What is progress anyway? I’ve been thinking a lot about the notion of ‘progression’ recently, but have I been judging progression based on the wrong criteria?
Runner’s Definition of ‘Progress’
Without getting too technical, ‘progress’ is defined as ‘forward or onward movement towards a destination’. As runners we tend to add an extra clause onto that, though: ‘forward or onward movement towards a destination, that is a PB, that I put a lot of effort into’.
I got faster quickly when I first started thinking about, and applying, structured training for running. To begin with, PBs were all I cared about. But then, as tends to be the case with these things, the initial ‘progression’ slows. At that point you have to evaluate why it is that you’re doing something: to validate yourself, or for something more than that?
A Deeper Purpose
Now when people ask me about running I answer pretty differently. I avoid talking about my PBs. Some of you may have noticed that I have removed them from my bio on Instagram. Not because I think people should remove them. I follow some based on times because I want to learn how to train like them to achieve something. But because they weren’t serving the purpose I initially intended them to. They had become a bragging-right. Something that I think can be really toxic. If someone asks me about a PB for a certain distance, I’ll answer, because the chances are they’re trying to work out if we could train together or learn from each other. But I won’t offer it out voluntarily.
A Host Of Benefits
When people ask me about running I tell them about what running has brought to my life in the last six months. I think it’s pertinent to list them here:
I’ve met more like minded people, who I can talk to about running and so much more, since July than I have in the last five years.
My confidence has accelerated incredibly and now instead of being the person at the party who hides in the kitchen and talks to the same people, I actively attempt to talk to new people (even if sometimes I end up with major foot-in-mouth syndrome).
I’ve learnt the importance of investing time into something. Academically I knew how to do this, but my university education didn’t provide the tools as to how this would translate into real life. Hard work can be just that – hard, but ultimately worth it.
I say ‘yes’ to almost anything. People laugh as I never ask questions, but running has stoked the fire in me that craves newness and wonder and adventure. The more I can experience, the happier I am. So if you ever need anyone around for the ride, I’m your girl.
Progress Depends On Your Objectives
The list goes on. But the point I’m trying to make is that ‘progress’ is what you make it. If you just rely on ‘progress’ equating to PBs, then you’re setting yourself up to fail. All the above (and more) add up to the bumpy ride of life. If we really want to get technical, then I don’t even think ‘progress’ is the right way to look at it. It’s a value-laden term that suggests we should always be trying to better ourselves in some way. It suggests that we can’t be happy with how we are, and means we are always looking towards the future.
So one thing I would suggest is trying to forget the word ‘progress’. Focus on the present, feel the moment, and if you want to keep an eye to the future, then great. But don’t wish your life away. Enjoy the moment. The good runs. The bad runs. The PBs. The foam rolling. And I have a hunch that if you do that, you might notice that the future looks a lot brighter than it did before.
That someone has taken the step to BEGIN or Recommence their fitness and health journey is what counts. Not where they are on that journey.
We Are Unique
Those embarking on this journey do so at a different time, under different circumstances. In different ways and with different aims. Everyone will progress along their journey at different rates dependent on countless factors.
So why would we choose to measure ourselves against someone else? It is meaningless because who are we to judge someone else’s journey? Theirs is unique to them, and about which we may know very little.
Yes, we can all finish a race and look at those around us. Who finished first? Who lagged behind? And Who was that guy you overtook who looked really fast, but was panting hard on the brink of collapse. And so on…
These thoughts are all very well, and analysis of others is only natural. Indeed, by considering the performance of others, we can sometimes identify why someone performed strongly or otherwise. There may be something we can learn from their training or racing, in order to better ourselves.
But what this analysis of others should NOT lead to are thoughts like, ‘I’m better than him or she’s better than me.’ Such thoughts are as misguided as they are superficial. Feeling ‘above’ those at the back of the field? Being spellbound by the front runner?
A Look In The Mirror
Remember, we are all at a different point in different journeys, with different goals. Respect that fact. Because comparison only serves to demean our personal ambitions and the route we’ve taken to reach them.
The only person with whom you should compare yourself is the younger you. Have you improved your younger self? Or if age is against you, are you succeeding in holding back the years? Look in the mirror before looking around you.
Did you run YOUR best race? Are you doing what you need to do to improve YOU and get where YOU want to be?
Strength and conditioning (S&C), is great for injury prevention, correcting muscle imbalances and posture. It will help you become a stronger, and therefore, faster triathlete.
A Year Round ‘Staple’
Regardless of the distance you are racing, S&C should be a staple of a triathlon-training program year round, despite this title suggesting that it is a ‘winter’ focus. Personally, this has been an aspect of my training that has been lacking, despite my regular core work. I have been planning to incorporate it into my training for a while, but timing is everything.
New To Strength & Conditioning?
If, like me, you haven’t been ‘lifting’ for some time, the delayed onset muscle soreness that comes hand in hand with S&C work can be rather hindering to the rest of your training. This isn’t particularly what you want during the race season. Consequently, I am only just starting to fully incorporate it into my schedule since completing my season on the Gold Coast this September.
I have mentioned several benefits above, and will delve into more detail on them in future posts. In the meantime I will introduce a couple of options that you can do to ensure you are reaping the benefits of S&C work.
Where To Start
A great place to start is calisthenics, or bodyweight training. It is (or rather can be!) a less stressful way to introduce your body to S&C work. I feel that it is a highly functional form of fitness. The second option is hitting the bar, no, not for drinks, but for free weights. Weightlifting is a great way to add additional load to your S&C program (literally!) and opens up a number of options to the exercises you can be performing. Therefore, combining weights with calisthenics should hopefully provide the most benefits to your training and racing.
More details of both of these training methods will soon follow in future posts.
To follow my progress as a Team GB Triathlete head over to my blog page!
Soon after I started running, I got hooked on looking for ways to improve. I dived straight in to running literature. At the time, there was a huge ‘barefoot running’ movement in the running community, which seemed to stem from the success of the book, Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
The book was a very enjoyable read (I have re-read it several times since). I quickly followed it up with a book by one of the authors’ influencers, Ken Bob Saxton, called ‘Barefoot Running Step by Step’. You can read about some of my early forays and experiments with barefoot running on my older blog posts.
Both books stirred in me a desire to experiment with my existing running form. I wanted to feel like I could run all day, like the Tarahumara. To run light, strong and silently and stay injury free.
Why The Change?
So, why did I feel this need to change or toy with my running form? Defiance was one reason. A lot of self-proclaimed ‘experts’ seemed to suggest that it was not advisory to change your running technique. To me though, this seemed preposterous. Surely experimenting can lead to a greater understanding, appreciation and technique. The rules of learning, of trial and error and of continued improvement surely were applicable to running too?!
I also wanted to get faster. Based on what I’d read, it seemed clear to me that one way of getting faster was to ensure your running style was efficient. You could say that these books acted like my early running coach. I used the advice the books gave, tried things out and used what worked for me.
My style was unlike ‘real’ runners. I felt like a footballer doing a bit of running and I think I probably looked like it too! I wanted to look more like Mo Farah or Eliud Kipchoge; Graceful, smooth, light and looking like they could run forever.
How I Changed My Running Style
There were a few elements I consciously worked on and they have taken varying amounts of time to get to where I am now;
Which part of my foot hit the ground first.
Up until I read the above-mentioned books, I really hadn’t paid any attention to the mechanics of running. I just went out and ran. The books opened my eyes to seeing running as an art to be improved. My technique could be improved if I took steps to do so. There was actually quite a lot to think about! I changed from being a heel-striker who made contact with the ground way out in front of my body, to a midfoot/forefoot-striker who made contact with the ground right underneath my body. This is generally accepted as good running form.
This did NOT come naturally to me at all! I really had to be intentional about doing this. I had to think about it a lot during my runs. This resulted in an increased leg turnover. My calves aching like crazy after each run for probably about three weeks. I therefore gave my legs more time to recover between each run. Why did they hurt so much? It was because I hadn’t been engaging them properly in my old running technique. I’d been relying more on my upper leg muscles and so my calves weren’t being engaged like they were meant to. After the three weeks of aching calves, I also noticed how much BIGGER they had become! I was using them properly. The result? I was faster, without increasing my perceived effort!
How I hit the ground.
