I started this blog around a year ago, give or take a couple of weeks.
At the time I wasn’t in a very good place for various reasons and I had a lot of questions that I needed to ask myself at the time. Some of the answers I probably didn’t want to hear if I’m being honest. I had also entered an ultra marathon and had begun training for it. I never made the start line of the ultra marathon for many reasons.
A lot has changed in those 12 months.
Reflecting on the last 12 months and not being in a happy place at the time there were multiple things I needed to change in my life – some of those I have achieved and others are a work in progress. Compared to 12 months ago I am in a much better place now. I have moved and now have my own space – it is utter bliss.
I wasn’t happy where I was living and craved for my own space. The move has brought a lot of structure back into my life. I need structure in my life otherwise I get distracted and side-tracked and lose focus on the things I should be doing. When this happens a bad habit kicks in – procrastination – and when that happens I start drifting almost aimlessly. I’m aware of the things I should be doing but due to a lack of focus I put them off. When I put them off I feel guilty for doing so and that pushes me into a very low place as I feel I am letting myself down and selling myself short.
12 months ago I was bored in a role that I could do with my eyes closed. I’m much happier in my job as well. It involves a lot of travel at times but compared to my previous role it is more challenging and has allowed me to develop new skills and gain fresh knowledge. It has also allowed me to push myself professionally and I think that this has been noticed by senior managers. This could be useful for future opportunities.
12 months ago I had been knocked to the floor again. Very much like when this has happened in the past I refuse to stay down (even though that may look like the best option at the time). A few people have pointed this out to me over the last couple of months – there is something internal that refuses to stay down and give up, it is almost like I should be broken but it is just the start of something new and I’m just breaking myself in, having to start with a blank canvas refusing to accept defeat.
I’ve faced some very tough challenges over the years but have a huge inner reserve that always pulls me back up. It takes a certain amount of mental toughness to do that.
So things are much better than 12 months ago, lessons have been learnt, challenges overcome, opportunities taken and others missed. I’m constantly asking myself those tough questions and never accepting complacency.
Since moving I’ve got back into a training routine. Not being on the start line of the ultra marathon in August has been niggling away at me. It is something I need to complete for my own reasons. I’ve seen the event I want to do and now I’m happier with things. I will be on that start line next July and believe me I will cross that finish line as well.
It has been a little while since my last blog post and there have been a number of reasons for this. Work has been really busy and I seem to be travelling more and more with the role – it is tiring but on the whole I am enjoying it. I also felt I needed to take a break from writing the blog whilst I sorted out some aspects of my life, take a look at where I want to be and how to get to that point. I’m also in the process of moving as well which is fantastic and I’m really looking forward to that.
I’ve been busy buying furniture, house-plants and other stuff I need for when I move.
Due to several factors I’ve decided to pull out of running the ultra-marathon in August.
The training took a bit of a back-seat and there were a few minor niggles that had I ramped up the training could have led to longer term injuries – it is disappointing but I’m looking at what I can aim for in 2020.
I plan to start running again in the coming weeks – it does feel like it is going back to square one but once I get out there and start forming a decent plan it won’t take too long to get back into it and hopefully the niggles will have disappeared.
I have been getting out on the road the last few weeks cycling – it had been a little while since I had last been out so it was a bit of a shock to the system, especially when tackling some of the hills on the routes I train on. In a few weeks I should be back to a decent level of fitness.
I’ve also decided to return to fencing. It was a sport I took up when I left school around 30 years ago and I participated in it for around 5 years. It was a sport I really enjoyed and I had always said I would give it another go but over the years I never really looked into it. A quick google search last week and I found out where the local fencing club meets – it is literally opposite to where I am moving so I have no excuses really. Rather than waiting to join after I move I’m heading along in a couple of weeks and am really looking forward to participating again.
I’m naturally a competitive person so this will also be a great opportunity to start pushing myself in a different direction that isn’t all about long runs and long bike training.
