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and I did it again…

Don’t worry. I’m not going to post every darned time I do a run, I’m just following up because tonight I pushed myself a bit harder (and it was great) and I remembered a few more things I’ve learned which I forgot to mention.

Tonight I had to run on my own because of family commitments which meant I couldn’t run with my running pack (at the time they were running). I was fairly daunted by that because they’ve more-often-than-not carried me through when I probably would have stopped but I knew I just had to go do it otherwise the disapproval when we run at the weekend from the other members of the pack would be impossible to bear.

The pace we run at as a pack is based around that of the slowest member. At the beginning we had people running at their own pace and “looping back” into the group but by unspoken agreement we concluded that this wasn’t the best way. It was a group of individuals running and meeting up periodically and it was destroying the pack mentality so we fell into a proper pack pattern and we now run at the pace which keeps us together.

Thing is, though, my leg stride is longer and I’m shortening it (and running slower) to match the pack pace. This evening, I decided to run at my own pace and see how I did.

Man… it was gruesome pretty much out of the gate. I’d gone about 1.5 Km and was puffing as much as I usually do at the end of a normal run. I seriously thought I would not complete 15 minutes let alone run for 30+ minutes. This is where the gift my pack has given me; that belief that I can push through and achieve the goal, stood me in good stead.

I not only ran 5Km, I ran it an average of 50second per KM faster than normal and also, when I was really suffering at 4Km, I forced myself to increase my pace and ran the last 1Km in 5mins 31sec (and I pretty much sprinted the last 100 metres). Again not the worlds fastest pace but relative to my usual pace and certainly relative to where I started 2 months ago, it’s a huge jump up and all the more gratifying because I pushed myself to this when I really was thinking I could do no more.

I’m not saying this to be boastful (although I’m feeling proud of myself tonight) but to illustrate once more that anyone (and If I can, then I really do mean *anyone*) can get off their arses and do far more than they think they can if only they’re willing to put their heads down, grit their teeth, push through the pain and discomfort and just do it.

Therefore my message is this: maybe running isn’t your bag, but just find something that is and get stuck in. Start slow and just don’t stop until you’ve achieved your goal. Then set another goal and another and another…

A few other things I’ve learned.

1. If running is something you’re interested in, a good pair of running shoes is essential and can save you so much pain and suffering.

2. Running socks! Don’t run in any-old-socks! Get some real running socks. Not cheap but worth their weight in gold.

3. Every once in a while, push yourself beyond where you think your limit lies… you’ll most likely be surprised (and gratified).

As an aside I do have to admit that I appear to be developing an unhealthy fetish for Lycra… but that’s a whole other topic (which we’ll never discuss).

I ran 5K

This week, I ran 5K.

Ok, so what’s there to shout about? Many of my friends have run marathons, are triathletes or are even more nuts doing “ultra” challenges and the like.

The thing is, everything is relative.

For pretty much my entire life, or at least as far back as I can remember I’ve been unfit.

As a child the unfitness was mostly down to childhood asthma meaning, while I was very active, I could not do any sustained activity as I ran out of “puff” very quickly. In adulthood, I’ve had no such excuse. I just got fat, sedentary and lazy.

However, this year, prompted by my Brother and Sister(-in-Law) and supported by the beginners programme from the local Running Club (Go BRJ!) I’ve started (and only just started) to turn that around.

A mere 8 weeks ago, we started our first outing where we ran for 1 minute then walked for 1 1/2 minutes and repeated this 7 times… 8 weeks later, we were running for 30 minutes and incredibly, when we finished, only needed less than a minute to breathe normally again.

Then 3 days later, my running group ran 5K (36mins) – Ok, so the pace isn’t the hardest and many people will think “meh, I could get up and run 5K right now without breaking a sweat” but as I say, everything is relative and achieving a goal like this is a big deal for us!

Next challenges: 10K race in mid-June. Hoping to add the extra 5K over the next 6-8 weeks then it’s working on “pace” to turn it from a fast trundle into a reasonable run (from 7ish mins/Km to 6ish mins/Km).

Insanely, even contemplating a half-marathon in October… me! No seriously… me?!!!

So what have I learned from this?

