Monday, July 31, 2006

Issue 377 - Mon 31st Jul 2006

I hope Monday finds you well.

Today I want to talk about discipline.
In general life it will get you a long way, doing the right thing just because you know it's the right thing to do, but in particular, discipline is vital when it comes to goal achievement.

I did some more research on my groin muscle this week, and it seems that I should do no training for 3 weeks!
That's really frustrating, I want to be out there getting myself ever more ready for the race, but I need to be disciplined.
If I aggravate the muscle more now, the 3 week lay off will turn into a 3 month lay off, and the end of that road would be surgery.
Sticking to the 3 week lay off now will hopefully lead to a quick recovery and return to training.

I've been trying to think how I caused it.
I certainly didn't feel any distinct twangs or pains, but I suspect it may be a *lack* of discipline which caused it.
When following an established plan, it's important to apply all the tasks.
That includes stopping when required.

There have been a couple of weeks when I exceeded the distance on my Sunday long run.
In fact I can think of at least 3 times when I did that, and it could be those small extra steps which strained the muscle - I know I won't be doing it again when I resume!

The entry forms for the 2007 marathon came out today.
I have alreedy sent mine off.
The facts say that I only have a 2 in 10 chance of getting in.
I'm not surprised.
There are around 35,000 places avaialable.
If you have been rejected for the previous 5 times, you are guaranteed a place.
Then there are the many thousands of places reserved for charities.
That doesn't leave many left for the first timer like me.
Still, that 20% chance goes down to 0% if I don't apply!

The charity I chose, MIND, has already filled up its' places, so I need to rethink.
There are loads of charities which have guaranteed places, although loooking down the list I have never heard of most of them!
That doesn't really appeal, I need to guarantee raising at least £1000 for a place, although it would get me in the race!

Or, I could just go with my 20% chance in the general ballot, and if I don't get in, just do my own marathon around the local streets?
What I could then do is donate (mmm, sounds like doughnut, mmm) to whichever charity the donater prefers.

Still, I guess I have plenty of time to think about it!

Talking about self-discipline, I had to laugh yesterday when I was doing my shopping.
I'm not a big fan of shopping, unless a superb special offer jumps out at me, but I remembered how recently I had been wandering around the supermarket, and saw a new flavour of crisps being advertised - lamb and mint sauce.
'Ooh, I wonder what they taste like?' I thought, and picked up a couple of (special price) multi bags.

I got home, and launched into a bag.
They did in fact taste very much like lamb and mint sauce.
It was at that point that I remembered - I don't even like lamb and mint sauce, and never had done!

Why would I possibly buy crisps in a flavour of something I've never liked?
Lack of self discipline, that's why!
They must have seen me coming in that shop!

Ok, that's it for today, consider if you are applying enough self discipline this week.
Have a good week.

'Til Next Time,
Health and Happiness,
Get involved with my Marathon at:

Monday, July 24, 2006

Issue 376 - Mon 24 Jul 2006

I hope all is well where you are.

Thanks for all your emails about my groin, I can't remember the last time it generated so much interest!

I did some research in the week about groin strains, and it seems there are many varieties!
The common remedy I found is, unsurprisingly, resting it until it is better.
How do you know it's better?
By testing it, to see if it still hurts.

Seems reasonable to someone like me who doesn't have a running coach to guide me, and with the fact that we had all-time record high July weather here in the UK, I did walking sessions instead of running this week, apart from a 6 mile tester yesterday.
I could still feel it more than I ought, so this Sunday's 15 miler is looking doubtful.
Looks like my decision to start training months ahead of schedule is paying off - this is time I can afford to lose with no worries.
Don't forget you can download my no cost marathon book via the link at the bottom.

Today I want to talk about mental attitude, featuring 2 multi-billion pound industries.
If you're thinking 'here we go, music and sport,' well you'd be wrong this time.
Er, no hang on, you'd be right actually, but I defy you to tell me at the end that you can't use the point in your life today.

The sport story is the quicker, so let's start...
There are 4 major golf tournaments every year, and yesterday, the oldest and most prestigious, The Open, was won by Tiger Woods.

It's his 11th major, and only one man has won more, Jack Nicklaus with 18.
It's a comment Nicklaus made years ago that caught my ears.

One of the most difficult shots in golf is the 4 foot putt.
I'm talking about the elite professionals here, for a klutz like me they are all the most difficult, but in a game which relies hugely on mental strength, the 4 foot putt has ruined many careers.

Jack Nicklaus once said the he had never missed a 4 footer.
By that he meant that he knew his preparation and stroke were fine every time.
Sometimes the ball didn't go in, but that wasn't his fault.
I'm not sure that can literally be true, but consider his iron-strong confidence in what he did and how he did it!

Ok, onto the music story, featuring Tony Blair.
Yes, *that* Tony Blair, Prime Minister of Britain.

