Running

Training Schedule: Week 4

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imageHere is this week’s training schedule toward the running of the Marine Corps Marathon in Washing D.C. on 30 October. I’m doing the run in support of an American charity called The Mission Continues, with the aim of stimulating a broader conversation about how we might better address needs for veterans mental health in Australia.

This of course is not the fourth week of training, but a window into my training as I approach the marathon itself. I am recording the final 55 days of training, posting on a weekly basis.

Toward the end of last week, I sensed that the muscles around my shins were showing signs of irritation, and in response I made the decision to rest and stretch more. So, this week I am back running again, feeling fresh and looking forward to the marathon ahead.

My time in sprints on Tuesday was slow, but despite this I felt good with my stride. This is perhaps reflective of my final time in the marathon, and I will know once I am into the race itself. Onwards!

Day Date Load
Day 21 Monday, 26 September 2016 8 km
Day 22 Tuesday, 27 September 2016 5 x 1600 m
Day 23 Wednesday, 28 September 2016 8 km
Day 24 Thursday, 29 September 2016 16 km
Day 25 Friday, 30 September 2016 Rest
Day 26 Saturday, 1 October 2016 33 km
Day 27 Sunday, 2 October 2016 Rest
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Training Schedule: Week 3

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Training Schedule for the Marine Corps Marathon to be held in Washington DC on 30 October supporting The Mission Continues:

Day Date Load
Day 14 Monday, 19 September 2016 8 km
Day 15 Tuesday, 20 September 2016 8 x 400 m, then 4 x 800 m, then 2 x 1600 m
Day 16 Wednesday, 21 September 2016 8 km
Day 17 Thursday, 22 September 2016 7 km running for speed
Day 18 Friday, 23 September 2016 Rest
Day 19 Saturday, 24 September 2016 30 km
Day 20 Sunday, 25 September 2016 Rest

Training Schedule- Week 2

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Week 2 of the lead-in training schedule ahead of the Marine Corps Marathon to be held in Washington D.C. on 30 October supporting The Mission Continues.

Day Date Load
Day 7 Monday, 12 September 2016 8 km
Day 8 Tuesday, 13 September 2016 6 x 200 m,
then 3 x 400 m,
then 3 x 800 m
Day 9 Wednesday, 14 September 2016 8 km
Day 10 Thursday, 15 September 2016 5 x 1000 m,
then 3 x 400 m,
then 6 x 200 m
Day 11 Friday, 16 September 2016 Rest
Day 12 Saturday, 17 September 2016 27 km
Day 13 Sunday, 18 September 2016 Rest

Lost Focus?

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United NationsThis blog was established in 2010 as part of this initiative called the 10 City Bridge Run to ask how we might use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival.

Some of you might have noticed that I am now talking about the need to improve the mental wellbeing among veterans, more than issues relating to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

What is this about? Have I lost focus? Is this a sign of me being temperamental? The answer to both of those last two questions is a definite ‘no’.

The 10 City Bridge Run remains squarely focused on child survival. I have realised over the past years (yes, years…how ridiculous is that. I never thought this would consume so much of my time, but at the same time I have no complaint. It is worth my time and energy) that engaging with the institutions and issues surrounding child survival involves more than just throwing a couple of information nights with a little bit of ‘design thinking’ thrown in and reading  couple of books by rock star authors.

In order to engage in this process of change, I had to develop my ability to better understand collaboration and social impact. It is one thing to have an opinion about these things that you can crow about over a latte with friends, but it is another matter entirely to put it into practice.

Part of the decision to embrace the Marine Corps Marathon under the umbrella of the citizen-led initiative which I have called the 10 City Bridge Run is to help me to improve my ability to be useful in these areas.

Additionally, it has also taken me back to the roots from where the 10 City Bridge Run began which was an initiative aimed at addressing suicide and depression.

I am learning more, and consequently becoming more effective at helping to stimulate game changing impact.

I would be interested in your thoughts. Tell me if you are satisfied with this apparent detour, or whether you think it is an unnecessary distraction. Either way, I hope you will continue to follow me and challenge me with your comments and questions which itself is a much needed form of support.

The video below talks about my motivation to get involved:

Thanks…You Inspire Me!

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IMG_4100Those who have been following might know that I am training for the Marine Corps Marathon to occur on 30 October in Washington D.C.

I find the discipline of following a training schedule difficult at times, and made easier if I can link it to another routine. In this case, it is a 10 minute stretch and abdominal routine to keep me limber for running.

I am asking for you help, in fact it is an invitation to join with me vicariously as I prepare for the marathon. Will you join with me every day through until 30 October for your own 10 minutes of some physical activity that is good for your own wellbeing? It could be meditation, walking the block, or dancing in the lounge room. If I know you are with me, it gives me more motivation to stick to the schedule.

More than this, it is an expression of community, and together with regular physical activity, these are both things that are good for improving mental health.