1. Listen to your friends and family when they try to encourage you to get healthy. I wish I’d done so years ago.

2. Even fat old codgers like me can get from nothing to running 5K in 2 months! Noone has any excuse! Go. Do.

3. Commitment to other people is the strongest motivator you can have to make you keep at it. Find a group and promise to run with them. That commitment will make you get off your ass and go when you might otherwise make some excuses to yourself.

4. Running in a “pack” is powerful. On the days when you’d quit if you were alone, the pack will take you through.

5. Goals are really important. Sometimes they’re scary but achieving them makes you warm and fuzzy. Your whole team achieving them, that’s the best feeling!

6. I can do anything I set my mind to. I’ve always believed this but sometimes it’s great to remind yourself by doing something you don’t think you can do.

Follow your heart… Everything else is secondary.

I was going to write a long, rambling piece mourning the loss of Steve Jobs which I, like many people who have held him as one of their hero’s feel today but there are no words I can come up with, nor have I read today (with the possible exception of this from John Gruber) which can sum up the death and the life of Steve Jobs as well has he has done himself:

 

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

Steve Jobs, Stanford Commencement Speech – 2005

Steve Jobs. 1955-2011 – Businessman, Entrepreneur, Genius… Dreamer… Idol… Man.

Why I’m an atheist

Ok, let me first say that this topic may be NSFW (not safe for work) because I’m going to mention things teenage boys do in their bathroom and also talk about religion which some people might find uncomfortable having on screen in a work context.

I guess the title should be self explanatory. I’m a atheist. I don’t believe in a divine all powerful deity. I don’t believe in heaven or hell (except in this world). I don’t believe in life after death. I don’t believe in anything which requires me to withhold questions and the search for evidence and just accept things I’m told on faith.

But it wasn’t always so… It may surprise you to know that I actually seriously considered a life in the (catholic) priesthood. Continue…

Parting is such sweet sorrow…

After a mere 5 months I’m departing my position at TUI UK&Ireland today. This is not anything to do with the job, the organisation or the people at TUI but a leap of faith into something new for me and my family.

On few occasions when I’ve departed an organisation have I been as conflicted as I am at leaving TUI. Usually when you leave it’s because you’ve done what you came to do or you’ve given up on the organisation in some way. I have neither. There is so much (interesting) work to do at TUI and the organisation is so vibrant (in difficult times for the travel industry) that I feel quite guilty leaving but I’m also excited by the new ventures I’m pursuing.

It’s been  a roller-coaster 5 months in TUI, probably, in many ways, the most intense 5 months I’ve experienced in many years but, like a roller-coaster, it’s also been incredibly invigorating and exciting.

To all my colleagues and friends at TUI I want to say a huge thank you for your support, effort, challenge and friendship over the last 5 months. I hope you continue to pursue your future with the same talent, bravery and vigour as I’ve seen you do in the last 5 months.

If you will permit me this small cliche: “This is not goodbye, merely ‘au revoir’”

Facebook minus, Google Plus

The social media space is all abuzz about Google+ and I’ve been lucky enough to have had a chance to play with it for the last week or so.

It’s good. It’s not perfect but for the type of space it’s playing in, it’s really really good. I can easily see people leaving facebook for plus…

Actually, I’m one of those people but not because I believe Plus is better than Facebook for social networking (both have some fundamental problems which I’ll discuss in a post I’ve been stewing for some time which I’ll be posting at some stage) but because Google+ gives me control of my social graph and what I do with it in a way that Facebook actively acts to prevent me doing (which is deplorable… It’s my information, not theirs.)

Continue…

Act, don’t React.

This week I’ve let someone very important down in a massive way that I feel incredibly guilty about.

The details of the what and why aren’t important but what is important is the how.

There was no malicious intent, no ignorance, no procrastination or any failure to act on my part there was just a phenomonally bad failure in judgement and “thinking things through” which was all borne out of reacting instead of acting.

Continue…

Survival is not enough

A life lived without passion or joy is no life, it’s mere existence.

There are the things we need to do to survive and then there are the things which make life worth living. In the fast paced modern world it’s all too easy to forget that the priority of these is the latter is at least equal or even higher than former.

Embrace your passions, seek out your joys, pursue your dreams and fight as hard for your happiness as you do for your survival.