Monthly Archives: July 2014

Video

Keep Your Head Up

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“Music is the fourth great material want of our nature-first food, then raiment, then shelter, then music.”

BOUVÉE

What Bouvée says is undeniably true. Our body’s food is the product of the earth: fruits and vegetables and so forth. But our soul’s food is music. Undoubtedly it is so. Even our physical nature at times intensely craves and desperately needs music.

Keep Your Head Up is one of my favourite songs. As a rule I don’t listen to music when I run. However, during a particularly challenging night when I was running in the 6 Day Self-Transcendence Race last year I needed music to get me through and take my mind off the pain and discomfort. I was feeling rather sorry for myself; I was cold, tired, could barely walk and I was not in a good space. I knew this song elicited a strong emotional response in me and the lyrics are very poignant, especially the part where he says “All I was searching for was me”. I just love the video which is so uplifting and joyful. I so want to have a go on that soap slide, it looks so much fun!

Playing the song on repeat got me running again as my mind drifted off to a much better place and I became so happy and full of gratitude, remembering the purpose of why I was running the race.  I became oblivious to the cold biting wind, the darkness and the pain that I was in. That could have been quite easily a lyric of the song.

I spent my time watching
The spaces that had grown between us
And I cut my mind on second best
The scars that come with the greeness
I gave my eyes to the bottom
Still the seabed wouldn’t let me in
And I tried my best to embrace the darkness
In which I swim.
 
Now walking back down this mountain
With the strength of a turning tide
The wind so soft at my skin
The sun so hot upon my side
Looking out at this happiness
I searched for between the sheets
Feeling blind, to realise
All I was searching for was me.
 
Keep your head up, keep your heart strong
Keep your mind set, keep your hair long
Keep your head up, keep your heart strong
Keep your mind set in your ways
Keep your heart strong.
 
I saw a friend of mine the other day
And he told me that my eyes were gleaming
I said I’d been away
And he knew the depths I was meaning
It felt so good to see his face
The comfort invested in my soul
To feel the warmth of his smile
When he said ‘I’m happy to have you home’
 
Keep your head up …
 
Because I’ll always remember you the same
Eyes like wildflowers with your demons of change
May you find happiness there
May all your hopes turn out right
May you find warmth in the middle of the night. 
Quote

The Running Life

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There’s an overwhelming cultural mentality today that difficult tasks should be avoided; that volitional discomfort is an indication of some psychological oddity. Meanwhile, ultramarathons promise exactly the opposite; the expectation is that the race will be strenuous. Your body will get battered, your spirit will get broken, and you’ll question your sanity and emotional stability. (What’s more – you’ll pay somebody a lot of money in race fees for this to happen. If it weren’t for ultrarunning, there’d be a huge boom in masochism support groups. Clearly, we NEED this sport.) It’s no wonder most people think we’re insane.
But here’s the good part: our gain for suffering through all of this is something akin to enlightenment. We understand that our bodies and minds are capable of far more than most people ever realize – that the primary limiting factors in life’s journeys are the extent to which our minds can dream, and to which we’re willing to work to achieve them.
These truths we discover about ourselves are what keep us coming back for more. In that regard, ultrarunners are the fishermen leaving the shore: we’re fully aware that the storms might be terrible – but the rewards we harvest by venturing into the sea are always worth the hardship.
-Donald Buraglio, The Running Life: Wisdom and Observations from a Lifetime of Running – via Gibson’s Daily Running Quotes
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We have to keep going

Join us ArtPics - Photography © Rick Lundh

Join us ArtPics – Photography © Rick Lundh

I’ve learned anything from life, it’s that sometimes, the darkest times can bring us to the brightest places. I’ve learned that the most toxic people can teach us the most important lessons; that our most painful struggles can grant us the most necessary growth; and that the most heartbreaking losses of friendship and love can make room for the most wonderful people.

I’ve learned that what seems like a curse in the moment can actually be a blessing, and that what seems like the end of the road is actually just the discovery that we are meant to travel down a different path.

I’ve learned that no matter how difficult things seem, there is always hope. And I’ve learned that no matter how powerless we feel or how horrible things seem, we can’t give up.

We have to keep going. Even when it’s scary, even when all of our strength seems gone, we have to keep picking ourselves back up and moving forward, because whatever we’re battling in the moment, it will pass, and we will make it through.

We’ve made it this far. We can make it through whatever comes next.

~ Daniell Koepke

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Twists and Turns, Ups and Downs

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The wheels fall off!

Sometimes the best laid plans that you make and hopes that you have don’t always materialise; life is full of twists and turns, and ups and downs. I suppose that’s what makes life interesting – events happen in ones life for a purpose. Those people that we meet and those that briefly cross our path enrich our lives for the better.

