Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Hard Times - Human League

Chopper knew...
I was asked this morning, ‘What made me as hard as nails?’ - it’s an interesting one to try and answer, especially as I was being asked by someone only just setting out on their adult life, looking for inspiration and an insight into the magical ‘Ingredient X’ in life.

‘Ingredient X’ - The Secret Potion of Life that brings success, respect and happiness in one easy-to-take tonic.

If only it existed - but then perhaps it does. It’s in all of us - it’s just that we choose to ignore it. I won’t expand about making the most of your time on this planet of ours, as I feel I write far too much about that in my other blogs. But what I will say is that the answer lies within - you just need challenging and time to make adjustments to your ‘Life-Recipe’, that will deliver the success, respect and happiness that we all desire in one form or another.

But where do you start? And that’s really what I was asked this morning as being ‘as hard as nails’ or ‘resilient’ as I’d prefer to call it, is a key factor of future success. As I set out on my adult-life back in 1980, I certainly wasn’t ‘as hard as nails’ - I was most naïve. I discovered how to become ‘as hard as nails’ or ‘resilient’ when I turned away from ‘Alcohol, Nicotine and the People’ I’d surrounded my life with’.

Trying to fit into a world that I simply didn’t fit into, nearly killed me. 

Now I see it killing a lot of people that I meet or work with and it’s amazing how much good work can go to waste in the blink of an eye when things don’t go quite to plan. Being ‘Focused’, 100% Tuned in, Never giving up - those are all part of it but being able to be ‘Resilient’ makes you ‘as hard as nails’.

Be Different, Be Strong, Be Happy, Become As-Hard-As-Nails, Succeed.

1,035 Marathons and 25 Years' of Marathon Running in 2019 

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Heroes - Sir David of Bowie

Few people would describe themselves as being a ‘Hero’ - A ‘Hero’ to me is a Neil Armstrong or a Sir Ranulph Fiennes, even a John Noakes you might say if you were my age, but inside all of us, I believe, there’s a ‘Hero’ waiting to be unlocked and unleashed upon your world. 

Where’s the Hero in you I ask? Well, you’ll find it deep down, suppressed and hidden in the darkest part of your consciousness only to be awoken in times of danger, stress or conflict.

There are stories of Heroism in the media, very often, where ‘Person Ordinary’ steps out of their comfort zone, saves lives, fights off danger and becomes ‘Person Extraordinary’. Stepping in when danger is all around or standing up for what’s right takes nerve - it also takes great Strength and Energy. Strength and Energy, that we’d rather save for ourselves in our modern selfish touch-screen world of perhaps.

Yet if you search, there are Heroes all around us whom have found the key or combination to ‘Extraordinary’. Unlocking the Hero is easy, finding the right key or combination, well that’s another matter. Helping someone find their keys, well that’s harder than unravelling a strand of DNA with the world’s most powerful computer at times as doubt and fear of failure cloud the escape – it’s the uncertainty of the unknown that builds the barricade to success and destroys what I call ‘The Belief Principle’.

Add in wasted time procrastinating and the negative projections from those that surround and it’s now wonder that we look for the Hero in others rather than in ourselves.

Well here’s a few Heroes that I’ve been working with over the past few months who wouldn’t see themselves as being a ‘Hero’ as I see them but have become the extraordinary person that lay within. Right now, Trevor Binch is taking part in the 34thMarathon des Sables - a complete ‘180’ for a 131.5kgs overweight Estate Agent preferring to spend his time on ‘all-you-can-eat-and-drink-luxury-ocean-cruises’ rather than roughing it in the scorching midday heat of the Western Sahara. He’s already smashed out the first two days of the race and is in 227th going into Day Three, a million miles from where he was less than two years ago. 

I’m also extremely impressed with the latest 3:33 Marathon PB from Emma Bird, who last August had a very impressive 22 hour, 100-mile race performance in the bag, mismatched with a 4:01 PB at the time. From our first conversation I knew there was a dynamic, classy ULTRA-Heroine laying within, just needing the confidence to match her drive to succeed. 

Faster times lay ahead for Emma, and hers is just one example of how unlocking the Hero (Heroine in her case) within can take over 30 minutes off your marathon PB in just a few short months.

Running Heroes aside, my work sees many other kinds of Heroes. I hear from them on a daily basis as they soldier on beating depression, excessive weight and addiction. Recent Alcohol-Free Birthdays from Quentin Somerset and Dylan Evans are just as rewarding as the extreme weightloss of Jeremy Howarth, now some 60lbs (27.4kgs) lighter than he was on January 1stthis year.

Ordinary People? Yes - Extraordinary. Heroes? Of Course, and an example of what anyone is capable if they have the drive and ambition to try. It doesn’t have to be an Everest, a South Pole or an Ocean Row it can be whatever makes you happy and proud about yourself.

Those of you that know me, know that anything is possible if you become your own Hero for once - Go on give it a GO.

1,034 Lifetime Marathons, 250 ULTRA-marathons9 Guinness World Records, 15 Marathon des Sables & 25 Years' Dry

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Shine On You Crazy Diamond - The Pink Floyd

Middlekerke Marathon 16.8.98 (103rd)  - 3hrs 38mins 
Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun. ‘Young’ in my case is a long time ago now but, I remember ‘Younger’ more clearly especially the heady days of running sub 3.30 marathons and the 55-mile London-to-Brighton Road Race in less than 9 hours. Okay it some twenty-odd years ago, 1996 to be exact, I remember at the time saying that if I ever ran over four-hours for a marathon, that I’d hang up my trainers. How mad was that?

Shine on you crazy diamond… 

Well the years took their toll and I’ve slowed down considerably. Well, perhaps a combination of the Guillain-Barre Syndrome that I had three years ago, and Father Time combined with a ‘Self-initiated-self-preservation-valve’ has taken a 3:37 Abingdon Marathon in 2013 to a just under 5-hour completer nowadays.

I’m not moaning - I’m just saying. It’s been a tricky rehab process and it’s taken being a pacer at this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon to get my arse into gear and start getting some serious mileage and direction happening.

Now there’s a look in your eyes…

You see post GBS, it’s tricky trying to up your mileage when your quads simply don’t recover for days. Every fast training session takes over a week to recover from but in your mind, you are still young and shining like the sun.

You seer of visions…

And of course, if this were your predicament, I’d be saying ‘Get yourself some MTFU tablets. Stop moaning and get running.’ So that’s what I’m going to do – but I’m going to give it a twist and try my hardest to get a last sub-4 marathon in before I’m definitely well and truly over the hill.

Come on you prisoner, and shine!

Being trapped in body that simply doesn’t move as quickly as it used to comes to us all eventually – that’s life. Having a mind that simply doesn’t except that, well that’s different – that non-acceptance makes me different. I’ve got something to prove, not to anyone else – just me. Right now, it’s early days. I’m 26 minutes 5km - Sub 60 10km fast so there’s a long way to go to get me where I want to be. It’s not impossible though and I reckon a flattish October Marathon could provide the right platform for my attempt.

It won’t be easy as I’ve got to get 48 minutes to claw back to break four hours – lightyears for someone whose leg muscles are shot. But it’s time to break the chains and see just what I’m capable of achieving.

And before you say, ‘Oh go easy!’ – ‘Remember how ill you were!’ – Well, I will never forget, I just need to overcome the symptoms of mediocrity that GBS delivers and Shine On…

1,034 Lifetime Marathons, 250 ULTRA-marathons9 Guinness World Records, 15 Marathon des Sables & 25 Years' Dry

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Shaking the Tree - Sir Peter of Gabriel

We are Shakin' the Tree, waiting your time, dreaming of a better life… 

Yes, it’s ‘National Shaking the Tree Day’. It’s a special day I’ve invented that will help you far more than the ‘National Ferret Day’ I found listed for today in Dr. Google.

It’s an opportunity to Spring Clean your peer group and literally SHAKE out the people that enable you to misbehave and act in a way at the time you might think is great, but in the cold light of day you despise. Looking in the mirror hung over with bleary eyes and a pounding head always provides a sobering reflection and having been there myself I know just how awful that can feel physically and mentally. I see ‘Never again’ quoted many-a-time on social media as people reconnect with their previous night’s partners-in-crime accompanied by the ‘How did we got home?’ and ‘What happened after the Tequila?’ – It makes me feel sad for them but happy that I saw the light and decided one day to ‘Shake my own Tree’.

