No Human Is Limited

Brilliant song, lyrics and all…it’s like 3 songs in 1…”This is the beginning of the rest of your life…” – listening to this while writing.

Where were you when…?

I have not yet lived long enough to see a human set foot on the moon, or England win the world cup, but on Saturday 12th October I watched and cheered as Eliud Kipchoge ran 26.2 miles in 1:59:40. I am not a massive spectator of sport, but this was such a thrilling event and I feel very lucky to have witnessed it live – even if it was on my laptop in the kitchen, and not in Vienna at the finish line.

Regardless of what anyone else writes or says about it “not counting” (Maffetone? WTF?), the man is a living legend. Five years younger than me, a world record holder and Olympic gold medallist. He radiates wisdom and kindness, and he’s a grafter. As much as I applaud his athletic feats, his work ethic and devotion to his family and team are as good a reason to admire the man.

I might be a bit cynical, but I can’t help imagine a whole team of INEOS marketing people sat around a big table in a boardroom meeting and coming up with, “no human is limited.” It might just be that hearing Eliud say it so many times in the build up and then at the finish, it seemed so rehearsed. That could just be due to him speaking in English and feeling the need to replicate certain phrases exactly? Regardless, I agree with the sentiment. I think the majority of limitations we face are self-imposed, or forced upon us by others – but they’re not real. So if there are no limits, how high am I going to aim?

The Year Ahead

I don’t consider myself one to boast, but I am really proud of my athletic achievements over the past year. There were no 1st places, gold meals or sub 2 hour marathons, but whether it was the London marathon (3:24), my first two triathlons (2:52 Olympic), the Spitfire Scramble (3rd place) or the Three Peaks Challenge (23 hrs 51 mins), I have given them all a good go. More importantly, I’ve got some great memories from taking on these challenges and I think they have changed me, made me a better version of my imperfect self.

I don’t do these challenges for medals, and would swap these for a decent photo from the event any day – but luckily I have both in most cases.

I have blown right past my original goals of being at a healthy weight and developing a regular exercise routine. I can’t see myself slipping too far from this new personal baseline I have set – it’s just part of who I am now. I am a runner. I run most mornings, in a fasted state, using the Maffetone method.

Touch wood, I haven’t had any heart issues for over 18 months, and hopefully the reveal device implanted in my left pectoral can be removed soon. While the doctors are doing that, they can sign my doctor’s permission slip for the Paris Marathon! I had to pull out of this in April 2017 because the cardiologist advised me against running a marathon. I’ve since been given the all clear on that front, but haven’t entered Paris since. Yes, I could have lied and signed this myself…I’m sure they don’t check…but it just didn’t seem like the sane thing to do!

So my athletic calendar for the next year looks like this:

10 Week Shred AND HEAL – now – christmas

Between now and the Christmas holidays, I am going to be SUPER STRICT with my diet and exercise routine to focus on the following:

  • Build an aerobic base using the MAF method – running (4-5 times a week, 20-60 mins) while keeping my heart rate below 141 bpm
  • Lower body fat percentage (from 20.5% body fat to 15%) – eliminate alcohol, refined sugar and most carbs Monday – Friday
  • Greater hamstring flexibility – daily morning loosening exercises, post-run and evening stretching
  • Eliminate lower back issues (pain/injury) – daily stretching, foam rolling and exercise
13/10/19…20.5% and 72kg. I don’t worry about my weight, but the amount of fat I’m carrying goes up so easily if I don’t watch the SUGAR/CARBS…damn you sweet tooth! Sober October is a doddle however.

paris marathon – APRIL

On Sunday the 5th April 2020 I hope to be running in this event. Not for a time, just for the mileage, the practice, the experience…so no pressure whatsoever. This is really exciting for me, as the stress is taken out of it. I will still set some sort of goal (even splits, or negative splits?) and I don’t like the idea of running for more than 4 hours, but still, no pressure.

This is all leading up to my big goal for 2020…Berlin…a sub 3 hour marathon!

Royal Windsor Triathlon (Olympic Distance) – JUNE

In mid-June I will be taking part in this event for the second year running. Obviously I would like to achieve a better time than last year (2:52), but my main focus for the event is having good technique in all three disciplines, rapid transitions and injury-free completion of the event.

I want to put in some decent mileage on the turbo, and get some swim coaching and analysis. As part of my cross-training for Berlin I would like to swim once a week (pool until the lakes open) and cycle (indoors until spring) a couple of times each week.

I will do a sprint distance triathlon beforehand – hopefully Thorpe Park again, as I really enjoyed that I could take my family to the theme park afterwards. But any sprint to dust off the cobwebs…and check my gear all still works (and fits)!

Spitfire Scramble – JULY

I cannot believe that our team came third last time! I know I can do better, if I can sort my back out, and keep up my running mileage after any triathlons or spring marathon. I think that this challenge is little bit insane, but I know where I went wrong last time and I can fix those issues. There may be other issues next time, and I’ll learn some more, but I think mainly, the mileage (done sensibly) could be really beneficial for Berlin.

Berlin Marathon Sub 3 Hour Attempt – SEPTEMBER

I want to run a sub 3 hour marathon (have I mentioned this?) – just once – then my competitive days are over. I can retire happily with a 2:59 to my name…I have unfinished business with the marathon distance otherwise!

I don’t think I could rule out running another marathon afterwards as I enjoy them too much, but it would be great to get a place as a pacer, or just jog the distance in various marathons around the world – like I intend to do in Paris – and take in the scenery and crowds.

…AND THEN…?

Well, there are so many other things that I am tempted to do and I can’t do them all. But if there really are no limits…?

Iron Man? But definitely a half Iron Man first! Oh, and the lottery win to fund the whole thing!

White collar boxing? Blame “Rocky” films, or doing my university finals in York Hall, this is on my bucket list. That said, there are more enjoyable ways to lose brain cells.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? Safer than boxing. Other late bloomers here include the late, great, Anthony Bourdain and local legend, Russell Brand.

Astronaut training? Once I’m over my fear of flying and being in confined spaces. Just kidding. I’m not scared of these. The countdown to my next career has begun! Although I would settle for a holiday in space to be honest…not sure I’d want the job full-time.

Cooking? DIY? I could do worse than devote some time to learning some skills that could actually be of some benefit to other people – namely Laura! I’m very envious of those people who are handy in the kitchen or good with tools!

Back to University? Engineering? Creative writing? Another lottery win required. And the qualification is not really what I’m after. It’s more the skills and confidence (that bits of paper often bring) to put them to good use.

Police force? Detective? Armed forces? Being chromatically challenged, these were ruled out at an early age, and unless they have developed a procedure for correcting it, they’re still not on the cards. Not to mention Robyn’s pleas not to do anything that could get me hurt in the line of duty. I concur.

Writing? That novel is in me….somewhere…itching to get out…the trouble being the lack of physical fitness necessary to complete it. I have an excuse to put it off. I’ve a friend who completed their first Iron Man at age 50!!! So that can wait 10 years! Frank McCourt (‘Tis, Teacher Man) didn’t publish his first book until he was 66! So I can put off writing anything for even longer!!! Anyway, for now I will reading daily and writing AT LEAST weekly…getting ready for the muse! And nanowrimo is next month! I will definitely be blogging about my annual DNF at this challenge! I do get the t-shirt each year (my 2019 tee has already arrived from the US), and I write something every day throughout November…but I lack (have lacked…past tense) the mental and emotional stamina to stick with my characters and their stories. Maybe this year will be the first time I hit the 50,000 word target over the 30 days on November?

We shall see…

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