Stillpower (~By Garret Kramer) Book Review

Having just completed the Olympic Trials in Track & Field, I found Garret Kramer’s book Stillpower extremely helpful in changing my mindset of how I enter and come out of races. One section that particularly hit home was idea of forcing thoughts verses letting thoughts flow.

“When Tiger (Woods) was young, his father constanty reminded him about the out-of-bounds stakes and water hazards that existed on all golf courses. As opposed to most sports psychologists or golf coaches who would instruct their players not to think about these hazards, Earl Woods knew that, from time to time, during a tournament, a thought about these danger spots was bound to pop into his son’s head. As a result, Tiger learned not to be duped by his own thoughts. Major championships followed.”

As a long distance runner, we sometimes have thoughts about whether we will physically be able to finish a workout or race. We all have thoughts of quitting. The difference lies in wether we dwell on this thought and take action on it, or wether we let the thought pass as quickly as it came. We have thousands of thoughts going through our minds all the time, and it’s okay to have fears. The key is recognizing it’s a thought that you do not have to act on. This spring I heard Billy Mills, the American 10k Olympic gold medalist in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, speak in person. He said that he thought about quitting ‘every lap’ of the 10k – that’s 25 laps. E-v-e-r-y single lap he thought about quitting. Often times, I think we try to force ourselves to be positive. When a negative thought enters our mind, we try to control it and shove it out. If we just allow ourselves to be who we are, and let the thoughts come and go, our mind actually becomes more still and peaceful. This is the theme of Stillpower, and it’s the biggest thing I took with me as I entered the Olympic Trials this past week. There seems to be a resurgence in the benefits of meditation and health in the media, and this book re-enforces many of those elements. I’d recommend Stillpower to all coaches, parents, and athletes looking to improve athletic performance or simply looking for a more peaceful way to live.

Find Book on Amazon

Why do you do this?

I do it because I love the process. I love being outside. I love competing and seeing how far I can push myself. It’s the challenge. There’s something satisfying about a hard days work. Those nights you lay in bed and can’t sleep because your muscles are twitching from that day’s track workout. Those are the days we live for. When you’re so exhausted you don’t want to eat and putting the fork to your mouth requires conscious effort. When you lay in bed and can’t stop coughing from the track hack. At the end of the day…It’s fun! You learn about yourself. And you learn how to deal with success ‘and’ failure. And you learn more about yourself from the failures. Do you have the strength to get back up and keep going?

What’s your first Olympic experience?

I’ve wanted to make the Olympics since I was a gymnast in the 3rd grade, 1987. For the past 25 years! I’ve gone back and looked at journals from the 3rd-6th grade where I dreamed of being the next Mary Lou Retton or Nadia Comaneci. I have notes about how gymnastics went that day or what specific move I wanted to work on the next week (it’s funny how similar my running log appears to this).

Who can forget Kerri Strugs in the 1996 Olympics?
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25 years later, I have a real opportunity to make this upcoming Olympics. While I think it’s more important to focus on each day and the process of living in the moment, rather then focusing too much on the end result, I wouldn’t be where I am to day without the support of my family. Since today’s Mother’s Day, I’d like to thank my mom for driving me to gymnastics 6 days a week from 3rd grade – 8th grade. I think the body awareness and discipline I learned through gymnastics has been a huge factor in my success in the steeplechase. I look forward to the next two months, doing everything ethically within my power to make this upcoming Olympic Team. What’s your first Olympic Experience?

A Tribute to My Knife

Recipe for Chilean Sea Bass Tacos with Mango Salsa

Lisa Aguilera – March 3rd, 2011

The knife

Chilean Sea Bass Tacos


  • Chilean Sea Bass
  • Coconut  Oil
  • Himalayan Pink Sea Salt
  • Pepper
  • Dill
  • Soft Corn Tortillas
  • Vegetable Oil

Salsa Ingredients:

  • Mango
  • Tomato
  • Avocado
  • Can of Green Chiles
  • 1 slice of Sweet Onion
  • Cilantro
  • ¼ jalapeno
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Himalayan Pink Sea Salt
  • Pepper

Coat Sea Bass with a thin layer of coconut oil and add salt/pepper/dill to taste.  Broil Sea Bass on the middle rack for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile heat on medium ~1/2 cup or so of vegetable oil in a small pan to deep fry the corn tortillas.  Once the oil is hot, use tongs to place the corn tortilla in the oil.  Heat for 5 seconds flat, and then flip the tortilla in half to make the taco shell shape and heat 10-30 seconds on each side folded depending on how crispy you like your shells.  Use napkins between each shell to soak up the grease as you cook them.  For the mango salsa, just cup up all the ingredients into small squares and mix together.  Once the sea bass is done, use a couple of forks to pull apart and shred.  Place fish and salsa in taco shells and eat!