Since my last blog entry I feel that I’ve grown as a person as well – work is pushing and challenging me a lot and that is a good thing. I feel that over the last couple of months I have really developed in my role. I feel that my moods have been a lot better over the last few months. The focus on the move has really helped with that. I’ve lived in Portsmouth for 2 years now and have made some fantastic friends, have a fairly decent social life, am looking forward to another season as a season ticket holder at Fratton Park and the roller-coaster of emotions that brings on Saturday afternoons, and on the whole feel settled down here.
I think back to October 2018 when I wasn’t happy, didn’t feel settled, didn’t want to live here at all, was fed up with work, and fed up with life in general. I have had to take a long hard look at myself quite a few times since then and look at who I am, look at what I want to achieve, look at whether it is possible, look at alternatives, and really had to dig deep at times. Sometimes making changes to life doesn’t happen instantaneously and there are going to be disappointments along the way. There are going to be times when things don’t go to plan. There are also going to be times when you need to change your mindset, your goals, and even your approach in order to get to where you want to be.
It has been a busy couple of weeks. The new role in work is going well as well as being extremely busy – I’m in my 5th week and it has been like being in the middle of a whirlwind. I’m loving it because I’m having to push myself daily and having to challenge myself daily as well.
It isn’t just in work that I’m busy but also out of work as well. A few months ago I was sitting at home alone feeling pretty fed up with life and knew I had to kick myself firmly up the arse to change that. I was in total denial about how much I had dragged myself down and when I looked in the mirror I didn’t like what I saw. I needed to change. In that moment I knew I had to turn things around. Months later and I feel fitter, feel stronger, feel more in control, and feel happier. It was a tough call to make that change. It isn’t the first time I’ve had to do that in my life.
In my late twenties I was in a real rut and suffering from a chronic bout of depression that resulted in me taking a large paracetamol overdose – I wanted to check out as I saw no other way out. I was riddled with guilt about choices, decisions and events that had happened in my life. I was chronically unhappy. I couldn’t see how I could change my life. I spent a week in hospital recovering and was told I was lucky to be alive. I was told the amount of paracetamol I had taken should have killed me.
When I was discharged from hospital I vowed that I needed to turn things around and worked my arse off to do so and continue to do so to this day. When I looked in the mirror last year I knew I needed to take ownership and be accountable again and get back on track, that there had to be more than this and I was the only person that could change things – no one was going to turn things around for me. Life isn’t a rehearsal and we only get one shot at it.
Sometimes the hard part is admitting that there is a problem and there needs to be major change. Making those changes is not an easy option, it means taking yourself well and truly out of your comfort zone, pushing yourself, pushing yourself hard, pushing yourself even harder – do more, be more. It takes effort to do that.
Someone I know has hit that point where they have realised they need to make some major changes because how they are living is destructive and unsustainable. When I found out I knew how they felt as I’d been in that place before. I’ve chatted to them quite a bit since Sunday and we both know that it isn’t going to be easy but it is achievable to make those changes for the better.
I’ve told them not to look solely at the bigger goal but to break it down into much smaller achievable goals. If you make a 1% change to your life every week then in 6 months you could be in a much better place. In a year just imagine what you could achieve. 1% change each week.
To do that takes heart, it takes discipline, it takes effort, it takes commitment. Most people don’t do this – they remain in a rut, they are in denial, they embrace mediocrity. They don’t make changes and remain in their comfort zone. Closed minds and the easy option all the time. Some of the toughest people I know are those who have looked in the mirror and have said ‘things need to change’ and have effected that change. It is not an easy thing to do. It is not the easy option.
If you want to make changes I challenge you to do so – each week write down that 1% change you’ve made – and then in 6 months see how much you’ve achieved and how much things have changed.
It has been a week of thinking and evaluating. I find this important.
It has been busy as I come to the end of my second week in my new role – some of it has been a bit of a baptism of fire but I love that – being thrown in at the deep end or it being tough. It helps me become a lot more resilient a lot quicker as well as adapting.
I’m having to learn quickly and adapt even quicker. I’m in my absolute element when I do this.
When I was delivering a workshop a few days ago I did question my ability as it was the first time I’d delivered this particular workshop and the material – I had a minor wobble. I went to the toilet and looked in the mirror and told myself I was delivering the workshop because I have the knowledge, the experience, the confidence, the skill to do so, and am the credible expert with the capability who got the role – wobble well and truly over.
