Monday, 11 December 2017

Message in a Bottle – The Police

This was the band’s first UK#1 and Sting’s first as a song-writer. And at the time, I’ll be honest enough to say I wasn’t much of a fan as their bleached-blond-hair and chiselled looks weren’t hard enough for the prog-rock image I liked to project. I mean, what kinda message would I have been sending about myself at an all boy’s school in 1979, if I’d broadcast that I’d just been out to WHSmiths and out bought a copy of Reggatta de Blanc?

In hindsight, of course it wouldn’t have mattered. But within my peer group, the albums you carried around with you projected what kind of person you were. Pink Floyd and Genesis said one thing about you and The Boomtown Rats and The Buzzcocks said another. Afterwards at Art School it was more The Talking Heads and Peter Gabriel as my skin changed colour to match my creative surroundings and my ‘Message’ changed.

Just a castaway, an island lost at sea…

Anyway, it’s the ‘Messages’ (not in a bottle I hasten to add), that you and I emit and transmit all the time, that I’m interested in exploring in today’s blog. By that, I mean the ones we send out without really knowing and not the Facebook Posts of doom, gloom and failure I see, which btw must negatively affect employment and sports sponsorship opportunities.

Another lonely day, with no one here but me…

Hmm, you see you’re never alone, someone is always watching. Personally, I’m a person that enjoys the solitude of the long-distance run and I find the time and space a very enjoyable experience that doesn’t need to be messaged out to the world afterwards. In fact, the more private the experience, the more enjoyable it is I’ve found as having to small-talk away the miles distracts from the enormity of one’s surroundings. Getting a feeling of the vastness of the planet has always made me appreciate just how lucky we are just to be alive. Being ‘Smart’ and ‘Smart about it’ are great reminders about sending out the right message about ourselves. I try to be both in writing what I believe and I’m always hopefully consistent in my blogs.

A year has passed since I wrote my note…

An interesting line, so I thought I’d look back to my blog of December 10, 2016 to see what I was thinking about last year. It says, ‘I feel that I'm nearing feeling back to my old self but haven't achieved anything in the past year. Well here I am 12 months on thinking along the same lines but I’m 25 marathons including an MdS better off which can’t be bad eh? Since then, I’ve certainly learned that presentation is a 365-day project especially in work situations and I how act is extremely important as in truth, you are never ‘off-the-record’. Looking and acting the part whether it’s when presenting to a Multi-National Company or speaking on a Skype-Call from the Office – anything less than 100% isn’t an option. My ‘Message’ is all about consistency, all the time.

Seems I'm not alone at being alone, a hundred billion castaways…

That’s a lot of ‘Castaways’ but I get the sentiment. ‘Castaways’ are everywhere. I talk to them, every day and most of them believe that they are the only ones experiencing the loneliness of their predicament or possibly the pain of changing their behavioural process. Connecting the dots and being their ‘Catalyst’ to a brighter future is something I now relish. My own ‘Castaway’ Days of the analogue world of 1994 are long gone thank heavens and yours could also be soon.

Sending out an SOS…

Soon we will have demolished Christmas and will be racing headlong in January - is it time to start thinking about the messages you will be sending out to the world in the New Year? Maybe sending out a special SOS to ask for some help in making 2018 a whole lot brighter and enjoyable than 2017 would be a good idea?

Rory Coleman - rory@colemancoaching.co.uk
1,005 Marathons - 245 Ultras - 14 Marathon des Sables - 9 Guinness World Records

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

No Self Control - Sir Peter of Gabriel

Taken from his ‘Melt’ album of 1980, this brilliant song features Phil Collins on drums and Kate Bush on backing vocals so it’s well worth another listen if you’ve forgotten just how good it was and you’ll also get the gist of today’s blog from the lyrics.

‘Self-Control’ has been the vital ingredient in my running achievements over the years and having been someone with ‘No Self Control’ in my 20’s it’s fascinating years later why I didn’t feel the need to rein in my behaviour back then.