I really did ‘pound’ the pavement with my feet and you could hear me a long way off. So, I consciously tried to run ‘light’ trying to make less sound in my footsteps. I had the following passage from a character called Caballo Blanco, from the book Born to Run running through my head constantly:
“Think Easy, Light, Smooth, and Fast. You start with easy, because if that’s all you get, that’s not so bad. Then work on light. Make it effortless, like you don’t give a sh*t how high the hill is or how far you’ve got to go. When you’ve practiced that so long that you forget you’re practicing, you work on making it smooooooth. You won’t have to worry about the last one – you get those three, and you’ll be fast.”
I agree with the sentiments Caballo Blanco expresses here. I’m not one to boast about my running prowess. Since my changes however, I have had the odd compliment about my running style.
These two were the really big ones. The third one is one I’m still working on. It’s a longer term project because it tends only to happen when I’m really tired. When I’m unable to think about anything other than trying to keep running!
Using my arms properly.
Most of the time, my arms behave themselves. However, when I really tire, they (particularly my right arm) tend to develop a mind of their own. They move across my body, making my torso rotate. This slows me down just at the key moment I want to be running as efficiently as possible. The ideal is for them to pump up and down by the side of my body. This provides balance and momentum in the direction of travel. I’m conscious of this to a point but need to try to remember and be focused on this when I get tired on runs.
To give some context to the benefits of changing my running form, I wanted to share a few observations:
I now feel like a runner, rather than a footballer who can run.
Like I could run for longer than I ever could before I changed my running technique.
My speed improved! I know that you could argue that this is just down to training over four years, but I honestly don’t believe that. From a debut half marathon of 1:27:32 in 2012, my PB is now 1:19:12 and I know I could run a 1:18 with some dedicated training now, based on my recent 10 mile race (https://www.strava.com/activities/1272325054).
I’ve only had one running-related injury (through doing too much too soon back in 2013). I don’t think I’d have stayed injury free for this long running like I used to.
I try to avoid over-analysing each run I do. But I think it helps to be mindful of how you’re running and what each part of your body is doing. Often what you think is not what is really going on!
Ready For Change?
If you’re considering what your running form looks like, or how efficient your technique is, then there are a few different things you could do.
Head to a running store that offers gait analysis services. These are often provided free to lure you in!
Speak to a running coach, like me(!), who can provide a gait analysis service and provide you with a report that outlines what you’re doing well and what you should aim to develop (as well as tips for how to do so).
Get someone to record video of you running at a few different speeds (you’ll want side on, front on and from the back views!). Then, watch it back and see what you look like. What do you notice? What would you change?
Watch YouTube videos of professional athletes running – pick those who run similar distances to you and watch how they run.
What does being ‘TrueSapien’ and living a ‘Challenging Life’ mean to me? It’s more than just about aiming to be a little fitter. It’s more than intermittently participating in events and then sitting back admiring my achievement. And more than sporadically attending the local fitness class or gym in attempt to attain short term and short lived gains.
A Lifestyle Choice
The way I choose to live my life can only be described as a deliberate and significant lifestyle choice. I completed my first Ironman, Ironman Wales, in September this year. It was a tough but thoroughly enjoyed experience BECAUSE it was a way to TEST my chosen lifestyle. I have heard of several people that complete their first IRONMAN with insufficient training. Then they claim it is the hardest thing they have ever done, and announce that they will never be doing another. Shying away from the challenge rather than facing it heads on.
Born To Push Limits
My reply to these people is we, as humans, are born to push ourselves to new limits. There is something demotivating about accepting average, yet so many choose it. The TrueSapien ethos draws from the roots of evolution, which we as humans have evidently lost over the years. No longer do we have to fight for survival, in turn many people being content with inactivity and idleness.
There is something discordant with how we are glued to our phones, opting for a message over an in-person conversation. We are born to interact, with a need for others to keep us sane. Materialistic posessions only keep us happy short term. This is reflected in the waste we produce and the upsetting, yet dominant reliance on short life technology.
Wide Reaching Implications
The ever-growing population inevitably leads to further demands. At what stage do the resources start to run out? Is this the point when we will inevitably have to return to our roots and fight for our place in the world? There seems a reliance on needing the approval of others to feel ‘happy.’ A strong desire to be just like everyone else. I disagree with this, and will always remain true to who I am. The bright vibrant girl with the curly hair, and never-ending energy.
One particular infuriation of mine is the significant levels of food waste, including packaging we create. A reliance on foods that we can’t grow in our own country has led to the roads being full of large vehicles. This not only contributes to global environmental problems, but also ruining much of the beautiful countryside. Even worse, in the next year, the new HS2 network will be built on the fields around the back of my house. Further destruction of wide open land that we’d been blessed with.
The Real Competition
For me the path of least resistance is not the most rewarding and as a result not the one I chose. Other people motivate me, but do not see them as my competition. The only real competition is your past self. Desire to improve must to come from within, else it is not only unsustainable, but not enjoyable.
A Duty To Inspire
My dad has shared many stories of hardship that he had to endure growing up. This made him the strong minded human he is and led to the engraining of many significant values. My siblings and I were, in turn, passed these values. Pushing boundaries is something that can be done in every walk of life, not only sport, but in education, work and in one’s social life. I analyse the human population, and I see signs of devolving, our mental health not improving, but getting worse, and our resilience to much of life’s challenges bordering on non-existent.
I look at myself as a role model for others. I believe, the seemingly impossible, with the right mindset and determination, is in fact possible. In the words of TrueSapien ‘to fearlessly, passionately and grittily inspire an encourage others to unleash their own TRUESAPIEN!’
If you’ve liked what you’ve read and want to learn more about me please check out my blog Pocket Rocket Rach!
Why do the majority shrink and shy away from challenge? Has this reluctance to commit to personal challenge become second nature?
Whether it’s a physical challenge, career, personal or some other challenge, people everywhere are systematically wasting their potential. Happy living their lives completely within their comfort zones and never experiencing what life has to offer outside of it.
A Life Of Convenience
Yes, modern lifestyles are made physically and mentally more comfortable to due technological advances. Is it acceptable though, to not use our remarkable bodies and minds to the limits they are capable of?
The ACCEPTANCE of Mediocrity is a disease.
Think of the people you know. Not those that you ‘know of’ (that is an entirely different story, distorted by the ‘fake’ success stories on social media). Think of those in your circle of friends, family and acquaintances. How many people do you know that settle for mediocrity or even less when it comes to their health, lifestyle or physical functionality? You probably even know the shit excuses that many of these hide behind. One thing these people are great at is making their ‘excuses’ VERY clear and obvious to all around them. You may even count yourself into this category or at least remember the time that you could.
They are everywhere you look. You’ll notice them at work, in the street or whilst you’re out eating or drinking. It’s clear to see that they are the majority. They have turned their backs on their natural physical instincts and have lazily resigned themselves to never challenging themselves. In doing so, what example does this set for our future generations?
Maybe it’s a symptom of our society. Because it no longer encourages healthy competition even amongst our young children! As a result, I’m embarrassed every time I attend my daughter’s ‘Sports day’ to the point I hope it’s fucking rained off each year!
Surely such lack of competition will only accelerate the many negative health and social issues that are prevalent today. These issues are caused almost entirely by the lack of challenge and activity that competition is the catalyst for!
We are a society conditioned to taking the ‘easy’ option at every opportunity. As a result, we repeatedly make excuses for underachievement.
Because it’s how the majority choose to live their lives DOESN’T MAKE IT RIGHT.
Can it be right to live your life in the sewers and gutters of aspiration? Shying away spinelessly? Hiding in the shadows of the few that do repeatedly embrace and seek challenge? Never to feel the exhilaration and empowerment that pushing boundaries and experiencing the unknown creates? NO!
Is this an environment that our human bodies and minds are aligned with? If this were so our bodies would be thriving, virtually free from ailment and disease. But they are not. Lifestyle related illness is at record levels and projected to continue to rise at unprecedented rates.
I want to talk about Pacing. But what is Pacing? Basically, I run 13.1 miles with a flag on my back, sometimes a vest, often just a t-shirt. If I’m really special I get to run with a balloon strapped to my top!!! All of these pacer tools are relevant to the time that I will complete the race in.
My name is Delroy Taylor. Well that’s the name my mother gave me! Nowadays just ‘Del’ will do, unless I’m in trouble. I’m 41 and from Warwickshire. I have four of those small humans that I call “bank robbers”, some call them kids! Aged 21 down to 12 years. Married to my wife Michele, we obviously live happily together… when I agree with her!
