As we leave 2020 behind I think a lot of people will be glad to see the back of it. Personally I will view 2020 with bitter-sweet memories. It started off well, got better even with the pandemic and then descended into disaster. I know some of the reasons why and others not and will probably never know.
So onto 2021....
My aim is to become a better person and a much better version of myself. I’m not perfect and will never claim to be so. I have many faults and realise this. The aim is to work on the faults I’ve identified.
There is a lot I want to achieve in 2021, and I will achieve all those things I’ve listed. I sat down a couple of nights ago and made a list of 10 things that were important to me, that will help to improve me both personally and professionally.
A couple of months ago I entered the Serpent Trail 50k run – the training is going well. The training is consistent, and I am as focused as I have been in years. I won’t be taking my eye off the ball with this one for certain. I feel I put a decent base down in 2020, I completed the virtual challenge I entered (and have now entered another with a few others planned to keep the motivation and drive going).
I’ll also be returning to study as well for another professional qualification. I gave it some thought mid-2020 but didn’t feel it was the right thing to do at the time, didn’t feel that it was the right time professionally to take this on. Things are different now, and I feel prepared to undertake this. The people in work I’ve spoken to have highlighted that I have an amazing work ethic and a very positive attitude – nice to hear that sometimes though I don’t always see it myself. I’m guessing that is the difference between how we appear and the internal dialogue we have with ourselves.
Over the last few months I’ve been doing a lot of reading and have rediscovered my love of literature – I’ve earmarked some books I really need to read in over the next few months, some have been sat on the bookshelf for a while and others I need to purchase.
Over the last few months I’ve had to really make sure I’m looking after my mental health. Like many I’m still working from home, I live on my own, and like many I feel isolated a lot of the time. Sometimes I really enjoy the solitude. Other times not so much – it is these times when I need to be very mindful and not be too hard on myself – this is something I really need to address in 2021. I am my harshest critic, always have been, always will be. However, I do need to give myself a pat on the back a bit more, be more realistic about the things I have achieved rather than focusing on what I could have done better when I’ve achieved something (I think as long as I’ve put my best effort and best version of myself into it then that should be celebrated). Yes, there is always room for improvement, but it is how we evaluate that. Again it is the internal dialogue. How many times do I tell myself something I’ve done is not good enough?
I sometimes think a lot about the impact I make and the impact I can make. One person is not going to the change the world – that is totally unrealistic. I do believe that small actions can make a difference and small actions can provide a positive influence on others to change to make a difference as well. If enough people do this, then maybe the world can change to become a better place. I’ve already started taking those small actions and hope in 2021 to influence others to do the same. Changes take time and are sometimes not instant.
No year is ever going to be perfect, that is impossible, and we are all going to have regrets on things that have happened, been said, not done, not said, or even missed opportunities. As I reflect on this I realise this more than most. I think 2020 has taught me a lot both about myself, how I view the world, and how I view other people. 2020 has highlighted many things to me on many levels. I’m certain that in 12 months time I will view the year based on what I have achieved and how much impact I have made personally, professionally and the impact that this has had. Like 2020 there will be things I would like to be different, some of those things may be out of my influence or control and I need to accept that and focus on those things where I became a better version of myself – not perfect just a better version.
And so the lockdown continues. As we are entering June 2020 I have days when I’m struggling to remind myself of what normal life was like prior to this global event that has affected virtually the whole planet.
It has been a strange couple of months (putting it in such an understated way). I’ve not seen many members of my family and friends since we went into lockdown and that has been tough. I’ve been working really hard on putting things into perspective and really appreciating what I have got in that time. I’m using the resources that I have at hand and have had to change many things so that I am not going into moods that are low and a potential downwards spiral.
Exercise is really important to me and I’m continuing to challenge myself by seeing how fit I can get at the moment. After completing ‘Dry January’ at the start of the year I’ve also completed ‘Dry May’ (if that is a ‘thing’) and had also abstained from alcohol for the majority of April as well – I think I had 3 cans of lager in the early part of the month. I think that has really helped with my fitness, motivation, and outlook on things.
The exercise and having a goal (completing the Appalachian Trail Virtual Challenge) has really helped out as well – rather than just exercising for the sake of it I’m working towards a target that means I have to push myself as well.
The training is going well and the mileage has certainly increased over the last couple of weeks. I completed my longest run for a few years over the weekend – 10 miles. I’m really lucky that I have some really nice places where I can train and get out for a run. I spoke to a friend recently that said they would love to be able to run by the sea. I must admit it is something I have taken for granted but as some photos show it is a nice place to be able to run (or cycle or walk for that matter).
