Category Archive: News

Build Better Habits

By Brian Johnson, Experience Life

Make the most of your finite willpower.

Science tells us that willpower is key to achieving everything we want in life. In fact, it’s a better predictor of academic performance than IQ — by a factor of two.

But our willpower is finite. It’s like a muscle that you can work only so much before it fatigues. That’s why the most successful among us have figured out how to use willpower to create habits that work for us so well that we practice them without ever having to exert our will.

Good habits are the key to success, because when you have them in place, you don’t need to negotiate with yourself all day long about whether you’ll work out or eat right.

The more I study, the more I find that all great teachers tell us to master our fundamental needs — our rest, nutrition, and exercise — before we strive for specific goals.

If you don’t have a strong foundation, you won’t be able to build up to reaching your potential.

These are a few of my favorite strategies for making sure your basic needs are met so you have easy access to the willpower you need for building solid habits.

  • Eat (healthy food) when you’re hungry. Your willpower is weaker when you’re hungry because you’re focusing on your hunger rather than your goals.
  • Breathe deeply. Taking a deep breath is one of the quickest ways to boost your willpower in any given moment. It helps move you out of a fight-or-flight mode into one of pause-and-plan.
  • Meditate. Meditation is like strength training for your brain. It helps build the gray matter in areas that regulate emotion and control decision-making — which all add up to stronger willpower.

Now that we’ve identified some top willpower boosters, let’s look at some key methods for constructing sturdy habits.

An arch has a keystone, which locks the arch in place and makes it strong. The same principle applies to your life. Your keystone habit is the one behavior that, once mastered, has the greatest impact on your life. Identify and master it — whether it’s daily exercise, adequate sleep, meditation, or a healthy breakfast — and you’ll have a strong foundation for making positive changes.

Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche believed that anyone who has a strong “why” can endure almost any “how.” Take time to make a list identifying the benefits of installing your keystone habit — that’s your “why.”

Once you know your “why,” you’ll endure the “how” — all the adversity, setbacks, and pain that come with establishing your keystone habit.

Remember the reasons why you’re making the change, and you’ll not only succeed but thrive.

Once you identify your keystone habit and understand why you want to make your change, you need to make a 100 percent commitment to doing the work necessary to reach your potential. You can’t commit to 90 percent or even 99.9 percent. You’ve got to get rid of the whiny voice in your head that negotiates with you about all the reasons why you should take a day off. When you decide to do something, make it nonnegotiable.

You can keep your commitment by creating momentum with daily practices. Skipping days is how habits fall apart. Don’t try to establish a habit by doing it on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Doing it daily makes all the difference.

Track your progress on a calendar. When comedian Jerry Seinfeld wanted to master the art of comedy, he set a goal of writing jokes every day. When he accomplished this task, he marked the date on the calendar. It’s exciting to watch your winning streak grow, so monitoring how many days you’ve done something will help you rock it.

OK, it’s inevitable that at some point you’ll miss a day, maybe because of an illness or emergency. We’re all human! If you miss a day, mark your practice on your calendar for the next day, and make it the most important thing on your schedule that day so you don’t miss two days. If you miss two days, you will lose momentum, and that makes it easier to continue missing days.

One of the best ways to make sure you practice your habit daily is to make it easy to win. Too often we tell ourselves something like “I want to meditate morning and night.” Great. But first note how many minutes you’re meditating now. If you’re doing zero minutes, setting a goal of meditating twice a day is not a realistic way to implement a habit because it may be too much to start with.

It’s easier to do a one-minute habit than a 60-minute habit. Make it easier by creating a series of incremental wins.

You can also make it easier by giving yourself permission to suck at what you’re learning to do. If you’re not in the mood to do something, do it anyway. It’s not important to be good at something all the time, but it’s essential to do it every day, even if you sometimes do it poorly.

You’ve already spent years creating a set of habits in your life, so installing a new one will also be a process. Hal Elrod, author of The Miracle Morning, has a great way of looking at this.

Elrod argues that it takes 30 days to establish a new habit. He says the process involves three phases. The first one will feel unbearable. The second will feel uncomfortable, but you’ll begin feeling the benefits. After the third phase, you’ll feel unstoppable. It’s in the last phase that you’ll feel on fire. People couldn’t pay you to stop practicing your new habit because it feels fun.

When your habits make you happy, you’ll be having fun and you won’t have to think about eating right, exercising, or meditating. And that will give you plenty of willpower for constructing new habits, facing new obstacles, and creating the life you want.

