he was rightfully being cautious to protect against the adult dogs from bringing the parvo virus into the house to be spread to the puppy....

I felt that as a pitbull lover, general dog lover, and all creatures-great-and-small lover, I had to provide those explanations before sharing the video.  I have to stop and wonder whether the people who left all those "concerned comments" about the safety and welfare of the puppy have ever watched how their beef and chicken is slaughtered.  If you're concerned about one living creature, how can you not be concerned about another...but I digress...

So now, onto the video and my explanation below as to why this is related to endurance sports:  

You have to admit that you're now smiling from ear-to-ear, right?  I've watched this video nearly every day (and sometimes more than once a day) for the past several days.  What do we, as endurance athletes, have in common with Bandit?  

Well, for one, some of us (e.g., this writer) are a little rolly-polly and have lots of wrinkles!!  But seriously, doesn't Bandit embody the spirit, determination, and confidence that we all want?  

No one ever told this little puppy that he wouldn't be able to walk on the treadmill.  And even when he kept falling off, he refused to believe that he couldn't do it.  He was relentless....

Like most of us, Bandit saw a role model in the adult dog.  He saw another bigger, stronger dog, doing what he wanted to do.  We are no different when we look to professional athletes and think to ourselves "I want to do that."  They inspire us to try it ourselves...

Also like some of us, Bandit jumped right in - without much planning!  When some of us set our eyes on a goal, we often forget that it takes time and baby steps to get to that goal.  Sweet little Bandit would have been better served to wait for his own time at the treadmill and let the person help him a little bit at a much slower speed...But Bandit didn't care about baby steps...He wanted to run with the big dogs!  

And unlike most of us, Bandit was not afraid to look silly!  It seems that we often are too wrapped up in what we look like - how's my triathlon kit look? What kind of bike do I have?  Do I look cool on the run?  Did anyone see me fall down?  Who cares about all that!  Bandit certainly didn't care how many times his cute little butt went sailing off the treadmill...He climbed back on every single time.  

Bandit also needed the help of a coach and a little encouragement. I look at the white pitbull in the video as the coach.  I could see him saying, as he nudged Bandit's butt back on treadmill, "Get back up there son, you can do it!"  I think we all need a coach, a buddy, someone to nudge our butts once in awhile.  

Bandit also wasn't afraid to ask for a little help.  After so many attempts, he finally stood at the edge of the treadmill, trying to get the bigger dog's attention.  It was as if he was saying, "Um, excuse me sir, but could you please slow it down a little for me? Or maybe show me how you're doing that?"  He even raised up his paw once - in determination - to get the other dog's attention:  "Hey, yo, down here - a little help please!"  But even when that didn't work, Bandit was relentless...

He went to the back of the treadmill, hopped on, and ran a few steps.  I could almost hear what was going through little Bandit's mind as he took those five or six steps on the treadmill:  "Holy shit, I'm doing it, I'm crap..."  Then off the back he goes...Yet he gets back on again.  Remember how great it feels when everything clicks?  When you get that perfect "catch" in the water, or that perfect form on the run?  Sometimes the perfection doesn't last long, but it's enough to inspire you to keep trying for it again and again....

And finally, as Martin Luther King said:  "If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward."  When little Bandit was probably too tired to keep trying to walk on the treadmill, he didn't go curl up in a corner....No, he took one paw and let it move back and forth across the treadmill.  This cracked me up!  It was almost as if he was saying "I could do it if I wanted to, but I just don't want to right now.  So I'm just gonna chill out with one paw for a bit."  Instead of giving up, he did what he was capable of doing until he can get stronger - giving it the ol' one-paw.  

I think there's so much we can learn from Bandit, and from young ones in general.  In the beginning we believe we can do everything because we've never learned or been told otherwise.  Then somewhere along the way, we fall and we're laughed at, or we're told that we could never accomplish X,Y,Z, or we compare ourselves to others and think we've failed.  Very young children who've never experienced those negative things, will never know anything but confidence and success, just like Bandit.  You certainly didn't see Bandit losing his confidence.  In fact, he seemed to learn from his experience, realize he needed to change his plan of attack, be creative, ask for help, and continue to be relentless....

Next time you're falling down, going slower than you want, or comparing yourself to the big dogs, think of Bandit.  Be comfortable with where you are right now.  Be creative.  Be willing to ask for help.  But most of all, be relentless...

What did you think of Bandit?   

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Checking in on the 30-Day Challenges

Hey there LTE'rs...Just wanted to check in on those of you doing the 30-day challenge!  It's winding down in the next couple days, so I hope you've stuck to it!

I'll be honest...I wasn't able to accomplish my two challenges:  yoga every day and getting to bed at the same time (10:00).  But, while I haven't been perfect, I've been so much better than I was before.  Just having those two goals, and yet giving myself the freedom to fall off the wagon if I have an off-day, has kept me more regimented and able to achieve them more often.  As a result, I'm getting much more sleep and I'm doing a lot more yoga!!

I can't wait to hear about how your challenges are going...Don't forget to email by 5:00 p.m. EST on Thursday February 7th to let me know how the challenge went.

How's your challenge going?