We never know where life is going to take us or what challenges it brings. In January 2010 I was happy, so happy I wanted to stay that way for as long as I could. I realised that if Ali and I wanted a long and healthy life together, we had to change. I was clinically obese, had a bad back and my knees were feeling the strain. I had various health problems and I was ageing faster than my years. I looked ahead to a life I did not want. It was time to change. By the end of the year I had lost 4 stone - 56lbs. My confidence rocketed - I had taken control and it had worked. I was exercising, enjoying buying clothes, speaking up for myself.

I began to believe in myself again, I began to dream. For years I had watched marathons with admiration and a lump in my throat. In April 2013, I ran my first marathon.

This blog is about living life as a slim person, staying slim and fulfilling my dreams. Come and join me, support me, advise me!

Take care, Sue

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Mastery, or why we run in the wind and rain!

Yes, it's that time of year again. Temperatures plummet, winds blow, rain storms and yet we still lace on the trainers and head out to run. We begin to wonder if we are mad.

Why do we do it?  What gets us out of bed and running at 5am in the wind and rain?  Why do we juggle like mad to make time for that run? What on earth drives that kind of compulsion? Yes it's autumn and we face months of running in the dark.

I still can't explain why some mornings I leap out of bed eager to run even though it's blowing a gale out there and the next day it's hard work to even open my eyes.  My motivation to run is quite resilient; it can survive all sorts of weather, niggles and pains, busy-ness, even abject failure and exhaustion.  And then on that lovely sunny day, with a breath of wind to cool the glowing brow and with no pressing engagements blocking that lovely long run on the beach, my mojo takes off and runs screaming for the hills. As I watch the fleeting shadow fade into the distance, I tell myself I'm tired or need an extra rest day, but the truth is, my mojo has deserted me. Mercurial and magical it has buggered off. Luckily it's back again after the first mile or so running back and forth, urging me to follow like one of those bonkers dogs on the beach.

I've been reading a book by Dan Pink, an American psychologist who's got some very interesting stuff to say on all this.  Pink says that the more we feel in control, the better we perform in the long run. What sets us on fire Pink says, is being able to make choices about what we do, with whom and how we do it; and that we get a massive boost from mastering a skill or completing a task or gaining knowledge and having a purpose. Now he might be talking about the workplace, but I'm just as much a human being at home so I reckon the same rules apply (why do so many people assume that being a worker and being a human are not the same thing!!!).

What makes it all great is that we're out there running because we choose to.  Nobody makes us, it's me that gets me out the door at 5am. I choose my goal. I choose my training plan. I choose my challenges.  Over time as we learn we begin to hone our skills and technique; we get better and wiser as we learn our craft.  Running brings many joys, but the thrill of mastering our craft, becoming a better runner is where the magic lives.  Can I get below 25m for that 5k? Just how long can I keep going at tempo pace? Could I really run a marathon? Our urge to run better, faster, longer transforms us as people and changes our lives profoundly and forever. We become better stronger human beings.

That urge is visible from the earliest days.  Watch a young children learning to stand, walk or read is to watch mastery in one of its purest forms.  It is pure magic. Those tiny humans keep going until they get there. They fall over, they get up and try again, they are not deterred. The look on the face of a child as it stands for the first time or takes a first step says it all:  I did that - me!  Mastery, that sense of accomplishment, the glory of achievement.  Many of the best things in life take hard work, discipline, failure, focus and perseverance.  It's a journey to a perfection we never reach, but that perversely is  what gives us reward and keeps us going that extra mile, pushes on to the next goal.

I've certainly been feeling that thrill this week. I've done another tempo run; but this week a little bit faster. Although I was tired when I stopped, my muscles told me I'd found my lactic threshold; it's amazing that that extra .5 kph had on my legs! That's a new boundary to push.  My long run was a bit longer than last week, but more important, it felt much easier despite a rather brisk wind. I could have run a few miles more and I'm sure that's the tempo runs kicking in.  A speed interval session (great spiky Garmin heart chart!) and a recovery run took me over 22 miles again.

Whatever you're up to, have a great week. Whether you run, swim, play the bagpipes; whatever your personal goals and challenges, may you find new strengths within you, master new skills and find great joy in your accomplishments.

Take care