Got to get some food, I'm so hungry all the time
I don't know how to stop, no I don't know how to stop

You see, I believe ‘Self-Control’ is about consistency. Then again, having ‘No Self-Control’ could be deemed as being consistent - ‘consistently inconsistent’. Every day being a carbon-copy of failure, repeatedly making the same mistakes, falling down the same open man-holes, time-and-time again.

Sadly, a day, a week or even a month isn’t enough time to say you’ve become positively ‘consistent’ in my opinion, and it’s probably 365 days before you could say that you’ve been ‘consistent’ at anything.

Got to get some sleep, I'm so nervous in the night
I don't know how to stop, no I don't know how to stop

If you are training for the Event or a lifetime PB, ‘Self-Control’ affects every aspect of your life – or it should. Sleep is a huge factor in being at one with yourself. The lack of it can crush your expectations and if you are ‘nervous in the night’, there’s hope as running 80-100 miles a week is the best natural sleeping draft I’ve come across – that and having two children under three!

Got to pick up the phone, I will call any number
I know I'm gone too far, much too far I gone this time

And yet we don’t call, we don’t shout out to anyone, we wait for things to become ‘Critical’ instead of ‘Acute’ before we start fixing them. How many times have you heard of folk leaving an illness for too long before going to their Doctor to be told it’s too late for a cure?

It’s the picking up the phone moment of weakness that none of us like yet it’s the moment that ‘No Self-Control’ becomes ‘Self-Control’. My world became a whole lot brighter on April 20, 1992 after I made my call. Hitting the ‘Panic Button’ doesn’t create ‘Panic’ it stops the ‘Panic’ and asking for help is actually a very strong thing to do. You’ll find the right people are always only too happy to help. I mean it’s part of our DNA to help and be a good Samaritan, isn’t it?

And I don't want to think what I've done

Let’s be honest, we all have things that we regret when we’ve been ‘Out of Control’ with ‘No Self-Control’. The thing is that we start every day with a clean slate and the opportunity of living life with a set of rules that will help us take control of our lives, for a lifetime.

So, when folk say, ‘I don't know how to stop’, well they probably do, it’s just that they have ‘No Self-Control’ and lack the positive ‘consistency’ that giving your ‘Remote Control’ to someone else to operate can produce.

With Christmas and the New Year on the horizon to trip you up, maybe 2018 heralds a new YOU - back in the driving seat, filled with 'Self-Control'...

Rory Coleman - rory@colemancoaching.co.uk
1,005 Marathons - 245 Ultras - 14 Marathon des Sables - 9 Guinness World Records

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

D'You Know What I Mean? - Oasis

D’You know it’s twenty years since D'YouKnow What I Mean? was a #1 in the UK? Written by Noel Gallagher (the less angry of the Gallagher brothers), it’s my favourite OASIS song and one I’ve used often to illustrate my blog.

With that in mind, I’ve used it again today as I want to write about something I’ve discovered about myself and in others this past couple of years.

You see ‘It’s not who you’ve been, it’s who you are now that counts’… and who you are going to be in the future for that matter. Wow, that one burned my fingers as I typed it but it’s so true. How many people do you know that are holding onto and milking their past achievements, when in fact they are a spent force? It’s hard truth to take on board especially if you are in denial but one that’s well worth considering from time to time. A new dawning can actually be a very positive thing.

Step off the train all alone at dawn…

Every day is a new dawn in my book. And if you’ve had a life-changing experience (and I’ve met a lot of people who’ve been there as well as me) you’ll know as you get off life’s train and start a new day, it can be a very frustrating experience. It’s a time when you sink or swim. Become a victim or victor. Bleat or beat in fact…

The fool on the hill and I feel fine…

You’d be a fool of course to think that everything’s fine when it’s not and I’m guilty as charged when I say, ‘I’m fine’ when in fact I’m not and I’ve been struggling to find my ‘old’ self. The stupid thing is that the searching has been a futile waste of time as I’ll never find the ‘old’ me. Ever. So why am I still searching?