I’m in this role because I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone and because I want to see what I’m really capable of. So very few people do this today – they are so happy and content to stay in their comfort zones because it is cosy and safe.
Not me. I don’t want a comfort zone at all – I want the hurt locker. I want to push myself – where is my limit? I don’t know but I want to find out.
The hurt locker is the place where I truly excel – when I am finding things tough, when things are starting to overwhelm me, when I should probably throw the towel in and give up – that is when I dig deep and find that little bit more inside myself to carry and push even harder. I have many motivators that allow me to dig deep into my hurt locker. Past experiences that have placed me in tough or difficult circumstances and I’ve had to dig deep to get through them – I look back on those and think I got through that time or that situation so why not now.
I look at those who doubted me or hurt me in the past – I look at the hurt they caused and yeah it was tough at the time and it may have knocked me down but it certainly didn’t knock me out. I look deep into my hurt locker and say to myself I’m better than you and I always will be. That hurt gave me strength and purpose and allowed me to push on more and further – those that hurt me are no longer in my life as I’ve left them way behind in so many aspects.
My motivators allow me to say to myself what if I give that little bit more? What could I achieve if I pushed that little bit harder? What am I capable of if I look inside the hurt locker and dig deep?
I was speaking to a colleague in work who I hadn’t seen for a while and she made an interesting comment (based around my relationships and how they have failed) and said I seemed to be a “real sh*t magnet”. To an extent I agreed. Then I thought about this in the greater context – yeah I’ve had some really horrible things happen in my life, I’ve experienced things that are not great, sometimes I’ve felt that I’ve suffered the consequences harder than I should have, and I’ve gone through some really tough situations as well. But that is life – one thing life is not – a fairy-tale. So maybe it isn’t just with relationships I seem to be a sh*t magnet but also in life at times – but that is life.
Had I not gone through all those things I would not be the person I am today – someone who is determined, driven, dedicated, who won’t stay down when knocked down.
Less than 6 months to go until the ultra-marathon.
I know in that time I am going to have to put a lot of training in. Having started my new role in work as well I am going to have to train smart as work is going to be very busy.
I’ve put in a very good weeks training last week and am pleased with the progress I am making – I’ve added some more strength work into the programme as this is going to be important. I’ve started to think more critically about my nutrition plan for the event as well – there are no feed stations along the event so I need to be fully self-sufficient during the day. I’ve already purchased a rather smart race vest/pack which has a drinks bladder in it, pockets for gels, bars and additional drinks bottles and thankfully space for my trusty MP3 player.
The new MP3 was also a recent purchase – 4GB of space and 17 hours battery life – ideal for those long training runs and the event itself. I’ve currently uploaded 470 tracks onto it and it is a real mixed bag – Killing Joke, Tool, The Prodigy, Jah Wobble, Fleetwood Mac, Motorhead, Black Flag, Fugazi, Public Enemy, Pink Floyd, The Fall, Iron Maiden, Bad Brains, Johnny Cash, The Cult, Cockney Rejects, and a ton of other stuff.
I’d actually be lost without running with the MP3 on. It just helps me to switch off and keeps me focused. Keeping focused on those longer runs is going to be really important – especially on those 3 hour runs which can turn into a bit of a slog and a bit of a mind-games battle.
I know from past experience in events that there are going to be those mental dips or lows – when you start to question whether you need to stop, need to slow down, worrying that a very slight niggle might be that dreaded injury that you just don’t need. It is really important to be able to shut those thoughts away and focus on moving forwards. It is important to be able to focus on those next couple of steps, the next mile, getting to the next lamp-post – rather than thinking of the enormity of it just breaking it down into much smaller chunks.
My strategy for the actual event is going to be getting to each bridge on the event – not thinking solely on the finish line but breaking it down into much smaller, more achievable targets.
There are around 20 bridges to pass (and go over) during the event – so 20 smaller, more achievable targets. That also works out well when planning my nutrition strategy – I will have a much better idea of when I need to be getting those essential fluids into me, needing to be taking on board energy gels and energy bars as well.
The kit I use and wear on the day of the event is going to be important and I have a very good idea of what I will be using already on the day. I have the kit already – a few trips to Decathlon has sorted that out and no doubt a few more between now and the event will be made (mainly for additional pairs of running socks). The plan is to wear the kit I will be wearing on the day on my longer runs – not only does that pre-planning help with any potential mistakes but it will also help with that focus as well. It will really home in on the target.
The weather on the day is going to be a major factor. If it is hot will I use an energy drink mix or an electrolyte mix? Headwear – running cap or visor?
if it is raining do I need to take spare socks to change into at some point? (it may be that one small thing I do that could reduce blisters perhaps).
So very much some of the training in the lead up to the event just isn’t about putting the miles in but getting the nutrition correct and using the correct kit for both the event and conditions. On the day this fine detailed planning could be the difference between a well-executed race and one that leaves many questions around preparation.
This week marks the end of an era in work as I leave one role and begin another – I’ve been delivering induction courses in work since 2014 and in my new role will no longer be doing this. It is going to be strange because of a lot of colleagues (many of whom I’ve trained) know me as the person who does the induction course.
On Wednesday I finished my last ever induction course and as I reflected on how the course had gone I had a sense that I had drawn a line under that part of my career – no looking back, no going back. My new role is going to challenge me and really put my skills and knowledge to the test – that is good. It is going to take me out of my comfort zone – that is good. It is going to push me – that is good. I’ve been given two projects to get on with straight away and I’m determined to set a high benchmark for myself straight away – I’ll look at it and think what would make it better and then look at it again and think what will make it much better – that marginal gain element.
I knew 2019 was the year I needed to push myself, challenge myself, and really get out of my comfort zone. I’ve always felt the need to challenge myself and push myself. I’ve never been one to sit back and accept it for how it is. I’ve always asked the questions around what are my limits, what am I really capable of if I try that little bit harder.
Some people look at me and probably think I’m not very ambitious or driven. The thing is I’m never one to shout out about that (I shout at myself inwards about it). In my down time, such as having a few beers with friends for example, I’d rather have a good laugh than be serious all the time – that is why I see it as my down time. This is the time when I blow off a bit of steam but it doesn’t mean I’m not ambitious or driven anymore.
So today is St Valentine’s Day – not that it means a great deal to me. I actually think it is a manufactured load of rubbish. But hey I’m single so why would I care anyway!!!
Single through choice. I’m alone but I don’t feel lonely. Over the last week I’ve thought about what being single actually means to me. I set my own agenda and it isn’t based upon what someone else thinks or what they expect from me. I’m not confined or pressurised into the expectations of someone else – I’m not being viewed or judged on what I should be or what I should be saying or asking. I don’t get let down and if I do it is only by myself and I learn from that and I build upwards from that.
I’ve been in relationships where on the one hand the other person has said I don’t need to change anything and on the other tries to change things about me. What is that all about!!!! If you feel the need to change that person should you even be with them in the first place – the answer to that has to be a big fat NO. If you are happy in yourself why change for someone – that change is obviously based upon their own insecurities and issues and probably means they have a fear of changing themselves so it is easier to give someone else the hard time and get them to change you instead. Leave them behind and continue being you and being the best you.
I’ve been thinking of what drives me and what makes me determined to complete things over the last couple of days. One of those things is when people doubt me and almost due to their own negative outlook want to tar me with this and say, ‘you can’t do that’ or ‘you won’t do that’. Big mistake really as I’ve been told that so many times in my life that now I just find it hilarious – it is like a gauntlet has been thrown down at my feet and I can’t resist picking it up straight away to prove that person so wrong.
Years ago I was looking at entering a triathlon – it was a sport that had always fascinated me and there wasn’t a great deal of information out there about the sport (we are talking back in the dark ages when the internet didn’t exist and it was a very, very grassroots sport in the UK at the time) and I told someone about this and they told me – ‘you won’t do that, way too difficult, you won’t even get to the start line let alone finish’. I was not impressed. I finished that race (it was only a short sprint distance race) and went on to finish many more over the years – multiple half ironman distance races, 4 ironman distance races, 9 marathons, and raced for Great Britain in my age group in a European Long-Distance Championships – all the time I remembered that person who had said to me ‘you won’t’.