Of course, it’s easy to pick on Alcohol as a bad-behaviour enabler – I look on with hope that one of my friends in reading this blog today, will ‘Shake their Tree’ and sever the ties with those enabling them to misbehave.

Turning the tide, you are on the incoming wave, turning the tide, you know you are nobody's slave…

In one moment just like the Ocean when the tide turns – your world can and will change. There’s nothing more empowering, nothing more exhilarating and nothing more liberating than jettisoning a load of unwanted baggage from your life - namely People.

It might not be just the People you socialise with that are ruining your future, it could well be the People you live and work with that are making your life average and even miserable.

I remember looking very closely at the People I’d surrounded myself with back in 1994 and thinking what part they played in my own self-destruction. My thoughts at the time were that I could not only change them, but I could change myself too and make a new life where there wasn’t room for negative behaviour and People because I wanted my new life to be exciting and full of adventure.

Open your heart, so you heal…

I’m not saying things around you will change immediately but you'll change and as time goes on you'll heal. It takes time. If you are coming out of the shadows of a bad marriage following years of domination and compression, you’ll understand. Likewise, if you’ve been overlooked or treated badly by your employers, I truly understand why it’s easy to reach out for addictive behavioural traits to overcome the pain - A new career awaits perhaps?

We're gonna break it down, we're gonna shake it down…

So Today’s the Day – ‘National Shakin’ the Tree Day’ – A day designed to eject other people’s bullsh*t out of your life that’s currently making your life a misery.

Are you ‘Shakin’ like a Leaf?’ Is it time for a ‘Shake Up?’… Don't just think it - Make it Happen.

1,032 Lifetime Marathons, 250 ULTRA-marathons9 Guinness World Records, 15 Marathon des Sables & 25 Years' Dry

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Broken - Tears for Fears

Between the searching and the need to work it out…

It’s three years to the day since I had the first symptoms of Guillian-Barré Syndrome (GBS)- 1095 days if you’re counting. Funnily enough I’m heading into London this morning just as I did back in 2016, only this time I’m feeling pretty much 100% - both physically and mentally. I remember I felt ‘Broken’ on that Monday morning yet somehow I drove to London, delivered a coaching session, made a short foot-taping film for folk going to the MdS that year and drove back home to Cardiff. When I say ‘Broken’ maybe ‘Crushed’ or ‘Shattered’ would be more descriptive, but I’ll let you decide – all I can tell you is I felt ‘Destroyed’.

I stop believing everything will be alright…

So, in true ‘Coleman Style’ I did nothing as I believed everything WOULD be alright. I felt my day of ill-health would pass and that in a few days I’d be back firing on all cylinders and attacking the Marathon des Sables with my usual gusto of a starving man attacking an all you can eat buffet. 

Only it didn’t - and things went from ‘Bad to Worse’ and then ‘Critical’ without me kinda knowing as the GBS slowly creeps into your immune system, undetected, slowly damaging the peripheral nervous system, eating away at your very existence.

Much to my annoyance at the time, I felt totally f@cked, still believing things were going to be alright. If you know me, you’ll know I’m very determined, call it bloody-minded if you like, it’s a great strength – it’s also my Achilles-Heel as it masks any weakness or underlying issue that might prevent a negative outcome.

By the end of April 2016, I was paralysed yet I still deluded myself in thinking that I’d soon be okay and in a matter of days, I’d be back to my old self and jogging around the local park.

Instead, I was confined to a hospital bed with only one thought. I wrote about it during my recovery and it’s clear to me now I was being ‘Fixed’ physically but mentally I was in a pretty dark place. 

Here’s the Extract from my next book ‘A Runner Reborn’ – at the point where I’m hospitalised for the first time.

The first thing you want to do under those circumstances is to escape. So you try your damnedest to get out of the place. But I’d convinced the medical experts that I was better in a much better state than I actually was. I simply wasn't well. And I certainly wasn't in any condition to go home.

By the end of May I could 'sort of' walk with a Zimmer frame. But at that stage, what the doctors are interested in is your functionality. Can you function as a human being? And cynically-speaking, if you are able to function as a human being by yourself with help, then in their eyes you're taking up a hospital bed that someone else might need. It got to the point where they were just administering me drugs, which I could take at home. I had a wife that could look after me at my in-laws home that had a toilet on the ground floor, so I was away. After a further couple of weeks we ventured home to our terraced house in Pembroke Road, Cardiff.