It must be down to my ‘Rose-Tinted-Rear-View-Mirrors’ – you know the ones you probably have too that make our life-histories look so perfect in hindsight, only it wasn’t, was it?

Don't look back cos you know what you might see…

I’m not sure it wasn’t, it’s just that we’re comfortable about the past. It’s a ‘known’. However, if you could go back, would you do it all again? What would you change? I’ve had some proper life-howlers along the way but tend to gloss over them with a thick coat of achievement in the hope it will cover my short-comings. Maybe you do too?

I think I know, but I don't know why…

You see, at heart, I’m still Superman. The guy that can do anything and is totally indestructible. If a body-part breaks, the procedure has always to assess, replace if necessary and carry on regardless. Why? Well because I think I know ‘better’ if I’m being honest. How wrong can one be?

The questions are the answers you might need…

The Answers are all you’ll ever need and the discovery and coming to terms with one’s own limitations is most liberating. I mean why kid yourself that you’re the third Brownlee Brother when you find it hard to squeeze your beer belly into an XXL wetsuit? Then again if you’re comfortably clocking sub-20’s at your local parkrun without needing oxygen at the finish – you need to change your levels of expectation. You already know the answers and all you need to do is to take a large breath and start living the dream.
 
No-one can give me the air that's mine to breathe…

And when you breathe, breathe in deeply. Breathe in some fresh-air and fresh thoughts about your future. No-one can do that for you, and be honest to yourself about your capabilities. I’m always wary of folk that say ‘No problem’ on being asked to complete a task, as normally it will become a huge one. However, if you are suffocating, there are always people to help you get back on your feet – all you need to do is to ask for help. I know, I’ve been there.


Get up off the floor and believe in life, no-one's ever gonna ever ask you twice…


In my experience people do ask twice or even more but eventually stop asking and with time it was down to me to get up off the floor and kick my own backside into gear.

Get on the bus…

Being a victim isn’t my style and although I wanted to return to ‘normality’ (whatever that was) I’ve realised that I’m now on a very different bus and taking a much different route in life. The journey is just as tough – but it’s different, with different expectations and a different destination.

It’s alright though, as I’m happy in the knowledge that I’m still making progress and making the most of what I still have as you never know when you’ll wake up one day and find your whole world has turned upside down.

It’s changing…

Right now, D'You Know What I Mean?

Rory Coleman - rory@colemancoaching.co.uk
1,004 Marathons - 245 Ultras - 14 Marathon des Sables - 9 Guinness World Records

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Chasin’ the Feeling - Biters


Biters are a relatively new American Rock Band to me and I particularly love this track from their paradoxically titled ‘The Future ain’t what it used to be’ album of May 2017. It was a late change for today’s blog as I was going to use U2’s Desire to highlight my thoughts about the passion that drives us on to greater things. However, the Drug references in the U2 lyrics didn’t really match my message and the Biters lyrics are far more positive IMO and as ‘Desire’ is all about Chasin’ a Feeling and I feel there’s enough logic in there to justify the link.

Anyway, back to the plot - and it’s been a very busy and most interesting week in ‘Coleman-Coaching-World’. You see, I’ve been finding folk increasingly more fascinating when I speak to them about their levels of ‘Desire’. You see ‘Desire’ comes in so many strengths. The synonyms highlight the fact beautifully. In its mildest of forms ‘Desire’ is a ‘Wish or a Want’. A ‘Thirst or Hunger’ if the ‘Desire’ is stronger but a proper ‘Desire’ if it’s a ‘Crave or an Ache’ – that’s the true ‘Desire’ that I like to see in the folk that I like to help.

'Come on!'

I’ve seen it manifest in many people’s attitude this week and it’s marvellous thing to witness as their goals become closer and small victories along the way are made. All marvellous stuff. However, it’s easy to shout about success but it’s the folk that start off with the best of intentions yet can’t stay true to their ‘Desire’ that I really want to help.  