So go on! Get out there and rock those habits.

Brian Johnson loves helping people optimize their lives as he studies, embodies, and teaches the fundamentals of optimal living — integrating ancient wisdom, modern science, common sense, virtue, mastery, and fun. Learn more and optimize your life at

Experience Life is the award-winning whole-life health and fitness magazine dedicated to empowering people to become their healthiest selves.


Announcing Our New Gift Entry Program

Gift Cards - Chicago Half MarathonYour holiday shopping ends here! Give the ultimate gift of motivation in the new year with a gift entry into the 2016 Chicago Half Marathon or the Transamerica Chicago Triathlon.

A limited number of gift entries are available into the following event distances:

  • Chicago Half Marathon – Half marathon or 5K distances
  • Transamerica Chicago Triathlon – Sprint or International distances*


To order, simply select your gift entry of choice when promoted during registration. Upon placing your order, a commemorative race entry card will be mailed to you, along with a ready-to-assemble gift box. Insert the card, wrap the box and watch the magic unfold.


To ensure delivery prior to December 25, orders must be placed by Friday, December 18 at 12:00 p.m. CST. Orders will be sent via USPS Priority Mail to your address provided.

Note: The gift recipient must register with the promo code by the date indicated on card (Chicago Triathlon: August 8; Chicago Half Marathon: September 5). All event policies shall apply, including executing a standard event wavier. No refunds or deferrals are permitted outside of any purchased registration refund insurance. Cannot be combined with other offers.

*All Chicago Triathlon participants are required to secure a mandatory USA Triathlon one-day license, not included in the gift entry purchase.

For questions or inquiries, please contact, or call 773-404-2281.

The program is limited to 500 total gift entries. Grab yours early to ensure to your athlete receives the perfect holiday surprise!

Athlete Alert: Transportation

Due to new IDOT highway construction schedules, additional shuttle services and the potential for increased traffic congestion, 2015 Chicago Half Marathon participants and spectators are advised to carefully evaluate your traffic plans into Jackson Park.

All lanes of southbound/eastbound Kennedy Expressway (I-90/94) will experience road closures between Ohio Street and Harrison Street early Sunday morning. All lanes will be closed just before the junction with the Eisenhower for 15-minute intervals between 10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. Sunday. Visit the for more details.

Participants and spectators planning to drive into Jackson Park from the north are encouraged to utilize alternate routes, especially Lake Shore Drive. As a reminder, Lake Shore Drive will close to all traffic between 31st and 67th Streets at 6:00 a.m.

Motorists who do not park at the Museum of Science & Industry garage must utilize adjacent street parking. There is no parking available within Jackson Park. Both free and metered street parking is available west of Stony Island along 59th Street, Midway Plaissance and 63rd Street. Drivers should plan to walk upwards of one mile (or more) to access the race venue. Please obey all parking signs/restrictions. The event is not responsible for ticketed or towed vehicles.

Participants are encouraged to ride METRA Rail from the Millennium Park Station at Randolph and Michigan Avenue – where $5 roundtrip tickets are available Sunday morning. Trains depart to 63rd Street at 5:00 a.m (#8303)., 5:45 a.m. (#MX01) and 6:30 a.m. (#8033, for 5K participants). Visit for details.

To ensure timely transportation of all riders, we advise all shuttle bus ticket holders to arrive at their dedicated shuttle stop as early as possible. Shuttles will begin departing at 4:15 a.m. as they reach capacity. The final shuttles will now depart at 5 a.m. from both pickup locations. Shuttle buses will begin returning from Jackson Park beginning at 9:30 a.m.

The current forecast for race morning is 64 degrees, 86% humidity and mostly cloudy conditions with a high of 72 degrees by 12:00 p.m.. The Event Alert Level is currently Green. Please monitor EAS levels throughout the race and take appropriate action.


Participants are encouraged to properly hydrate in the days leading up to the race. Download the race app and watch our Facebook page for the most up-to-date alerts.

2015 Chicago Half Marathon Transportation Update

Due to incredible demand, the complimentary athlete shuttle service has reached maximum capacity. At this point, we are unable to accommodate any new ticketing. Only those with shuttle tickets or bib stickers will be permitted onboard.

To ensure timely transportation of all riders, we now advise everyone to arrive at their dedicated shuttle stop as early as possible. Shuttles will begin departing at 4:15 a.m. as they fill to capacity. The final shuttles will now depart at 5:00 a.m. from both pick-up locations.