In work about 5 years ago I applied for a different role, got to interview and felt it was an ok interview and I had given some good examples of the work I had done and was capable of. I wasn’t successful and one of the reasons given was I hadn’t evidenced enough managerial ability when I felt I had.
I eventually moved roles and was determined to prove that manager wrong – I worked hard as a manager and then started delivering a managerial and leadership course where the manager actually got their staff to attend the course as it would be good for their development and it was felt they needed to become better managers – Oh! The irony!!!! Now I’m about to move into a role to design and develop managerial and leadership courses!
The one thing I have always been is driven and determined. I may go through spells in my life where my mental health is low and I feel depressed, I may feel like life has knocked me down but it has never knocked me out and I have always got up and always dug in deep and gone on to better things. 47 years undefeated.
I have a tendency to look at myself and say this is just not working or this is not good enough and ask myself what is ‘much better’ – they are not pipe dreams and fanciful ideas but things I know I can achieve.
At times I am brutally hard on myself because I know what I am capable of if I am driven and determined to do so. When people say to things like ‘I’m going to be honest and you may not like what is said’ is so weak to me as I have probably done that tenfold at every minor detail myself as I look towards ‘much better’.
So last year when I hit a real low and was knocked down again that drive and determination was there once more. Yet again I have proved to those who doubt that I am still undefeated, I am stronger, I am harder, and I still possess that drive and determination.
In my last blog entry I wrote about taking risks and challenging convention. I also wrote about making mistakes and it being part of the learning process.
Within my training I try to apply this and like with any well thought out plan you have a certain level of control on how this is applied – there are some unknowns involved in that as well and also some uncontrollable elements as well (weather and terrain for example).
Devising an effective training plan requires placing lots of small steps in place over a set amount of time to reach a much bigger goal – it is also a learning curve as well and mistakes will be made along the way and it is how that learning is applied so those mistakes do not become habit and are part of the norm leading to overall poor performance, lack of motivation and losing sight of that much bigger goal.
As you may also recall from the last blog entry I decide to take risks and challenge convention by going out on a date with someone I was seeing last year – in doing so I felt I was breaking one of my golden rules – never go out with someone you’ve previously split up with. It was a really good evening and it was fantastic to speak to each other positively about things we had achieved since we last saw each other and what plans we had for the future.
On Wednesday morning I was feeling very optimistic that if there was a plan in place and we took those small steps then that bigger goal was more than achievable. Wednesday afternoon I was feeling deflated after receiving a text from my date – she had also had a fantastic evening, felt that there was still a major spark there and was somewhat optimistic as well but was very hesitant due to the fact I hadn’t spoken about one particular topic and that put question marks over whether there was indeed any future.
To receive that at work by text was a bit of a body blow really – I would much rather have dealt with that issue/concern over the phone or face to face and expressed this in my reply.
Things then escalated and became slightly argumentative and I felt that all the positives of that evening had been brushed aside and was being replaced with a negative and I was suddenly under the microscope.
We had not seen each other for months and my main focus that evening was to see how we got on and whether there was any possibility of a second date – nothing more, nothing less – and I felt this was a more than reasonable expectation. A second date would have included conversation about the topic I hadn’t spoken about on the first – I’m certain of it – and had it not then maybe a text of that kind I received would have been more than justified.
Instead I’ve put the barriers back up, there will be no second date, and I feel that it may well have been a mistake to have broken my golden rule in the first place. I spent yesterday evening licking my wounds a bit, feeling upset and hurt and retreating back into myself which was not good considering how I had felt that morning.
This morning I’ve looked at what I am now considering a mistake and rather than seeing myself as a failure have looked at what I have learnt from the experience instead and how I move on from this. Instead of the ‘what ifs’ I used to ask in the past I took risk, challenged my normal conventional way of thinking but it hasn’t worked – that doesn’t matter though because I gave it a go and I felt I had shown that evening I was a changed person (and for the better).
I gave something a go, it didn’t work, I’ve learnt some things, and because of that I don’t see that as failure but progress in myself. As far as any future dating is concerned – I think I’ll give it a very, very, very wide berth and concentrate on the new job and training.