He wasn't always interested in politics, in fact when he was 18, he fiercely wanted to be a rock star.
He arrived in London, and people found that his undeniable charm had them giving him free food and board when they hardly knew him.
One of these became a friend, and told Tony that he should maybe try promoting as a way into the business.

Tony jumped at it, and soon declared himself the promoter of a local band.
He found a church hall to rent, and went out and sold, sold, sold, turning the night into a huge success.

He then wanted to step up a gear, and took the huge step of hiring a 4,000 seater hall in London.
To fill it he decided to get a big band, and simply rang up the management of Free, one of Britain's biggest bands at the time.
When he was told the band wanted £25,000 upfront (remember this was 1971, that was a big lump of money), he realised that it wasn't as easy as he thought.
On the night the 4,000 seater had around 60 people turn up, and Tony was counting his losses.

Did he give up?
I should say not, he carried on selling and talking to people, putting his people skills to great use, eventually putting on 4 successful shows, making a clear profit of £600, again a lot of money then.

In 1972 he went off to University, where he spotted a band auditioning for a singer.
He got the job, (he was the only one that showed up).
The drum kit collapsed on the first gig, and the band only played 6 times.
Within 3 months Tony had joined the Labour party, and the rest is history.

Think of what you do and how you do it.

Do you have the steely confidence of 18-time major winner Jack Nicklaus, or do you have the unquenchable ambition and drive of Tony Blair.
He tried it in rock, it didn't work, but when he turned to something else, he became the youngest Prime Minister for nearly 200 years.

Ok, that's it for today,
Have a good week.
'Til Next Time,
Health and Happiness,
Get involved with my Marathon at:

Monday, July 17, 2006

Issue 375 - Mon 17th Jul 2006

I hope Monday finds you well.

You may remember that last week I mentioned how astronaut Mike Fossum had to take a surprising detour on his path to achieve his goal of going to space.
Fossum is today breathing the same air as me, as he and the rest of the crew landed a short while ago, and I'll carry on today a bit about the detour factor.
It's not unusual to have to change and adapt your plans and routes as you take action towards your goal.
In fact, it would be more unusual *not* to have to adapt.

My marathon training has once again come up with a good demonstration.
A fortnight ago when I did 13 miles, I found myself getting a touch bored as I went round and round a 3 mile lap I had worked out.
So before yesterday's 14 miler, I went out and worked out a different route.
I know that's a fairly literal example of changing my route, but it sort of works.
I hadn't realised that boredom would set in on the route.

On the actual London marathon there isn't muh repetition, so actually it is a good thing for me to do different routes.
I set out with a target time of 2 hours 48, and finished in 2 hours 48.
I was chuffed, although it wasn't without problems.

During this last week I had noticed some aching in a muscle which I'm fairly sure is the groin.
As I got settled into my walks and runs though, the ache eased, so I thought I'd carry on, but keep an eye on it.
(Not literally of course, running around constantly looking at your groin is not advised).

Yesterday after about 9 miles I was really feeling this muscle a lot, and considered stopping at my next route mark of 13 miles.
My feet were also aching as much as they had last time, and it was this which made me decide not to stop at 13 miles, as I didn't want it to become a mental block of any sort.
So I got to 14 miles, and felt the same as I did after 13 - no better, no worse, and it began to occur to me that maybe it always feels like that from that point right to the end!

If that's the case, it's the first time that I can begin to see why it is such a challenge!

This week I will research a lot into my muscle ache.
Lord knows my groin has precious little else use, but even so I don't want to set myself back!

Hmm, as I write, and you know I like to just whack the newsletter out as I feel, I'm not sure boredom is the right word for when I'm running.
I have no problem keeping myself occupied with thoughts, so I think it's the onset of aches which makes further 3-mile laps seem less than appealing!
In fact, my recent runs have led me to write a new song, and finish and old half-finished one, which hopefully I'll be able to unveil soon!

Ok, that's it for today, don't be worried about route changes!

Have a good week.

'Til Next Time,
Health and Happiness,
Get involved with my Marathon at:

Monday, July 10, 2006

Issue 374 - Mon 10th Jul 2006

I hope everything is ok where you are.

Thanks for all your birthday wishes last week.
It fair warmed my cockles I can tell you.

Long time readers may remember way back in the summer of 2003, I wrote about how big achievement it was to be the first from your country to achieve things, in particular when Roger Federer became the first Swiss male to win Wimbledon.
Yesterday he won it for the 4th time running!
Impressive, eh?

Last week I was saying how I shouldn't be surprised to now be able to do a half marathon, because I was following an established plan which specifically got me to that stage.
Well yesterday the plan had me doing a 6 miler.
It was tempting to carry on increasing the mileage, but because the plan didn't just say 'this works', but actually explained, I understood.