As a reminder, start corrals close at 6:45 a.m. Due to City of Chicago road closure timelines, all half marathon participants must clear the start line by 7:10 a.m. Those who arrive after 7:10 a.m. will be forced to participate in the 5K race, which begins 7:45 a.m.

For those who need to secure race-day transportation, we recommend utilizing the METRA Rail service departing Millennium Station. Bike parking is available within the finish festival at the corner of Hayes and Cornell. Please visit the transportation section of the app, Athlete Guide or event website for details.

2015 Chicago Half Marathon Athlete Guide Now Available

Welcome to the 19th annual Chicago Half Marathon, taking place Sunday, September 27. We have an incredible event in store for you as we welcome more than 15,000 runners from 48 states and 37 countries to the greatest sports city on Earth!

We are proud to offer you one of the flattest and most scenic road races around. The Chicago Half Marathon Course starts and finishes within Jackson Park, a historic, 500 acre parkland located seven miles south of the downtown Loop.

To ensure your experience is top-notch, check out the 2015 Athlete Guide for detailed schedules, course information and everything else you need to know about the race.

> View the 2015 Athlete Guide

It is an honor to have you at our race. We’ll see you at the start line!

New Pace Requirement Announced for 2015

New extended pace gives runners an added 30 minutes on Lake Shore Drive.

The Chicago Half Marathon is the city’s only road race to utilize an entirely traffic-free Lake Shore Drive. Witnessing the sweeping views along one of the nation’s most famous and scenic roadways requires intricate coordination with the City of Chicago, the Chicago Police Department and the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT). In order to lessen the community impact of closing Lake Shore Drive (and surrounding streets), this event offers a 16-minute mile pace requirement.

Previously a 13-minute mile, the new 16-minute mile pace goes into effect as soon as the last participant crosses the start line and is maintained by the Back of the Pack Crew – a group of volunteer runners who encourage runners to stay on-pace. The Back of the Pack Crew is followed by the SAG van and a clean-up crew, who work to immediately reopen the course at specific time intervals.

Participants who do not maintain the 16-minute pace and fall behind the Back of the Pack Crew will have two options:

  1. Board the SAG van and be transported to the finish line.
  2. Move to the Lakefront Trail, which can be accessed at six different locations/checkpoints along Lake Shore Drive. The trail will be completely supported with aid stations including water, Gatorade Endurance, restrooms, mobile medical staff and course marshals to guide participants.


The finish line will remain open for those on the Lakefront Trail until 11:30 a.m. Gear check and the finish festival will close at 12:00 p.m.

Beat the Clock
In order to meet the pace requirement, we offer the following mile locations, lake front path access points and times to help you “Beat the Clock”:

  • Mile 2.6 at Marquette & Lake Shore Drive (North Bound): 8:00 a.m. – Directed to 5K finish
  • Mile 3.6 at Hayes Dr. & Lake Shore Drive (North Bound): 8:20 a.m. – Directed to 5K finish
  • Mile 8.7 at 31st Street & Lake Shore Drive (North Bound): 9:30 a.m. – Diverted to Lake Front Path
  • Mile 9.7 at Oakwood & Lake Shore Drive (South Bound): 9:46 a.m. – Diverted to Lake Front Path
  • Mile 10.8 at 47th & Lake Shore Drive (South Bound): 10:04 a.m. – Diverted to Lake Front Path
  • Mile 11.6 at 53rd & Lake Shore Drive (South Bound): 10:16 a.m. – Diverted to Lake Front Path


The Chicago Half Marathon is the Perfect Race for Runners of all Experience Levels

The 19th annual Chicago Half Marathon and 5K takes place on Sunday, September 27. Whether you’re a seasoned runner or new to the sport, learn why one of Chicago’s oldest running events is the perfect race for you on Windy City Live.


Haven’t registered yet? Register now to find out what everyone’s talking about!

Summer Fueling: How and What to Eat for a Successful Race Season

By Brooke Schohl, MS, RD, CSSD, METS  

I live in Arizona, where summer heat takes on a whole new meaning. But even when the temps approach scorching, triathletes continue to hit the pavement and the (bath-water warm) pool to crank out those workouts. The show must go on, and so must proper fueling.

For many athletes training in warm climates, appetite tends to drop off as the thermometer readings climb. It’s important to keep this in mind during summer months and make any adjustments necessary to keep intake where it needs to be and those hot workouts well fueled.