Please watch the video I made the other day for more details below. I hope I can count on your participation.

Thanks to those who have stepped up already and let me know with a “+10” on my posts. You inspire me! Thank you!

A Runner (Chapter 4)

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IMG_2110I have always been a runner. Okay, maybe not always. But it was something that did come naturally to me.

I remember when in secondary school, we would run laps around a circular path in the park that separated the primary school from the secondary school which I attended. At the time, I thought that this path was a long distance, but returning to the area a few years ago I was surprised at how small it actually was. I was usually well out in front. I didn’t see my ability as anything special. It was just what I did.

My passion for running really comes from my father. How or why he started running is something I can’t say for sure, but it is likely to be been influenced by the interest in running during the 1970s. My father read the books of people like James Fixx, and also became involved in orienteering. In fact, he travelled overseas a couple of times to attend orienteering meets.

I would go so far as to say that my father was at his happiest when running. He showed me where he ran, and these become daily routines for me. I don’t think we ever ran together. We weren’t joggers, but runners.

My father ran a marathon. I remember seeing him at the finish line. He was part of a larger movement of runners, but each one also achieving their own personal victory no matter what time they completed the distance.

A few years later in 1983, I followed his example and ran a marathon myself. My time was pretty ordinary, but I was only young. I don’t think I really appreciated the value of training as a means to improve performance at that time.

Around the same time, I remember going to some junior athletics meets, but I just couldn’t get into the intensity of the other competitors and coaches. For me, exercise came naturally and was something I enjoyed. That was enough for me.

One time, I remember meeting Robert De Castella at an event somewhere. I knew he was famous for running, but I don’t think I was really aware of why he was among Australia’s, and even the world’s, greatest runners. Looking back, I cringe at my naivety.

Distance was my thing. I could run with endurance and probably had a gift. I was fast enough, and remember running a pretty quick 5 km course around Albert Park Lake and The Tan course which circumferenced the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne. Even though I was fast, there were always others who were faster. I don’t think I understood then that it might be possible to train and become the best.

I also used to ride my bicycle a lot at that time. On one occasion, in fact the year before I joined the Australian Army, I rode from Melbourne to Singleton. It just seemed like a good thing to do. There was no real occasion, and I have often thought that if I was going to do such a thing now that there would need to be a reason combined with a circus of media and fundraising. Other than getting my photo on the front page of The Argus in Singleton at my uncle’s insistence, it was a simple journey full of adventure. I probably didn’t appreciate my ability to get things done and took a lot of my youth for granted.

After joining the army, I ran long distances for sport and was good at cross country. I later was involved in a sport called “rogaining” where in pairs we would run 24 hour orienteering-style events across large areas of the bush. They were great days.

I’m not quite sure how I came to choose running as the vehicle for raising awareness at the beginning of this journey described by this book. There had been no precedent that led me to setting a challenge involving running, and I wasn’t anything out of the ordinary in terms of being a runner.

I had an idea at the very beginning of this journey which much later would lead me to begin the 10 City Bridge Run. This idea was to undertake something I called the “7 x 7 Bridge Run” where I would run seven laps of a 25 km course looping around Sydney Harbour in seven days as a stunt to raise awareness for homelessness. My only real exposure to homelessness at that time was some volunteer work I had done in London, New York and San Francisco with some great organisations that we impacting people caught in what I would describe as chronic homelessness. I thought it would be worth opening a similar conversation in the city which I lived at the time, Sydney, and that by running across bridges through different suburbs I could symbolically show a connection between people. My contention was that people who were homeless came from somewhere, and the many households that sat around Sydney Harbour were as likely to have their own stories as much as those places that seemed to be like a beacon for people who were homeless. At that time, I had never had any experience of being homeless myself personally.

My efforts were to be entirely self-funded, and I approached a well known charity which seemed to be doing great work in this area. We agreed that through this running, it could be a good vehicle for opening a conversation. I agreed that the charity might be able to do some fundraising of the back of this initiative. None of us knew what the outcome might be, but to their credit they were wholly supportive of a new approach and a new idea. It was new territory to explore.

There was an organisation in Sydney at the time which conducted a walk around the harbour once a year. We were a few months away from when I was going to conduct this event, so I finally was able to connect with the organiser of this harbour walk so that I could introduce myself and suggest that we had an opportunity to share what worked. Together, I thought it was a natural way to collaborate. His response was entirely baffling. After I explained on the phone what I was planning, his response was incredulous as he exclaimed: “Look mate, you can’t just go and make a sandwich then call yourself McDonalds”. I was at a loss as to what he meant, so asked him to explain further. “Mate, if you do that, I will sue you. We have spent a lot of money on our branding, and the last thing we need is some upstart to come along and ruin it for us all.” Welcome to the wonderful world of professional fundraising…

I rang the organisation who I had approached earlier to work with on this endeavour, and explained that the response I received on my phone call presented too much risk to their brand to continue. I was willing to have a go, but I thought there was too much room for unnecessary controversy. That was 2007, and I parked the idea thinking that it would remain forever on the shelf.