Building New Neurons in Germany

Lisa Aguilera – August 9th, 2010

I’m a geek. If you didn’t know before, this blog will leave very little doubt. So, I was reading a book “Iconoclast: A Neuroscientist Reveals How to Think differently” months ago. In one of the first chapters, they say that the best way to build new neurons (get a bigger brain) is to throw yourself into new situations, such as visiting a new country or learning a new language. I’ve been traveling to Europe since 2003 for Track and Field, so I’ve already visited many countries. Yesterday in Germany, I decided to spice things up (build new neurons, whatever) and rent a car. I’d only taken the trains previously. What a day! First, I get into the car and see that it’s a stick shift. Oh yeah, my German friend Lilli just told me how it’s really hard to find automatic cars in Germany. Oops, forgot. I think, ‘hey, I drove a stick 13 years ago, I can do this.’ Waaaait a minute. I can’t figure out how the key works. Five minutes later I realize there’s a button you push on the key fob to pop the key open (it’s harder then you’d think). Okay, I can start the car now. The car is conveniently parked on the 4th floor of a pretty remote/empty parking garage in a position where you can just pull out forward. It’s in a pretty tight spot, so I pull it out to get my luggage in. I get my luggage almost in, when a car pulls up behind me and I realize I’m right in the middle of the lane and they can’t get around. I hurry with my luggage, jump in the car, try to put it in first and of course, crumble under the pressure, and stall out. Car behind me’s getting antsy. Second time I succeed with first gear and drive around the parking garage in a circle. Then I see a spot and think I should park the car for a second to look at some maps. I try to reverse the car and #Fail (this is twitter lingo). I can’t reverse the car at all. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong! I take another swing around the parking lot and park in a really empty area. I open up google on my blackberry and start watching ‘How to Drive a Stick’ Youtube videos in the 4th floor of this parking garage. I start googling ‘How to reverse a stick’. I spend at least 15 minutes trying to reverse the car with my blackberry, google, and youtube without any luck. I’m imagining the Kill Bill scene where Uma keeps saying “Wiggle Your Big Toe”, only I’m saying “Reverse the Car”. Then I talk myself out of it. Forget this! Forget building new neurons! What if I cause an accident!? I don’t remember how to downshift, I don’t remember if I have to have the clutch in when I break. I’m completely clueless! I go to the little office where the security guard lady is sitting and explain my dilemna. I tell her how most cars in the US are automatic, and I forgot how to drive a stick, and I can’t even reverse the car and I’d like to return it. She was like, ‘I can teach you! It’s super easy!’. I was like, ‘Really? Are you serious woman? You are really okay with me driving your rental car and stalling it repeatedly?!’ Haha…she was like, yeah, lets just drive around the parking garage a few times. First off, we get into the car and I can’t even start it. She wiggles the stearing wheel (oh yeah, my car at home, that I’ve driven for the past 3 years has that exact same security feature…slooooow). She then shows me the super simple trick to reverse the car…there’s a plastic metal ring right below the handle that you have to pull up before you can move the position of the stick to reverse. Soooo easy!! We drive a few times around the garage, she reminds me of all the simples rules of shifting gears. In Germany they use kilometers, so the easy way to start is to use gear 1 up to 10km, 2 for 20km, 3 for 30km etc, but with practice you learn to hear by sound when it’s time to shift. Anyways, she totally gives me the confidence boost I needed to build these new neurons. She’s like, “You’re really good. You’re so much better then other people that I drive with. You’ll be just fine.” Now this is a situation where I could actually see what a difference confidence made. It was so black and white. Sometimes with racing, there’s a gray area. I don’t know if it comes with thinking too much or what. But there have definitely been times where I believed I could do it, and I felt like my body failed me. This situation was different. I was talking to myself (yes, out loud), saying, “You can do this Lisa. You can drive a stick. It’s just like riding a bicycle. Positive affirmations. You know, all that crap.” And it worked!! I somehow managed to get on the autoban and I was completely fine!! I even managed to get a couple twitpics on the road 😉 I can’t even count how many new neurons I made…but it was great! :) AAAND it also given me a newfound respect for confidence, and how much of a role it plays and how important it really is in all aspects of life. Yesterday it was the difference between freedom and being tied down to a train schedule. Next up? I wanna learn to ride a motorcycle in London! :) (kidding mom)

Philosophical Argument Disagreeing with @tinyBuddah Quote: “Love is loving things that you sometimes don’t like”

Lisa Aguilera – July 27th, 2010

I do like track workouts. I like the getting excited before the workout, the anticipation, the battle between your body saying no and your mind saying yes. I actually enjoy track workouts MORE then just regular runs. There’s more structure, more logic, and it’s so much easier to get excited for. Now, I admit, I don’t always like the pain that comes with it, but I learn to accept it. And loving running and loving pain are two completely different things. I prefer to look for the positive in things that might not be enjoyable, look for the aspects that I like, but then, just because I love those aspects doesn’t mean I ‘love the pain’. However, now that I think about it, maybe if I loved the pain, I would be a better runner? Damn! Did I just disprove myself?!