Why Pacing? Since I was small I always wanted to help people even, if there wasn’t anything in it for myself. It was usually the snotty kid at school that had no friends, or the kid last in a race on sports day. Often it was the puppy with a limp that got my attention. Nowadays I’m a manager (boring to some I know)! My time is spent getting the best out of people. Understanding their weaknesses, helping them to grow and working with them closely to improve and achieve their goals. This isn’t that far off from being a pacer.
As a child I was a hurdler. I always wanted to be Colin Jackson. Mother said I was good at jumping over things. Little did she know this was a tactic to avoid being caught by anyone with an ounce of authority! It wasn’t until I grew up that I found long distance running despite being physically active since a young age. I played football from the early age of six up until the tender age of thirty, then when the younger kids got faster the only option was to retire and hit the weights.
Go Hard Or Go Home
I became a gym junkie. Protein shakes; chicken breast the works. The weight and muscle piled on and the mirrors and T-shirts seemed to get smaller and smaller. Who actually enjoys being inside looking at themselves in the mirror? Well, me maybes, at the time… GO HARD OR GO HOME the famous gym moto hey !! I went home alright ….two hospital beds and two operations later for the same stupid shoulder injury.
Next chapter was all I could think of and I needed that fix quickly. I’m not one to rest idle and I knew I needed the next challenge. Michele and I decided to go for a run one afternoon. It wasn’t too bad, but it wasn’t quick. Running is something I’ve never had an issue with but long distance’s I’ve never understood (boring or what!).
“Michele lets enter a half marathon” I asked two weeks after we’d ran three 5 kilometres and thought we were the next Paula Radcliffe and Mo Farah. That’s how the fairy tale started.
The first ‘half’ we did I can remember watching people around the pacer. He was surrounded like he was some sort of movie star, I kinda wanted a bit of that.. (jokes). I followed the group for ages and thought “that must be such a cool thing to do”. Once I returned home I started to google ‘pacing’ and read up about it and what it entails.
Once I get something in my head I struggle to let it go even if it’s out of my comfort zone. I wanted to learn how to pace and I wanted to learn now. The wife would say this is sometimes obstinate stubbornness and determination and wishes I applied it to home DIY!! I reactivated my twitter account with the thought that, if anyone can help, surely social media would be the place.
Passionate About Pacing
This blog is the first time that I’ve actually ever really spoken about how I got into pacing. I often get contacted by a lot people who want to try pacing and I always give advice when I can. The path wasn’t easy for me. I followed pacers on social media and contacted events myself, all 3000 of them! Only a couple replied positively. At the time nobody helped me despite them saying they would ( they must of forgot me in the midst of all the flat lays)! It’s like any sport or even job interview. We all have to take knock backs. It wasn’t handed to me on a plate. I wasn’t from this background and didn’t know anyone in this arena. Unless you have been around this for years and your circle of friends are involved it’s tough to get a foot in the door.
Pacing is so very definitely rewarding. Whatever time your pacing at. Anybody who enters a race has a goal. Whether it’s a sub 1.30, 2 hour or just to finish smiling. They are all personal to them. Runners rely on pacers to be even and each mile to be the same pace. This way they know if they follow you they will reach their desired time.
However, being a pacer isn’t about running the miles robotically. It’s about encouragement and engagement with those around you. Supporting verbally, sometimes with a song or two and often with a big dose of encouragement in the form of ‘YOU CAN’ being bellowed loudly. It’s never about the pacer, only those around you and the tick, tock of your watch!
Helping Others Achieve
There is nothing more satisfying seeing people try to overcome personal challenges. I am so very fortunate to be able to pace mostly the 2hr group in half marathons. It is a popular time and an obstacle for most runners to break. I don’t pace for the feedback, or nice comments on social media. I know how it feels to want to break a personal target and if I can help others then I will. I have relied on pacers myself. some good, some unfortunately bad, but everyone has bad days at the office. If I can help anyone achieve a goal I absolutely will.
There are some other perks to being a pacer. Occasionally we get free kit and trainers occasionally. However, pacing comes with a lot of pressure. one bad day or bad conditions can affect someone’s race. Sometimes this can lead to a back lash on social media, slating your efforts. This can affect your reputation as you are only as good as your last race. You also have to be brutally honest with yourself and completely selfless. I have had a tough year, pulled out of personal races and also pacing events due to injury as I knew I wouldn’t be able to help people.
2019 – Pacing Marathon Majors
Next year is a big year for me. I have spent a long time pacing half marathons. But for 2019 I have been fortunate enough to be selected to pace for two international races, the Virgin London Marathon and The BMW Berlin marathon. Not only is this a dream come true but works with my own goal of focusing on the 26.2 miles next year and improving my marathon time. I’ve started working with a coaching team, Purdue performance, founded by Charlotte Purdue the GB long distance runner and Adam Clarke, GB middle distance runner and Mo Farah’s training partner. I have never been too proud to ask for help and this has helped me value the role of a pacer even further.
I sometimes have to pinch myself when I say that I’m going to be pacing these events. I feel like a kid in a sweet shop!! What an opportunity and experience for me! From fence jumping, football dreams, protein bars and small t-shirts to international marathon pacing… wow! I will put all my effort and focus in delivering the time on my flag.
Nothing beats the smiles on people’s faces when they cross the finish and knowing you may have helped them!
Being TrueSapien is as much about challenging attitudes and beliefs as it is to be challenging ourselves physically. After all, the former is usually the catalyst to the latter, right? There is no right or wrong, only opinion based on your own core beliefs. What is important, in fact CRUCIAL, in enabling you to live your best life and setting a worthwhile example, is that you QUESTION YOUR BELIEFS, make them YOUR OWN, not just INHERIT them.
In the coming months, we will be featuring insights from TrueSapien and runner James Wilson on the above as additional food for thought. You can find out more on James’s fitness journey and the accompanying ideas and insights on his own site HuntingThirty.
In this first instalment from James, he gives us his insight into… ‘The Secret’ behind being fit and healthy….
You have a duty to be fit and healthy. Moreover, you have a duty to STAY fit and healthy.
This duty is: 1) to yourself – give yourself the best prospect of a long and vibrant life, free from ailments; 2) to your family – ensure you can ‘be there’ for them, and reduce the chances of becoming a burden (which would unfairly diminish their quality of life); 3) to the state – lessen the chance of being admitted to hospital or reliance upon health services, to minimise financial implications for taxpayers and the state.
Seeing through the myths
Many people talk of how you can get fit, stay fit or what training plans really work. They talk of how you can lose ‘weight’, keep it off, and what diets really work and an abundance of idle chit-chat about ‘miracle plans’, ‘miracle diets’, ‘miracle solutions’ and so on.
You could do worse than ignore this talk if you are a beginner who wants to improve their health and fitness, and fulfil their duty. That’s because all this talk is superseded by a goal that must be reached if someone is truly serious about changing forever.
What is the goal and ‘The Secret?’
Simply put, the easiest way for you to get fit and STAY fit, is to become DEPENDENT on exercise. Just as a compulsive gambler can’t resist a wager. Just as an alcoholic becomes desperate for a drink. If you exercise consistently enough, you too will acquire a DEPENDENCY. But it will be a healthy dependency. Once you stick at it long enough, and your body and mind begin to understand the numerous benefits associated with regular exercise. You will become DEPENDENT on it to make you feel good and keep you feeling good.
It won’t take long before your body and mind actually NEED exercise. And when you feed that addiction, you will indeed ENJOY the experience of exercising. From that point onwards, you will be the person you wanted to be, and you will begin to challenge yourself further. You will have to try very hard to break your new-found dependency and return to your old sedentary lifestyle. But why would you want to go and do that?
It’s a simple line. A line you choose to cross, then a line you must cross, a line that marks the start and the line that marks the finish.The problem with a Line is that it can have so many meanings. It can also be the line attached to the hook that draws you in …. then where do you draw the line ? A line you, yourself, have drawn in the sand….
Hello. They call me Rapid, or Rapid Rich if you want to be formal. I’ve been asked to contribute to this Blog because of my exerts. Not because I am an athlete, or a talent, or physically fit. Or even that competitive in my chosen sport, but because I cross that line.
I cross that line most weekends during September and October because that is when Hill Climbing season starts !
Before I explain the incredible sense of achievement and amount of effort that contesting a Hill Climb brings, I would just like to explain my story and how I became transfixed (some say obsessed), by this purest of sports.