Only a couple of weeks until I start my new role and to say I’m excited about the challenge ahead is somewhat of an understatement.
I’m relishing the opportunity to be creative and think a lot outside the box – willing to take risks and challenge convention – but not just in the work but also my own development as a person.
So far this year I’ve been looking at different aspects of my life and thought what does ‘much better’ look like and start aiming for that.
Last week after I had my yearly appraisal I felt that in 7-8 years’ time I should be managing learning and development in a company or organisation – that is what ‘much better’ looks like and I am formulating a fluid and evolving plan to make that happen.
In my training for the ultra-marathon I am not fixated on my finish time but am starting to look more and more closely at my training to see what ‘much better’ looks like – I currently run and do some core strength workouts. I’m looking at what other training I could be doing to improve my fitness, endurance, stamina, strength, and my mindset as well and am starting to challenge my normal conventional thinking and looking at other options for training as well.
Even entering the ultra-marathon fits into the take risks and challenge convention way of thinking. I’m not placing limits on myself by entering such an event – if I was I’d be content with running 5ks on a Saturday morning or completing another marathon or triathlon. I’ve taken my thinking outside the box by entering the event.
Dear reader I challenge you to look at one small area of your life and think what does ‘much better’ look like and how will it improve you as a person and how might it improve your life?
Another aspect of my life I had to take a long hard look at last week was whether I was happy going out dating – the dates were ok, decent conversation but it felt like something was missing and there was something niggling in the back of my mind both times.
I’ve always vowed never to go out with someone again if I’d split up with them. This evening I’m breaking my golden rule and am going out with the person I split up with last year.
I’ve no idea what will happen. It seems like a good idea as we still care a lot about each other and still have strong feelings for each other. It didn’t work out last time but that doesn’t mean it won’t this time – we have both developed in our own ways and hopefully that will make a huge difference this time around – I don’t know. Rather than having that niggling in the back of my mind I’ll take a risk and challenge my usual conventional way of thinking.
No matter what the outcome is at least I’ve not sat back, shied away and been left asking those ‘what if’ questions which I was always prone to do in the past. Maybe it was a lack of confidence that made me do that all the time or maybe it was being very rigid with my rules and not willing to step out of my comfort zone.
One of the things with taking risk and challenging convention is mistakes are going to be made – this is a good thing though. In the past I tended to see mistakes linked with failure and if I made mistakes would I see myself as a failure. Seeing myself as a failure was hardly conducive to my mental health and it would drag me down.
Making mistakes is part of a learning process, helps with improvement and helps someone to develop. It requires creative thinking, the ability to take stock and look at how things could be done differently. If we remain rigid in our thinking and approach this does not happen and we remain static.
When I woke up on New Year’s Day I made a promise to myself that I would make 2019 a year to remember (and for good reasons) and hit the ground running.
I had a call yesterday offering the role that I interviewed for – to say I’m delighted is a bit of an understatement. The role sounds a lot better than I originally anticipated with a lot of opportunity for development and allowing for creativity with learning design. That is something my current role doesn’t really offer so as you can probably imagine I’m absolutely chomping at the bit to get started. It is going to be a lot of hard work but I’m relishing that. I have a real passion and enthusiasm for developing people so they reach their full potential and beyond so this is going to be a brilliant role for me.
I’ve also been out on a couple of dates with someone and that has gone really well – we both have a passion for running and cycling which is fantastic.
The training is still going well (though I did miss my run yesterday due to heading to the pub to celebrate getting the new job) and the runs are getting longer each week now. I enjoy the long runs as they allow me to switch off and I’m just focused on putting one foot in front of the other.
Although I feel that 2019 has got off to a good start there is still room for improvement and I also need to be mindful that there are still going to be some tough challenges and situations. I need to be careful that I have the resilience to cope with those dips and also to foresee them if I can.
There is still a long way to go on this journey and although I’ve made a good start to the year much of the hard graft is still in front of me and there are going to be times when I really need to dig deep and persevere in order to achieve better things. I know from past experiences I have the capability to do this.
Richard Guy, 47 years of age, born and grew up in London and have lived in Portsmouth since 2017.