Thursday, 21 September 2017

Crisis, What Crisis?

‘Crisis? What Crisis?’ was an LP released in 1975 by the Rock Band, Supertramp (a very under-rated Group IMO) and it’s a great album, with a title I’ve always loved. Sadly, Supertramp are no more but the album remains as a record of their existence – I’ve always thought it should have been called ‘Crisis? What-Mid-Life Crisis?’ as it would then have been a perfect anthem not only for myself, but for many of the folk that enter my world.

Speaking as the original ‘Mid-Life-Crisis’ Man – my first one (and I’ve had a few) was way back in 1993 at the relatively early age of 31. It proved to be more than a mega-kick up the backside and became a completely life-changing process. You can read about it in detail in my book if you want to know the full story...

Anyway, now I’m 55, I can safely say that as I passed my 40th and 50th Birthday’s, I went through a similar process and although it shaped my future, at the time it got me looking at life in the rear-view mirror, reflecting.

Leading up to any BIG Birthday, especially your 40th, it’s virtually impossible not to look back on the 20 years’ since you were 20. A mere click of the fingers most will agree and it’s a regular topic of my working day, as I meet lots of 40-ish folk in ‘Mid-Life-Crisis’ mode hoping that running the ‘Marathon des Sables’ will help them discover who they really are, and what the world around them is really all about. I know how that feels and luckily it worked for me in 1999, for the better I believe.

It does for lots of the folk I coach but with varying degrees of sustainability I hasten to add. You see, at the time, it’s amazing to see the transformation that the desert brings about in folks. However watching the steady ‘return to type’ as the extreme experience and goodwill is erased once everyday reality is again normality, is a shame. 

A real shame it’s not an everlasting change, that’s how I see it. 

It’s a weird process to experience and on my return from the 1999 MdS, I had what I now call ‘Post Traumatic Race Disorder’. If you are a recent MdS Vet, you’ll know what I mean - We just kept those kinda feelings to ourselves back then and just ‘Toughened up Buttercup’ and soldiered on. Broadcasting one’s inner-feelings and weaknesses and on a Social Media Soapbox, well that would have been HUGE ‘NO-NO’. 

Showing signs of weakness - Well that's weak.

Yet in the years since and I’ve broadcasted a lot about my own feelings and thoughts especially in the lead up to my 1000thMarathon this Sunday at the Robin Hood Marathon in Nottingham. And just like my 31st, 40th and 50th Birthdays it’s of course had me looking at the past 23 years’ in my rear-view mirror. For sure it will be a day of celebration as I’ll be running this marathon surrounded by my family and my friends but it will also be a day of closure – the completion of an ethereal 1000-Piece Marathon Jigsaw.
“What will you do when you reach the magic 1000?” That’s the question that everyone’s been asking me and my reply has been a very simple, “Well I’m going to carry on, as this is what I do and it’s what makes me – ME.” To be honest, I’m not sure what I’m meant to say about it but that’s the best I can offer so far, it's just another marathon isn't it? In reality, I’m past the 1000 and on with other life-aspirations and life-goals. Being stuck on 976 for so long last year was a real killer.

Hopefully on reading this, and if you know me well, you’ll get that… 

You’ll get me, where I’m coming from and understand where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing all these years running 29,267.1 miles in marathon bite-sized chunks. Not necessarily physically but mentally. Someone recently described me as Durable and Enduring – it’s a fair assumption of my character and as I pass this marathon milestone, I think it’s important to convey what I’ve learned about myself over the years of running 26.2 miles or more every 8.35 days.

The BIG thing is I’ve learned is an inner calm and self-acceptance, especially following last year’s Guillain-BarrĂ© Syndrome escapade and I am fully aware that my running has been the most self-indulgent thing I could have possibly have done, in fact it’s been extremely self-indulgent and in some areas of my life, I’ve paid dearly. However, for it to be my therapy, it was the only way I could see of getting me through. I simply just wouldn’t still be here and it wouldn’t have been such a successful form of self-management and self-development if I hadn’t been so black or white without a single shade of grey (let alone 50 of them!) about the way I've conducted myself.