Virtually 6 years ago to the day, I was 51 years old and creeping up towards 15 and half stone ( 98 kgs). Being only 5’8”, not only was I NHS ‘obese’ but much, much worse. I had to ‘un-tuck’ my shirt ! The other tell tale sign was that I didn’t recognise myself in photos. Surely that swollen featured human was not the ‘Rapid Rich’ that I had known since he was a skinny kid !
Although I did play a little squash and even went Fencing, I had no real fitness. I turned to ‘The Bike’. Initially I spent about £800 with the theory it was enough to keep me at it, but not too cheap that it was poor equipment. I need not have worried. I did a 6 mile Ride and fell off on my cleats as soon as I got home. It mattered not. As I lay, slightly embarrassed with a bleeding knee on the floor, I was hooked. That was the first Line I crossed.
My riding went crazy. From struggling to do 35 miles on my first ‘big run’ within 9 months I rode 200 miles in one day solo from Doncaster to Anglesey. And that was the day after my biggest Club ride of 126 miles! I even started Racing! I was getting fit for the very first time in my life since I lost my natural youthful fitness, and I loved it.
I found myself walking tall, feeling (and looking) good in smaller size clothes. I could even ‘tuck in’ again. Knowing very little about Cycling, the Sport or its history, a friend of mine introduced me to something you probably all know about now – STRAVA!
This was the next line I crossed. It gave me segments which are only ‘virtual’ start and finish lines, and this gave me quantifiable results and self drawn targets. I just had to improve. I had to go faster, harder. I noticed the best segments where I could excel were hills – especially short sharp ones. I simply loved the feeling of giving everything I had and as soon as I got home I would ‘upload’ my Ride to see my PBs, Cups and KOMs.
( You do however need to also consider this was in 2012 /13 and there were far far less people on Strava than there are today, so it was much easier to get top 10 places).
Now, I’ve raced Motorcross (badly), motorcycles and cars on the track (with some success). I’ve driven a Rally Car including doing the RAC Rally for 5 years. I threw away a brilliant result in 1995 of 27th overall in a 2 wheel drive non works car. Me and my Co-Drivers desire to drive ‘flat out’ resulted in a last stage crash with less than 12 miles to go. This meant we dropped down to 47th (still not bad). – gutted.
It is this competitive element to be the best or fastest that has not left me. As I said before, I am no athlete. The years are clocking up, but my brain is still of the 17 year old motorbike Racer that believes I am competitive. I am Rapid Rich!
Is this my problem? My brain will simply not accept that I am not competitive? So when I (almost accidentally) came across Hill Climbing, it was my brain, my competitive spirit that got me up those Hills. My brain, my desire to succeed, was my biggest muscle by far.
I’ve just finished my specialised, bespoke Hill Climb bike. Less than 5kg of pure beauty. A machine made to do nothing but go up hills. Fast. Although I have a fair engineering background, I’ve had great support, help and advice from Cycles In Motion on this project and it continues to develop.
A full season on Hill Climbing in 2017 gave me some fair results for my age. But seeing the efforts by the other talented Riders simply inspired me.
This was a sport that had no prima donnas. Each competitor was equal. Not in time and ability but in effort. That was the attribute I had most of; effort. The determination and an inner drive to make me push my body far, FAR beyond its own real limits.
The beauty of Hill Climbing is that even the top Riders give you total respect for pinning on that number. As long as you give it 100 % .I don’t mean 99%, that just does not cut the mustard.
I ride for 3RT Cycling. On Hill Climb events I’m usually accompanied by a couple of close friends and great competitors, Rick Bailey and Calum Brown. They have simply inspired and driven me to push myself even further. As a trio we are called ‘The Northern Shandy’s’ with the ethos of the name being ‘undiluted effort’. … As a true northern shandy comes without the lemonade!! #nails
So what is Hill Climbing ?
Well it’s a Rider and a Bicycle. Its two Lines. One at the bottom of a Hill, and one at the top. Oh, and a stop watch.
Its been part of the British Cycling scene for well over 100 years and usually tagged onto the end of the Race Season. But now it is a hugely important discipline in its own right. It’s a Time Trial basically with Riders setting off generally at 1 minute intervals on a Hill (obviously). The nature of the Hills can be very short and steep, 500m up to 5 miles. The longer Climbs are generally less of a gradient.
The short ones can have ramps of up to 30%. Most average anywhere between 10 and 15 %. Regardless, as you are still going ‘balls out’ and Racing they are simply the hardest single effort to do in Cycling. Pacing is more important on the longer ones, but the short ones are just a sprint against gravity.
No Quarter Given
You will see from the photos, that Hill Climbs demand maximum effort There can be no quarter given and they aint for the feint hearted. That said, however, there is a fantastic camaraderie between the Riders as we all know we are going to give our best on the day.
So how do you get involved I hear you ask ? Sorry ? SO HOW DO YOU GET INVOLVED ? That’s better!
Well you need a Bike. You also need to be a member of a CTT (Cycling Time Trials) Club and that’s it. It will help if you are good at hills or sprinting or you are very light but its not prerequisite. Neither is the bike. Nowadays there are many with bespoke Hill Climb machines built specifically for the job. Mine comes in at about 4.9kg with 11 speed and pedals and it was as much fun engineering this machine as it is contesting the event.
A light bike helps but as I have found out does not turn you into a winning athlete. It does help a few seconds or even a 10th here and there. The general consensus is once you got rid of the easy weight saving modifications like chopping bars, removing bottle cages, bar tape etc it generally costs about £1.00 to save 1 gram ! But this budget can be smashed with the fun of making, converting, buying second hand or borrowing parts. Most beginners simply stick with their Road bike and take off the bottle cages on the day. You make it as cheap as you want and its much more fun.
The other thing is first find a Hill Climb that suits you, there is no point entering a short sharp steep Hill if you are more suited to the longer Time Trial type of ‘sit down’ hill. Personally I love anything up to 1 min 30 seconds and after that I’m so far into the pain cave, I’ve lost my torch and cant get out !
If you are genuinely interested, try the UK Hill Climbing page on FaceBook which is full of friendly, helpful posters and great information.
This weekend sees the culmination of the Hill Climb season with the National Hill Climb Championship which is being held at Pea Royd Lane, Stocksbridge on October Sunday 28th at 11.00. 300 Riders will contest to win their various categories and have the honour of wearing the National Stripes for the next year.
The top contenders are simply stunning to watch and if you have ever ridden Pea Royd Lane you will simply not believe the speed and power these lads can hold. If your Strava time matches them, then I suggest you get entered for next year NOW !
I have my thoughts on this weekend’s Winners, but I will leave those personal. What I can tell you is that they will be crossing their own lines, they will be putting it all out and their best effort on the line and just hoping that they have done enough !
Whatever, they will put themselves through a completely different level of pain than you can ever imagine, unless you pin on a number yourself.
As I said before, I’m 57, I’m not an athlete, but I like to push myself.
For you stats people, I’m 5’8, about 78kg and can push about 1450 watts peak, 277watts 20 min FTP and can hold about 600 + watts for a minute. Although those are fairly impressive, I have no lungs or stamina and suffer with heart rate going straight up to 195 bpm + !
I was asked by a ‘non-cyclist’ the other day “Why do you put yourself through this pain?” I thought about it carefully;
Because it is simply the best feeling in the world !!!
You enter an event on a Hill that you are more than capable of Riding up but because you’ve entered, you feel sick for a week before with worry and you question your ability. I’ve even questioned myself if I can even get up it !
As the week goes by you’ve talked about it, discussed lines, gearing, weather, wind, tyre pressures and then ensured your bike is simply in tiptop shape. Sometimes you even recce the Hill and usually a sorrowful time puts you further into the depths of despair and self doubt .
Turning up on the day is a joy, maybe after a Road Trip with fellow masochists. It’s great to see the familiar faces of friends. Unlike many sports the Top Riders not only talk to you but give you mutual respect.
You Versus The Hill
The next minute you are on the start line .. it’s You vs that Hill …vs the Clock vs Yourself . All you want to do is see those number fall, stop the seconds, stop the clock. You want to use every fiber in your body, every muscle every breath, every beat of your heart, use up every ounce of energy that you have.
Once you start, the Hill fights you at every pedal stroke, it rears up in front of you when you think you have nothing left, it litters it’s surface with obstacles like change of surface or gravel, or pot holes that might slow you or puncture your machine. It sometimes teases you with a short respite, but as you attack again it’s riposte will be of another ramp to put you in a place of deeper despair.
