Friday, 26 April 2019

London Calling - The Clash

I ran my first London Marathon in 1995 and if you said I’d be running my 1,036th Marathon at the ‘2019 Virgin Money London Marathon’ this Sunday, back then, I’d have said ‘you’d lost your marbles’. 

But then we never know what life has in store for us do we?

I remember that marathon so well; I’d trained SO hard for it. I might have only been running for a year or so, but having already conquered the half-marathon, it seemed a natural progression to accomplish a life’s ambition of running ‘The London’. Up to then I’d been a keen spectator each April to watch the race unfold on the BBC, and see the crowds take on the streets of the capital.

Being a keen drinker and smoker made it seem rather an impossible task ‘Pre-Coleman-Personal-Revolution’ but ‘Never-Say-Never’ (it’s one of my most used phrases nowadays as we simply don’t know what we will think or what we will want to do in the future. We can only surmise) and so it came to pass.

I’d enjoyed investing my time and energy into the training, the planning, the race itself and on the day, I jogged round in a very respectable 3.54.43, a time I’d be most happy with nowadays and I even featured on the BBC race highlights that evening coming over the finishing line hands aloft.

You see, that day, I felt like a WINNER.

And I’ve felt like a WINNER every time I’ve run 26.2 miles. And yes I’ve won a couple of them here and there and have the trophies to prove it but they’re only a reflection of who else took part really.

The satisfaction has come from taking part in all of them and enjoying every single step of all of them no matter how hard, easy, hot, wet, cold, well or poorly organised they’ve been. Not many people can say that about their marathon running career.

I’m speaking at the VM London Marathon Expo today and my key message to everyone taking part on Sunday is to ENJOY the 26.2 miles as you never know where the road will take you as it’s taken me a lot further than I thought it would back in 1995.

It seems like yesterday...

Read my story in my book ‘A Rebel and a Runner’ - just email me and I can post you a signed copy for £15 inc P&P.

1,035 Marathons, 250 Ultras, 9 Guinness World Records & 15 Marathon des Sables

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 na├»ve. 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