You see, when I left most of my life behind to sort out the mess I’d made and started running, folk thought I’d flipped. They did for a long time but as I started to succeed, made my mark, complete bigger challenges and stuck to my new life-resolutions folk noticed. It was such a liberating and positive experience. Projecting that positivity to others, has proven to be the real bonus and an unforeseen gift from my marathon experiences, especially from the mega-day pilgrimages. I now use this as the main theme in my daily Coaching Practice. Thank heavens for the internet as I now have a steady stream of daily emails and Facebook messages from folk wanting to know how to go about going through the same process of change and take the same radical paths I chose to take. It’s humbling that folk invite me into their inner worlds and let me help them regain control again. I love fixing people - being broken myself many times really helps.

It’s weird to have ended up being a teacher as I’d never set out to be one, or run a marathon, let alone 1000 of them. All I knew was that I needed to change and the moment I ran those first few steps, I knew I’d found my therapy and my salvation. It’s something I’ll consider over the last few miles on Sunday as I reflect on the journey so far and will again no doubt in five-years-time when I’m 60 and ready for another ‘Crisis? What-Mid-Life Crisis?’ and take time out again to write to you about my experience all over again. So beware.

The Marathon count isn’t the important thing here, it’s been about me being happy with me and that’s what counts. Any achievement along the way has just a bonus and a bi-product of running 26.2 miles or more 999 times, so I’ve been lucky there too.

Changing and taking the plunge? 

Well, it’s not scary. It's not. I found it to be an exhilarating, mind expanding journey that I can whole-heartedly recommend. "It’s always better to regret something you’ve done rather than something you haven’t", it’s one of my favourite mottoes and I’ve quoted it to many clients and to myself a thousand times over.

So, if you are teetering on the edge of the ‘Precipice of Change’, as I was all those marathons ago - pick a date, set yourself a goal (even one of jogging just 100 steps) and see where it takes you. You never know where it might lead, which is the exciting part and if you need some help to release you from your current nightmare or in need of a push to achieve a personal goal, PB or life-dream, then I’m your man.

Happy days...

Rory Coleman
999 Marathons - 244 Ultras - 14 Marathon des Sables - 9 Guinness World Records
1  Hell of a Journey
Location: Cardiff, Wales.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Stepnell are Awesome - It’s Official

#A2A Stepnell before their London Challenge
Our Average2Awesome Programme is now in its eighth generation and has once again proved its worth with its latest set of candidates from Stepnell Ltd, a building and construction company whose head office is in Rugby.

I met Joint Managing Director, Tom Wakeford, whilst running the 2017 Marathon des Sables. We ran the marathon stage together and shared our thoughts on business, health and well-being in the workplace, staff development and the process of adapting to change.

Stepnell is a company in the process of change, so Tom decided to test out our A2A Programme on 12 members of staff based in and around their Rugby office. Following an inspirational talk in June, 12 candidates were chosen from across the business, none of whom were dedicated keep-fit fanatics or marathon runners. They were just people keen to see if they could achieve more with their time and gain from being coached by someone from outside the business in an area where their comfort-zone would be severely tested.

Since the talk they have attended a number of sessions - at the gym learning the most efficient way to train, at a running store getting fitted properly for training shoes and up and down a hill being pushed in an interval training session. In three months they have clocked a cumulative total of six million steps and lost over 80kg. They have vowed to continue with their new daily fitness routine and insure a return on the investment the business has made putting them through the A2A Programme.


The visual difference is clear to see and we are planning some continued evaluation over the next few months to see the fruition of the 'Anything is Possible' approach we've projected into the group these past few months.


We've learned a lot too, and as we head into the ninth generation of A2A, this time with Stepnell's Poole office, we will again be searching for 12 people who want to be more dynamic in the workplace and lead a healthier, happier and more rewarding life both in and out of work.