It was around this time that I first met my good mate, Tim. He asked what I had been up to, and I explained this conundrum I found myself in. I think Tim is the one person who has seen this whole journey unfold from that point onwards. This is worth remarking about because Tim’s kindness which I have subsequently benefited from first-hand stood in stark contrast to the mean-spirited response from the person who I had encountered earlier. Be careful of your words and actions: they can embolden someone to better things or extinguish dreams that would otherwise make the world a better place.

The organisation I was offering to support were really good about the whole situation, and later invited me to their annual gala evening. I was great that they included me on their invitation, but I still had unresolved feelings about how this 7 x 7 Bridge Run had ended. My instinct was to push back, as I sensed the response I received an enormous injustice on so many levels, but I saw the reputation of the institution as more important than my personal soap box.

And this is where this book could have ended, except for a meeting with a few friends a short while later which changed the conversation forever.

The Small Things

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A lady fills her water containers from a hose that is constantly running in a park in Ahmedabad, India. Is this good that she has access to running water, or a concern that she is doing it in a way that is possibly unhygienic? How do we know when change is necessary or even possible?
A lady fills her water containers from a hose that is constantly running in a park in Ahmedabad, India. Is this good that she has access to running water, or a concern that she is doing it in a way that is possibly unhygienic? How do we know when change is necessary or even possible?

Ok, here is a question for some discussion. Why is it necessary to do a ridiculous running stunt in order to open a conversation about child survival?

Are either of these two even necessary? Does it necessarily follow that by embarking on an ambitious running stunt that it will have enough significance as to open a meaningful conversation? Or to put it another way, would the resources of time, effort and money be better spent in organisation this conversation? And secondly, is this conversation about child survival even necessary, given that there is so much discussion on the world’s stage through institutions such as the United Nations about the issue of Sustainable Development Goals?

Again, to add to the conversation here I’m going to refer to the Brazilian philosopher Roberto Unger as I did in my previous two posts, and again take his writing slightly out of context but in such a way so that it still has a useful application.

Unger’s writing warns us of what he refers to as the ‘illusion of false necessity’, which is to say that a model or way of seeing is so structurally strict that it doesn’t allow the occurrence of any other adjacent possibilities. The question I am asking here is whether I have become fixated on the running stunt at the expense of the task itself?

I can see that there are better ways of going about the journey I have travelled to date, but I am also mindful of the richness of experience that came through the hardship and new horizons that I encountered during this quest. Without that hardship and expanded horizon, my awareness as to what is possible would be stunted and limited which would not be in the service of the task.

Retrospectively, it would be possible to see where I got it wrong and how I could do it better. That is a process called learning. Without the advice from others or my own experience, I must first explore and discover to find out.

I think it has been necessary because the closer I get to this conversation about child survival, the more I am aware of how enormous the body of work and experience that already exists. We should not be aiming at reinventing the wheel, but rather learning from experience to make a useful contribution.

Getting this process right I believe is a balance between the stunt and the conversation. I don’t believe I have succeeded there to date, and that is why I am again lining up for first a rehearsal exercise in March to work out how to do this most effectively ahead of a final push where we hope to bring this conversation to a head in September and October next year.

And there is a paradox in terms of what I am seeking to achieve from all of this. Again, my old school mate Phil prompted me to consider this yesterday by asking whether there might be some simple and small things that we could be doing that of themselves would have a disproportionate impact to improve child survival. I don’t know what those things are. And to be honest, I’m not sure whether for all of the conferences that have been held around the globe to date that we have really cracked this code.

It is an audacious claim, to the point of arrogance, that I propose that through these Design Forum next year we might unlock new potential to reduce child survival. Why wouldn’t that be the case? Breakthroughs happen all the time in many different fields, and not always by the ‘experts’ or the institutional gatekeepers. What is almost without doubt is that the answers, if we can find them, will be found from engaging with people who are most affected by the problem. We will need to draw upon a broad network to find out those things that we don’t know and then through a process of design thinking put together this information to potential arrive at new solutions to make a difference.

There are game changing ideas to be found. Unger declares in his writing that “deep transformations can begin in small initiatives.” So why shouldn’t we believe in the efficacy of what we are trying to achieve? What have we got to lose by trying?

My mate Phil pointed out that it is probably in the small things where a solution that will create a tipping point could be found. What if in the process of conducting these Design Forum we could unlock 10 small but important actions that through the combination of these being applied together they have a game changing impact?

The irony is that to find these small things, I’m proposing to do a very big stunt. Let’s hope it is a worthwhile exercise. We are seeking some simple and small things. Small interventions, which by their application can address the question “how might we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?”

It’s the small things that matter.