Now I am at a certain milegae, alternating with shorter runs gives my body more time to recover.
Makes sense to me, and next week I can up it to 14 miles.
It also beds in my mind that I can do 12 minute miles as my standard now - my comfort zone has been pushed!

Today I also want to talk about Mike Fossum.
You might not know who he is, I didn't until a week ago.

He's an astronaut, and as I write, he is currently on a space walk with Briton Peirs Sellers, tethered to the International Space Station 220 miles up.

Incidentally, did you know that the first Briton didn't go to space until 1991?
It was a woman, Helen Sharman, who answered an ad in the paper!

Ok, back to Mike Fossum...
His father was always interested in the space program, so it was no surprise that Mike had the same ambition as most kids, to be an astronaut.
Also like most kids, he dismissed it as a silly idea, something that 'other people' do.

He joined the Air Force, and found himself posted to Nasa of all places, working as an engineer.
He got to know the astronauts, and the realisation that they were just normal people reignited his astronaut dream.
He got to know a Japanese astronaut in particular, who gave him some advice he didn't really want to hear.

He told him to leave Nasa.
He told Mike that a common route to becoming an astronaut was to go to test pilot school, and it was something that he himself had done.
Fossum didn't want to leave Nasa, but accepted that it was an established route to achieving the goal.

Guess what he did?

Yep, he left Nasa to join the pilot test school, and it was another 8 years odd before he rejoined Nasa.
In 1998 he was accepted into the astronaut program, leading to him being on his first space flight in 2006.

It's a goal achievement classic.
He learnt of an established plan, and although it seemed to take him away from where he wanted to be, he took it, enjoyed the experience fully, and found that as predicted, it got him to where he wanted to be.

I found out in my research that he is 49, and got onto the space program early in his 40s.
Hmm... Gordino in space maybe?

Maybe not, that would have to be one hell of a sick bag.

Ok, that's it for today, how much are you prepared to give for your goal?

Have a good week.

'Til Next Time,
Health and Happiness,
Get involved with my Marathon Milllion at:

Monday, July 03, 2006

Issue 373 - Mon 3rd Jul 2006

I hope Monday finds you well.

As for me, I find myself creaking into my 40s today.

I enjoyed the last day of my 30s.
It was blisteringly 'country about to grind to a halt' hot day yesterday, so I set off for my run nice and early.
My target was 13 miles in 2 hours 36, and I did it in 2 hours 37.
So that's a half marathon done already!
Because I've built up slowly to that level, the main problem I had was just my feet, as there is little you can do to get away from the fact that my poor little tootsies do take a pounding.
That explains the creaking today!

Then in the afternoon I was at a jam session.
I had a little play on the drums, a little bit of bass geetar, and a jolly good time all round.

You have plenty of time to think when you are doing a 2 and half hour run, and I was thinking about my last 10 years.

I can clearly remember my 30th, as it was in the middle of one of, if not *the* best time of my life.
It wasn't long though before it all went wrong, the worst time of my life, and I spent many years getting
myself back on an even keel.

I've lived at many different addresses, currently at my 9th in 10 years.

I've done plenty of different jobs, from entertaining to office work, to greasy factory work to my current self-employment from home.

I resurrected my drumming, took up the bass guitar.

I found out I'm no good at the pole vault, twanged a hamstring when I tried the long jump.

I've spent time on my own, and had a few (short) relationships!

Wrap all that lot together, throw in the frightening amount of chocolate I must have had over the decade, and there's a word for what you get.


When I was 30 I had no idea I had all that ahead of me (except for maybe the chocolate).
What will I have in the next 10 years before I'm 50, apart from more chocolate?
Who knows, but I'll try and view it all as an adventure, and if I think of anything I want to try, hopefully I will just get on with it.
I might be married with kids, I might still be single.

To be continued...

Something else I thought of when running, was when I was gasping for breath.
This only happened for about the first 20/30 mins.
After that I can feel a change in my body.

What happens, is that instead of the body scrabbling around for instant energy for the first few minutes, it settles into tapping into my stored reserves.
That's why it's important to build those reserves, so I can simply accept the first few minutes without worry.

I thought of it as a pinball machine, once the ball has slipped off the flipper, and while you are still cursing, the ball wobbles about the hole before finally falling in.
Does that work, applying that to my body and the energy stores?
Hmm, not sure...

Anyhoo, show me an athlete that doesnt warm up and do the wobbly bits first, and I'll show you a twanged muscle.
Show me a musician that doesn't do the wobbly bits first, I'll show you some bum notes.
In fact, with anything in life, you have to go through the wobbly bits.
Recognise what they are, put in the preparation for what comes after, or you may be heading for problems.

Ok, that's it for today.

I'm off to do what most new 40 yr-olds do, buy a Harley-Davidson or something like that.

Have a good week.
'Til Next Time,
Health and Happiness,
Get involved with my Marathon Milllion at: