Setting Goals and Getting Going

After ending 2014 with no motivation, targets or incentives, 2015 has begun in a spritely fashion!

On returning from my epic Pyrenees ride I did virtually no activity for 3 months. Ok, so I did start running again but a calf strain scuppered that in October and wrote off pretty much everything throughout November apart from a 50 mile sportive. Then of course it was Christmas which bought the annual binge drinking and dietary meltdown.

In the two weeks running up to Christmas, my work clothes had become uncomfortable and I began to look forward to January with a never-before-experienced sense of anticipation. In fact it was this trouser shrinkage issue that motivated me to get on the turbo trainer a few times before Christmas and then again a couple of times over the break.

I faced a harsh reality when heading out with the lads after New Year and realised the gulf in capability that had emerged between me (idle, unfit and fat) and them (keen, trained and fit). I was left behind on the very first hill and became the weakest link after just a few miles. For the first time in a while I was the one that people had to slow down for after a climb. And I didn’t like that.

So I’ve led the charge with the lads to set some goals for the year.

Hardknott Pass looks nice

Hardknott Pass looks nice

The Fred Whitton Challenge is probably the biggest thing we’ll do this year. It’s labelled as “the UK’s toughest sportive” at over 110 miles long with the infamous 30% Hardknott Pass cropping up at 94 miles so the motivation to get on my bike is screaming out at me! Of course there is also the annual Skeggy ride the following week and I’m also in the Tour of Cambridgeshire. So there is plenty to shoot for.

I’m also looking at monthly Strava challenges, some more local sportives and maybe another challenge after the summer. Oh, hang on, did I mention summer? That reminds me of a well located campsite I’ll be staying at for 2 weeks in August that is surprisingly close to some famous Alpine climbs (Madelaine, Telegraphe, Galibier, Croix de Fer and Alpe d’Huez).

Anyway, that’s half a year, 5 kilo’s, a lot of riding and 800 miles away.

For now it’s time to enjoy the winter: get out on the bike when the weather allows, get used to training on the turbo in the garage, and embrace the mud for some off-road running.

Advertisements

Chasing Rainbows

To commit to marathon training you either need to be addicted to running or have a bloody good reason to ramp up the training. I’m not addicted to running. Here is my bloody good reason.

Three years ago, pretty much to the day, I lost my best friend Paul.

Over a number of years Paul and I had become close friends as our lives came together and intersected through our work, our hobbies and our families.  We met working in India but were originally no more than friendly acquaintances.  I can’t remember how it happened, but when we were back in the UK we began playing golf together and pretty soon spent every other weekend at a golf course.

By this time our work life was following a similar path.  Both of us were selected for a management development programme as our careers moved steadily forward and we graduated together with our Mum’s looking proudly on. Throughout this time, we were both cultivating great relationships for ourselves so Paul and his fiancee Sarah came to our wedding about a year before we went to theirs.  Within the next 12 months we’d both had fantastic baby daughters.  I can remember playing golf with Paul at Oadby in Leicester where he told me they were expecting a baby.  We were on the 7th tee. We celebrated with a couple of pints when we finished and he told me of his impending redundancy.

It was at the same golf course that I planned to break the news about our second pregnancy a few years later.  I’d intended to tell him on the 7th tee and he was to be the first person I had confided in outside of my family.  Anyway, he pipped me to it when, on the 2nd tee, he told me that they were expecting their second baby too.  We were delighted for each other and stood hugging in celebration.

That was just one of many fantastic memories I have of sharing time with Paul.  His stag weekend in Newquay was easily the best one I have been on and we often shared stories of mine in Edinburgh.

After leaving our company Paul worked hard to make a go of things in the Financial Services sector and seemed to be getting along well.  But there must have been something else going on in Paul’s mind.   Three weeks after our last round of golf, two weeks after coming round to our house with his family to enjoy dinner together, three days after we popped round to ease the quarantine induced cabin fever of their daughter having chicken pox, Paul committed suicide.

None of us saw it coming.  And to be honest, I have never understood or really got my head around what happened.  It felt like our worlds had been turned upside down and I cannot begin to imagine how Sarah, who was still pregnant at the time, coped with losing him and looking after their daughter.

In my world, I had hoped that Paul and Sarah would be our “friends for life”.  The ones with whom our lives just easily intertwined.  And so, selfishly, Pauls death hit me hard.  And it scared me.  Because Paul was like me, he was my buddy and I can’t understand what happened that made him need to end his life.  Running this marathon for Mind is both charitable and therapeutic in equal part.  I still don’t understand and I still can’t change what happened but maybe I can raise a bit of money to prevent it happening to another family.

Throughout everything, Sarah has been a rock and is truly my most inspiring friend. I’m sure she has had dark days and I hope that we have been the friends she has needed us to be.  Our youngest daughters were born just a day apart less than three months after Paul died, and if ever a person should be celebrated as an amazing mother it is Sarah…. but she’d hate that!

To help their daughter come to terms with things, Sarah asked her to remember her Daddy every time she saw a rainbow. I hold on that as a reminder Sarah’s strength and of the glorious responsibilities and privileges we enjoy as parents.JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Every rainbow I see makes me smile. It makes me cry. And it makes me remember Paul.

I’m running the Brighton Marathon for Mind because there are enough rainbows in the sky.

I had my mojo, lost my mojo and then found it again!

My early season cycling activity was full of drive and enthusiasm, resulting in a great ride to Skegness and my first triathlon.

And then I lost my mojo!

OK, I could blame work for getting busy but where there’s a will there’s a way and I just lost the will to train.  Even the road races I’d entered didn’t spur me on and after a dismal half marathon I spent most of July off the bike and doing no exercise.

What causes these total attitude changes? I’ve read a few articles and not really uncovered the answer.  The “get your ass in gear, loser” approach doesn’t really float my boat. In the past I’ve entered events to artificially urge myself in to action, but have either not trained or not performed if my mojo was missing.

Even introducing the element of competition hasn’t worked in the past, although being just a little bit faster than my mates from time to time is a great feeling.

I reckon the keys to motivation lie in your values as a person. I’ve never been particularly vain and for years carrying my belly around was disappointing but not destabilising.  Now that I’m surrounded by a beautiful family of my own fitness is important but I’m not old enough to worry about keeping up with the kids in the way that you read on many other blogs.

What is important to me is to feel a sense of achievement or pride, and to share those achievements with my family.  I’m delighted that my eldest daughter is loving her bike at the moment, and am proud that my cycling provides a point of reference for her.   As her Dad, she’d look up to me about pretty much anything. But I want her to look up to me for things that I am proud of myself.

The London Marathon, Skegness, Paris and the triathlon are all things that I’ve been able to share with my family and I can share them with pride when I perform well.  I figure that the secret to finding and retaining my mojo is in remembering how good it feels to take part in a challenge and perform well in completing it. Remember the sense of pride when all my hard work pays off … as hard work invariably has the habit of doing.

Reading the articles that my Google search found all tell you to set goals, measure progress, do things for charity.  They may work for some people, but you can’t use other people’s motivation to push your own buttons.

So, even though it is one of the seven deadly sins (why?) a sense of pride is what will help me find and keep my mojo. I wonder what REALLY motivates other people?