Average2Awesome does all of that and more, and based on the feedback we've received again this time around our A2A Programme is going from strength to strength. It might work for you and your team at the company where you work too, so please drop me an email so we can evaluate your needs and make you Awesome.

Rory Coleman - 999 Marathons - 244 Ultras
14 Marathon des Sables - 9 Guinness World Records
Location: Cardiff, Wales.

Marathon des Sables - Six Months to go, Countdown

Over the years, the Marathon des Sables has become a clear ‘must-do event’ on many people’s bucket list since its first edition, way back in 1986. Since then nearly 20,000 people have discovered the limits of ‘Human Endurance’ during the World’s Toughest Footrace in the Western Sahara, myself included.

Even though I’ve run the MdS fourteen times, more than any other UK competitor, I was a comparatively a late starter to the 150-mile multi-day, multi-staged event - my first MdS was in fact the 14th Edition of the race in 1999. I was however an established marathon and ultra-marathon runner by then and the 45-mile ‘long-day’ that year was actually my 29th Ultra and 152nd lifetime Marathon.
The 22nd MdS in 2007 - My 4th MdS
To enter the race, you simply rang the UK MdS agent at the time and paid over the phone by card – I won’t depress you with how cheap it was and you received a nice glossy folder which had a simple A4 document inside that listed the compulsory equipment, highlighted using P20 sun-cream and some advice on undertaking long treks in training as good foot preparation accompanied in trainers two-sizes too big to avoid the dreaded blisters.

You see, back then there was no internet, reference books, blogs and or anyone to contact that had completed the race. I went into the race blind but luckily, I went my fitness levels were at an all-time peak. I carried far too much gear though and my pack weighed at least 11kgs. It didn’t stop me from enjoying the whole ‘MdS Experience’ and there is something to be said for making do with whatever you take with you. I can only liken it to going to climb Mount Everest, without any previous climbing experience and buying all of the essential gear you’ll need from your local Outdoors Outlet.

For the record, if I were going to attempt to summit Everest, I’d first speak to a good friend of mine who did just that last year to get a flavour of what he went through, but then I’d be contact with Kenton Cool, (Mr Everest) who’s been there twelve times and has never failed, as he's the REAL Everest Expert.

His lifetime expertise would play a vital part in anyone’s preparation, especially if they were trying to fast-track their progress from an enthusiastic beginner to extreme adventurer. The MdS is no different and has claimed two lives during its 32-year history and for safety and race enjoyments sake, it’s only sensible to take on board advice from someone that’s already paid the price emotionally and physically for what you are undertaking.

My biggest piece of advice to anyone attempting the MdS is to remember that it’s NOT a marathon or even an ULTRA-marathon. It’s a self-sufficiency race. Race Director Patrick Bauer, will tell you that many times during the eleven days you’ll spend in the desert amongst a lot of other things. Most folk that sign up are quite capable of running a sub-30 minute parkrun, a sub-two-hour-half or even a sub-four-hour-marathon yet it’s surprising just how many struggle with coming to terms with the investment that’s needed not in monetary terms but in TIME to get ready for a week in the sand.

The races wicked twist is that as your fatigue and blisters grow, so do the daily distances. It’s taken me years to find a tried and tested way of reducing the amount of foot trauma and I’ve been blister-free since 2008 myself.

There’s no magic potion, lotion or voodoo that will stop blisters, they’re caused by a combination of shoes, socks and gaiters, heat, friction, moisture as well as too much time spent on your feet completing each stage. It’s interesting that every kilo carried on the marathon stage for instance, adds roughly 25 minutes to your average road-marathon time and running a marathon in the sand will take around 40,000 steps rather than 65,000 if it’s walked. Getting fit and fast has always been one of my key points in preparing people for the race.

