Always Stop and Remove the Stones

Running by the sea is one of the best things about living on the coast. Every time your out the landscape is completely different. Not only are legs engaged, but mind, emotions and soul are revitalised by the ever changing vista. The downside of all this beauty is all the stones and grit that you can collect in your shoes. Most of the time it is not an issue but occasionally the smallest fragment makes it to a place of irritation.

As I ran yesterday that is exactly what happened. It had been a perfect day, sun bright, but not too hot. Yet with waves crashing on the incoming tide. The sunlight through the breaking waves was magical, as if each one for a moment had been frozen in liquid metal. The glory of the day and the fact that I was running on yesterdays legs meant that I ignored the fragment of gravel that was working its way round to my heal. I must have picked it up on the promenade from the sand thrown up in last weeks storm. Six miles later as I pushed on, trying to keep my pace, I knew I had made a simple error.

Every time I come back from a run, or any activity, I want to know what I could have done differently. While I am no reader, I am an avid learner. The lesson from that day was simple, “always stop and remove the stones”.

The same is true in life. We put up with so many minor irritation’s. Maybe not aware of the damage being caused down the line. We get used to second screens and overtime, minor ailments in our bodies that with a little focus will not need surgery. We put up with unresolved conflicts that with time to listen could be stopped from becoming a marriage break down.  Simply taking time to stop and reflect on the stones of life that have begun to cause us irritation might mean that we choose to remove them.

As in life so in leadership. So often we see the problem clearly. But we are going at such a pace that we don’t want to stop and deal with the issue. Anyway, if we did it might cause someone to get upset, that unwritten rule of pastoral leadership, “no one is allowed to be unhappy”. What is now a minor irritant will in the future be the blister that causes enough pain to stop us in our tracks. I hope I can become more sensitive to the grit when running and attentive to the issues in life and leadership. Note to self: always stop and remove the stone.

Running on Yesterdays Legs

Part of my training for completing two marathons just a week apart is to learn how to run on tired legs. Typically this involves doing my weekly long run and then the following day, within 24 hours were possible, a tempo run at marathon pace. The total distance for the two covers the full 26.2 miles. After almost three months I am not sure I am used to it yet. Running on yesterdays legs really hurts.

In all three of my previous marathons I have hit the wall. Your running along quite happily, at your planned pace and then suddenly the tanks are empty. It is as if the legs have just decided, “no more running for us, it’s time to stop”. There can be many causes. During my first marathon in London in 2008 I simply set of way too fast, at mile nine I crashed into the wall but by mile seventeen I was back. There are elements of nutrition, anaerobic fitness and endurance. The biggest battle is in the mind. Learning to push through, to keep going even though everything in you is screaming at you to stop. This is the challenge for me especially now I am facing the marathon double.

This is why running on yesterdays legs has become such an important part of my training. I want to learn how to keep on going so that when I put it all together on race day I can run at a consistent pace. Going out again and again on legs that are tired, stiff and really don’t want to move seems to be the best training for being able to keep on going on the day.

Pushing through that pain is a normal part of the training but one that only happens a few times a week. In fact although I now run everyday, a minimum of one mile, I only train three times a week. On all the other days I rest. This is probably as important if not more important than the training. Our bodies need time to recover, to repair and to grow. This can’t happen if we just hammer them all the time.

I am hoping that the benefit of this training and the pain of running on yesterdays legs will pay off with a consistent and improved time for this years marathon double.

++++++++Support me if you can+++++++++

You can support me in the following ways:

1. Like this post (or comment) and any others that I put up over the next month – this will encourage me loads (yes this is an occasion to be that shallow)

2. Donate to one of the causes below (you are a hero!)

3. Donate to both of the causes below (you are a super hero and you have my permission to make a special costume and wear it in public just because you can!)

Marathon one: Brighton 17th of April for The Living Room, the community cafe that is run in my church. We have 80-100 people in each day we open, give away the coffee and bacon baps and make no charge… Brighton Marathon

Marathon two: London 24th April for Exeter Cathedral. It has been open for over 900 years and with your help it will be there in another 900… London Marathon

Thanks Loads, Mark

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