This is where I got even worse. I got to the stage where I couldn't stand up because every time I did I would fall over, I simply didn’t have the strength to hold myself up. Zimmer frame walking was disastrous, I had in fact become dangerous, especially with Baby Jack crawling around on the floor, and my wife at that time being heavily pregnant. The opportunity for a serious accident was genuinely on the cards.

Eventually, my routine became sleeping on the lounge floor at night because I couldn't climb the stairs to bed and then transferring to an armchair in the morning until 5pm, when my bum was literally so numb I couldn’t stand it anymore and needed to lie down again. When I say routine, it was more of a vicious circle. I felt so weak. I simply couldn't stand up. My knees wobbled like Bambi's. They would literally just buckle from underneath me and when I fell, it was like a puppet having it’s strings cut.
  
My ankles were totally useless. Whenever I lifted my knee my foot would drop. My feet were dead, like dead pieces of meat and because there was no strength in my legs at all, nor any strength going into where your hip flexors are at the waist, I had no core strength either. Then to make matters even worse, because GBS affects all the muscles in your body, I couldn’t pee and I was just completely bunged up internally. I was in a real state. So my wife phoned my consultant and explained how much trouble I was in.

He saw me the following Monday and realised that I was really ill again. They admitted me straight back onto the hospital ward, bypassing A&E and the Medical Assessment Unit all together. To be back at square one with my recovery felt disastrous and I felt I’d wasted nine weeks getting absolutely nowhere.However that's different from me accepting the scenario I was in: after all I had the GBS for some time, and I now realised that it wasn't something you couldn’t just fight. It was a process.

Broken - We are broken…

I got a bit of a cold-shiver reading that if I’m honest as I can’t believe my state of denial at the time. My Life’s ‘Key-Driver’ the determination and mindset that has brought me so much success and happiness over the years, had nearly taken me past the point of no-return.

But when your world’s turned upside down or when you wake up in the cold light of day as I did - ‘Broken’ by Illness, Addiction, Obesity or Plain Fatigue, putting the pieces back together isn’t as difficult as it first appears.

When Life takes a turn for the worse it isn’t like trying to put a jigsaw puzzle back together without knowing the picture or how many pieces are in the box. Life’s jigsaw comes with a plan and you decide what it looks like.

It might not be the ‘Old You’ but it can be whatever design you like. Complete or even with a few pieces still to place – it can be both fulfilling and beautiful.

I'm walking uphill being turned around and round…

For me it felt like being in a storm, a tornado or emotions, a time of great uncertainty but then one of great calmness as I regained control and enjoyed the building process and success that recovery brings.

In my mind's eye, one little boy anger one little man…

And am I angry? No way – I’m relieved if I’m being honest. Empowered almost by the journey I’ve had over these past 1095 days. Am I fixed – hell no. I came to the conclusion yesterday when I nearly fell off a step ladder putting up a curtain pole that my proprioception is still very flaky but who’d have thought I’d be able to do that three years ago. And if you are ‘Broken’ feel ‘Broken’ or being ‘Broken’ right now – I know how you feel. The thing is that it won’t be forever. Things DO get better and sometimes as I found out, you need to reach out for help as you can’t do everything yourself no matter how ‘Determined’ and ‘Bloody-Minded’ you are.

Funny how time flies…

Thanks to Tears for Fears for today’s Blogsong’ – it’s one of my favourite tunes of 1985 and ‘Broken’ is part of the track ‘Head over Heels’ – take a listen hereand consider whether you are a bit ‘Broken’ yourself.

1,032 Lifetime Marathons, 250 ULTRA-marathons9 Guinness World Records, 15 Marathon des Sables & 25 Years' Dry

Sunday, 10 March 2019

I Don't Remember - Peter Gabriel

Gabriel - 1980

I don’t remember, I don’t recall, I’ve got no memory of anything at all...

So here’s a question. How’s your memory? As sharp as it ever was? Can you easily recite all the class of ‘73 or all of your Dad’s car registration numbers he had when you were a child? Bet you can but can you remember when it all started to go wrong? When did the occasional drink become the every evening tipple and then the nightly anaesthetic? If that’s where you are right now - go on ask yourself.