There is only you. You and your machine that you have created, engineered and developed to work with you. Like a trusted steed to help you slay the tarmac wall of the monster that will kill you if you show any weakness. You feel at one with your machine, as the pain increases the distance to go always decreases, but the hardest is yet to come.
But you can see and feel progress. You are on top of your game, you will not be beaten and then you suddenly have allies – spectators. They can’t give you any more power or the oxygen that you crave, but the crowd are your friend. The encouragement, the faceless wall of noise, the recognition of your name, knowing your friends and direct opponents are all rooting for you. They give you your final boost, the catalyst that somehow, miraculously, gives you inner strength, the will to go on. The final push to the line, where regardless of time, regardless of the other warriors fighting the same battle and regardless of your position you have Won. You are a Winner. You have achieved and you beat the Hill. You crossed the Line ….
Fight To Breathe
It’s over but now another fight starts. The fight to recover, to breathe. The finish line is like a tap, an adrenaline tap that slams shut, and without this incredible, self dealt ‘drug’ you are a simple mess going through a natural ‘cold turkey’. But as the body revives, the feeling of exhilaration kicks in. The euphoria caused by endorphins flooding through your veins giving you another massive natural high. You see your time. You smile….
That’s why !!
Oh, and I’m not really that busy on Sundays !
The Dave Rayner Fund
This year, I have embarked on an idea to raise money for the Dave Rayner Fund, a fund set up to support UK talent to become professional cyclists.
The idea is called the #PBChallenge and I pledged £10 to the Dave Rayner Fund if I beat my previous years’ PB and £20 if I didn’t ! …. The only thing is, this really took off and people started to Pledge for me, so there have been tremendous donations. Out of the 11 contested so far I have PB’d 8 … 2 to go. Send me a pledge if you want!
Great talking to you and I hope I’ve inspired you to pin on a number.
Running Dads is the brainchild of founder Anthony Turner. It was born of his passion for running and the body and mind fitness benefits derived from it. But it doesn’t stop there. The aim is to also extend this passion and example to his son, so that he may also aspire to the benefits of an active lifestyle and to appreciate the meaning of setting personal challenges.
Anthony explains, You see, I am a runner. I’m a Dad. I’m a running Dad. And my idea is that, as I am not alone in that, there is a community of us out there who enjoy not only the body and mind fitness benefits, but also part of our motivation is to extend this to our children. Running Dads is a way to bring those people together; to share experiences, hints & tips, blogs or vlogs and to brag a little to those who will listen as to what has been achieved. Whether it’s a 5km or ultra, trail or road; it’s all relative to the person undertaking the challenge.
Setting the example
I want Ethan, my son, to know what it is to have an aspiration and challenge and be able to meet it. To achieve something through hard work, commitment and sacrifice and reap the rewards. To understand healthy mind and healthy body is equally important and that it isn’t about the distance; it’s the journey. That’s why I run. That’s why many of us do.
The Running Dads community
Running Dads has gathered much momentum in the months since its inception earlier this year. Celebrating achievements of like-minded people and offering advice through Anthony’s own experience and also from the wider community. They have a growing and varied social media presence and their blog is full of posts from the running community covering a diverse range of topics.
Are our streets a safe place to run or are you literally running scared? The onset of Autumn/Winter and the dark morning and evenings that accompany it introduces to some of us a most unwelcome barrier to our running plans.
What is the problem?
TrueSapien and ‘ExploreRunner’ Tim Caldwell addresses this issue and how fear of running in the dark may be overcome.
As a man, I don’t feel like I have to deal with anywhere near the same number of barriers that women face in today’s society when it comes to going out for a run. No-one seems to care what I wear, how I look, or that I am indeed exercising in public. No, I’m not looking for sympathy! I don’t go out feeling like I might be followed, cat-called, sneered at, spat at (yes, a running club member reported this!) or ridiculed for running. I also don’t worry that the clothes I’m running in might provoke verbal abuse. All of the above have been highlighted by women as having had an impact on their decision to run or experience of running.
How real is the threat?
Like every runner since the film came out, I’ve had the really original ‘Run Forrest, Run!’ shouted after me, but I tend to just take it as a sign I must be running at a good pace for the comment. My eternal optimism does have its good points!
For many of my fellow runners, often women, the possible environment and atmosphere is far starker. Every ‘blackspot’ between street lighting is a potential place for people to lurk. That person who crosses the road is a potential danger to be aware of. The cul-de-sac or other street leading to a dead-end is a big ‘no-no’ when running alone as a female.
The abuse I’ve heard reported by female runners from the general public, both men and women is sickening. I just don’t get it. Women who run are probably doing it for many of the same reasons I do: to maintain or improve fitness, for enjoyment and some ‘me’ time, to discover new places, to lose or maintain a healthy weight, to burn off the anger/frustration/problems of the day. Where is the respect for people aiming to lead a healthy life? I’m sure it comes down to jealousy, idiocy or ignorance. I find it deeply troubling in modern society, when we have so many ways to be informed citizens, that intimidatory practices such as cat-calling, shouting abuse, ridiculing people who exercise, or following runners is even a ‘thing’ that some people think it OK to do.
What can be done?
Changing the attitudes of the masses is highly unlikely in the short term. Whether out of jealousy, ignorance, sexism or a combination of all plus countless other undesirable attributes, it’s something that isn’t going away. We have to tolerate it and deal with it in order to pursue the way of life we have chosen.
Tim gathered some feedback and suggestions from friends and acquaintances on how to best deal with the dangers:
One of the major ways in which you can stay safe and be seen in the dark is by wearing a headtorch. Brighter the better! Anyone you’re running towards won’t have a clue what you look like. For people who may harbour an opportunistic threat, not knowing if you’re male or female may well be enough to put them off from trying anything.
If you’re female then more neutral colours are best. Why shouldn’t you wear what you like?! I agree with you – it is a sad state of affairs but one that needs exploring. If you’re wearing pink (and by the way, pink truly is one of my favourite colours), then an opportunistic low-life is likely to assert that you are highly likely to be female…
iPhone’s ‘find friends’ and Garmins ‘LiveTrack’ are invaluable and can give the user and your loved one’s additional peace of mind.
Run with a friend
Not always possible and sometimes defeats the object of the ‘alone time’ benefit so appealing to many.
Try to stick to busier, populated, well-lit areas to limit the opportunity for people to act in a disgusting manner towards you.
This is one I particularly struggle with. Sticking to an amount of time which you agree in advance with your loved ones at home. ‘I’ll be home in an hour!’ I’ve been known to say, coming back maybe two hours later. However, this could well be useful for you to try.
Change your route
One of the things that opportunists might use against us happens to be one of our strengths – our discipline. We also tend to be creatures of habit, adopting and following the same well-worn path(s) on certain morning or night-time runs, or heading out at the same time on the same nights. Change things up a bit, become less predictable and as such, the likelihood of you suffering any issues will decrease too.
This one can be so difficult, but being in control of your emotions, channelling them into your running and looking where you’re going is so important. Horrible comments, shouting and swearing are incredibly upsetting and it is during these moments that you need to stay strong and focus on your running. Avoid the temptation to rise to the bait, knowing you can vent later in a safe environment of family and friends. As hard as it is, don’t let it get to you. Some people reported having people run alongside them. This can be so dangerous, particularly for the abuser, as they would tend not to be looking where they’re going. If this happens to you, my advice would be to ensure you keep looking straight ahead, avoiding eye contact and ensuring you can see where you’re going. In this situation, your safety is paramount.
Abuse like this will continue and increase unless it is challenged. The more that this is reported, talked about and publicised, the more society will understand and appreciate just how unacceptable it is. Tell the police, inform your running club or your family. Building a picture of what is happening could be valuable in enabling action to prevent abuse.
The people who think it’s OK to hurl abuse at runners, mock them by running alongside them, shout from car windows, follow and intimidate, sadly are people who have families. They are known, they have friends, brothers, sisters, parents, children, just like the rest of us. If you know people who think this kind of behaviour is ‘funny’ or ‘a bit of a laugh,’ it’s really up to you to stand up to them and educate them. Schools already do so much to attempt to instil a degree of respect for others, so this education is more about society as a whole.
Flexibility (know your environment)
If something doesn’t seem right and you are able to do so safely, cross the road, turn around or take a different turning. It’s better to avoid a potential situation if you feel an instinct about it, than to regret having acted later.