'I keep looking for that one thing, to get me loose'.

I always ask folk what their goal is, it should of course be every Coach or Personal Trainer’s first question to their client. People’s level of ‘Desire’ determines the level of ‘Projection’ of fresh thought needed from me to help them stay true to their goal.

You see, I can’t project ‘Desire’, I can however ‘Project’, a mental upgrade offering a different personal operating system which simplifies how folks feel about how they live their lives and more importantly, how they see themselves. It’s the one BIG thing over the years I’ve found that sets folks free.

'Set me free'.

Having been in a similar situation myself and finding my way out of a situation that at the time seemed hopeless and suffocating, I understand how hard it can be for anyone experiencing their ’Point Zero’. Sadly, there isn’t a skeleton key to everyone’s heart and soul but there is one common denominator – People don’t realise just how lucky or how good they really are. They also spend far too much time over-thinking, procrastinating and analysing rather than ‘doing’ something to help them find the freedom and the creativity they ‘Desire’.

'I'm still chasin' the feeling'.

I’m surrounded by people who ‘say’ they want to achieve, yet most will spend their precious time and energy ‘Chasin’ the feeling rather than ‘Feelin’ the Feeling - or in fact ‘Livin’ the feeling – missing out forever on ‘Livin’ the dream. As that’s what we’re all chasin’ isn’t it?

'Climbin' the ceiling'.

The lyrics are so strong and continue, ‘I gotta get it before it's gone’ and if you’re like me, you’ll understand it when I say ‘I got the feeling in my bones’. I’ve had that feeling for as long as I can remember. A ‘Desire’ to be my best, to achieve the best I can and be the person that I’ve always known I could be.

One thing I’d ask you to consider is what are you going to do to satisfy your ‘Desire’ as your future depends on it but maybe you’ve ‘Never had a future to lose’… it’s worth a thought isn’t it?

'Come on!'

Rory Coleman rory@colemancoaching.co.uk
1,004 Marathons - 245 Ultras - 14 Marathon des Sables - 9 Guinness World Records

Monday, 20 November 2017

Let in the Sun - Take That!

Barlow, Michelsen, Owen, Donald, Lowe, Erfjord & Go

Taken from Take That’s seventh studio album ‘III’, this is one of my all-time favourite Take That singles and interestingly features only three of the original band members – Minus Robbie Williams and Jason Orange, they were just as good if not better in my opinion.

It was my ‘Event Anthem’ at this year’s Marathon des Sables and I drew a lot of inspiration and strength from the music and words, which I expect would be down to Gary Barlow, more than any of the others credited. I say I drew ‘inspiration’ from the song although I wouldn’t say that I’m necessarily someone that needs something ‘inspirational’ to give me the drive to undertake any kind of challenge or achieve anything that might be considered extreme.

The song simply fitted my mood and my thoughts at the time and heightened my senses both during each stage and post run on reflection, later in the day if I’m being honest. I mean, if you can’t ‘Let in the Sun’ at the top of a 1000-metre high Jebel that you’ve just climbed in +50°C that months earlier you’d thought you’d never see again, let alone summit – well, I’m sure you’d have a moment too… and ‘Let your Sun in’.

Anyway, it’s ‘Inspiration’ that I’m interested in blogging about today as I’ve seen it said that,

‘If you are searching for that one person that will change your life, take a look in the mirror’.

It’s a statement I’d agree with whole-heartedly as I believe that everyone can be their own ‘Elite’ self and yet for a lot of the folk that I coach, ‘Self-Belief’ seems to elude them, when in reality, it’s an ‘Instant-Win-Lottery-Ticket’ for greater achievements and greater self-happiness.