The attraction of the Marathon des Sables is simple. It’s you versus yourself in one of the most beautiful, yet hostile places on earth. It will take some competitors well past their limits and some of the distress I witness each year could be easily avoided with better preparation.
The 26th MdS in 2011 - My 8th MdS

Well, that’s where I come in and I’ve coached well over 1000 people get the coveted MdS Medal and tick off another item off their ‘Bucket-List’. If you are still wondering how you are going to prepare yourself for the race, there’s still 200 days to get yourself in the best possible shape. There’s also a complete spectrum of conflicting online opinions, kit advice and blogs to sift through and blow significant amounts of hard earned cash discovering what’s already been discovered and been already race-tested.

Going to the MdS, knowing you’ve prepared as best as you possibly can, makes for a much better race experience and will put your families mind at rest whilst you are taking part.

If you don't know where to start, please call me on 07866 477051 so I can share all my MdS experience with you and help make your whole MdS a lot more enjoyable.

Rory Coleman - 999 Marathons - 244 Ultras
14 Marathon des Sables - 9 Guinness World Records
Location: Cardiff, Wales.

Dan Mullin - 40kgs loss - Six Monthly Review


What do you say to someone that’s visibly shocked that they weigh 131kgs, when they are stood on the scales at the start of your first session together? It’s a tough call for any Coach, especially when you’ve known that person for the best part of ten years – it proved to be a pivotal moment at the start of the six months that I’ve been working with Daniel Mullin.

Dan says – ‘I hadn't weighed myself for years, and I didn't know the true extent of what I had done to myself.’

I simply said ‘Yep, it’s official Dan, you’re obese’. It’s what he needed to hear and I wasn’t me being cruel, he needed to hear those words to understand just how close he was to the point of no return. I did follow up with ‘Well, one good thing is that it’ll never be that bad again’ and following our initial, telephone call which was very open - I already had a good idea of how to push Dan’s buttons and enable him to regain control of his life.

Dan says - ‘I knew of Rory's ability to motivate and I was aware of his straight-talking approach and knew that’s what I needed to have the optimum chance of lasting success. I came along to the Aspire Fitness Gym to meet Rory on March 1st, because it felt like the right day to make a new start.’

Before you start thinking that I’m wanting to take all the credit for the headline, I’d like to point out that it’s Dan that’s done all the hard work in losing all this weight not me. I’ve just been the facilitator of his extreme weight-loss journey and have been there supporting him daily using my experience, email, messenger and texts to keep him on track, especially when at times it was hard for him to stick to the new life-rules I’d given him to follow.

Working intensely one-to-one like this is part of my Coaching business that I enjoy and am constantly developing. Working with Dan has proved to be a perfect challenge for my coaching techniques and the values I’ve encouraged him to adopt as part of his daily routine.

For the record, Dan’s 43. He’s a Violinist in the BBC Concert Orchestra and a very clever chap. To get to his level of musicianship has taken years, and I mean years of practice and dedication. He a perfect example of the Malcolm Campbell 10,000 hours to become an expert in their specific field theory.

Having known him for some time, I knew this was an ability that I could exploit for his own benefit but the new ‘Dan’ wouldn’t need to know all the minutiae of everything we would encounter along our journey as that was one area of his ’new’ character he agreed, he needed to let go.

That first session in the gym showed me his commitment. He meant it when he said he wanted to change and do whatever it would take to make it happen. Physically, he was strong from lugging the 131kgs around 24hrs a day but he was so overweight, it was impossible and dangerous to do any real fitness assessment at all that day. All we could do was to set out a new diet, a daily walking schedule of at least 15,000 steps with a ‘Karate Kid’ style ‘Wax-on-wax-off’ no questions asked approach to what I was asking him to do.

Dan says – ‘I remember wondering how on earth I was going to find time to clock 15000 steps and even worse how was I possibly going to cope with his special diet. It's the comfort of the ‘On tap and round-the-clock’, support that I have thrived on.'

In fairness, he’s done just that – followed the plan to the letter and faced up to the demons that made him so unhappy that he was gradually eating himself to an early grave. The results speak for themselves and losing 40kgs in six months without surgery and using only diet and a daily step-count is remarkable. It will hopefully deliver Dan sustainability too - I already know he’ll never be 131kgs ever again. My aim is for him to maintain a more balanced 86kgs lifestyle and enjoy watching his children grow up, break 4 hours for a marathon and even see his believed Manchester City buy another Premiership Title. He’s got less than 10kgs to go now to reach his goal so I’ll keep you posted with his progress.