Thanks to Tim Caldwell for such an informative post on a topical and sensitive issue. To read more from Tim, head over to his blog at Tim’s Running World.
I’m a hoarder, a hoarder of stuff. It has pissed off my my parents, it currently pisses off my wife-to-be and it’s starting to piss me off! With space dwindling in my home it’s time to get rid of the unnecessary. I’m not alien to this task, I’ve had a “clear out” man of times. Each time I do I find many reasons to keep shit I probably don’t need. I mean, I don’t need them for sure but they could be useful in the future. There’s that or I just like the item or think it’s a waste to throw out. However, if I want my forthcoming wedding to go ahead then I need to do something to reduce hard earned goods…or as my parents say “clutter”, or my fiancé calls “shit”.
As said, II have been here before. So I can’t just go through each piece of clothing, cable or accessory as I know what will happen. I’ll find more excuses. This go me thinking though. Actually, the TrueSapien philosophy got me thinking – what is it I really need? I’m not becoming a minimalist, as I can’t work miracles. It’s not about that either. It’s about letting go of the old and it’s about working towards a new. So what is it in my possessions that I really want and need?
5 categories of stuff
Essentially everything we have falls in to 5 categories:
Everyday living – clothes, kitchenware, consumables etc…
Entertainment – electronic devices, creative materials, toys/games, trinkets, art/pictures etc…
Essentials – (some) furniture, first aid and medical devices etc…
Firstly, I know I have missed out some things here but they should fit into somewhere (please let me know if you feel a bucket is missing). Secondly, some items are cross purpose and fit in many buckets. For instance; a mobile phone these days is both entertainment and a device for productivity. With technology evolving some people will use it as an essential medical device, e.g. for monitoring their pace maker. But everything we own, or at least everything I own fits in a bucket. If it doesn’t then why have I got it?!
…even for a nomad (or hiker)!
All of this stuff can amount to a lot or a little. Even a nights hike into the wilderness will see us pack a few items from each category. For example, we might at least want:
Everyday living – clothes suitable for the climate
Everyday maintenance – equipment to rustle-up some food
Productivity & Efficiency – mobile phone or maps for guidance and info
Entertainment – the mobile phone doubling up for an array of entertainment
Essentials – first aid kit and a tent
But my house is packed with this stuff. If we can get by in the outdoors with nothing but a backpack. I am pretty sure I can really reduce what I have in my house.
A first world problem?
Maybe I’m an extreme example. As said, I’m somewhat of a hoarder. But are we not all guilty to some degree in the first world of having too much? I’m not calling out to rid people of their prize possessions. I’ve no interest in scapegoating those of us lucky enough to have the opportunity and ability to acquire clothes, devices or any item that helps us out or just puts a smile on our face. But it does seem we rely on that very buzz for happiness.
We don’t take anything with us when we die. We use this stuff when we are here on planet earth. If we use it or if we love it then by all means acquire it. We aren’t bad people for being the privileged few who are first world tenants. But if we base our happiness on what we have, or we hold on to stuff because what might be then something has gone wrong.
A Purposeful Life
Being TrueSapien is to live a purposeful life. A purposeful life is to surround oneself with purposeful stuff. Whether it is to get us through each day, help us get things done, is something that makes us smile or is essential to our wellbeing. Our stuff should have a purpose.
So that’s my plan. Figure out it’s purpose. No maybes or loosely held attachments that only came about when I picked up the item for the first time in 3 years. Have a plan. I’m sure it won’t be the last of my clean outs, but I’m sure it will be the best one yet.
One more important note to self. Recycle, pass on and buy fairly. This world is damn important. I need to remember that!
Most of the human race are lazy. Fact. Most of the human race are motivated by shallow, materialistic and meaningless goals. Sad fact. They don’t examine or question it because they gain a strange and distorted comfort belonging to the MAJORITY. They resent those that challenge this way of ‘life’ because they represent a more desirable version of themselves.
It was about 7:30 am and I was nearing the end of an enjoyable early morning, pre-work bike ride. Something I’d do a couple of mornings a week. Roads had been fairly quiet as I generally avoid busy urban streets for such rides. It was a familiar route for me. As regular cyclists will know, routes you cycle regularly consist of favourable roads and not so favourable, depending on factors such as visibility, width, business (vehicles), scenery and road surface.
I hit one of my favoured roads. It was wide, very flat and the surface was beautifully smooth and not one usually travelled by large commercial vehicles. I could comfortably travel at 23-25mph on this road, and car drivers, if feeling the need to do so, could easily overtake even with oncoming traffic.
After only 20 or 30 seconds my enjoyment was abruptly halted with two long, deafening blasts of a powerful air horn. WHAT THE FUCK! Despite nearly shitting my bib shorts, I managed to steady myself and glance over my right shoulder. A cab of an articulated vehicle was literally feet behind me attempting to overtake. I pulled over onto the pavement, fearing for my own safety to see the driver leaning across to his passenger window shouting, “YOU COULD FUCKING PULL OVER!”, followed by more blasts on the horn.
To say I was outraged would have been an understatement. I must have looked pretty fucking ridiculous in my lycra, shouting obscenities at an artic, challenging the driver to a fight on the pavement to settle the matter. Fortunately the driver continued on his way. Either he was in too much of a hurry, had deafened himself as well as me with his fucking air horn or, more likely, was an out of shape, lazy asshole that was nothing once of outside the safety that his vehicle gave him.
I was a bit ashamed of my reaction. I was angry. As I contemplated on the remainder of my ride, it wasn’t anger for my own safety. It was anger borne of frustration. For me, the behaviour of the trucker embodied so much of what is bad about our society. To him, I was a hindrance. A nobody. A faceless prick on a bike getting in his way and holding him up from his date with weak coffee and full English breakfast buttie at the next roadside café. I wasn’t a Father, a provider to four young children. A fellow human being, with many of the same challenges in life as him. Someone that would treat him as I’d want to be treated myself.
The Real Problem
Or maybe that was the problem. Maybe I represented what laziness or ignorance prevent him from becoming. His rage was incited by the fact I was doing what he knew he should be doing. I was in his face, making him confront his ‘nemesis’.
We can’t make people see that there is a better way, that there are meaningful goals and aspirations in life. Some will be inspired to change. Others will, over time. Others won’t because their attitude and beliefs are so deep seated.
So what is the answer? There is only one. Continue to set and lead by example to those we can influence. Those closest to us. Make questioning life and challenging ourselves a way of life, so that it may become their way too. Be TrueSapien. Challenge Life.
Technology can get a bad rep and can also be what we love. We hate the big brother aspect of following ads, but we love the gadgets that help us monitor, track and evaluate our performance and activities. Fact is they work hand in hand. Start-up companies are popping up everywhere. New technology to further our abilities and know-how are continually being developed. These companies and products may have something we end up loving. Without the functionality the likes of Google provide we may never know they meet our needs or even exist.
An example of technology success
I’m a huge fan of my MOOV; a little-known company who developed an advanced movement and HR tracker like no other I have seen. I came across it due to some targeted ads as I looked for an activity tracker. I had searched several review sites and at the time it wasn’t even mentioned by others. But MOOV team donned their big brother stalker like hats on and managed to draw me into their site. Thank god they did, my running and swimming has come on leaps and bounds by reviewing the metrics and advice the little device provides.
But this isn’t a review…maybe I should do one? Another day perhaps. MOOV is an example of how I used my phone, laptop, targeted ads, online video and an array of websites to eventually improve upon my performance. It is also an example of how I ignored the living and engaged with the digital. I joined in the MOOV communities online. Yet I stuck my head in to my phone on public transport where real humans surrounded me.
Am I technology detainee?
I’m hooked in. I’m that person on meme’s showing how technology helps us ignore the world passing by. One of those who’s soul is slowly being stripped away by digital media and gadgets. Well, I am if they don’t fit my ethos and interests. I connected online with like minded people online. Told everyone I know who would be interested about the device offline. The device itself pushed me outside to run and encouraged me to go swimming. My engagement with technology made me get out more not less. It made me engage more not less. So have I really become a detainee of technology?!
It’s what we do that defines us!
Fact is. Without technology I wouldn’t be airing my opinions here. I would continue to have poor running form (without expert advice), be less informed and would be stuck with what is in front of me. Technology teaches, inspires and liberates us. The problem in this first world isn’t technology, its our misuse of it. Before the dawn of the internet the phrase “life is about balance” was well known. Work and social life. Training and rest. Each one goes hand in hand.
