‘We have become so comfortable that we are miserable’

Dean Karnezes the ultra marathon man who ran fifty marathons in fifty state’s in fifty days said this and the more I think about it, the more it seems to be true. We live in an age where there’s countless technologies and ways that make life very comfortable, convenient, easy. We can sail through life within our limits, tucked away in our comfort zones, but isn’t it the toughest challenges that forge the toughest humans?

Life is filled with countless stories of people who overcame cancer or other serious illness and became a special kind of person after. Or came from a tough neighborhood but came out of it with a special kind of resilience. On my travels to India, Nepal and Cambodia, it seemed in the poorest countries of the world where i met the kindest hearts. Its our experiences that mould our character, looking back on life its always the failures or the struggles that made us into who we are.

The Spartans were a special breed of warriors, taken from there mothers from birth and plunged into a world of violence, rigorous training and extremely harsh conditions. Small children were left to fend for themselves in the freezing winters with just a spear to fight against the wild beasts that pursued them. The Special Air Service (SAS) could be seen in some ways as their modern day equivalent. The selection course is the toughest in the world, it is the soldiers with the ability to endure physical fatigue, sleep deprivation and pain who turn into warriors. Today there is a growing culture of military inspired workouts like Bootcamp’s and events like tough mudder which give civilians greater insight into mental resilience training.

For me running is a spiritual discipline where you get to observe your resilience first hand. The more miles that are clocked the more the mental battle kicks in. We have an opportunity to actively cultivate endurance in running which overflows to confidence and resilience in other areas of our life. In a world where everything is made easier and easier perhaps we need these outlets to truly test ourselves and to toss out the traits of mediocrity and complacency that can align with comfort. Testing the human endurance is an invigorating journey into your soul, when you transcend your minds limitations of whats possible just once, you open up a new expanse of potential, that you never new you had.

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What maybe causing running Injuries

I’ve had almost every running injury under the sun. One week before the Dubai Marathon in 2007 my Achilles heel went and i was injured for three months, that year i also had shin splints and issues with my knee. Also in my earlier years around the age of Twelve, I had issues with shin splints, which were fixed with orthotics (Small insoles with an arch).

Working as a Personal Trainer and Running Bootcamps, you get to see how many runners out there are injured. But are they injured from running or are they, like i was, injured from not wearing the right shoes for their feet/gait?

Several years down the line and moving back to a neutral shoe (or whatever pair of Nike’s are the loudest and brightest at the time!). I am running longer distances again but having problems with my ankle. It felt like i was Over pronating again, because whenever i walked on the outside of my foot the pain went away completely.

I decided i’d had enough of this ankle injury so i went to Athletes foot, a specialist foot-store and had a full gait analysis done. By standing on a pressure sensitive pad, the technician is able to determine where each foot bears the most pressure. My foot shape, arch, balance and walking gait were all figured in several stages. This established imbalances and uncovered how much cushioning I would require in a shoe to keep my foot in allignment. When your repeating a movement thousands of time’s as you do when you run, one small discrepancy can make a massive difference.

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My new Brooks adrenaline GTX-12 trail beasts

This year I am running the Houslow classic  68km Ultra marathon Through the Blue Mountains on the 9th October. Im sure my shoes will have a massive impact on not only getting through this event but arriving there injury free. I would highly recommend getting your gait analysed before you go out and run, its an investment now that may save you those expensive trips to the Physio down the line.

Happy Running.

Three weeks from Madness

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I was recently reading one of Osho’s books on Taoism and he talks about how people are three weeks from Madness. Psychologists are now agreeing, that If we were left alone with our thoughts without activity for three weeks, just three weeks, we would go completely mad. All activity is used as a way to cover up this madness, in work, partying, watching TV, playing computer games. It comes as no surprise the rise and rise in popularity of tablets and smart phones, with millions of apps – this technology now means people can avoid themselves completely and entertainment becomes both endless and in the palm of your hand. These are potentially dangerous times.

Osho breaks it down. For the first three days you will dream and talk within, an inner chattering. Then this will become boring, After the first week you will start talking aloud, after the second week you will not only talk to your self but you will start to answer, now a duality has been created, you are divided, you are completely mad. When we see people walking around muttering to themselves we feel we are quite different to these people, the actual difference is not so much, it’s quite sobering to think, just three weeks and you will be the same.

I agree with this idea, but if anything I think three weeks is a little lenient. In my first meditation retreat for ten days in silence, in Thailand the inner chattering and dreaming reached a point where I felt I was losing the plot, although I didn’t go insane in ten days, the experience did make me think how insane it was to have so many deeply repetitive and useless thoughts. Multiple times I wanted to run away far from that place, There was so much thinking going on in there and yet so little clarity.Eckhart Tolle points out that ninety per cent of thoughts are repetitive. Not being able to stop thinking is possibly the greatest threat to our inner peace, we have fought countless wars, and numerous mental health diseases stem from this addiction to thought. In those ten days I did not experience meditation but I did experience a profound insight into the nature of our minds, as many people say the untrained mind is like a monkey jumping from branch to branch this way and that.

A few retreats and a few years practice later, the mind has been cleaned somewhat of some of this chattering, but still it remains a life long work. The fact that most people would find ten days in silence daunting, scary, terrifying or overwhelming as I did, is perhaps a sign of the times. Times of increasingly fast paced living, combined with innumerable distractions, where even fifteen minutes per day in your own company can be avoided. There is a price we pay for it and that is stress and anxiety. Perhaps we need to confront our inner turmoil head-on rather than sweeping it under the rug and allowing dust to gather for years and years. They say the first sign of sanity is to realise your own insanity and I couldn’t agree more.

Just stop! poem

You dont have to try to be happy,
To write poetry,
Have a song in your heart,
You dont have to try to be confident,
Or to be relaxed, calm, loving
You dont have try to be wise,
You are already all these things and more,
They are your very nature,
Your child essence,
All that is beautiful arises out of non doing,
And come to flower in no mind,
In contemplation, awareness
All answers become apparent,
May wisdom arise.

The Wolf and the Lamb fable

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A Wolf, meeting with a Lamb astray from the fold, decided not to attack the lamb, but to find some reason to justify to the Lamb why the Wolf had the right to eat him. So the Wolf said:

“Sir Lamb, last year you greatly insulted me.”

“But,” bleated the Lamb mournfully, “I was not born last year!”

Then the Wolf said, “You feed in my pasture.”

“No, good sir,” replied the Lamb, “I have not yet tasted grass.”

Again the Wolf said, “You drink water from my well.”

“No,” exclaimed the Lamb, “I never yet drank water, for as yet my mother’s milk is both food and drink to me.”

Upon which the Wolf seized the Lamb and ate him up, saying, “Well! I won’t remain supperless, even though you refute every one of my accusations.”

Quotes of the week

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‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.’

A return to love – Marianne Williamson

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‘Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it’s a feather bed.’  Terence McKenna

Much in the window, nothing in the room

We have bigger houses but smaller families,
more conveniences, but less time.
We have more degrees, but less sense
more knowledge, but less judgement
more experts, but more problems
more medicines, but less healthiness.
We’ve been all the way to the moon and back
but have trouble crossing the street to meet the neighbor.
We built more computers to hold more information
to produce more copies than ever
but have less communication.
We have become long on quantity but short on quality.
These are fast times of fast foods but slow digestion.
Tall man but short character.
Steep profits but shallow relationships.
It is a time where there is much in the window
but nothing in the room.

(Dalai Lama)