Dan says – ‘My relationship with Rory is based on mutual respect and trust, he’s known when to comfort and when to give me a push. He has never been hurtful or gratuitously unkind - he's said some tough things to hear, but only when they have been merited and always to serve a purpose.’
'
Seriously it’s been a really rewarding and very intimate process to be part of. I believe I’ve learned a lot from Dan’s journey that I can share to other’s in a similar situation and it’s proved that my Coaching ideals for Athletic Performance transfer nicely into the Extreme Weight-Loss arena too.


Dan says – ‘I've had so much more energy for my kids. I'm mentally much more at ease with the world and the things that bothered me so much seem less important. My transformation has been incredible and being able to buy off-the-peg clothes and to have a much wider choice, is better than any food or drinks I've ever had’.

‘Many people at work have been very supportive and I've had plenty of incredibly nice compliments. The immediate future is to lose the final few pounds to complete the ‘100lbs' weight-loss and then to begin the process of maintaining a weight of around 86kgs. I intend to use Rory as my coach for some considerable time as I feel I need  accountability to keep me on track. After that, I will continue on life's journey as a truly reformed character and significantly happier than when the journey began back on March 1st’.

If you are looking to change your behavioural process and believe I can help you, please contact me on 07866 477051.

Like Dan, the call could change your life as well.

Rory Coleman - 999 Marathons - 23 Years' Alcohol Free

Location: Cardiff, Wales.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Truth is a Beautiful Thing – London Grammar

May the Best (Church Mix)
Lyrics:- ‘May the best of you ring true, may the best of me be enough to keep you’

They say, ‘Truth Hurts’… and when I ‘Googled’ - ‘Sayings about Truth’, I found out that some very wise sages had written some snappy one liners that might be worth taking on board for us both today.

How about ‘Three things cannot be long hidden, the Sun, the Moon and the Truth’ – Budda, or ‘Never apologise for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologise for the Truth’ – Benjamin Disraeli or my favourite, ‘Truth is everybody is going to hurt you. You just have to find the ones worth suffering for’ – Bob Marley.

The Truth is a real bugger ain’t it? 

Let’s face it, no one likes deception and when the chips are down, all we want to know are the hard facts, ‘The REAL Truth’ – BS Free in one simple to understand sentence. I know when I was ill last year with Guillian-Barre Syndrome, all I wanted to know was the Truth to the one simple question, the one that anyone that’s paralysed wants to know – ‘Will I ever walk again?’ I didn’t want to know how I’d go about it, I just wanted a simple clearly defined answer. A simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. The ‘We don’t know’, I can’t say either way right now’, replies were possibly more annoying than being wheelchair bound at the time if I’m being honest. And yes, I know the Doctors didn’t want to raise my expectations but it didn’t act as a guiding light out of a very dark tunnel.

I believe being clear with folk, that’s being ‘Truthful’ and not ‘Brutal’ (Although sometimes folk see it that way) is vital, especially when it comes to people’s ‘Appetite versus Ability’. I'm always clear in where I see people's predicaments and saying how it is. You see in my book, once the Truth has been explored, there comes ‘Hope’ and ‘Direction’.

Anything is possible - I’ve proved that over the years. So here's my quote to add to the above...

‘You just need to be True to YOURSELF, as YOU are the person YOU deceive the most’ – Rory Coleman

It applies to me for sure and in my case, I did just that and hid from the Truth about my GBS Predicament for a month before I faced up to the hard facts that I was very firmly in the S H 1 T. However, once I’d explored where I was, I found a glimmer of ‘Hope’ and ‘Direction’ and learned a very valuable life-lesson that being a ‘Head-in-the-Sand-it’ll-turn-out-alright-kinda-guy’ wasn’t going to cut Coleman’s Mustard out of the GBS nightmare. 