Today’s technological age adds to this, and it especially applies to technology. Balance what you do online with what you do offline. But, more importantly; make sure we are moving forward. Mindless use of your life offline or online is misuse. TrueSapien’s technology is the same technology everyone uses. Just like one man’s life is the same meat and bones of another mans. But it is what we do that defines us!
It’s not a new concept, each era seems to have had it in some form or another. To give the world a view of oneself of what we believe society deems as powerful, successful or desirable. Then the internet came along and gave everyone a platform to showcase themselves. This seems to have supercharged the desire and gave some opportunities where they thought one wasn’t. Now image is everything and it is everywhere!
Image can be glorious
OK, this sounds negative already, but it really isn’t. Image is how we find others with the same interests and the internet allows us to communicate to those people no matter of geographical or social divide. Its allowed me to learn from a multitude or physical and intellectual disciplines and in turn talk about them. This furthers our connections with the right people, well, the right people for my interests and personality. Those whose image best fits mine. It’s a win-win right?!
Image can be uninteresting
So if that is true, I can just ignore those who do not match my image. Each to their own, right? I mean, I do not want to join a group to talk about the finer details of politics and the state of the economy in the 21st century. I don’t get excited with friends over the toils and troubles of Kanye West’s marriage with Kim Kardashian. I’m just not interested, it doesn’t make them bad people…OK, no one should give a shit about the relationships of over-paid celebrities unless you are a friend or family of them, but, the point is other peoples image is none of my business, but some you just can’t ignore.
Or it can just be bullshit!
It’s them, those are the ones that grind my gears. I mentioned celebrities, they are almost like gods to society. Friends, family and countrymen worship them like any alignment gives their image a boost. This itself means a person’s image is blurred. Throw on top a smattering technology and biological advances and now we don’t have to be ourselves anymore, we can take on a different persona, a different image. Not for fun, not for experimentation but purely for the fake image that they believe is perceived as the best.
It doesn’t stop, we lie, and we cheat, all in the name of image. You don’t have to use a filter on every fucking picture you take because your image must be of perfection. It’s not necessary to post vague Facebook posts to give the impression you’re living the dream. Why talk shit like you are the all-knowing all-seeing omnipotent force behind all things worth mentioning…wait…is that what I am doing?
Stop the bullshit
Maybe I am, is this not just as bad? Could be, but the fakery and deceit are what really pisses me off. It may have always been around but with recent advances mean its spread like wildfire. So now we have more responsibility than ever before. Not to tell others what to do and force our opinion down others throats, but to enforce our own image to be as real as possible and hopefully we teach by example much like many of us TrueSapien’s have learnt from others
After all, image is multi-sided. We can’t ignore others because it isn’t black and white. Everyone can learn something from another. Plus, segmentation and borders have never been a good idea. When it comes to it, if they aren’t harming anyone then there’s no damage. So, whatever your image is embrace and share it. But please, please, please stop with the bullshit. It’s getting annoying and it’s not real…and while I am at it, celebrities are just famous people. You may love what they do, but it is just another human being. A fortunate, a skilled, an entertaining or just a hard working one, they are like everyone else – flesh and bone.
With exception of the New Year boost that is apparent from every gym around the world (from my limited view anyway) it seems it just might. There are plenty of articles about SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, where the shorter the days impact someone’s mood. Just check out the NHS page on SAD where the look at what it is, what the symptoms are and how we may treat it. It is without a doubt that it is a “Thing” and with a change of mood is a change in motivation.
Avoid the Extremes…
In relation to your training days summer is by far the best time to get motivated, right? I’m not so sure myself. I am wondering if it is actually Spring and Autumn that are the best times of year to get motivated. After all, we aren’t battling the elements of extreme heat or extreme cold.
With winter giving short days and cold months you can see why it becomes that bit more difficult to have the “get up and go”. Summer on the other hand has the longest of days but with it comes the heat. On top of that there is the holidays and the temptation to join friends and family in social outings. This isn’t conducive to a prime time to motivate. Whereas Spring and Autumn days have a decent amount of sunlight. We have also not quite overcome by the buzz of summer or wound down in the dark months of winter.
…or embrace the challenge!
So, in relation to training and getting the most motivated it’s the less extreme months that allow us to start anew or push harder to reach goals. After all, the elements are in our favour. But Truesapiens enjoy the challenge, check out our “Be Truesapien” page. A run in minus temperatures is like waving a cookie in-front of a Sesame Street character; it just has to be done. It is a defiance of modern day living, its self-proof we can still brave the elements but most of all it’s exhilarating.
Keep it moving Truesapiens
It isn’t easy though when the cold gets bitter or it has been sweltering hot. I myself have fallen foul to the temptations of the temperature controlled gyms. Fact is perfect conditions allow perfection in performance which is great. Just like the invention of light makes us able to work and play at nights. With that said though, if we do not challenge our environment then why challenge ourselves. I’m a big fan of functional fitness but what is the point if I cannot test how I function the extremes!
The only thing I must stress is BE CAREFUL! Mother nature has no mercy and the likes of heat exhaustion or hypothermia is not something we should ignore. So gear up, fuel up and hydrate. Winter is coming and this may be when many may see motivation waver, but this is where TrueSapien’s can thrive!
What is an Ultra Marathon? Even non runners will be familiar with the term Marathon but what makes a Marathon ‘Ultra’? How does it differ from a standard Marathon and what does it take to complete one?
Basically an Ultra Marathon is any race that is longer than a Marathon (26.2 miles). Some are several hundred miles long but most are in the region of 30-50 miles. Often off road or ‘trail’ based, popularity in these events has soared as they represent a further and enhanced challenge for se that have completed a standard Marathon.
Here, TrueSapien and ‘Explorunner’ Tim Caldwell kindly shares his experiences and insights gained from his first Ultra Marathon, a 50KM version of The NoMad Ultra earlier this year. Tim, a teacher by profession and a dedicated Father is a keen and avid runner and explorer (Explorunner!). He’s also deeply passionate about encouraging others to be active and to appreciate the great outdoors.
The ‘Ultra’ Challenge
Tim is a regular parkrunner and proud member of Long Eaton Running Club. He had previously participated in events from 5km up to the standard Marathon distance before committing to the NoMad Ultra Marathon that took place in June 2018. What additional challenges would this event pose?
“I felt fairly confident that my legs could take me to the finish line, as I had run over 50k in a test-run a couple of weeks beforehand, made up of a parkrun at Belton House and then an attempt to run home from there (70km away)” said Tim.
“What I was less confident about was my ability to run/walk and navigate myself along the course, whilst remembering to feed and water myself appropriately along the way”.
Many Ultra Marathons aren’t fully marshalled, due partly to their distance and most aren’t on city streets like most Marathons. The additional requirement of good navigation certainly adds to the challenge! “After just 2 kilometres, a fellow Long Eaton RC runner and I had to shout towards the speedier starters as they’d already got lost, running away from the route and effectively about to join the path we were supposed to be running away from! Inside, I felt sorry for these runners, but also slightly smug that I hadn’t (yet!) got lost”.
The mental challenge
Due to the heat and terrain, even reaching the marathon equivalent distance of 42.2 km had been far more of a challenge to Tim than the Marathon he’d run only two months earlier. But Tim still had nearly 10km left to go….
“It was only the fourth time I’d travelled this far in one go, so it was no mean feat. What makes me smile now looking back, is that at this point, my mind was now going, ‘Great! You’ve probably only got 10k left now after you got lost and you can easily run 10k in 40 minutes, so a sub 5 hour time is still on!’ Yes, brain, thanks for that. Your optimism delights the sh*t out of me. However, brain, let’s get this straight. I’ve ALREADY run 4 lots of 10k, plus a bit more, and right now, I just want to finish.”
Beyond the Marathon
So how did the additional distance to his recently accomplished Marathon affect Tim and how did he cope? How much more difficult can 10k be??
Tim recalls “As I continued with those last 10 kilometres, it took sheer determination and a monumental effort to keep putting one foot in front of the other. My thighs were aching, almost feeling like they were detached from my bones and ready to fall off, onto the road. I was grunting like a warthog and it was getting warmer with every step.”Why is this the case? On the face of it an additional 10k should be fairly straightforward right? Wrong. Being an academic guy, Tim has this helpful theory for explaining the ‘actual required’ effort to cover this additional distance. “A 50k Ultra marathon is actually equivalent to 42.2km PLUS another 40km (i.e. 8 actual kms multiplied by 5 because that’s how it FEELS to your body). So in effect, you’re running 82.2km. Train for that and you’ll be about good to go and enjoy your 50k Ultra marathon!”
