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Episode 51 Fitness Behavior - Bart Yasso

Bart Yasso is a world known runner who has been a big part of Runners World since 1987. Here's the 'About Me' from his website:

Yasso joined Runner's World in 1987 to develop the groundbreaking Runner's World Race Sponsorship Program, creating a vehicle for Runner's World to work with over 7,000 races representing 4 million runners per year. Inducted into the Running USA Hall of Champions.

Yasso also invented the Yasso 800s, a marathon-training schedule used by thousands around the world. He is one of the few people to have completed races on all seven continents from the Antarctica marathon to the Mt. Kilimanjaro marathon. In 1987, Yasso won the U.S. National Biathlon Long Course Championship and won the Smoky Mountain Marathon in 1998. He has also completed the Ironman five times and the Badwater 146 through Death Valley. He has also cycled, unsupported and by himself, across the country twice.

Here's also the publisher of: My life on the run. You can check out his website here: On this months show he shares many of the fitness lessons he has learn in his life. 


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Are you an away or toward person? 

I was having a chat to this young man the other day, he was telling me how he gets frustrated with himself because there are times in his life where he feels very motivated which leads him to achieving goals and feeling very satisfied, yet there are other times where he sees himself as lazy. 

When he is feeling unmotivated and lazy, nothing gets done and he beats himself up mentally because he knows what he should be doing, but just can’t seem to get out of this “rut”. 

When I asked him how much time he spent in each of these places, he said around 25% of the time motivated and 75% feeling lazy. Our conversation continued on and I tried to share some insight into how he could work towards spending more time in a motivated place. On a personal level, listening to him reminded me of a time in my life where I felt the same way, a time where I was mainly unmotivated but sometimes had the kick that I needed to be the person I knew I could be. 

One of the factors we should always be evolving in our lives is our ability to improve self-motivation. If you can identify with this young man and feel that the ratio of your motivation to laziness is tipped more towards the latter, it could be a a good time to start evolving yourself to tip the percentages the other way.  A part of your evolution is to learn different motivation strategies that work for you and as you learn these you can use these tools and strategies when you are faced with future challenges. 

One motivation tool that can be very helpful is called Away or Toward. Away or Toward motivation stems from how you are driven as a person. An Away person is someone who is motivated to move away from a certain area of their life. Let’s say you are overweight and you may feel  ashamed of the way you look to the outside world, you finally get to a point where you are sick of it and decide to create change. Thinking about yourself at your biggest weight becomes a motivator as you move towards achieving your goal, in this situation you are motivated to move away from what you don’t want to be. 

A Toward person is more about where you want to get to as a person. You may be inspired by a friend doing a half marathon and although you have never run before you suddenly have the desire to achieve that goal yourself. You start to visualise yourself finishing the race, you think about who you will become as you move towards the goal and this motivates you to make good decisions and ultimately achieve your goal of running a half marathon. 

When we look at Away and Toward motivation it can be easy to think that one is negative and one positive, but that’s not the case, both are just a focus that helps you create the change that you want. If you create that change, through either strategy, that has to be a positive outcome for your life. Many people will experience both types of motivation at different times and in different areas of their life. 

Thinking back to the young man I was talking to, he could use both the Away and Toward strategies to increase his motivation. He could spend some time developing a clear picture of what he wants to stay away from, this could be identifying the strong negativity he feels at the time, think about his self-talk, and remind himself where being in this lazy place takes him in his life. At the same time he could visualise where he is wanting to head as a person. He could see the things he wants to achieve, who he may become as a person and how his peers will develop more respect for him, not to mention the self respect that he will develop himself. By taking on this approach he would be covering both bases and increasing his chances of staying motivated. 

When you think about the times where you have felt most motivated in your life were you driven by Away or Toward motivation? How did that time go for you? Do you think that if you were to put the right type of motivation in front of you right now would you find it easier to move towards the goals you are chasing?

Putting some time aside to figure out the answers to these questions could give you the spark you need to create change in your life. Remember, no change happens until we have the motivation to change.

This piece orginally appeared in The Press


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What do to when you fail? The step back strategy

Do you have any areas in your life where you see yourself as a failure? Areas where you have identified that you will never be good enough at a particular skill, practice or action? Subconsciously you feel uncomfortable and very self aware and when you speak with others about this area you may put yourself down. 

When I’m speaking with someone and they find out I am a fitness instructor often the person I am having the conversation with will quickly tell me that they are no good at exercise and they never will be.  Often this is stated in such a way as if it is a fact which can’t be changed. 

Going back to my original question, if you can identify any areas where you see yourself as a failure, what evidence do you have that proves this? Looking back over your experiences, what happened that made you decide that you were a failure and ultimately caused you to decide that you could never improve? Would your life be enhanced if you had success in this area and it became part of your life in a positive way?

Now that I’ve hit you with lots of hard questions I want to share an experience I had recently. If you’ve read my pieces for a while you may know that I play the piano. I’m an average player at best but I work hard at developing myself and as time has progressed this hard work has lead to improvement. One of the challenges yet enjoyable aspects of playing piano is that there are many different skills you need to develop such as sight reading, finger work, theory, creating your own music, and ear training. One area that I’ve always tried to get better at is sight reading. It’s a skill that adds value to your playing but it’s also a skill that many players get away without doing. I’ve found sight reading to be a hard skill to develop, it takes a lot of concentration and the progress seems very slow and at times I’ve felt like I’ve made no progress at all. 

Last year I was working through a Grade 4 sight reading book and every time I practiced my exercise it would be riddled with mistakes and it was frustrating!. I just felt like a failure and my practice was reinforcing this, I didn’t seem to be improving. I started to think that maybe I should give up on sight reading, that I would never be any good at it so why waste my time, I was a failure. I was feeling so despondent, I got to a point where I decided that I needed to take a step back to figure out what was going wrong. This reflection made me realise that instead of giving up on sight reading altogether, maybe I should move back a level and try working at easier exercises. 

I went back to my Grade 3 sight reading book and spent time getting more confident by sharpening up that level before I progressed back to Grade 4. When I went back to Grade 3 I could see where I had rushed through that level which had ultimately lead to my failures in Grade 4 so I spent time going back through the exercises, taking my time and developing my skill level. Although it was a stretch for me and patience was required, it was achievable and I started to slowly build my confidence in my sight reading again. 

When we fail at something in life we can go through an emotional experience which leads to us determining that we are no good at all and we shut it off completely not willing to give it another try. Maybe a better way to approach these times is to ask ourselves ‘if I’m failing at this level how many steps back can I take until I get to a place where I can start to feel like I am successful? 

In exploring this question you can create a path forward which will build your confidence again, you will start shifting your limiting beliefs and develop the ideas of possibility which will ultimately open yourself up to so much more in all areas of your life.

This piece orginally appeared in The Press


If you enjoy my pieces you can get them emailed to you when I put them on the internet. This way you won't have to come back to my website to check when a new piece is out. Don't worry I won't spam you. If you want to join up just put your details in here: