Owner of The Running Inn, Eastbourne
Fiona followed a BA (hons) degree in Politics with a post-grad diploma and 12 year career in journalism, where she specialised in health and fitness writing and compiling workouts. She’s been a deputy editor and has written for national newspapers, websites, books and magazines, and has contributed to various TV and radio shows as a fitness specialist. With Mike Ovens, she is the co owner and director of the Running Inn in Eastbourne, specialising in running and fitness breaks.
Fiona was recently appointed editor of Running Free magazine.
Burn fat fast… !
22 June 2010
Lose weight quick, drop a dress size in a week, find your dream life in a day… and if you don’t do it you’re a fat failure with no life! I’m back in magazine world, and have to resist the temptation to make quippy coverlines become false and empty promises…
I’ve studied running magazines, and the line Burn Fat Fast is on five or six in my pile of magazines. But I want to run fast, not burn fat fast… why do they think that’s what want?
Get thin and Get Rich. The messages sent from a marketing man on high. These two slogans seem to have seeped into every park of our culture.
We get drawn in by these empty promises. Elections are won by promising to change our lives and give us more money. It’s what’s in the pocket that counts. Magazines are sold by promises to fix everything in 24 hours. Personal trainers and gyms sell quick-fix packages…
Fame has been seen as a cure-all; a fix to yearnings for money, recognition, love… Big Brother entrants scream as loud as they can to be heard on circus TV…
Being thin and rich – the fame formula are seen as a panacea for all life’s troubles.
You might think you’re different: it’s superficial nonsense that doesn’t affect you, you’re intelligent, rational. You know the things that are important in life are family, health and being responsible, giving something back.
But how fat many people would grab the magic pill if it was available, the one that made you thin… And money, who would turn down a lottery win? If you could be super-fit, instantly, would you say no to it?
And do you ever find yourself quick fixing, binge-purging, or looking for the easy way out.
The problem with quick fixes is that they take away the individual’s responsibility to work hard – and if the quick fix works, the results can be flaky. Take the fame example, the ‘wannabe famous for fame’s sake’ brigade, who get there in an instant, don’t know what to do with it. More often they aren’t responsible with their role and meander themselves around, their faces, and wobbly bits appearing in trashy magazines. Superstars have staying power – and it’s not being famous that gives them that. It’s a passion…
I watched Elton John perform recently. I was never an Elton fan as a youngster but would always sing a long to his songs. His performance was brilliant. A talented pianist as a child, this man did it because he loved music. At the end of the show, he raised his arms out to the crowd, wearing his Watford shirt, with his little pot belly sticking out – but he looked like a giant, a star….Elton’s worked hard to create his music, and that’s what he is, a music man, first, famous, second.
Burn fat fast and you end up with a body and a new way of eating that’s alien. Win the Lottery? The disasters are well documented.
Commit to what you’re passionate about, and you’ll lead yourself – and not be led by marketing men or politicians, or, even, magazines! Healthy eating, money a balanced lifestyle falls into place when the path is clear.
Changes Like The Weather
26 May 2010
Summer’s come… and I’m feeling good!
I’ve lived for 42 years with changing seasons. From Spring to Summer, Autumn to Winter, but, I still find myself surprised when the weather changes…
Our world transforms when the sun comes out. I ran along the seafront at the weekend and it was packed with bikini-clad girls, pot-bellied men, bare-chested 20 somethings and older ladies with brown, frazzled skin… all shapes and sizes – stripped down, unpeeled from winter’s protective layer…
I’ve heard lots of people talking about the weather. It was only a week or so ago that I said to my husband, Mike, “I’ve really, really had enough of being cold now!” My hands seemed to be permanently corpse-like (I’m prone to Raynauds) and most nights I could be found standing next to the radiator before dinner (after dinner my body would warm up from the inside)…
Now I’m slapping on the St Tropez, drinking iced water, and my fan blows all the paper off my desk! And all I hear is ‘it’s so hot!’