Other lessons learned
As well as this re-evaluation of the required distance for which to train, Tim also learned other valuable lessons. Regular calorie intake is essential to keep your body and your mind from shutting down. “The pink and white nougat bars that I’d brought with me were sensational. I’ve never enjoyed these more and I scoffed an entire one as I walked through a golf course on the route.” Another valuable lesson learned was that of effective hydration. At one point, inside the final 10km he realised he’d entirely run out of water! At that stage, due to the hot conditions, almost constant water intake is necessary. He’d failed to fully replenish his supplies at the last checkpoint! “I felt I had plenty left, so I’d just topped up conservatively. I won’t make that mistake again!”
Post race reflection
By their very nature, a true challenge should leave a permanent mark on you and improve you considerably as a person and be capable of inspiring others to emulate your achievement. What were Tim’s post-race reflections?
“I really challenged myself with this Ultra marathon race. I learned a lot from the process of training for it, getting and testing the right kit, talking to people, reccying the route, navigating using a range of different sources and seeing what I’m made of both physically and mentally. While I was disappointed with my finish time of 5:36, the fact that I’d finished it without anywhere near as many rests as in my training run was a big positive. I’d run further in one day than I ever have before and other than one navigational issue, everything else had gone really well.”
People are lazy, me included. If it involves an easy way out or less effort, then this is doubly so. One recent example involved a trip down to the big smoke. Traveling from A to B, like many, I took the subway. Exiting a train I waited in line, London tube can be annoyingly packed, to get top-side. This queue was big and crammed but well organized due to some security guards keeping the herd in line.
There were stairs!
Five minutes in and I was frustrated enough (following the herds emotions) to question what the hell was holding us up?! Poking my head out the queue I just saw a thick line of flustered travelers slowly moving onto the escalators to take them to the top. One taking us up, one taking others down to the platform and a thin set of stairs separating them. The stairs stuck out like a sore thumb as it seemed like everyone was playing “the floor is lava” game with them and avoiding them at all costs. The security guards keeping everyone in line was ensuring we stayed on route to the escalators, so I thought that may be some annoying HR rep had the bright idea of banning their use to some pointless first world danger. Frustration kept building and with a security guard in earshot of me I asked him why we can’t take the stairs? He answered simply, “you can, just no one wants too”!
Just plain lazy
Let me re-iterate; most in the queue, being a Friday as well, was flustered and frustrated as they. Like me, just wanted to get home. People need to chill. I needed to chill as we’ll get there soon enough but that isn’t my point. No matter how annoying it was standing in the queue not a single individual throughout the 10 minutes I had been waiting there wanted to take the stairs. NO. ONE. What the fuck is wrong with people! I wasted no time; heat of the tube station and the increasing packed space was already getting to me so taking on the steep and long set of stairs was a welcome break.
Maybe everyone else like me thought it was inaccessible for some bullshit reason but as I looked back half way up only a small of handful of people had joined me with the majority opting to wait. It was a long set of stairs, in my frustration I scaled them 2 or 3 steps at a time carrying three bags so perspiration was in full flow, but I was finally out and continued my way home in seconds.
Easy way isn’t the best way
Some people can’t do it, I get that. Most can though, yet I see stairs avoided in shopping centres in favour of escalators, lifts seemingly being the only option in offices and travelators full to the brim in airport so people can travel down long corridors without moving. Why? Because people are too fucking lazy to put effort into getting from A to B. A side effect of technology bringing efficiency to the masses and advanced capabilities is the dumbing down (for another post that one) of society and creating indolent individuals.
We all have times we want to be lazy, but don’t let it be a default state. In the same way as we should watch what we eat, we should watch what we do and be accountable. Whatever machine, computer or device you use to cut corners and make things easier use it to advance yourself. Use it to treat yourself. Don’t be another Sapien giving up…or simply put, don’t be fucking lazy!
Side note: travelators when empty is so much fun, just run down them and look to the side (watching your footing of course) and see how fast it feels.
There is no “one-size fits all” workout routine, but is there a blueprint for the amateur-athlete to ensure we can continue to strive in our goals and maintain healthy lifestyle? In general, yes there is; in a nutshell it is strength, cardio and skill training. No matter what you do, what your goals are you must ensure you have all three – after all, missing the right muscles for the job, without the heart and lungs being able and a lack of coordination, balance, movement etc… then no matter what your chosen discipline you’ll be falling short of where you want to be.
Eat, Sleep, Repeat, Repeat
There we have it; our perfect routine should ensure your workout is focused on your discipline and contains the right amount of strength, cardio and skill training. Of course, this includes correct nutrition, hydration and enough hours in dream world to recuperate and re-energise but it also must include repetition. Adequacy is easily attainable, anyone can put in just enough effort to take part. But we are TrueSapiens and we are not content with mediocrity. To be the best you can be, to be the master of your art, it takes a lot of time, effort and continuous work. Yes, we must challenge the body and mind with different techniques but that in itself is repetition: hone specifics skills or continually challenge yourself, perfection comes to those who engage in repetition.
It’s a Lifestyle Thing
You have most likely heard the words “Consistency is the key” a number of times and there is a plethora of motivational quotes to get us out of bed and back at it (one of my favourites “never stop, never stopping”). It’s a no brainer this one, but very much worth a mention. One point is to not look back, Improvement is something that happens, it is a future state so no need to dwell on what we did wrong or who is to blame. But when there is no motivation left be a routine – we are not always motivated to go to work but we do because it’s our routine and it pays the bills. Let your workout regime be your lifestyle routine, there no opting out as it pays you, which is as important as the bills.
The Missing Workout Element
Most of us with a small amount of knowledge know to warm-up and cool-down. We stretch, engage in mobility exercises and of course consume the right sustenance post workout. However, I believe the perfect workout routine is not in the hours a week where we put so much effort in to improve our performance, it’s in the day to day. It’s our day jobs, our social occasions and our downtime where we pick up our worst habits and bad traits. This is not to ban or constrain what we do, just to be more aware that we are developing outside the gym as well inside. The missing element is the focus to be better day in day out.
We can all be TrueSapien
None of this is primed for elitist only – to be TrueSapien is to be the best YOU can be. If you are stuck to a sofa wondering how to get fit again, if your merely wanting to play with your kids, get rid of an injury or
Accountability is a personality trait that is fast becoming extinct in our modern day lives. It is leading to serious health issues, rising crime figures and countless other social issues as our sense of self-respect and respect of others is fast diminishing.
A Learned Attribute
Accountability and responsibility is a learned attribute. Once passed down from generation to generation either by rules and boundaries (these days almost none existent) or by the example set by our parents, wider family and friends. This is where the problem lies. Rules and boundaries are now seen as a fucking infringement on our human rights and as a result either no longer exist or are so diluted and wishy washy so as not to cause offense to the diverse and spineless masses.
I look around me in fucking despair, watching properties and entire residential areas falling into rack and ruin because residents have no self-respect. Gardens unkempt, paintwork peeling, windows dirty. And that’s just the outside. It might sound petty, but for me it demonstrates a complete absence of pride, self-respect and accountability. And what example does that set for the younger generation? They can’t then be ‘taught’ what is right and what is wrong. It just doesn’t work that way. It should be instilled by the subconscious example being set by their elders. What for the next generation, and the next…..?
I watch unhinged parent’s curse, scream and hit at their misguided offspring. They then wonder why the same child shows no respect for them or displays an array of behavioural issues. Parents moan about how children are not given the right guidance and discipline at school and then in the next breath criticise teachers and other authorities if they dare so much as raise their voice in criticism.
These days a child is subliminally taught that there are no consequences to their actions. Fat, lazy parents turn a blind eye to their equally wide and sedentary children or they again blame society or the Games Console (that they fucking bought them) for their poor state.
They practically force feed their kids processed fat and sugar because it’s convenient for them to do so. I mean, why should they go out of their way and make an effort to do the RIGHT thing for their children?Because it’s their fucking responsibility, they just refuse to see it!
They need to look in the mirror at the example they are setting and do what they are supposed to do. LEAD and take ACCOUNTABILITY. It’s our RESPONSIBILITY.