Friday, 29 January 2016

Start where you're at

Allez les filles!

Where am I at?
Well, not at the beginning that’s for sure. The beginning of anything is the same place for everyone. The race begins at the same time and the same place whether you’re an experienced elite or whether you signed up the night before having never run a step. That’s pretty liberating now I think about it. Same beginning, same route, same finish.

However, (and this is all about the language), our starting point, our journey, our goals are all so different aren’t they? Again, that’s pretty liberating isn’t it!

I must admit that when someone says to me ‘start where you’re at’ it can seem a disappointing encouragement. A kind of ‘you give, and you take away’ kind of thing.

Again. Again!
Why is that? I can think of a couple of reasons.  I think it’s partly because it can feel like ‘Oh crap here I am starting again’. Again! I’m a bit of an expert at starting again. Maybe it’s my inbuilt lack of consistency, or my love of extremes – (I vainly like to think I fly higher and fall harder than most). Having put in the best race performance of my life I was immediately couch-bound and have been for 4 weeks now. Yikes, step away from the biscuits.

Red Herring
And secondly, and I trust this isn’t just me, maybe your starting point can seem disappointing because you can see others ahead of you. It’s so easy to look at other people and feel intimidated. Now let me just say this. HELLO! RED HERRING!. Kick this thought into touch RIGHT NOW. And anyway, who are we to judge someone else’s race, most of which is invisible to the naked eye. Trust me, it’s WAAAY more fun to cheer them on to even more success. Allez les filles! (et les hommes).

It starts today
Whether it’s coming back from failure or injury like me, having a baby (definitely not like me), starting a new course to get a qualification, or whether you’re actually at the peak of your career, fitness, weight loss, happiness or whatever, we can only start today wherever we’re at. I think maybe there's freedom in that grace.

So start where you’re at, turn your magic on today. Don’t even worry too much about the journey as it will have thrilling twists and turns that you can’t even see yet. The excitement of the journey takes my breath away!
Go back to basics, raise the standard of your own life and inspire others, and once you’re up and running, look back and give me a wave J

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

115 Days of Change

It was a beautiful day today, and playing with Anna on the beach in the sunshine, I couldn’t help but thank God for the changes that have happened since the summer of 2015.

If you’re flying or falling through Dry January and thinking what to do when February hits, maybe these thoughts will help you decide. J
In no particular order…..

  1. Quitting alcohol dependence after 30 years, not using alcohol as a hiding place or an anaesthetic. How? Someone suggested I stop, and in the hours surrounding that conversation I sensed that God was declaring something open that had previously been shut.
  2. Life in High Definition. I’m not gonna lie, I never stopped to realise that when you stop using an anaesthetic, you start to feel the pain.  There have been more than a few tears and screams, but music, running, praying and excellent friends have carried me through. The upside? Life in high definition, a tsunami of emotions and feelings undone, some nice, some not so comfortable, but all wonderful. A light switched on. Life in high definition.
  3. The nightmares have stopped. Again, after 30 years, no more terrifying nightmares. Not one.
  4. A purposeful life. I’m a dreamer, but I had stopped dreaming. I started to remember my dreams again, and at the same time a friend wrote ‘every person you run with has treasure and riches buried deep within them, buried under hurt and pain of abuse, abandonment and rejection. Your purpose is to run, and in running to help shake the dirt off their lives and pull out the treasure’.
  5. The will to live. Every hint of depression and suicidal thoughts has gone, I’ve been off medication for 4 months now. Depression for me was simply losing any will to live. Now? Now life is bubbling up in all kinds of ways.
  6. Skinny ribs. I’ve lost over 7kg. (don’t panic, this is it now!)
  7. Running. My journey started on my own, running 70 miles in a week. That week changed my life. Recently I put in the best race performance to date, finishing in the top 2% rather than the usual top 4% in the field. It felt electric.
  8. Energy and Sleep. I get up an hour earlier and go to bed an hour later than before, and I still have plenty of energy without the need to sleep during the day. I have a normal pattern of energy in the morning and ready for sleep by bedtime.
  9. Confidence. Back in August I believed I was nothing and good for nothing. I’m still testing out the theory, but it looks like this might not be true.

    So when I’m asked if I want a drink, when I’m asked if I’ll ever go back, when people suggest it might be ok to just have the odd glass of wine on special occasions, I can look at this list and thank God that I made it out the other side. No, I won’t go back.

Oh a thousand years, a thousand tongues, are not enough to sing His praise.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Curved Balls :-)

Sometimes life throws you a curved ball doesn’t it? You’re jollying along quite nicely and then oops, life happens. What do you do? Here’s a little lesson from a running conversation I had today with one of my minions. 

C: Felt dizzy at the end of my run and I know I really pushed myself. Legs are burning. Feel proud of myself, but my legs hate me.

J: There you go, that’s proper mind over matter.

C: Yeah I kept saying to myself “you can run for 53 minutes, you can do this!” And I’m pleased I didn’t walk at all. I kept thinking “I wouldn’t walk if Jax was with me!”

J: There you go, that’s proper Jax over matter.

J: Part of learning to run is learning to deal with feeling uncomfortable and pushing through. Yet another life lesson from running J

Running is so simple. When I’m racing I fix my mind, I can focus, I can demonstrate courage, determination, perseverance, all those things that get the best out of the race and the very best out of myself. When you cross that line, no matter who you did or didn’t beat, what your actual time was, the exhilaration of knowing you gave it your all is to die for.  You can’t buy it, you had to work for it. Nothing less than 100% satisfies, and I love the high and the satisfaction of knowing I’ve given 100%.