Here are some tips for adjusting your fueling strategy for summer:

Produce comes to mind whenever seasonal foods are mentioned, and that’s perfect because fruits and vegetables are the two best carbohydrate options in an athlete’s diet. Summer is a great time to take advantage of the wide variety of produce that graces your supermarket’s shelves. This time of year is also the perfect time to visit your local farmer’s market to support locally grown food from farmers in the area. Besides the healthy carbohydrate component, fruits and vegetables provide many vitamins and minerals (think antioxidants) that you just can’t get from other foods. They are versatile, too – cut up a bunch of fruit varieties for a fruit salad, roast vegetables for a veggie-and-egg casserole, or throw both into a huge green salad that is light on the stomach, but packs a nutritional punch. 

Each season boasts its own comfort meals, like a big bowl of chili in the fall with a football game on the television. Summer is more centered on light, fresh foods that fill you up, but don’t weigh you down. Instead of that chili and cornbread duo, try a flaky grilled fish like halibut with some roasted green beans and a mixed greens salad topped with avocado and mango. And remember to eat balanced no matter what season it is – carbohydrate + fat + protein at all meals and snacks. Becoming too reliant on carbohydrates throws blood sugar levels out of whack and negatively impacts your health, weight and training.

Coming back from a long, hot outdoor workout can be an exhausting and possibly nauseating event in itself. Then, picture yourself consuming a large meal post-workout and you may be ready to toss your cookies. Don’t stress about getting those calories replaced. Keep in mind that you really only need to replace 20% of the total calories burned during exercise, and that this can be accomplished slowly (over time) for the next several hours post-exercise. After long workouts, do attempt to get at least a snack back in within an hour of exercise conclusion. This snack can be anything from a Greek yogurt with fruit to a protein smoothie with fruit and coconut oil. Again, balance is key. Don’t feel the need to gorge yourself the minute you walk in the door, especially if you are feeling nauseous from the elevated temps.

It’s ok to pick the time of day when you are most hungry and to make that meal a little larger. Or to break meals down into smaller snack-size portions in order to meet calorie requirements. Sometimes a large, heavy meal is too overwhelming to the system no matter what season it is. If you wake up ravenous in the mornings, make that meal a little more substantial followed by a lighter lunch and dinner. Same with feeling hungrier at lunch or dinner. Make adjustments according to what your body is telling you. If your evening meal is your heaviest, make sure to eat early enough that the food has time to settle and begin digestion before laying down for bed.

In the summer months, athletes are more active than ever. Stay on track with your healthy fuel plan by incorporating the above suggestions into your diet. The combination of great fueling and exercise is unstoppable when it comes to you meeting your goals. Make this summer season your most productive yet!

Brooke Schohl, MS, RD, CSSD, METS Level II is a sports dietitian and the owner of Fuel to the Finish Endurance Nutrition Coaching in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is an avid triathlete, having completed many triathlons of all distances including three IRONMAN races. She integrates that personal experience and knowledge into developing customized, sport-specific, metabolically efficient fueling plans for her clients. Brooke and her husband, John, own Destination Kona Triathlon Store in south Scottsdale, Arizona. For more information on services and offerings, visit her website at

Download the Chicago Half Marathon Race-Day App

We’re excited to announce that the Chicago Half Marathon is now part of the new Life Time Athletic Events app.

The Life Time Athletic Events mobile app allows you to:

  • Check out schedules, explore the course and find all the information you need to plan your day.
  • View race results right after the event.
  • Receive all of the latest event news as it happens.
  • Connect with participants, spectators and staff to exchange tips, tricks and get questions answered.
  • Earn points, badges and possibly even prizes for being active in the app and at the event.
  • Check the leaderboard to see how you compare to other participants.

Features of the app include:

  • Update – a quick way to share photos and comments about your event experience.
  • Activity Feed – the real-time pulse of the event. See what people are saying, view photos from the event and find trending topics.
  • Schedule – view the full schedule and related information (packet pickup, corrals, etc).
  • Users – see who’s at the event, and connect with them on the app.
  • Exhibitors – find exhibitors and sponsors, and leave comments or ratings.

Download the app today!


2014 Chicago Half Marathon & Life Time 5K Athlete Guide Now Available

Thank you for racing the 2014 Chicago Half Marathon & Life Time 5K, taking place on September 7. We are proud to offer you one of the flattest half marathons with one of the most beautiful backdrops: the Chicago Lakefront. Check out the Athlete Guide for detailed schedules, course information and more.

> View the Athlete Guide

It’s time to put on your game face on; we’ll see you on Lake Shore Drive!