Facing up to The Truth did...

Twelve months on and I’ll be honest and say that I’m still coming to terms with the Truth that I’ll never be the person that I was before. Whether I need to be is another question and I hope I'm a different, better person now. Better in mind than in body perhaps but happy to look in the mirror and see the Truth looking back at me.

It’s very much work in progress and a journey that will take a lifetime to complete but it’s one that I feel I’m well on my way with and it’s one that you might consider taking yourself rather sooner than later as there’s nothing better than knowing the Truth is there?

It's something that after 12 weeks, I hope our #Average2Awesome Guys from Stepnell have discovered and that you will too.

Amen.

Rory Coleman - 999 Marathons - 244 Ultras - 14 Marathon des Sables
9 Guinness World Records - 8,645 Days' Alcohol Free - 493 Days' post GBS
Location: Cardiff, Wales.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Peasants, Pigs & Astronauts - Kula Shaker

Skip to the beat? - Well more Skip really...
'I hear the sound of drums on a melody, calling me to return, Well light up and catch the sun, 'cause it’s gonna be revolution for fun' - Bevan, Darlington, Mills, & Winter-Hart

Peasants, Pigs & Astronauts is the second album by the British indie and psychedelic rock band Kula Shaker. Take a listen here). They were good for a couple of albums in my opinion and I found them very refreshing at the time but their style perhaps limited their output perhaps. It’s one of the albums I’ve enjoyed listening to along my 23 year marathon journey and yet back in 1999, I couldn't have listened to it whilst running as the MP3 player had yet to be released to the masses and Portable CD Players skipped and wore batteries out at an alarming rate.

It must have been a few years later as it wasn’t until 2001 that the MP3 player hit the market and it was only 2003 when I really started to use a Sony Walkman MP3 Player, after using the short-lived Sony 'Mini-Disc' System, on the Flora 1000-Mile Challenge. All the tech from back then is a bit fuzzy if I'm being honest...

All that got me thinking what has changed in the world during the time I’ve been running and it’s amazing that we no longer need Cassettes, Fax Machines or Zip Drives to store stuff on, not to mention the Internet and Facebook to 'Announce' every aspect of our lives to the masses and invite people into our 'Marathon Running' adventures.

You see back in 1994, running marathons was easy. You simply sent a Universal Entry Form cut out of ‘Runner’s World’ with a Cheque or Postal Order (remember them?) to the Race Directors and turned up on the day and ran, as fast as you could, in your very short shorts. 

There was no need for a  Race Vest, MP3 Player, Garmin, Heart-Rate Monitor, Compression Gear, Zero-Drop Shoes or Salt Tablets. All that BS hadn't been invented. If you wanted race results, well they were sent out in the post for an extra 50p or you put an SAE (that’s a Self-Addressed-Envelope) in a shoe box at registration.

To join the 100 Marathon Club, you just needed to run 100 Marathons and say you’d done it. We knew who had and who hadn't as we all knew each other - by name...

My it was an easy ‘Analogue World’… So why did it all change, or in fact why did it need to change? What was wrong with things being less immediate and more clunky? The world certainly wasn’t any less enjoyable. In fact it might well have been a whole lot better! It's hard to say when you are living the moment.

At the time, I can say it felt ‘Embryonic’ and maybe the ‘Sound of Drums’ was the heralding of the 'Digital Age' that has changed every aspect of my life for sure and yours no doubt over the past 23 years. 

I wonder what the next 23 have in store for us both? I still believe that we'll have some way of seeing information projected into our eyeballs using some form of spectacles (great word) or chip built into the back of our optic nerve. Who knows? I bet it's already been developed if truth be known.

I just hope I'm still around (North Korea willing) to see what happens and can continue to adapt to an ever-changing world that I find myself part of.

What are your 'Drums saying?'

Amen.

Rory Coleman - 999 Marathons - 244 Ultras - 14 Marathon des Sables
9 Guinness World Records - 8,647 Days' Alcohol Free - 495 Days' post GBS
Location: Cardiff, Wales.