And I forget the cold. As the body adapts, it’s hard to imagine the dark mornings, running through snow, or after a run, standing in the shower for extra long just to keep hypothermia at baby… it’s like it never happened. I never did feel cold.
Running is a seasonal thing, too. And through the year, my body changes from fast to slow… I’m just emerging from a slow patch after my marathon, peeling off layers of sluggishness and, now, thankfully, sufficiently recovered, I’m ready to run faster again.
Like the weather, the return of speed took me by surprise. One day I’m slogging along thinking there’s nothing to get out. Two days later, it’s as if an internal gear was yanked up, inside me and I get a surge, and my reps start to feel faster…
I forget all about my slow day (only two days before) – in fact I’ve already obliterated my slow month. Melted from my memory like the snow…
And I’m full of optimism and belief, the sun is shining, life is good… who knows, it might stay that way!
A frantic month
27 April 2010
It’s been a frantic month for Fiona… As well as the Running Inn weekends, I’m now editing Running Free magazine. I’ve been so busy I’ve not had time to do anything extra – least of all worry about my 10th Marathon, which I’m running on Sunday. It’s been great fun – an adrenaline-fuelled burst of work, and I’ve been very ably assisted by Julia, who’s knocked out four articles for me, including one conceived and commissioned whilst running on the Downs… I’m off to London tomorrow to Expo, and have run out of that all important ‘commodity’/thing that makes life, well, what does it make life… another month, perhaps, when I’ve got more of it…I can ponder what ‘having time makes life…’ in fact what that really means! I have time now to fit some sleep in. I’m prioritizing that, as I want to run well on Sunday!
Dealing with Deadlines
22 March 2010
Next week I officially start my new job as Editor of Running Free magazine, and I’m thrust back into a world of deadlines!
A deadline originally was a line in a military prison that must not be crossed – for obvious reasons (you’ll be shot dead if you do!). And the term also referred to a guideline marked on a plate for a printing press (inside which all content should appear).
So a deadline is a place not to cross, or you’ll die – and a space to fill!
I’ve missed lots of deadlines in my life, but so far not died. However, the consequences of not filling that empty space are usually not brilliant – and eventually, the space has to be filled. The less you put in by the time the deadline is to be reached, the worse you feel – and in some cases crossing the deadline could invoke the kind of fear that the rebellious prisoners felt when they stepped over…
But still, I like to set myself deadlines. There are targets and goals that I, like most other people, enjoy setting out to do on a daily basis – whether it’s to run a certain a number of miles, or complete the tasks on a ‘to do’ list.
In the world of magazines, there’s no escape! If I want to stay writing for magazines I complete tasks to time – I produce, I reach my deadlines – empty pages are a no no and the deadline shifting has a time limit!
But as a non-professional runner it’s not so clear cut. And when I have to set my own deadlines, I have to reach inside myself. I don’t have to do it. I don’t get paid and I although I’m fitter and healthier, I don’t need to run as much as I do to stay that way. I choose to run.
My current deadline is five weeks away, when I line up on the Championship Start of the London Marathon. I’ve filled the space with training, and there are just a few more paragraphs to write – well, two week’s hard training and a three week taper to be clear!
And as that deadline approaches, the next one looms. But this time I realise I’ve been putting off setting a deadline. The longer term goal, the far-away deadline, is to run under three hours for a marathon. I gave myself some respite on this batch of training – just do the training, be relaxed, keep going. But now I have to set myself a time goal for my sub three marathon attempt.
So, I’ll set my deadline here and now. I have to think about what’s realistic (my best time is currently 3:13), so if I can get five minutes off in my next race, then focus my energies on training through the summer and Autumn with a goal to getting faster, then, I’ll make my deadline, Spring 2011, when I’ll be 43.
Hopefully I won’t be shot if I haven’t done this by the time I’m 43! But If I don’t fill the space, I’ll feel empty. That blank page will be staring at me.
To reach the deadline – needs action. It needs a starting point, and a daily commitment. I need to do something daily, to remind myself where I want to be in a year’s time. It might be eating well, running slow, running fast, doing Pilates, resting – and planning each phase as I go.
Writing the copy that fills the page, running the miles that get me fit – until the deadline is reached… As long as I can still write the story, I must continue to do it! And keep setting the deadlines, until the final one, which I have to cross whether I like it or not, is finally reached!
23 February 2010
I get up most days, and put on my trainers, my leggings, my funny hat and at this time of year, gloves, coat, and possibly a fleece, and I plunge myself into the darkness, the rain, the sunshine, or, an average kind of day…
I love running. I love talking about it, doing it, looking at results of races, hearing people’s mile by mile reports of races. I’m passionate about my sport. I love being outside and challenged by the elements, as Ju and I were yesterday (we both wrote about our adventure, here’s my story and here’s Ju’s). Windy, rainy, and if you thought about it, possibly a bit scary (I didn’t and I wasn’t – until I got into my shower and felt a bit dizzy).
I love the feeling of flow, of just being, of really feeling what it’s like in the here and now. It challenges me on many levels. My physical hardiness, and ability to grit my teeth, and at the same time, grin, bear it and try to talk through a frozen mouth whilst laughing and eating a carbohydrate block! It wakes me up to my mental strengths – and weaknesses…
But it’s not just on extreme weather days when running challenges me. It’s the days when I have to remember to feel inspired by another’s success in a race, not intimidated, to celebrate the small gains, the seconds of improvement, and move on from bad runs.
Running is raw. Putting myself on the start line of a race, I know I have to rely on myself to be relaxed, to run free.
When I’m running well, I don’t hear negative voices. I don’t hear the people who say I’m mad for running in the rain, or for three hours on a Sunday when I could be lying in, that I’m too old, too busy, too, anything. I don’t hear them, because when I’m running well, and when I’m happy and relaxed, they don’t say that.
They say, you’re an inspiration, I might try that, what’s your next race, I love the sound of that freezing cold run on the Downs… or they just don’t say anything!
Running free is about running from the inside out… Struggling with demons? Switch them off for a while, whether it be a watch, a nagging partner, a work commitment, get out there and just do what you love – run…. or paint, or sing, dance, write, sew!
A good friend of mine (who I think you might know) tells me running is her music, her art, her expression… it’s her creativity. When she runs well, everything else flows from it – business success, love, and a general state of happiness. I know what she means!
Running is a way for me to express my hardiness, my humour, my discipline, my competitive side. A daily ritual that expresses who I am…
Find your passion, your expression, your sport, or art, and do it. Then, let it roll out and relish in the results…
A break from the routine... and those resolutions we make
21 January 2010
I like to start thinking about New Year’s resolutions before I break for the Xmas holiday. That way I think I won’t get such a shock to my system when I need to get going on dark January days. With the world apparently seeped in SAD it’s not the easiest time of the year to transform myself into a widely read, cultured, solvent, successful, nutritionally intelligent, super fit all-round superwoman!
So making goals fluid and setting them when I’m relaxed and on holiday seems to make sense. Starting to focus on New Year’s Resolutions when you break up for Christmas is a bit like putting your alarm on early – and hitting the snooze button, you have no intention of getting up at 530am, you’re final cut off point is 630am!
My cut off point was January 11th, when I got back from holiday. My goals are always pretty similar, train more, read more, optimum nutrition, drink a bit less, produce something tangible from my hard work (usually this means money!) and write constructively… So over Christmas I run, but don’t do speed work, eat more, but still eat some good food, and keep control of drink for at least some of the time. (Working hard and writing come naturally but producing anything other than a Xmas dinner, Xmas cards and the odd tweet is all I expect of myself over Christmas).