Big West Pump Up

 Hanging in Macy’s Coffee in Flagstaff with Steph and she just quickly wrote this pump-up for her former teammates for UCSB Conference weekend.  It was so inspiring I had to post it:

Stephanie Rothstein – May 13th, 2010

Victor Frankl  once said “Everywhere man is confronted with fate, with the chance of achieving something through his own suffering.” Although he was referring to the prisoners in the concentration camps during WWII, we as athletes can take this to heart. Our own suffering comes through training and sacrifice. Athletes have the ability to shape their lives around their needs for training, recovery, and  competition. The weeks and months of early morning practices, 2 a days, early bedtimes, and a monotonous routine can sometimes shake the athlete’s sanity. Setbacks in training due to injuries and unforeseen circumstances test the will and strength of the athlete. Then something happens. You wake up one day and it’s the Big West Championship weekend. All the times you spent in the ice bath, massaging sore muscles, running beyond the point of exertion, and turning down party invites now seems all too distant. You realize you suffered for the chance to do something great at conference. The moment you cross the finish line as All-Conference, throw a pr, and jump higher and faster than ever makes all those sacrifices worth it. Be great this weekend and prove that UCSB comes to win.

Will Doing More Pull-ups Help Me Run Faster?

Lisa Aguilera – December 29th, 2009

If I’m on the starting line, and I look into the eyes of my competitors and I can honestly say to myself, “I can do more pull-ups than all you!” will that help me run faster? I’ve recently been in a twitter trash talking battle about who can do the most pull-ups. (This all started with Ann and Jason…see their website at for more pull-up war blogs). So, I’ve been in recent contact with the ASU men’s sprint coach (my new pull-up coach), to get workouts and knowledge about how to up my max # of pull-ups. I went in this morning with a lofty goal of 4 sets of 5. I had the music blaring on my ipod to get my mind right (silverback mode as Ronnie and Lewis would say)..’drop the world’…”the top gets higher…the more that I climb, the spot gets smaller, and I get bigger…”, “my confidence is a stain you can’t wipe off”. I managed 5 pull-ups on the first set, 4 on the next 2 sets, and a measely 3 pull-ups on the final set…maxed out!! :’( I reported back to coach, who told me I needed to have someone ‘hold’ my feet in order to complete the sets. WHAT?! That’s puss…okay I won’t finish that, but that’s not silverback! He told me that ‘To achieve success I must humble myself and start at the correct starting point. Ego gets in the way of progress.’ Ugggghh! Okay, okay, I’m listening.  Anyways, who knows if doing more pull-ups will help me run faster, but the lil trash talk’n and mini-competitions definitely lifts my spirit!  “On to the next one…”

My Top 10 Favorite Athlete Websites

Lisa Aguilera – October 4th, 2009

Yesterday at Geekfest 2009 (As @KCbandit liked to call it), Ann Gaffigan (former American Record holder in the steeplechase and current Computer Website Mogul) and I were discussing website design. I asked her what her favorite websites were and we started looking up specific athletes sites we’d already been to, which then lead me to google “Top Athlete Websites”. Unfortunately, the most recent article I could find was from a Sports Illustrated article from 2006 and when I looked up those top sites, to be frank, they sucked! So, I decided that I was going to create a list of MY favorite athlete websites. Now, before I give you that top ten list, there are definitely a few pet peeves that Ann and I have. Music is Ann’s #1 pet peeve…turn it off!! My favorite athlete website did have music and while I felt it added to the experience, I did turn it off after a minute, so I could listen to my own itunes in the background. My #1 pet peeve is websites that don’t take advantage of AJAX which basically means the entire page re-loads with every mouse-click even when the header or other parts of the page remain the same and don’t need to be refreshed (thus, creating that annoying flicker and taking longer to load the page). Also annoying, ads and pop-ups! Now, I noticed that most, if not all, of the websites in my top 10 took advantage of flash.  Ann and I looked a wide range of athletes websites, from a wide variety of sports, all over the world!  If you have a website you think should have made my top 10 list, I’d love to hear your recommendations! Please comment! Some side notes, I HATE my website design!…and will thus be upgrading it in the next month, so please don’t judge my top 10 list based off my own website design. I found the websites I liked were creative and reflected the specific athlete’s personality. I liked websites where most of the information was shown on the computer screen and I didn’t have to scroll to see the whole page. I also liked websites that are updated frequently with news, blogs, and other information.

#1) Danica Patrick:
#2) Usain Bolt
#3) Shawn Johnson
#4) Anthony Famiglietti
#5) Brianna Glenn
#6) Serena Williams
#7) Annika Sorenstam
#8) Natalie Gulbis
#9) Tyson Gay
#10) Deena Kastor

For fun, my other 2 favorite website designs, not related to athletes:
Harry Potter:
My friend I’ve known since 3rd grade:

My favorite starting page to a website (but there’s nothing else):