First they will ask you why you do it, then they will as you how you do it.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

This blogs not for you...

So you clicked on the link any way.

I warned you that it's not for you. This isn't written for anyone else but me.

Its the push I've been after. A nudge in the right direction. A note to hold myself accountable and on track.

Running and fitness have changed me, more than I thought possible. I was always someone who saw success as an external element.

Be it a promotion at work, financial reward or other peoples perceptions of me, I have always seen success as being in the hands of others. Only satisfied once I have their blessing and consent to appreciate it.

I noticed a while back that this was also creeping into my running. I was going to races and constantly comparing my performance against others. The more I got into the sport the more I found people better or more dedicated at it and so my "success" diminished. I wrote about and trained goal setting and the importance of challenging yourself, but wasn't practising what I was preaching.

That was my biggest mistake.

Earlier this year I paced my wife to her first half marathon finish at Liverpool, a feat she never thought she would accomplish. A non-running gym-bunny, she trained her arse off in the gym and on the road and accomplished a great thing that day, all with a smile on her face.

And just this month, a friend and I completed the 40 mile Grim-Reaper Ultramarathon. He had done ZERO training after a bout of injuries, but he rocked up at the start line and later that day we walked away with medals. There were some tough parts and I could write a whole piece on it, but the truth is we got each other round the course. Again, he accomplished a great thing and did it smiling (at the end).

I loved helping them to reaching new levels. In the same way that I love training people, there is an amazing intrinsic reward from helping people to achieve something. The most important thing when looking at what people want to achieve is asking "why".

Why do you want to run further, faster, in a fancy dress costume? 

The important part isn't "What is your goal?" but "Why is that your goal?"

And that was my problem. I found myself with a load of goals I didn't want. Running was my comfort zone and so I kept my goals in that narrow zone, but it wasn't giving me the smile at the end. The goals didn't excite me.

I was ready to sign up for my first 100-miler, when I wasn't even sure I wanted to do it.

I was looking at goals of beating all my PB's and I didn't really know why I'd want to. 

I have nothing but admiration for people who do run that far and I am waiting for the little voice in my head to tell me it's time; and it will, but it's not now. I have a yearning to do something different. Very different.

Strength training has really opened my eyes to the
 achievements in other fields (excuse the face).

Combining advice from two friends I came to realise that goals should be scary things. Things you're not sure you can complete. 

And so I have started setting myself a series of fitness challenges. 12 in total.

12 things that I have never done before, or never been as good as I would like to be.

Some are brand new and terrifying. Others are old demons which I need to battle again.

I know these are the right goals, because they make me smile or scared. The idea of training for them and completing them gives me a tingling feeling in the pit of my stomach. They are big scary things for me which are outside my comfort zone.

I started by saying that this blog wasn't for you. If you've read it and recognise yourself in these points feel free to get in touch. I'm always happy to discuss goal setting and training. 

But a note to the author when you read this back in a few months time as you are about to face some ridiculous challenge.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley

Remember what you have accomplished, but recognise it's not the end of the story. Just a chance to start a new chapter.

All of the training kit shown in this post is supplied by ink'n'burn. By ordering from them using the code dantoldme at the checkout you can get a 15% discount and a credit on your second order.

If you are interested in training techniques, weight management, group training, nutrition or starting a new physical challenge get in touch via my website.

Monday, 7 July 2014

You already know what is stopping you reaching your goals.

I read. A lot! All sorts of books, sports, sci-fi, crime thrillers, horrors; you name it and I will read it.

I love to read, it's calming for the brain, portable, private and keeps the mind open to new possibilities and concepts.

What it also does is fill my mind with information, which it stores away in the deepest darkest crannies, until such a time as it becomes useful (either professionally or in a pub quiz).

And so it was, the other day I was talking to a client about the challenges of improving body composition and making changes to effect that change. Like most clients, a healthier body composition is one of her goals.

She has made tremendous progress on weight loss through better nutrition and 5 months ago we started training together. Now she has better body shape, improved strength and a really healthy attitude to exercise. Her success has lead to setting new and tougher targets. Initially weight loss and strength gains come quickly, but as you get fitter and stronger, improvements are tougher to achieve.

We were talking about identifying the biggest barrier to making those improvements, when I mentioned Occam's razor to her.

Now this client is smart, so when she said she didn't know it I started to doubt the relevancy, but as I explained it to her the whole thing made complete sense.

Occam's razor states "entities should not be multiplied needlessly". I never really grasped it when I read that (seeing as 14th century philosophy isn't my strong point), but a simpler explanation is "all things being equal, the simplest answer is most often correct".

Also known as the principle of economy, using this principle you can quickly identify your barriers to reaching goals. It doesn't solve the problem, that's done with hard work and dedication, but it does give you a point in the right direction.

Doctors apparently use it to diagnose patients, looking at the given symptoms, the most likely diagnosis is the most probable one.

Take a moment to think about a goal you have set yourself but didn't reach. It could be a performance goal, fitness goal, anything.

Now when you think about what stopped you from reaching it, all things being equal, it becomes apparent what stopped you reaching it.

And unless you do something about it, that same barrier can stop you from getting reaching it again.

Last year I DNF'd at an ultramarathon. I did lots of running and training in the approach to the race. I was in good race shape and well prepared for it. But it didn't happen on the day. I've looked back on it a thousand times and beat myself up for stopping at the side of that road. Surely I could have pushed on.
Before the race, I felt great. It quickly went wrong!

If I really love running surely I would have carried on moving forwards, making that relentless forward progress.

But I didn't. 43 miles in I ground to a halt, made a phone call and got picked up. I blamed my training, the event, the trail (seriously, I told someone it wasn't my kind of trail (dick)), my kit, other people; literally anything and anyone else.

Looking back and considering Occam's razor, I know it was my nutrition that was off. I ballsed up from the start. I ate way too early in the morning, nothing just before the start and then nothing until the first aid station 13 miles in. Then I didn't eat enough and so on and so on. The record of my spectacular DNF is recorded here.

Running that race was a big goal for me and not finishing was a massive disappointmentt. But now I know what held me back I can be sure not to make the same mistake again.

The first step towards success is sometimes trying before failing. 

The second is continuing to try.

If you have any thoughts on this post please leave comments below or visit my website, or contact me at If you have read this and thought, "shit, I know what's holding me back" get in touch and let's start tackling those barriers.