Lessons from the above conversation
  • It’s what you do when you’re legs are burning and you want to stop that marks you out. Anyone can do it when it doesn’t hurt. But what do you do when the going gets tough, when your legs are tired, when your lungs are burning, when you’re pushing yourself further or faster than before?
  • Success breeds success. You’ve overcome before, so have confidence that you can do it again.
  • Having someone with you makes all the difference in the world, whether they’re physically there, or with you in spirit. That person who encourages you to go further, work harder, fly higher.
So keep running and racing and testing yourself to see what you’re made of. If you need that voice of encouragement, give me a shout and I’ll take you for a run, it might just change your life :-)

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Parting of the waves

Demonstrating stretching to the 2nd of 3 groups.
Favourite line from a song that I’ve been loving for a few months. “You split the sea so I can walk right through it.” (click here for the full track)

It seems this might be literal as well as metaphorical.

This week I’ve had the very great honour of joining 3 lots of beginners as they start their first steps into running fitness and despite a week of record-breaking relentless rain on a biblical scale, each time I leave the house to run, it stops. Seriously – not a single drop of rain during any run this week! So maybe it’s literally true, He splits the sea so I can run right through it :-)

Metaphorically too, it seems like seas are parting as opportunities are opening up for me to take people out running.

Pestalozzi Students
This morning for example, I had the joy of running with a 15 strong group of International students from all over the world. Can there be any better way to start your Sunday than running through the beautiful undulating countryside of East Sussex with a group of gifted and talented, highly motivated young people from Bhutan, India, Belize and Spain etc.? I got the chance to ask some of them about their stories, backgrounds, and hopes for the future.

They all come from, in their own words, ‘economically challenged’ backgrounds but show academic potential. Each student was selected by their school to be put through a rigorous selection process, and having been successful they were invited to come to study at Pestalozzi International Village near Hastings. The Pestalozzi charity pays all their travel, living expenses and education, and supports them in making applications to University in the US (where scholarships are easier to come by). They all miss their families back home (a quick thank you Skype and facebook) but are looking forward to exciting futures. What an amazing charity, and what an impressive, articulate and motivated bunch of students they are.

How motivated? At 7.50 this morning it was still dark and chucking it down with rain, yet as I sat in the car waiting, one by one they all showed up to run. High five to you people, huge well done for turning up, and you did so well running up those dirty great hills :-). Anyone who lives in Hastings, look out for them on the Hastings Half Marathon and be sure to give them a HUGE cheer.

Be inspired
If you’re in any doubt as to whether you could or should have a go at running, let these young people inspire you (or maybe shame you) into giving it a go.

Meet us at 7.30pm on Tuesdays at the Hastings Half Marathon/Park Run start. No experience necessary, but wear comfortable trainers. Come and run with us :-) I'm pretty sure it won't rain. 

Friday, 8 January 2016

Small Beginnings

So we had our first little running group on Tuesday evening, thanks to a kick up the bum from Nat. Thank you to everyone who turned out even though the rain looked for a while like we might have been swimming rather than running. 

I absolutely loved it, but to be honest that’s more in retrospect than at the time, just down to a lack of confidence. However, having done it, I feel a million dollars, like I’ve had a huge injection of confidence! From feedback from those that came on Tuesday evening, it sounds like taking that first nervous step out the door into running has had a similar effect on them.
One brilliant thing about running, and especially racing, is that I know what being nervous feels like for me, and I can recognise that feeling in other situations. The real bonus is that I also know how awesome it feels to have overcome those nerves and that incredible sense of achievement when you cross the line. Success really does breed success. So for anyone else who’s considering joining us on a Tuesday evening, 7.30, once you’ve taken that first nervous step, you’ll feel amazing, proud of yourself, and next time will feel a little easier.

Lessons learned
  • Landmarks are more useful than stopwatches. A session needs to be completely doable by anyone without any kit (heart rate monitor, watch, gps) and they should be able to repeat the session on their own.
  • It’s the people at the extremes, the one that needs to go a bit more quickly, or slow down that you have to pay more attention to.
  • Demonstration of stretches as taught on the LiRF was fun, although delivering them in silence as prescribed is almost impossible, but in a good way, because it’s way more fun to chat.

So my bible verse today is Zechariah 4v10 – “Who dares despise the day of small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.”

THAT’S AMAZING! We may feel a little bit rubbish at the start, we may feel like we can’t, but come on, we went out and we began, we started, we took the first step. That's totally worth shouting about :-)

Come and run with us, see you on Tuesday, 7.30, the bowling green in Hastings at the Half Marathon start line,

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Day 101 - Facing your fears

Today is day 101 for me, no alcohol for 101 days. 

Along with 1066 (the battle of Hastings) and 42, (the meaning of life), 101 is a famous number. Actually, infamous of course, for being the Orwellian room where the prisoner is subject to his or her own worst fears. Strange then that lately and especially today I should be facing some of my own greatest fears.

I got a message this evening from one of the people that came to the running group tonight. “I feel amazing too. I’ve always wanted to lose weight and enjoy life more. Now I can see I could have the support to make it happen”. Thanks M!

In the bible it says that there is no fear in love because fear has to do with punishment. My paraphrase? God is not going to beat you up if you make a mistake, and therefore you don’t need to be afraid of anyone else either. Conclusion? Get out there and live life in all its fullness, try stuff, if you make a mistake it’s ok, there’s someone to love you and catch your fall.

I’ve been listening lately again and again (I mean, like, 20 times a day) to some worship music someone gave me a few months ago. I always skip one track, every single time (nope, don’t know why, just never fancied it). Odd that today I chose to listen to it for the first time, and the words are so relevant to 101.

It’s you and me
Sometimes it’s painful to be brave
To look fear in the face
And know your name
To find your strength

Day 102, rock on. Want some support to get fit, lose weight, feel better about yourself, whatever your goal, we’d love to see you J Come and run with us!