When did those 32 inch trousers become a tight 42 inch? Or a Size 8 slacken off to an 18? When did it become the norm to stop looking sharp and cover up in a baggy grey leggings (my pet hate) btw.

When?

When did it become the norm to say I can’t give a shit, I can’t be bothered or My Mojo has gone? These are the questions that go unanswered for years I’ve found until finally folk reach out for help.

All of the above come from a lack of self-respect and if you’ve ever been in a situation where you’ve forgotten how to move, walk or even feed yourself you’d know everything comes from SELF-Motivation - YOU - no-one else.

Yes, you have to get off your arse and start to remember who the f@ck you used to be. Been there, got the T-Shirt myself so I feel qualified to preach.

I reckon most of the folk that read my blog can associate with one part or all of the above. If you are in doubt - call me and I’ll point you in the right direction. I won’t hold your hand but I’ll be by your side as you remember how you used to feel all those years ago.

1,030 Lifetime Marathons, 250 ULTRA-marathons9 Guinness World Records, 15 Marathon des Sables & 25 Years' Dry

Thursday, 7 March 2019

More than a Feeling - Boston

More than a Feeling...
This 1976 AOR classic has been played to death over the years, especially by me but interestingly it took song-writer Tom Scholz five years to complete! Its multi-layered mix is how I see life being built up of layers of excellence based on a firm foundation and rhythm, over a number of years - it’s kinda cool ain’t it. The lyrics are a great observation on modern-day life.

I looked out this morning and the Sun was gone…

It’s a familiar feeling for lots of folk, as the pace of life increases (daily it feels) and the demands placed on folk by their super-busy work and home-lives leaves no time for adventure and enjoying the great outdoors. 

Life’s more about than survival than achievement.

There’s literally no time to breath, to come up for air and make plans to be the person you really want to be.

The lyrics are right in saying that the Sun has disappeared in the lives of many people. There are so many folk living in the dark shadows of depression according to the media. Luckily, the short hours of daylight are nearly over and the Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), I know only too well myself, will disappear and the long Summer evenings will provide respite from the ‘Daily Darkness’. No wonder Vitamin D levels are so low in office workers – (according to this Daily Mail article anyway) and no wonder the Nation’s mood is also at an all-time low.

I lost myself in a familiar song, I closed my eyes and I slipped away…

And so, these abnormal times are becoming the norm, it’s just like a song that becomes familiar – just like ‘More than a Feeling’ has for so many. Take a listen but his time with a fresh attitude, you’ll discover new parts of the music you’ve previously overlooked. When I was ill three years’ back, I looked at life with a fresh attitude and made considerable changes. I’m not saying get a life-threatening illness - just cut back to basics and investigate where things are going wrong. What makes you unhappy and where you are wasting your time.

So many people have come and gone, their faces fade as the years go by…

It’s so true. Time definitely speeds up in some kind of ‘Back-to-the-Future-Flux-Capacitor-Type-Way’. These are the thoughts of a 57-year old man of course, that although has circled the world a couple of times with tread-to-spare and it’s far too easy to be or become cynical. 

My attitude is to look forward with hope and back at my youth with great warmth and affection for those times and the people that I shared it with. There are a lot of blue skies to think about in my book.

Yet I still recall as I wander on, as clear as the sun in the summer sky…


And I’ll keep recalling, wandering on and enjoying the Sun in the Summer Sky when it returns to Wales, hopefully before a couple of months. ‘More than a Feeling’ is simply that. A Feeling. A feeling of Well-Being, of being contented. Knowing you’ve got the most out of every day you’ve had at your disposal. You know how that feels?

When I'm tired and thinking cold, I hide in my music, forget the day…

It’s the line that always resonates with me. And you know the kinda days I mean - the ones you can’t remember that skip along at an alarming rate between life’s highs and lows. The one’s we need less of and the one’s I don’t allow myself to have anymore.

Think on today about what’s really out there for you and make it ‘More than a Feeling’ and ‘More of a Reality’.

1,030 Lifetime Marathons, 250 ULTRA-marathons9 Guinness World Records, 15 Marathon des Sables & 25 Years' Dry