I had planned to run in the Hungarian 6 Day Race in May and everything seemed to be going well. I had come back buoyant from a good performance at the 72 Hour Across the Years Race (Phoenix, Arizona). I did a reasonable good time of 5:22:38 for the Barry 40 Track Race considering I had done limited speed work since coming back from Phoenix. A week later the Sri Chinmoy AC organised a 50 mile run from London to Brighton, and I did that fairly comfortably. So all was going well, or so it seemed.

In February on the advice of my physio I got some orthotics from a Sports Podiatrist hoping to correct issues with my left ankle and knee. To cut a long story short I didn’t get on with them. They upset my biomechanics to such an extent that it aggravated the sciatica joint, seized up my lower back and caused piriformis syndrome. I got treatments from an osteopath and my physio and on their advice I decided it was just too risky to contemplate running a 6 Day Race. There was no chance my body would be able to recover sufficiently to endure the demands of a 6 Day Race. I laid off running for 7 weeks. I eventually sought treatment from a practitioner using the Bowen technique and that now seems to be addressing the key biomechanical issues causing the left knee pain. I needed to try something different. I bought some new shoes as well, hahaha! Don’t ask me how many pairs I have now.

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At the same time I was diagnosed with chronic adrenal fatigue. Over the years perhaps I had put too much stresses and strains on my body. The kinesiologist who I saw for the treatment identified that I had probably dipped far below into my reserves and there was nothing left. I was running on empty and you can only do that for so long, before the wheels fall off.

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No one really wants to know how sick you are or how it is affecting you mentally.  Because basically the general attitude with sports related injuries and health issues that are a result of amateur ultra-running is, “It’s your own fault”. The weeks of chronic fatigue were hard to deal with and it felt like the spark inside me had been extinguished. It was a challenge to deal with the depression, lack of enthusiasm and motivation for life, because that isn’t the person I normally am. I had this sense that I just needed to hang in there and it wouldn’t last for ever. With rest, and taking supplements identified to address my candida, leaky gut syndrome and chronic adrenal fatigue things are now on the mend.

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Helping others

In February my physio asked me if I could help Claire Oziem who would be attempting to become the first woman to run unsupportive from John O’Groats to Land’s End. It is always nice to help others realise their hopes and dreams especially on such an ambitious challenge as this. I think for me my best qualities come to the fore when I help and try to inspire individuals. It is great to see those that you help blossom and fulfil their potential. Simply, helping others makes me happy. Claire started her journey on 22nd June. See her blog 1000 Miles in Mind, and Claire Oziem Personal Blog Facebook Page. As much as Claire has been grateful for the advice and assistance I have given her in the build up to her challenge, I think it has also benefited me – it gave me a sense of purpose and satisfaction that in some small way reaffirmed in my ability to inspire others. I just have to inspire myself more that’s all, hahaha!

Back to my homeland – A trip to Cornwall

Cornwall twinned with heaven

As I hadn’t been back to see my parents since October, I needed a change of scenery. And as I was back to full training in the previous two weeks I needed to run in my heaven that is the Cornish landscape of spectacular cliffs, being by the sea and taking in the glorious view of St Michael’s Mount each day.

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I even forced myself to relax and just lie on the beach, something that I rarely do. I often find it hard to do nothing; if I’m doing nothing I feel guilty thinking that I should be doing something constructive.

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Running each day in such a beautiful part of the world renewed my energy levels and my joy of running returned.

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The run on the South West Coastal path from Penzance to Land’s End and returning back along this route finishing at Porthcurno Beach (Garmin 22 miles coastal path run) was a very special day. It was one of those glorious summer days that you know exist deep in your childhood memory banks that you just long for.  It was warm, sunny and not a breeze stirred. The sea was like a millpond and everything was spectacularly clear. I felt truly blessed. All my senses were heightened and I wanted to capture every single aspect of the day – the sights, sounds and smells of being on this Cornish coastline.

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Whilst I was down in Cornwall I took the opportunity to visit People and Gardens and meet up again with the kind-hearted owners Ken and Lorraine Radford. I spent a most enjoyable day with those involved with the project planting spring onions.

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Being outdoors in the sunshine with the smell of the earth and planting spring onions is such a simple pursuit that feeds the soul.

 

 

 

 

Moving forward

Well, for the first time in months I feel that I am moving forward having learnt many lessons, most importantly the ones that come to mind are:

  1. To be more aware of my health and the dangers of stress and overtraining.
  2. I’m not unbreakable, in fact I’m more fragile than I thought.
  3. Re-evaluate my motivations.
  4. Stop procrastinating and seize the moment.
  5. Stop worrying.
  6. Follow my intuition.
  7. A change is as good as a holiday, but a change of scenery is better.

Last month Bill Schultz, an American ultra runner left this lovely quote on my Facebook timeline which I’m so grateful for as it was much needed when I was feeling very low.

May the sun forever shine upon your face,
May the wind forever blow upon your back,
May your goals forever be in sight,
May your beliefs forever give you strength
And may your Spirit forever run free!

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