This year I had a three week break, which was a serious threat to my marathon training and goals for running. The day I went Ju and I ran in melting snow, and Julia said to me, remember, ‘keep the goal in mind’.
So off I went on my travels on the 21st December with a minimum mileage plan of 60 per week – the goal in mind. As I drove to see my family, the snow set in (and as it turned out was going to be a bit of a barrier for the next three weeks!) and we arrived three hours later than planned. Everyone’s routine had gone to pot that night, so the wine was cracked open, the Chinese ordered and my early night scuppered. But with the goal in mind, I got up at 630am and ran a very steady 10 miles…
The thing with resolutions they need to be for life, and they need to be robust enough to withstand snow, and routine breakers, whether in December or March. As it turned out over Christmas I did manage 50 miles in week one, 58 in week two and then 35 plus lots of cross training on holiday in week three (we were stranded at an airport for a day due to the snow). I read Chris Evans’ Autobiography (okay not James Joyce, but a reasonable read!) and I wrote and planned business in my head!
When I finally got home, the new term feeling didn’t quite happen as the world had ground to a halt due to the snow. And on the other side of the world the ground was rumbling routine and normality in a devastating way as the earthquake hit Haiti.
So this year, I missed out on the ‘new term’ feeling, but I kept my goals in mind – and the new term just happened anyway. No unrealistic expectations just things I want to achieve, and so like most of us, I’ve just carried on.
In fact I realised that I haven’t really made any firm resolutions this year – they just flow on. Looking at what I had achieved in 2009, I realised it was pretty good: we sold our guesthouse, I ran a 3:13 marathon, I won a race, we had lots of brilliant courses, did the London Running Show, I wrote lots of articles, I read a Chris Evans book! And of course my family and personal life is the focus to it all…
The grass is always greener on the other side of New Year’s resolutions. And going back to January 2009 I can see that the grass is a bit greener now. If I run a sub three hour marathon, the grass will be lush! The thing is there’ll be the odd brown patch – and in a field just in my line of vision, the 2011 field, the grass will be emerald!
Cosy evenings and cold mornings
21 December 2009
Have you got that Christmas feeling…? Like you’re ready to hibernate, down tools, curl up into a little ball and go to sleep with a trail of empty chocolate wrappers by your side… or do you feel it’s time to get some miles under your belt, to venture out into the frosty mornings, and build a good aerobic base to carry you through to the Spring Marathons? Well, I have to confess, I’m living a double life – cosy chocolatey laziness combined with the shock of cold, clear mornings on the Downs…
Every day I meet Julia at the Lamb, a lovely old Pub in Eastbourne’s Old Town – but it’s at 7am or 730 – before opening time! It’s a daily struggle to lift myself out of my slumber – the world is telling me to slow down. Personal Training clients are crying off with colds, whilst others have already left for Winter Sun. The Running Group is now attended by the hardy stalwarts, whilst the majority have exchanged running tights, energy drinks and regime for shiny gear, wine, and a bit of raucousness!
But we get up, snooze buttons are finally switched to off, I pull on tights, hats, gloves (two pairs this week), and open the door to the dark, cold sharpness of winter and set off for my six minute run to the Lamb.
It’s always good to see Julia smiling and waving, upbeat, ready to go (she generally is there before me, even though it takes her 11 minutes)! And, then off we go – up onto the Downs chatting away, occassionally stopping to look at the glorious sunrises, and punctuating our morning conversations about love, life, and the universe (really!) to mention our frosty hands and feet… The gates are freezing to touch and apart from a few farmers, sheep and cows – we’re alone. Both knackered, we sometimes forget words, like two pensioner friends who muddle up the names of close friends and family, mileage takes it’s toll, especially when the world around us is hibernating…
My evenings are sleepy, wrapping paper, chocolate wrappers, and ovaltine consumed – before setting the alarm and setting out my gear again, ready for tomorrow’s run…
All you need is love
23 November 2009
Life can be so complicated, but really it’s so simple.
Every religion, political movement, group of friends or colleagues, develops rituals – by laws that keep them together in a joint belief system. But the key message that they all are trying to get out there is the same. It’s all about love. All you need is love…
To understand how to love, and live with love, live as love, you’ve got to first learn about loving yourself. Love, like charity, begins at home, in your home, your soul.
So, I hear you shout! ‘What’s a personal trainer who organises running courses, and likes running talking about this for?! What ‘qualifications’ do I have and what authority have I bestowed upon myself to pontificate about life, love – and the universe.
Well, none really. But when I run, and coach and organise courses, I know that without inner peace, self love, happiness (whatever you want to call it), I’m just ethereal, perpetuating nothing. Keeping overweight people overweight, helping those with destructive patterns, prove that’s how they are.
But in loving myself, running the way I like to run, being who I like to be – I’m better at my job! I can give without needing to receive, and I can deliver what I promise.
Of course, I don’t sit cross legged with my personal training clients, contemplating love, but when (unconsciously) I deliver the goods from a place of self-love – it makes it easier for them to receive the message.
They know that to get results – whether to run a PB in a marathon, or lose two stone – no diet or magic training programme will do it. To make improvements, they’ve got to love themselves – and be happy with where they are.
Like home improvements, there are a few basics you’ve got to get right with you to really make a difference. If you moved into a house that was dark, and dismal a bit too small maybe, you could patch it up, add a coat of paint to brighten it up, bung on an extension. But if the area you lived in was rough, and skanky and you hated the neighbours – it’s not so easy to improve! You might lose the heart to improve on something you didn’t like, or felt you just couldn’t change things.
It takes courage to move from the area. In the realm of improving fitness and health – the same applies. You can reach a certain point, maybe lose a couple of pounds, get fit to an acceptable level – but to achieve optimum health and that Hippocratic healthy mind/healthy body balance – it might take a bigger move.
But remember, it’s simple… just get out your Beatles album and put on that track, ‘All you need is…
It’s cold outside…
20 October 2009
And you don’t know what you’re missing if you keep your door shut!
I loved being outdoors when I was a child. I loved feeling warm in the cold as I ran about playing football, climbing trees, or playing commandos (yes, I was a tom-boy as a child!).
I remember being outside late at family gatherings and parties. I loved touching my rosy cheeks and feeling their clammy coldness, and, like all children, I was amazed as my breath made an imprint on the air – just like the smoke pouring out of the partying adults’ mouths, whose shadowy shapes I could make out through the steamed up windows. When the dark came it was more exciting. You couldn’t see the ball, and you weren’t sure as you reached up higher if that was a branch or a twig (we had more freedom in those days).
Cold, fresh, free and clear… that’s the feeling I remember, and still get to this day, when I’m outside being active.
It’s so easy to slumber into a sleepy hibernation as we get older – both physically and emotionally. For most adults there’s not many good reasons to get out into the cold, fresh air – less so the wind, rain, hail or snow… Habits get ingrained, the cosier it gets the harder it is to get out there! And why should you change…?
We live in a country where seasons change, and historically we would have been outside whether we liked it or not – walking to our place of work, hanging out washing, foraging! Our immune systems are said to require a boost of fresh air, and then there’s Vitamin D – found in winter and summer sunshine. Waking up physically can wake you up emotionally and help shake you out of patterns and habits that may not be helping you – to be you!
Human beings are conveniently caged, in houses and offices. Our activity wheel is the TV or computer – keeps us amused for hours. And psychologically we cage ourselves up, with habits: bad eating, drinking a little bit too much, making do in relationships, jobs, houses.
It’s good to get out of your cage. We’ve recently acquired two chinchillas – and their large cage. They hail from the mountains in Peru, in their natural habitat Chinchillas leap out mountains and like the cold. Now they live in a bedroom in Eastbourne!
They love to get out. In fact it’s a compulsory part of the deal – they must be allowed to run around the bedroom for at least an hour a night (and we must spend 10 minutes trying to catch them to get them back in the cage at the end of their playtime!)
My two furry friends would become ill if I didn’t let them out. They would be sluggish and wouldn’t like to be handled. They’d get depressed – and die!
What’s caging you in? It might be warm, cosy and comfortable in there – but do you need to get out? åYou might not even know what your cage looks like from the outside – but until you open the door and get out you won’t know.
Open the front door and step out into the cold and you might open more in you than you could have ever imagined – so go on, take the plunge!
A marathon story...
18 September 2009
Since March I’ve been on a journey – a road trip, well, an off road trip, to be more accurate. I’ve been training with Julia with the distant, miles away (literally), long way off goal of the Nice Marathon in November.
We started running together in early Spring. We were shaking off the winter when we met for our early morning runs in the dark. And we loved to notice how it got lighter as the season changed… Now, as summer leaves, it’s dark again – and Nice is not so far away!
It’s been a relentless slog, a voyage driven by a passion for putting one foot in front of the other… On dark mornings I’ve got dressed, put on my shoes, made my tea, then woken, startled as I realised I hadn’t done any of that. I’d dreamed myself out of bed, and now I really have to get a move on!
When the snooze button has finally been turned to off, I’ve fought with my eyelids before shifting out of bed. If I didn’t keep my eyes open, they’d slam shut. One morning they did just that. And Julia was greeted by a bedraggled me with hair everywhere, dressed in a nightie. Within minutes I was in running gear, with belt, gels, and water and ready to go for our long run on the Downs…
In the first three and a half months I ran a relatively low mileage, averaging 52 miles a week, then for nine weeks, through a busy summer, I ran an average of 72 miles per week (including one 85 mile week). There’s no escaping mileage when you’re training for a marathon. And you cannot put it off, start on Monday, or save some for next week – you’ve got to work. You’ve got to commit to it.
In the sixth month of training, Mike and I sold one of our businesses and moved house, life was stressful – and it got in the way… and I became wobbly and full of self doubt, and immune-boosting Lemsips, and I ran just 50 miles a week for four weeks…. But I recovered. And carried on…
And now I’m in the final phase – the last six weeks before a taper. ‘Have I done enough?‘… ‘It’s a bit late now,’ laughs Julia. Like the revision stage in studying, I’ve got to keep going and believe. It’s the time to sharpen up, to consolidate the work I’ve done with some speed work and races. I’ve got to make sure I don’t over or under-train, that I eat well, and most importantly keep my focus on the belief….
So why do this? Why put myself (and my husband and children!) through this process of slog when the reward is just numbers, a time, and ultimately another barrier to break through. When at any moment I could trip up, get ill, it could all come to an end…
I’ll try to sum it up… freedom, fitness, fresh air… stepping out of wet clothes and into a hot shower; going to bed with an achy body and slumbering into a comatose sleep; using my muscles, my bones, and my heart and lungs – and not letting it all fold into middle age; laughing on the Downs; crying on the Downs; seeing blazing red sunrises at 6 in the morning; battling against insane winds; running down hills; running up hills; running faster than I’ve run before at 41 years old; inspiring my children to do the same; a glass of red wine and a Sunday roast after a long run…. getting muddy!
It’s as simple as just living life, and as complicated as facing your demons. It’s moving forward – not standing still.
Try it… you might like it!
Dreams can come true
24 August 2009
I have always been someone who writes my goals down and likes to plan, so it was with enthusiasm that I arrived for Julia’s Manifestation workshop here in Eastbourne. A morning spent with others talking about our dreams and hopes but also understanding what might stop us short, and making sure we unraveled that and the promise of coffee and cake too! The experience was something I didn’t want to miss.
I said more than I expected I would when we all talked about why we were there and what we hoped for. I found myself chatting away and revealing far more of myself than I had intended, but actually it was okay and listening to it mirrored back felt good. I felt heard and I definitely heard myself and what I wanted, and it didn’t sound as muddled as I had thought when I was talking. In fact it sounded quite clear. I wanted to have sold one of my businesses and have moved into a new home with a studio for personal training in the garden by the end of August. It was then the first week of May.
My intention was out there and it seems that is all that is needed, for here I am. It is the end of August, Mike and I moved into our new home last Tuesday 19th, and the house has a studio at the bottom of the garden!
So is it that easy? Well in some ways ‘yes’. I have had experience before of setting out my goals, quite specifically and finding that when I look back at what I had written down some months previously everything has happened as I hoped. And now, sitting in my new home, I feel that my house was waiting for me. It was going to be mine all the time. However three weeks ago we hadn’t even found it, so ask me then what I was feeling and I have to say there was a degree of stress, we knew we had to be out of our guest house by the 18th and we had nowhere to live. Two properties had fallen through and we were in a hurry!
When we set goals, ones we really want, it may not always be easy! I have learnt that when it is tough and it doesn’t seem to be working out, this is when the belief that my dream is waiting for me has to come to the surface. I needed to keep reminding myself of this recently! The difficult bits can serve to reinforce your intent as you have to sometimes really grit your teeth to get through difficult and boring practicalities – I know I did! I felt annoyed with myself at times for feeing stressed, but now looking back the difficult weeks when everything seemed stuck have made the end result even more exciting.
I am really reaping the rewards now, I love my new house and I am excited about our new future there and I know that dreams can come true!
20 July 2009
Julia told me that this months’ theme was information.
And that was it.
So where to start?
It’s a big subject – where do I get information about information? Then I remember a favourite marketing slogan, that stands out and shouts out, and shreds the many meaningless words we’re bombarded with in this information age: Just do it!
So I’m putting my thoughts into context – the context is running (as those of you who know me may have realised, it’s something that preoccupies me).
Without too much reference to our grey matter – information is easy to access, via the media, the internet and books. Information about running is also widely available from other runners: on forums, at running clubs, on a long run with a friend, the swapping of how tos and why tos is all part of the sport…
Runners are like active librarians or statisticians. They love information. It gives them something to mull over whilst putting one foot in front of the other. And facts provide security, and certainty, a justification for discomfort, and a reason to get out the door and run 20 miles, or more at 7am on a Sunday morning.
Volume versus intensity is an ongoing debate amongst runners, junk miles (the ‘old way’) versus quality running (the new scientific approach), too much, too little – the information gatherers on both sides of this debate can prove or disprove that one way works. Less is more – more is more!
And I know that if I keep reading, and keep studying, in amongst the scientific papers, somewhere on the web, in a book, on a forum, is the answer, the perfect way to run, the truth… or is it?
Information gathering, and analyzing, and debating, can also be a distraction – a way of avoiding the pain whilst sitting on the fence.
Isn’t it a case of ‘just doing it’… of committing to what feels right?
So – that’s what I’ve done! I’m now running more miles than I’ve ever run before. I’ve committed to mileage, the ‘old way’ (the harder way?)
Vote Labour, vote Conservative, run less, run more. The key is choosing your path – and doing it.
I’ve made my commitment to mileage, to early starts and long runs, to rain or shine. I’ve stopped listening to the voices, stopped worrying about the arguments, and stopped searching for the secret to improving running economy and boosting lactate threshold. I’m doing it! Just doing it…
A blank page day
21 June 2009
Julia’s theme this month is ‘process’... The process of filling a blank page on a daily basis. I like the task of filling blank pages. I love to write and I love to run. A blank page gives me something to worry about – and gets me up in the morning! As a journalist, it was my job, day in, day out to fill blank pages. A blank page can cause panic, and historically, the closer the deadline, the better I am at filling the page. The harder it was to do, the more I’ve thrived on it. (I say historically, it’s 5am now – the day of Julia’s deadline – and I’m off to Ascot for the day. I’ve got less than 50 minutes)...
I also love to run. I’m currently running with Julia, training for the Nice Marathon, where I plan to run the best time of my life – my deadline November. I fill my blank page with miles, and more miles – every week I’m running more than I’ve EVER run before (I started running when I was 34). I’m also in the process of taking our business, the Running Inn, into an exciting new phase, shedding it of it’s former home, the Guesthouse East, and so the process of writing a new five year business plan begins – another page to fill. At the same time, as we sell our guesthouse, the pages fill with itineraries, lists for the solicitor, and completion dates and deadlines. And, I’m listing what we want from our next home…
I live to write and I live to run. It’s the process of doing, of compiling lists, of setting deadlines, of pushing forward boundaries that excites me. And with all of these processes, I like many others, adopt a pattern, a way of doing things. For me it’s push, push, push… Work hard, keep filling the pages, completing lists, setting deadlines (often impossible deadlines)...But it’s through the arena of running, running 70 miles a week, that I learn what works, and what doesn’t work – and really move on.
Yesterday morning was my 11th day of running in a row, and in those 11 days I’ve clocked up 117 miles. As Julia and I ran up another hill on our glorious South Downs (not so glorious midway up the hill). I said out loud – push, come on push. My body was tired. I hadn’t noticed it. But it was at this point that I had to stop, not push. Fortunately, for me, I had Julia next to me. ‘Let’s walk,’ she said.
It was what I needed. It didn’t have to be hard! At that moment I didn’t need to push on to pain. Yesterday’s run, was just one page of many that needed to be written in order for me to run 26.2 miles in under three hours. This marathon is a long process, a calm process. It requires patience, it can’t always be exciting – last minute training won’t do it! And I’ve still got four and a half months to go. Stopping on that hill, meant the process can continue, injury free. When I got home I was glad I had stopped. My body was tired. I was running 30 seconds a mile slower and my heart was working 15 beats a mile harder – warning signs I’d ignored when I tried to push on up the hill.
But holding back, moved me forward. Stopping. Staring at my blank page – and leaving it blank, not filling it with painful running that could end in disaster.
Today’s a rest day – no pen to paper, no laces to tie, no lists to write. A blank page day! And I can’t wait.
Life is a series of jigsaw puzzles
19 March 2009
I sometimes think that life is a series of jigsaw puzzles. Some pictures are easy to put together, others a bit more complicated – some are masterpieces you love to stare at, some you want to pull apart as soon as they’re finished and fling the pieces back into the box…
Think of the pictures you’ve created – doing a degree, getting a job, getting married, having children, getting divorced… At the beginning the picture was a jumbled up mess, but gradually the pieces came together – until all of sudden, it’s done.
Setting a goal requires you to picture or visualise what it is you want to achieve. When you’ve got your picture in mind, you can start the puzzle – as much as you’d like it to be a linear and logical process, goal setting is usually not that straightforward.
Here at the Running Inn, we help experienced goal setters and achievers in every day life with the running puzzle. Usually, they want to complete a race in a certain time, by following a specific training plan. We empty out the box and look at the pieces and put together a plan. Start with a frame, and then piece it altogether as you go along, or start from the middle and build the picture out – if you’ve got the right number of pieces it will eventually come together – just like on the box!
Very often when the picture’s complete, you’re left wondering ‘is this it?’ And you move onto the next puzzle – a more complicated one that stimulates, captivates and is going to take longer to complete. Running a marathon in four hours is one thing, but to get under three – there’s a lot more to it!
Sometimes you just can’t find the missing piece to complete your picture – is it under the table or buried deep under the floorboard… I was brought up a Catholic and when I lose something I was told to pray to St Anthony. I do, and it always works, I find my missing item.
Open your eyes, dig deep, ask your St Anthony, Universe, or instinct to help you. If you can see the picture on the box, you will find the pieces – and complete the picture.