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Believer, Baltimore City special ed teacher, and 2:40 marathon runner. Diehard fan of “The Wire.” Email: ryanfan17@gmail.com. Support me: ko-fi.com/ryanfan

“No surge” revolutionized how I run. Then it revolutionized how I live my life.

Athletes jump over a hurdle.
Photo from Pexels on Pixabay

Without trying to be productive, I became more productive. Without trying to maximize my life, I started maximizing my life. Something changed and I didn’t feel prone to procrastination.

What changed? I had started applying something I learned from competitive running to how I lived my life: a pacing mindset.

As an accomplished long-distance runner, “no surge” is a mantra that runs through my mind when I run. It’s the mantra that I have carried with me in my most successful races. I used the mantra when I ran a 15:36 5K. I used the mantra when I ran a…


Inside the darkness of NXIVM, Keith Raniere’s sex trafficking cult

From the US Government, Eastern District of NY — Public Domain

NXIVM had personal development seminars that claimed to enlighten people and make them happy. People claimed attending the seminars cured them of their smoking habit or fear of public speaking. The organization had Hollywood celebrities, children of heads of states, and business leaders adding to its credibility. Many saw its leader as a god.

However, in early 2018, NXIVM’s house of cards collapsed. …


A child pornography scandal gave him 15 and a half years in prison

From Late1 at Wikipedia Commons

When I was a kid, I remember Jared from Subway, who, in commercials, claimed he lost over 200 pounds just by eating Subway sandwiches and constantly presented before and after photos of his progress. He even showed his jeans of when he weighed more than 400 pounds as a comparison to his then much slimmer weight.

While my brother and I knew that you do much more than eat Subway sandwiches to lose 200 pounds, the effects still stuck with us — Subway became our go-to “healthy” fast-food restaurant. …


He is a regular, relatable person who loves to have fun

Photo of Nick Symmonds, from Erik van Leeuwen on Wikipedia Commons

As a runner growing up, watching Nick Symmonds run enthralled me. Symmonds was a USA track star in the 800 meters who had a unique style of running — he would often never be in the front or even near the back of the race, out of sight and out of mind, until the very end of the race. At the end, with 200 meters to go, Symmonds would pull forward like a slingshot, passing several people at once and doing everything he could to pass everyone with a finishing kick. In 2008, at the US Olympic Trials, Symmonds went…


You pay people to do things you can’t for a reason

All photos of the author, taken from the author

“What’s the worst that can happen?” my roommate Samuel Sullivan asked me.

Yesterday, I tried to cut my own hair. I watched a couple of videos on YouTube after a long run and thought it didn’t look too difficult. And if I messed up, what’s the worst that can happen, right? My roommate Sam and I talked about what’s the worst that could happen if I messed up my haircut — the worst that can happen was that my hair would look terrible and I’d look like shit. …


Satire

Some accused Netflix of causing their divorces

Photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash

Netflix executives, outraged Netflix users have been taking advantage of using one account for multiple people, have decided to resort to more draconian measures to make sure people are not abusing a Netflix account.

“In particular, we want to make sure each person pays for their own account,” one executive said. “I am sick and tired of having a family of four thinking they only need one Netflix account for their whole family.”

Citing a rising number of lawsuits of plaintiffs accusing Netflix of being for causing their divorces as well as strained relationships with family, Netflix has decided to…


When I’m ruled by the numbers game, it’s not fun anymore

Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

The past month or so, I haven’t checked my stats on Medium. I have no idea how I’m doing this month, and I don’t plan on knowing how I’m doing this month.

The no stats challenge is one of many I’ve pulled, but I’m glad this one’s sticking. I have better things to worry about, like my Master’s, teaching as a special ed teacher, studying for the LSAT, and more. But most of all, not checking my Medium stats is making me focus more on the actual process of writing itself.

Somewhere down the line, I realized too much stat-checking…


Chinese culture’s way of handling health problems

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Someone in my family slipped up in a big way a couple of years back. They were talking about my grandfather’s cancer, and my grandfather was within hearing distance.

“Cancer? What cancer?” He asked.

It was a slip-up in a big way. In Chinese culture, when elderly people get sick, it’s traditional to tell a caretaker, but not the actual sick person themselves. I think the custom is, pardon my language, dumb as hell. If I were old and sick, I’d most certainly want to know. …


Why reality TV needs to do a better job prioritizing mental health

Photo by jcob nasyr on Unsplash

My girlfriend and I recently watched Temptation Island, a reality TV show where couples on the verge of engagement go onto an island with 12 hot single people of the opposite sex. The show is what it sounds like. Four engaged men and women get have their relationships tested, fueled by strong physical and emotional temptation as well as seemingly an unlimited amount of alcohol.

If that isn’t just asking for trouble in your relationship, I don’t know what is. Perhaps that’s what makes the premise of the show so entertaining for some.

I’m not usually into reality TV or…


Human beings only have so much capacity to strive for perfection.

Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash

I believe in quality over quantity. As a teacher, I would rather dive deeply into close-reading a beautiful and riveting paragraph of text than rush through a 15-page chapter. My students get more out of it.

As a writer, I want readers to get the most possible out of my stories. I want them to be entertained, informed, or persuaded, and honestly just feel like it was a good story. As a runner, I would rather cut a run two miles shorter than planned rather than force an arbitrary number. …

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