Friday, 27 October 2017

Lights Out - Royal Blood

Time for a Time-Out?
'It picks me up' - Kerr, Thatcher & Barrett

If you're like me, the clocks going back an hour this weekend heralds a world of darkness and misery. But maybe there’s a simple answer to ‘Seasonal Adjustment Disorder’  commonly know as SAD. If SAD darkens your mood I’m sure any glimmer of light that can shine in and brighten your outlook, improve your mental well-being and increase your fitness has surely got to be a winner?

The history of Daylight Saving Time is most interesting and I can remember the government tests of the late sixties where the clocks didn’t go back and school-children, like me, were given light-reflecting armbands to wear to school as it was still pitch black. The problem was that in Scotland  it didn't get light until 10am, so no wonder it was scrapped eh? I won't even go into Double Daylight Saving of the war years and I'm sure we had some kind of extended daylight hours in the hot summer of 1976 but I can't find anything to substantiate my memory of that so I could be wrong on that one...maybe you remember?

Anyway, back to the plot and here’s a suggestion for you that’s a clear winner, it’s called a ‘Lunchtime’. Do you remember them? They're a bit of an endangered species of nowadays as work pressure to please bosses has made folk yield to 'Desk-Duty' working hours - You know, having to be seen to be in the office to show commitment and the rise of even worse 'Desk-Dining' whilst typing to catch up on somewhat more exciting out-of-work activities. As for eating dinner on the train home - Yuk!

Well, I've got news for you, we're finding that in our Average2Awesome Programmes that people are much happier when they take a proper lunchtime and go for a walk especially with their colleagues. Their mood is lighter and productivity levels are much greater in the afternoon. It would appear that a good blast of Vitamin D plus lots of fresh O2 has been making a huge difference to all of our A2A Groups and it's now become a regular part of their working day.

Let’s face it, going to work in the dark, toiling away in artificial light and going home again when it's dark, is enough to make anyone gloomy so why not take the ‘Lunchtime Daylight Challenge?’ Dust off your FitBits and clock up some steps as there’s nothing like the feeling of warm sunlight on your skin - all life comes from the Sun, so it’s no wonder that we don’t function so well without it.

I’m not suggesting you go all Pagan on me here but I for one will be making sure that I’m taking better ‘Winter Sunshine Breaks’ every day or should I say 'Lunchtimes' from now on, (Cardiff weather permitting) in an attempt to keep my SAD at bay as December 21st can't come quick enough so the daylight hours can start drawing out once more.

Until then, go on and give it a go. ‘Clock off’ at lunchtime, like we all used to and see if it  makes a difference this Winter.

Rory Coleman
1,001 Marathons - 244 Ultras - 14 Marathon des Sables - 9 Guinness World Records
Location: Cardiff, Wales

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Fight from the Inside - Queen

No one is going to do it for you...
Taken from the 1977 Queen Album ‘News of the World’, this is one of their all-time stand out tracks for me written and sung by Drummer, Roger Taylor. Some forty years’ on and the lyrics still hit home every time I hear it. It’s probably struck home most when it’s been on my play-list towards the end of a super-long ULTRA or towards the end of a Mega-Day Marathon stint.

I believe ‘Fight does in fact come from the Inside’, in anything you wish to accomplish in life - let alone run and only the individual can make it happen.

You see, attitudes have changed dramatically since Roger Taylor’s anthem was written in a time when political correctness was unheard of and a more ‘Toughen-up Buttercup’ attitude prevailed. Then again, I’m sure things were probably even harsher in the War-Years, and every preceding generation will no doubt say, ‘it was a lot tougher in my day’, but in reality it was.

The Internet and especially Social Media in my opinion is shaping a modern-day ‘Namby-Pamby’ generation where averageness is becoming only too wildly accepted, especially in the world of marathons where it provides a platform to voice ‘failure’ and for those ‘failures’ to be celebrated by peers rather than questioned. The ‘Embarrassment Factor’ seems to have disappeared and you might call me a bit ‘Old School’ here but if I’d ever dropped out of the Marathon des Sables, I’d be deleting my Facebook Profile and go into hiding rather than announce my failure hoping for a ‘You did amazing to get to the start-line’ kinda comment.

Then again, it’s like that on any group discussion I’ve found and I’m not the best of forum members. As a former alcohol addict myself, I’ve been keeping a watching brief on a couple of Facebook Groups designed to encourage people to start living alcohol-free. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great use of Social Media to get folk supporting each other, yet there are so many ‘You did really well’ posts when things have gone wrong and the whole being Alcohol-Free debate is one where Sobriety can be switched on and off due to circumstances. One post announcing using Cannabis to reduce the Alcohol pangs took the biscuit for me yesterday and I did post a very straight answer as you might imagine. It was of course very quickly replied to saying that I was being too harsh and that I should never go into ‘counselling’.

It did make me laugh as that’s really what I’ve been this past ten years or so to great success.

Anyway, it’s that ‘Harshness’ or rather that ‘Honesty’ that works. Helping people see themselves in a clear light and understand the ‘Real’ person within helps re-build that Person into the one they really want to be and when the chips are down in a Race or in Life itself, it can make the difference between completion and failure or even Life and Death.

That long hard look and self-realisation has got me through some of the world’s toughest footraces as well as from the brink of death more recently, and I believe can help anyone in their search for ‘Inner Calm’ and ‘Life-Satisfaction’.

The desire for ‘Life-Satisfaction’ comes from within not from anyone else...

Fight from the Inside. Toughen-up and rather than being part of the ‘Average Crowd’ start being part of your own ‘Awesome Future’.

Rory Coleman
1,001 Marathons - 244 Ultras - 14 Marathon des Sables - 9 Guinness World Records
Location: Cardiff, Wales

Monday, 23 October 2017

Going Backwards - Depeche Mode

Which way are you going?
‘The course has been set, we're digging our own hole’ – Gore

Do you ever feel like you’re ‘Going Backwards’ with your training and racing? It’s the major downfall of any athlete and one I see posted time and time again on Facebook – the modern day ‘Announcement Forum’ for ‘Doom and Gloom’ rather than ‘Success’. In fact, anyone else’s success only goes to deepen the mood, especially if they’ve succeeded where you’ve failed.

I believe the problem comes from the line between training and racing becoming blurred and every run being run at 85% Maximum Heart Rate, where although training times quickly tumble they will only gone on to plateau, as will race times before ‘Going Backwards’…

The prolonged effect on individual’s marathon times speaks volumes. The 4-hour barrier is one that the enthusiastic beginner always wants to break. I had that goal myself and it didn’t take long to knock chunks off my marathon PB as I was running the correct balance of Long Slow Distance, Intervals and Speed sessions without over racing in between. My 4-hour marathon soon become sub 3.45 and even sub 3.30 when I was training following a proper training plan until I hit my PB on my 15th Marathon. From there, I started running Ultras, took my foot off the pace and didn’t match it again until my 113th three years later after a huge amount of LSD training.

So, what happened?

It’s simple, like me, folk just want to race all the time, get the glory, feel the buzz and make their mark at the detriment to their health and well-being and personal bests. How much or how little they’ve trained is the last consideration when the ‘Race Entry’ button is being pressed...

It’s like a musician or singer that just wants to perform and never wants to play the scales or do the practice that it takes to go and perform at the highest level. It’s sad as we all have the ability within to go faster, higher and stronger just like the Olympic motto heralds.

So, why don’t we?

It’s because it’s too darned easy to be ‘Average’ rather than ‘Awesome’ and play safe. If you’ve ever really pushed yourself and given everything you’ve got, you’ll have the knowledge of just how much effort and pain it took to get there. Getting to that point again and then having to surpass those efforts become so daunting that we play straight into the arms of our own ‘Comfort Factor’ and take it just that little bit easier every time we run and the ‘Going Backwards’ principle kicks in.

If you look at any 24-hour athlete’s performance and you’ll see how much their distances can fluctuate year-on-year. Their first race can sometimes be their PB and it’s interesting how much their mental attitude affects their results. This genre of racing really tests ‘appetite’ as well as ‘ability’. The start line is a particularly daunting place and it’s obvious very early on if people’s attitude has been ‘Going Backwards’ rather than forwards. 

So, what’s the answer?

I always advise a ‘Time Out’ when things don’t seem to be going right. A break is a good thing and if all your ‘Get up and go has got up and gone’, well you’re not going to find it by entering loads of races. It’s actually a good time to work out why you run. What you enjoy about it. What you really enjoyed about it when you first started, you know when your times were tumbling every time you ran.

You probably relied on less technology, had a keener eye on your diet and had less of a blinkered approach to where your limits of endurance really were. Let’s face it back then, you simply didn’t know.

So, here’s hope…

I have a challenge for you. How about pressing your ‘Reset Button’ and go back into training and see just how fast you can get in 12-Weeks. You’ll be surprised if instead of knocking out boring old 9 minute miles, you follow one of my bespoke training plans and become the ‘Elite’ version of your yourself you’ve always dreamt of being.

I mean, who wants to be ‘Going Backwards?’

Rory Coleman
1,001 Marathons - 244 Ultras - 14 Marathon des Sables - 9 Guinness World Records
Location: Cardiff, Wales

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds - The Beatles

Peter Snell - Gold at Tokyo in 1964
'Picture yourself' - Lennon & McCartney

The success of athletes using my bespoke 12-Week Training Plans, speak for themselves. I’m seeing improvements of up to 15% in Marathon PB’s and times of 3.40 being slashed to less than 3:10 which are remarkable. In just under 12 months, following my programmes, one of my clients who was a regular 3.29 runner now runs consistently under 3hrs and recently set a PB very close to the 2.45 mark. Until being Coached, none of these people knew what they were capable of and it’s amazing just how much they’ve improved as soon as a structured training programme was set out for them to follow.

A percentage of the improvements come from the Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) that I project, especially the fact that I believe that EVERYONE can be elite and can achieve far more when pushed but also from a great deal of LSD.

No, not from ‘Lysergic Acid Diethylamide’ the psychedelic drug that in the ‘50s, officials at the CIA thought might be useful for mind control and chemical warfare… (my how times have changed) - No, from ‘Long Slow Distance’ running.

Long Slow Distance running (LSD) is the form of aerobic endurance training that I used right from the start of my own running career and has been the backbone of my coaching ethos this past 10 years.

The physiological adaptations that come from LSD training are improved blood volume, increased muscle strength, prolonged endurance and higher aerobic fitness. Ernst van Aaken, the German physician and coach, is generally recognized as the founder of the Long Slow Distance running method of endurance training but I put my own success down to hearing about the great New Zealand Coach, Arthur Lydiard, from my own coach and mentor John Martin, who famously ran his athlete Peter Snell 200 miles a week in training before tapering him down over a four-week period to Double Olympic Gold at Tokyo in 1964.

Back then, I’m not sure how many of Lydiard’s athletes would have questioned his coaching methods, I know I didn’t question John’s. I just got on with laying down the foundations of my endurance training with epic 20 mile LSD runs every Saturday and Sunday morning. It’s interesting as recently more and more people want to know ‘Why’ they are being asked to run an LSD, Interval or Speed session and how much to do of each especially by new runners or people fast-tracking their training for the Marathon des Sables.

The simple answer is 80% of your weekly mileage should be LSD, run at 75% Maximum Heart Rate (MHR).