I also did a 4-hour session on the bike trainer as well – they are not the most interesting of sessions believe me (no scenery, no change in terrain, uncomfortable, and pretty hot as well). I’ve now completed 827.4 miles (ca. 1,332 km) of the challenge and have a mere 1,140.9 miles (ca. 1,836 km) to the ‘virtual finish’ line. I’m starting to have a serious think about what this means when life goes back to ‘normal’. Considering the time and effort I have put into the training – I’d basically start from scratch again – I don’t really want to let all the hard work and effort go to the wayside.
When I started this blog a while back I had a target of finishing an ultra-marathon and that still remains a key goal. At the moment (and especially within the current climate) I have no specific event in mind (though I have a few ideas). I’ve also looked at some Ironman-Distance triathlons, and I am having a serious think whether to challenge myself again to race that distance.
The lockdown has taught me a few things actually. Along with finding inspiration and motivation within adversity and challenging times I have also learnt that I’m able to fully function without certain things I would normally take for granted. I’ve usually been pretty good at adapting to changing situations or a changing environment and again have proved to myself that by adapting the abnormal becomes normal and familiar relatively quickly.
On the whole I’ve remained really positive and that is good.
This lockdown has thrown up multiple challenges and I know that sometimes it can be really, really tough (especially with no end in real sight). If you are struggling please be kind to yourself, accept that some days are going to be difficult, give yourself small targets to achieve, and most importantly stay safe and keep well.
And so, the lock-down and social distancing continues. It is all very strange. It is strange not seeing friends and family. It is strange having to totally adapt to a new way of working. It is strange not doing any travelling for work, something that became the norm last year. It is strange attending multiple meetings and delivering courses over zoom sessions.
Things I usually took for granted have changed dramatically – going to the shops, going to the pub with friends, and going to football.
One of the things I have been really impressed with is the way that communities have pulled together to support each other – whether this is in a practical or emotional sense. I really hope that this continues once we get back to a more ‘normal’ way of life.
As the lockdown has continued it has sometimes been a challenge to find ways of keeping oneself occupied – I’ve probably done more quizzes in the last couple of weeks than I have done in the last couple of years!!!! I need to read more though. A number of box sets on DVD have been watched yet again.
My ‘lockdown’ fitness challenge has kept me going and it is something I’ve been enjoying. I’m currently making my way along the Appalachian Trail. I had initially said I was only going to count my run miles in this but after doing the maths and looking at the distance I calculated it would take me around two years to complete!!!!! The app allows for any fitness activity to be included. As I’m also doing a few sessions a week on my indoor bike trainer I figured I might as well include these miles as well – after all it is training and it is keeping me fit. So to date (26 days since I started the challenge) I’ve covered 330 miles leaving just 1,638 miles to go. Looking on the map that plots the progress it can sometimes seem a bit daunting looking at how far I’ve got to go but that is all part of the fun I guess!
The runs and bike sessions are getting longer every week, so I’m determined to finish this as soon as I can.
With many races cancelled this year it has been good to have a goal to work towards.
I’ve noticed when I’ve been out running the number of people exercising – either running, walking or cycling. This is fantastic and I really hope that this continues once the rules around social distancing are relaxed, and we return to a more ‘normal’ way of life.
I’ve also noticed on social media the number of people that are taking up some of the virtual fitness challenges as well and it has been fantastic to see.
I like challenges and I enjoy having targets and goals to strive towards. I know for a fact that if I was just training for the sake of training my motivation levels would drop quite quickly as would my mood which would have an effect on my mental well-being.
It is amazing at the moment just some of the small things that people can and are doing, despite the huge challenges that the lockdown and social-distancing are bringing, to keep themselves occupied.
Until next time, keep well and stay safe, and remember those small changes each day can make a huge impact over time.
These are very strange times we are currently living in. We have all had to adapt to a different way of life and quickly. The things we considered to be normal and routine, things we didn’t even give a second thought about suddenly become things that are temporarily removed or changed in our lives.
I, like most, grumble a bit when change is suggested – it removes the normal and I question whether it is really a better way of doing things. Personally, I have had to adapt very quickly to the changes we have had to make. I can be a bit of a stickler for routine as well. So a new routine it was then.
Most of the races I had planned to do this year look like they are going to be cancelled or postponed. I didn’t see that as an excuse for not training though. We started the social distancing on Monday 23rd March, I started a new training schedule then. This was to get me into a routine where I’ve got something to focus on whilst working from home.
I’m still running and it is good to get out and do that still. The roads are much emptier and with fewer people about. It feels really strange running through places that are normally busy but are now deserted. I’m still doing sessions on the bike trainer as well.
I haven’t really been working to a plan other than being consistent and getting fitter – I didn’t really start with any goals or targets in mind if I’m being honest and that in itself has been strange. I’ve been clocking up the hours on the bike trainer and ticking off the miles whilst out running. I’m just coming to the end of my first 4 week block of training – I completed 22 sessions in 22 days which I was really pleased about.
At the beginning of the week I found a virtual challenge website which looked really interesting and after investigating further I decided to sign up to it. Some of the challenges looked pretty good on the site – you can clock up the distance by walking, cycling or running – cool. Never to do one by half measures I decided to sign up to do a virtual run of the Appalachian Trail in America. The total distance is 1,968 miles!!!!! That is the equivalent of running 75 marathons!!!! So every time I head out for a run now, I come back and enter my mileage onto the site and it moves me slowly but surely along the route on the map!!!! I’ve logged my miles from Saturday 4th April and have already completed a distance equivalent of 1 marathon – OK, 1 down, 74 to go – progress in the right direction. Wow! I have a target to work towards with my training which is fantastic. It is also keeping me focused and my motivation up now. Why the Appalachian Trail though? There were other routes on the site that I could have covered ‘virtually’ such as Lands End to John O’Groats, The Inca Trail, Hadrian's Wall, and Route 66.
Having an interest in ultra-endurance events the Appalachian Trail has been a course used by ultra-runners looking who can cover the distance the quickest. The record currently stands at a staggering 41 days!!!! I just thought it would be an interesting challenge to take on, I’m not looking to set any records, it is just to give me some focus and a target to aim for.
In these unprecedented times I think it is really important for our well-being to have things to focus on no matter how big or small. Set yourself a goal or a target and have fun doing.
Stay safe everyone.
It has been a couple of months since I have done a blog entry. Things have been pretty busy over the last couple of months, which is one of the reasons I haven’t sat down to write anything. There have been a few changes since I last wrote and I’ve started 2020 feeling really positive and really optimistic about the year and the future.
I decided that it was time to really make some changes in my life and take full on ownership of those changes. I started the year by committing to dry January and cutting out alcohol completely for January. It was easier than I thought it was going to be and it was really good to start the year by achieving that.
When I first started this blog I wasn’t happy with my life in lots of ways. I think this is partly down to the way I am, the way I see myself, and the way I see what I should be achieving. I spent a lot of time last year asking questions about myself and what I was capable of. I also spent a lot of time pushing myself – especially in work – always asking questions and constantly challenging myself. ‘What if….?’ was a constant throughout the year.
There is uncertainty in work again – another restructure and there is the risk of redundancy. Not ideal but I have some influence on the roles I can go for and what my capabilities are. I joined a new team around a year ago and felt like I was a very small fish in a very, very big ocean. Over the year I have achieved quite a lot in work, and I am hoping this is both realised and recognised in the selection process.
I’m never one who enjoys taking credit or compliments from others but some of the feedback I’ve received from managers and colleagues leads me to believe I am destined for bigger and better things at work.
When I first started this blog I was determined to complete an ultra-distance marathon. That is still a goal and will be something I achieve. However, I’ve been realistic in terms of my capabilities and set this as a longer term target for either 2021 or 2022.
I am training still and have set myself some more realistic targets for this year, so I can get back into a more varied and structured way of training. I’m hoping that having a variation will also result in me remaining injury free (something that has hampered my training over the last year).
I am planning on doing some running events, a couple of triathlons, some sportive cycle events, and hopefully finish the year with a marathon. Rather than focusing on one event I’ve decided to have smaller targets across the year so I can adapt the training and the focus before taking on that much bigger challenge.
I’ve made a good start to 2020 and I am determined to keep that going. I have people in my life who mean a lot to me, improve my life, make me happy, and make me laugh.
I spent a lot of last year looking at the things and the people who made me feel negative and decided to fully distance myself from them – it was an easy choice to make.
I looked at my own behaviours and what triggers those behaviours – again eliminating the negativity was an easy choice to make.
My mindset has changed for 2020. I used to feel that if I wasn’t achieving everything I needed to then I didn’t have the right to feel happy about things. I felt in constant conflict with myself and I’ve realised that this is not good. We all have a right to be happy and that should be on our own terms and our own terms only. Other people can have an influence on this but it is down to us as individuals to decide how we feel.
Richard Guy, 47 years of age, born and grew up in London and have lived in Portsmouth since 2017.