One of my favourite analogies in ‘Self-Belief’ is about matching one’s ‘Ambition to Ability’. You’d be amazed at how many new runners want to take on some of the world’s toughest running races based on very little experience and low levels of endurance and speed fitness. I liken it to buying an electric guitar, taking a few lessons and then wanting to headline at Glastonbury, OUCH. For the Marathon des Sables Warrior, it must be remembered that the MdS has very generous cut-off times and is therefore achievable by most whereas multi-day road running, the Grand Union Canal Race, Spartathlon or UTMB are there for a more experienced and hardened athlete to attempt. I say attempt as the failure rate speaks for itself on these races and as you know, for me and my clients’ failure isn’t an option.

Going up a gear? And if that’s your goal well,

‘In the darkness, you must enter the code and crack the combination all on your own’

You’ll need time, dedication and sheer hard work as that’s what’s needed to get to the level of being a winning ‘Bombproof Endurance Athlete’. It’s something that folk need to desire more than anything else in life. It’s something as a Coach that’s impossible to ‘Project’. Sure, huge amounts of ‘Ambition’ are required but also an inner desire and will to win at all costs is needed. Beating the ‘Failure Enablers’, ‘Energy Vampires’ is one thing but the biggest challenge is possibly the voice from within that naggingly doubts success.

With this in mind,

‘Pick yourself up and search for the light, hungry for a new start’

As sure as the Sun rises each morning, every day is a good day to kick-start the rest of your life. Even in the darkest of nights, a new dawn heralds a day full of exciting possibilities. Sometimes it’s hard to take on board exactly what those possibilities are or what they could be but starting though is the important part rather than continued hesitation, procrastination and pre-match-analysis.

‘It's your chance now to stand up and fight, take the next step now a day at a time’

I’ve always lived life one day at a time and compartmentalised life. I use the same simplicity in the race strategies and in the 12-week training plans that I write for folk. Worrying about what lies ahead in the 23rd mile of a marathon when you are still only in the 5th is a sure way to undermine any race performance and why worry about what lies ahead in week 10 of a 12-week plan when all that’s needed is to complete the day’s tasks you’ve been set?

When you reach that point,

‘Leaving all that once what was holding you back, want you to see the sun rise as fast as you can’

And when you do, leave the old you as far behind as you possibly can. I always say about my 8hrs 55mins at the London-to-Brighton, 55 Mile Road Race that the time was good for a ‘Fat Guy that used to smoke and drink a lot but in real terms, it was a great time for anyone full stop. For any obese person that can slim down to their own natural body-weight and trains as an elite athlete, there shouldn’t be limitations, only expectations. And high-expectations at that.

So, from now on,

‘Feel the air and breathe it in, feel the warmth upon your skin’

And start being the true ‘Inspiration’ that’s been missing from your world, right now. Even in these dark days of Winter, let in the Sun and light up the rest of your 2017 and 2018.

Take That!

Rory Coleman rory@rorycoleman.co.uk
1,004 Marathons - 245 Ultras - 14 Marathon des Sables - 9 Guinness World Records

Location: Cardiff, Wales

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

More than a Feeling - Boston

Lyrics:- 'When I'm tired and thinking cold' - Scholz

Lady Coleman predicted that I'd feel a bit down after the weekend's Druid Challenge ULTRA-marathon on the ancient Ridgeway National Trail. For the uninitiated, it's an 84-mile trail-running ultra over staged over three-days, with daily distances of 29.4, 26.2 and 28.4 miles, where incidentally I'd won the Over-50 Category back in 2013. It's no wonder that I felt that way though, as posGuillain-BarrĂ© syndrome (GBS), I'm now only able to walk/jog two of the stages without causing myself a week of sleep and recovery and my times for the two days is now more than my overall time  in 2013.

I mean, I've got my pride - but then again after 1,004 marathons what have I got to prove, eh?

Well, I needed to give myself a much needed kick up the backside and a reality check so I looked back at my thoughts post Druid 2016 and into 2017. These make up 'Chapter 6' of my next book. I only did one day at the race last ear and it's interesting to see how I was thinking and how far I've covered so far in the 'GBS' Ultra.

CHAPTER 6

January 5th was a big day for me, as it always is. And 2017 meant I was 23 years old; 23 years since I stopped drinking and went for that first run. That day still means a lot. And on this occasion, I'd been running dry for 8,401 days. Now when I see drunk people I think, ‘Yikes, I must have been like that, but worse!’ I think I did enough drinking in a ten-year period to last me a lifetime.

But the need to drink is just not there for me anymore. I'll go all the way through a Christmas and New Year period and not feel anything for it at all. It's been so long since I've had a drink that it's not even part of my life any more. I do have an app on my iPhone where it clicks over and adds a day every morning to tally up the number of days I’ve been sober which feels fantastic and very self-righteous.

Meanwhile, I was feeling elated by the fact that I'd just clocked up another marathon, my first road marathon in my running comeback. This one had been in Dymchurch, on the 3rd December, down on the south coast near Hastings. It's organised by my friend Traviss Wilcox, another self-confessed Marathon junkie, and it follows a traffic-free, sea wall route using three flat laps. It’s a great marathon so that people like myself who are clocking up hundreds of marathons can get another one in, without the too much trouble for the Race Organisers coping with large numbers of runners, chcckpoints and road closures etc. The Dymchurch Marathon, you could say, was very much a low-key kind of event with Marathons on both days of the weekend.

In preparation, we packed the car, rounded up the children and I ran on the Saturday, while Jenny ran on Sunday. It was bloody cold out there, but really rewarding. I ran every single minute of my rather extended time of 6 hours and 50 minutes. And contrary to our expectations, even my wife who's a very competent runner said that it was one of the hardest marathons she’d ever done. I came last by the way.

But it didn't matter. I was now off the prednisolone tablets. I was in the Dymchurch marathon. And by the end of it, I’d clocked to my 980th marathon. It was a big thing for me, especially getting off the drugs, even though no one knew what the side-effects of going cold-turkey might be, if any. You see, you try to make sense of what the Doctors say and then what the Internet tells you, but it's all so contradictory that it's hard to know what’s true and what isn’t.

Therefore, I'd decided to disassociate myself from those kinds of forums and advice websites. Reading uncertain people complain about how bad their lives were made me feel like I was drinking liquid kryptonite. I also didn't want to read about their conditions and subconsciously assume their character traits. I felt they were victims – I’m a survivor.

It's a completely self-induced mind set. But you need to be strong. It's so easy to give in. I know. I had a couple of days where I thought, ‘Wow, this is hard – give me some drugs…’ and when you add in the concerns you get from the doctor's about how not taking the steroids they've prescribed could kill you, it really gets you down. They said, ‘The steroids have helped make you stronger at the price of overriding your adrenal glands ability to produce adrenalin. If you stop taking them suddenly, you’ll die’. I'd been taking 60mg one day and then none the next in a bid to kick them and I thought, well I'm not dying on these alternate zero days, so maybe it's not as life-endangering as it appears.

What's more this drug only works in your system for a few hours. And after four weeks of taking it, your body gets used to it so it's not as effective as it was in the first place anyway. And then you're hooked on it, like an athlete drug addict, which is something I didn't want to be. So I gradually began reducing the amount I'd have to take further and further down to the point where I took my very final dose the day before the Dymchurch. And then that was it – I was off them for good.

Not that I told anyone.

I just did it privately on my own for ten days. I even kept it from Jenny, who went berserk when I told her what I'd done because she thought I'd taken a risk with my life. But I felt it was something I just needed to do for myself, in private, without any fuss. My main thought was that I didn't want anyone to correlate my behaviour with my cessation of the drugs. If I was acting tired I didn't want to be told it was because I'd stopped taking the drugs. I just wanted to get on with it.

Ironically, Jenny said to me during that period, ‘Your walking seems to be getting much better. And you seem much more with it’. I thought: ‘Hmm, that's interesting, seeing as I'm not even on the bloody drugs anymore!’

We had insider info too as Jenny’s Mother had also been on the drug for some time, however when she reduced her dose, even by 1mg, she really felt it which didn’t help my cause much. I worked out that it was going to take about 18 months to detox, when in fact the Rory-Way took me 18 days. The truth be told, I thought that everything I read about prednisone was BS really and yes, by 3pm each day I'd have what felt like chronic fatigue syndrome but luckily the running I was doing produced some natural adrenaline that it helped me– who knows.

Another thing that galvanised me was the consultant who was overseeing my treatment. He said I'd be on it well into 2017, and had explained it’s side effects like massive weight gain. I went to see him on December 19th and when I walked into his office and he asked me how I was getting on with the drug, I said, ‘Great thanks, I've been off it for a couple of weeks!’ He wasn't surprised, he just said. ‘I’m not surprised, you're a risk-taker.’

He then checked me over to see how my physical strength was – toe up, toe down, and all that. And then he said I was fine if I didn't want to attend a follow-up appointment three months down the line as I was basically fine.

That said, coming off the prednisolone had taken its toll and by Christmas I was knackered. However, I got through it. The key point for me is that no doctor I met had experienced GBS for themselves and how it felt to be completely fucked. So really, I became the expert – as I was the one who was ‘living’ with it and having to find a way out. I was the one living and breathing the condition. I didn't need a medical crutch and I certainly didn't need an emotional one.

Every Christmas we go and see Jen’s parents. They live on the side of Caerphilly Mountain in a large house, which our kids love to run around in. Her Father Mike, is an amazing host and cooks a Christmas dinner to die for. But after you've eaten it you think, I better go for a run to burn it off. Running 20-minute miles, I was being overtaken by people out for an afternoon walk.

My performance was just pitiful.

I'd run to the bottom of the mountain, feeling broken and then head back up to Jen’s parents’ home… The level of de-motivation I started feeling was now extreme. I just thought, I could walk faster than I was running. Why was I even bothering? I was running so slowly that I looked like I was running in slow motion. People were looking at me, thinking, ‘What the hell is that guy doing?’ By the time, I got back to Jen’s parents, I was just sat there, completely wiped out.

Jen saw that and said, ‘You need to realise how far you've come. You were only in hospital three months ago’. She woke me up out of my slumber. She was right. I had come a long way. My expectations were way too high and it was distorting the truth in my own mind. She was right.

In my pursuit to be the best at long distance running in terms of clocking up more marathons than anyone else, I'm often so focused on the horizon that I cross the line of a marathon and think, when's the next one? And not being able to run up that hill was a reality check. It was life's way of telling me: this is going to be a long journey and you're back to being a novice runner again. Accept it and in fact celebrate the idea that you're even able to get a 271-meter high mountain under your belt today once you've run to the top of it. And when you put it into context like that, it all becomes a lot healthier as a perspective. It's a growth mindset instead of a defeatist one.

I didn't come to terms with this new perspective until about two weeks later even though had a great run the next day. That's just typical of life, isn't it?

I wanted to get that mountain conquered no matter how slow I took it because they in a hundred days’ time I was to run the MDS again, and I needed to gauge my fitness. Running at 20-minute miles I’d be timed out. And that would be a disaster. I'm a proud starter-finisher and to be pulled out of a race would be everything I'm against. I don't give in, I don't give up – and I don't get pulled out of races for being incompetent so that was playing on my mind.

I went for a run a couple of weeks later though – on January 5th – and I felt in that moment like a runner again. It felt brilliant. The constant switching between feelings of feeling great and then knackered had really grated but they were now going. I was now running 10-minute miles instead of the 15-and-16-minute miles and my 5k was down to 33 minutes. My progress felt like quantum leaps, but still I wondered whether my body would be able to complete the MDS, which is what I wanted to do.

That's one of the things that having GBS reinforced within me. I don't tolerate people's quitting and whining anymore, even less that I used to. People always quit and it drives me crazy. If you're feeling it, work around it. My legs were now weak for example, so I began strength training my legs with a strength coach. Working around the problem and not giving up has always been my mantra.

The only difference now compared to before is that I'm more open to new suggestions that might speed up my progression with my health. Meanwhile when people would ask me how tired not being on the prednisolone made me, it was hard to tell. I still had a bit of mental fog going on. I'd not quite be able to remember things like I used to. The files were there in my head but they weren't instantly retainable like they used to be. I'd be giving talks where I’d normally tend to speak off-the-cuff instead of reading from a script but I didn't quite feel 100%. No one would notice, and my mental delay would only be for a nanosecond. But still, my world was foggy

Online I'd watch videos of people who'd had GBS and one was of a lady who was said to be back to herself and dancing. But as she was dancing, you'd see her drop foot and her knees hyperextend, and I'd wondered how long my recovery would take. I heard it takes about three years for your full memory to come back, and that was also a bit of a concerning.

Against that backdrop I was now thinking, wow, I'm nearly 55 years old, what am I going to do for the next 10 years of my professional life, from now until 65, when I effectively retire? You can only be the guy who’s run the MDS countless times and tell people what rucksack to take to the race for so long, so it was time to evolve.

And my thinking was, what's the next step? Did I want to become a full-time councillor, because effectively that’s what I'd become. But is this what I wanted to do for the next, and final, decade of my career?

2016 had been a test. It had been bloody difficult. But on the plus side, my change in circumstances had forced me to ask some very honest questions of myself. I'll tell you something else I learnt about myself is that you need to be aggressive in the pursuit of your goals, but you also need a plan. It's all very well going into a boxing ring throwing haymakers, but the haymakers never win fights. You can't rage against your situation with blind fury and unless you have a plan, you're screwed.

I went from wheelchair, to crutches, to walking –closing those airtight doors behind me, never looking back. I wanted my previous experiences to be locked in firmly behind me, just like I did 23 years earlier, when I went on my first run. To that end, I continued to run at 5pm every day. It was a routine I loved.

Plus, I also continued to line up the marathons as I headed towards my 1000th marathon. As the prednisolone began leaving my system, it did weaken my spirit at times, making me wonder things I never would have previously, and sometimes it would make me think, Rory, you're on your own with this condition, even if Jenny was always there for me. It was my condition to overcome. And it was like kryptonite, but I wouldn't let it win.

What made things tougher was that I was running times no faster than I was back in 1994, when I'd only just started running. I'd also recover very slowly. I'd run a fast three miles one day and then the next day feel like I'd just run 145 miles down the Grand Union canal, which concerned me. How could I be recovering so slowly? The level of fatigue and soreness I’d feel after running really surprised me.

Yet I'm still someone who believes he can do anything, all it takes is mental conviction. I have clients for example who say, ‘I don't know if I'm going to be able to finish the MDS.’ But of course, they will and do. I also know loads of people who go to the MDS and get absolutely obliterated because they run too hard. They don't look after themselves. They don't pace themselves. They fall apart horribly in the desert. I'm lucky in that experience has taught me how to pace and look after myself. That's why I'm rarely ill other than when I'm hit with a big and unavoidable syndrome like GBS.

And for me, that was one of the emerging lessons of GBS: you need to get tougher when things get tough. And not get sidetracked with all the small things that pretend they're emergencies. For example, as I write this chapter, my son Jack is crayoning on my 4k lounge TV. He's loving drawing over the Charlie and Lola cartoon that’s on.

It’s ok though as I’ll wipe it off when he’s finished. When you've had an experience like mine and you are building your ‘Personal Momentum’, it puts everything else in perspective.

So there you go - Backside firmly kicked and a new direction in place. Even when things seem black, they are probably less black than they used to be and the dim light at the end of the tunnel will continue getting brighter the further you go.

The thing is not to give in and stop! And when you are tired - it's time to turn up the heat :-)

Amen.

Rory Coleman rory@rorycoleman.co.uk
1,004 Marathons - 245 Ultras - 14 Marathon des Sables - 9 Guinness World Records
Location: Cardiff, Wales