Yes, that’s right, if you are running 50 miles, 40 miles of it should be LSD. And if you are looking for faster times, it’s the easiest way to improve yet so many people run these sessions too fast to get the most out of them. The one-hour, 6-6.5 mile run that so many four-hour marathon runners like to knock out a couple of times a week, only maintains fitness and trains four-hour marathon runners to keep on running four-hour marathons or even worse, get slower.

You see it takes time. I lot of time and, in reality, to become the best version of your own elite marathon runner, it’s probably more of a three to five-year apprenticeship with LSD and it’s adaptation. It took me at least three years to understand my body, get the right mind-set and break down the barriers that limited my performances. In October 2013, I found out for myself how running 200 miles a week for four weeks ALL at LSD could make on my level of fitness as three weeks later, I ran my fastest marathon for 11 years and went on to win the MV50 category at Druid Challenge in the November.

Now, before you go smashing out a Long Slow Distance marathon a day, getting injured or losing your job as you haven’t simply got the time, what you can do is to train smarter and slower in the LSD runs you have planned over the following weekends and Wednesdays. Yes, Wednesday’s which are great for an LSD as it takes some of the mileage loading away from the weekend and is a great way to recover from a Tuesday interval session.

As a guide, LSD are typically run at an easy pace, 1-3 minutes per mile slower than your 10km pace and if you’re not sure of how to plan the next 12-Weeks of your training or if you want to carve chunks off your PB then please get in touch as I’d like to be receiving your texts on a Sunday telling me you’ve smashed your latest Personal Best.

LSD, perhaps the best NATURAL performance enhancing drug ever...

Rory Coleman
1,001 Marathons - 244 Ultras - 14 Marathon des Sables - 9 Guinness World Records
Location: Cardiff, Wales

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

We are the Champions...

‘No time for Losers’ – Mercury

Some forty years on from the Silver Jubilee Year of 1977, and I still sing along like an excited fifteen-year old school-boy whenever I hear this timeless Queen anthem. Just how many ‘Champions’ has this song ever accompanied I wonder? Freddie certainly marked lots of celebratory moments for folk when he wrote this one. And as someone who enjoys competing, I thought it would make for a good starting point for this week’s blog as I love the feeling of being a Champion, don’t you?

Back in the day, I loved the feeling of being a Champion and now as a Coach I get to be part of lots of other folk’s achievements, which is even better I’m finding.

You see, it’s been another winning week at Coleman Coaching, marked by some great emails and texts from excited Clients posting fresh PB’s on Sunday. Here’s one such message…

“I just went bananas, shouting, whooping and punching the air after seeing the finishing time” – Steve Howliston

His 3.09.17 PB at the MBNA Chester Marathon is over 30 minutes quicker than his best in December 2016, when we first started working together and I’m sure he’ll go sub-3 next year, no pressure there Steve…

But it’s only fair to say Steve’s PB was achieved by his pure hard work and 100% dedication to the training plan. I must say that I’ve enjoyed being part of his ‘Success Process’ and encouraging him to shape his future aspirations on answering his ‘What’s next for me?’ question.

Encouraging highly motivated successful people onto further success isn’t all that hard as they are already fully on board and eager to perform. ‘Success breeds success’- Well that’s what they say isn’t it?

However, along with the immensely positive Sunday night Emails and Texts, I also have an eye on social media and witness the ‘Facebook-Failure-Frenzy’, that accompanies every big weekend of running. I’m sure you’ve had a timeline littered with ‘DNF Posts of Woe’, from folk that simply haven’t put the time and effort needed into reach their goal. It’s frightening, especially on some of the longer more extreme events.

I mean, ‘If you’re going to take things seriously, then why bother?’

I’ve been bothered and for some time now and I’ve been genuinely scared that folk are placing themselves in a lot of danger whilst ticking off feats from their bucket-lists. My favourite and the ‘World’s Toughest Footrace’, The Marathon des Sables is now perceived as a sandy ‘London Marathon’. I’m not sure the guy I saw at one of the checkpoints this year receiving CPR would agree and it highlights the pressure that competitors place upon themselves each April in the heat of the Sahara Desert.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing as electrifying as the finish line of the MdS, achieving a Marathon or parkrun PB but they all have one thing in common and that’s you must do your ‘Running Apprenticeship’. It takes time, probably more time than you’d imagine, to get anywhere near as good as the ‘Running Heroes’ you may read about in Running Magazines or Online. I know, first-hand, having read about the amazing American Ultra-Runner Ann Trason, in Runner’s World Magazine in November 1994, her winning the Western States Endurance Race in the States got me interested in Trail-Running. And I made sure I had a few hard years of running marathons and ultras under my belt, before I knew I was ready to take on the Grand Union 145, MdS and Desert Cup in Jordan.

Back in the late-90’s there wasn’t the internet, ‘How-to-Books’, gear or technology to ‘Fast-track’ our way to running success and I had to work out my own running and training formulae to achieve Personal Bests that matched my potential and learned the hard-way how to run mega-day marathons fast, uninjured and blister-free.

Post 1,000 marathons and Guillian-Barre Syndrome the beauty of Coaching I’ve found is that you get to share that knowledge, see some of your training and racing techniques become part of Ultra-Marathon Running Folklore and revel in taking people past their wildest expectations and in some cases, go on to make then World-Class Athletes.

As Freddie says, ‘No time for Losers’ and no-one ever sets out wanting to lose -  However, you can reduce the probabilities of things going wrong and if you want to be sending good news Emails and Texts on Sundays like Steve, instead of posting ‘Facebook-Failures’, please give me a call or email me as I'd love to be part of your 'Championship'...

Happy Running Folks…

Rory Coleman -
1,001 Marathons - 244 Ultras - 14 Marathon des Sables - 9 Guinness World Records
Location: Cardiff, Wales

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Scream if you wanna go Faster...

Lyrics:- ‘Don't let life pass you by. Jump on in, get ready to fly’… Halliwell & Nowels

Every now and again a client will go silent and drop off my radar and ‘Revert to Type’. It’s annoying for me as a coach and a real shame for them, as I truly believe that everyone who comes to see me has what it takes to achieve their goal. It's frustrating to see how quickly folk can become distracted and corrode all the initial goodwill and momentum we build up together at our first meeting. For some you see, on being released back into their own natural environment, the cracks soon start to appear and the 'Failure Process' as I call it, begins.

To understand the 'Failure Process’, why it happens and where I can help folk in the future, I thought I’d ask my Average2Awesome Facebook Group, (which is made up of current and past clients), to share their thoughts on the ‘Failure Process’ subject. I received some great feedback and that I hope you’ll also find their replies as enlightening as I did. You might even identify some of your own traits within them.

So, here's what I asked...

What is it that makes you ‘Fail’? ‘Fail’ to lose weight? ‘Fail’ to stop drinking alcohol? ‘Fail’ to stop smoking? ‘Fail’ to stop taking recreational drugs? ‘Fail’ to finish a race? I want to know what makes you take your ‘Foot off the Gas?

The Facebook Group lit up with replies and I also received lengthy private emails which fell into the following themes.

Peer Pressure - ‘I think because most of my friend’s drink, so I go along too’…

I know how hard it can be standing out from the crowd, especially if everyone else is happily getting slowly hammered and you’re not. Having been in that situation many times myself in my previous life, where I was probably one of the worst culprits in egging folk on to have just one more for the road before leaving the pub, I found changing my ‘Peer Group’ helped change my drinking habits no-end. The strength I found in liberating myself from the all the other ‘Weak Willed’ folk, I’d surrounded myself with, was overwhelming and after a while I found I didn’t miss any of them at all. You see, I’d found the person I’d been missing in my life for so many years - myself.

Previous Life Experience - ‘A long standing family problem was the root of my problem. I was so consumed by anger, trying to fix an unfixable problem’…

Yep shit happens and things outside of our control not only challenge us physically but can have a lasting effect on our mental state. I’ve yet to meet anyone that hasn’t been affected by one kind of life-crisis or another. Last year, I was angry when I was struck down with Guillian-Barre Syndrome but eventually I found the acceptance of my predicament gave me an inner calm where I could reassess things and avoid the dreaded ‘Why me?’ which would’ve impose suffocating limits on my own future expectations and goals. If anything, I felt even more determined to get better and have never used my ‘Previous Life Experience’ as an excuse.

Confidence – ‘With me it's simply a lack of self-belief’…

Sometimes, I don’t believe that the goal-setter shares my belief in their ability. I’ve always had a clear picture of finishing whatever I’d set out to complete. A 100% ‘Starter Completer’ if ever there was one. Being honest with yourself and with others is so important in this game. Don’t ask me to run a ‘2-hour-marathon’ or ‘Swim the Channel’ as it’s never going to happen but as a Coach I’d never ask anyone to try anything they’re simply not capable of completing.

Commitment - ‘I do enjoy the excitement that going on a ‘Crazy Night can bring’…

‘Crazy Nights’ are a thing of the past if you are taking on the ‘World’s Toughest Footrace’ or reaching out for a new PB I’d say. They are definitely out if you are going alcohol-free or desperately trying to lose weight as ‘Crazy Nights’ destroy days or even weeks of hard work and abstinence. It’s funny how ‘Crazy Nights’ follow periods of ‘Great Sobriety’ in some cases and it’s interesting how success in our culture attaches drinking ‘Champagne’ to anything from the birth of a child to running 1,000 marathons.

All or Nothing – ‘I describe my training state to people as either ‘On’ or ‘Off’ as there is little balance’…

Is training really that ‘Black or White?’ Do you really need to a goal? Or is it just another great excuse? A good simple set of basic life-rules to keep you on the ‘Straight-and-Narrow should be enough, shouldn’t they?’ Training should really be a 365-day, year-long process allowing for peaks rather than time-outs, massive troughs and periods of inactivity in my book. So many people use events as a reason to force themselves into activity in a hope just to complete an extreme marathon-goal rather than compete in it. Nearly everyone I coach for MdS has a ‘Race-Finish’ as their primary goal, very few I meet ever commit to a ‘Top 100’ or an even bolder ‘Top 50’ goal.

Time – ‘I simply just don’t have the time’…

Sadly, this is the tipping point for many and the biggest catalyst for the ‘Failure Process’ of all, especially if you follow Malcolm Gladwell’s rule where he states that you need to have invested at least 10,000 hours in a subject to become an expert. (That’s 3 hrs a day, every day for just over 9 years to save you working it out). I’ve achieved some major successes and I’ve certainly clocked the 10,000 in running and being alcohol and cigarette-free of which I’m exceptionally proud. I only wish I’d clocked the same amount of time learning a musical instrument as I’ll always be a ‘Guitar Hero’ in my own mind.

I suppose with hindsight, we can all say we wished we’d stuck at things and not given up so easily when things got tough. For the people who replied to my original question, they were all guilty of doing just that. However, unlike my dream of playing guitar to a packed crowd at Wembley which I know I’ll never do, they can start training towards their goal all over again, only this time with the dedication, single-mindedness, drive, determination, endurance and durability that it takes to become your own ‘Champion of Champions’ and achieve their elusive ‘Personal Bests’ that will satisfy their thirst for success and mark their time on the planet.

‘Dream and Dream Big’, I say… Train and train hard. Live the dream and ‘Scream if you wanna go faster’ and when you do I’ll be screaming with you. Just contact me if you'd like my help in making a 'Success out of your Failures'.

Rory Coleman -
1,001 Marathons - 244 Ultras - 14 Marathon des Sables - 9 Guinness World Records
Location: Cardiff, Wales