Uncover your inner athlete!

Every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be eaten.. Each morning in Africa a lion awakes - it knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve.

No matter if you are the lion or the gazelle, when the sun comes up you had better be running!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Alternate methods

This morning I tried some drills for the very first time in ages and found that some of the newer ones that I had learned of provided some almost instant changes. I will continue to try them out and experiment and will share with readers any changes that I are experienced.

In the past I have done a fair bit of bounding and find that this helps- in particular when done uphill. Note though that none of the drills and plyometrics should be done without at first doing your short walk and run warmup and stretch routine. Remember that our aim is to increase cadence and power, but to minimise the risk of injury at the same time.

I was also sceptical of how much these sorts of drills could actually help, but have found for someone like myself, they are good when weaved into recovery days of training. They help to balance any time spent in the pool or on the bike and are an important part of me improving my techniques.

I would be interested in hearing about any experiences that you may have with regards to improving cadence and power (regardless of your event).
Running together (and beating obesity) – Stride for stride on a life changing ride.—Sean Muller

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The best way for me..

To recover folks has been to adopt a policy of a sauna after a run followed by an ice cold shower and also dumping a bucket of ice water over my head. I have found the sauna really helps to knock out any of the work cobwebs and the ice water just puts the finishing touches to it. Makes me feel really invigorated and alive after a day at work. Wakes the mind and the muscles up and reminds me of how lucky I am to be able to run again.

Have a great Saturday folks.

Running together stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Friday, October 29, 2010

Arm running

What is this bloke on about now you may be asking? I don’t run with my arms, I use my legs..

One of the things that I have found over the past couple of weeks is the value in using one’s arms when running any distances. I guess that I was more conscious of using my arms during my sprinting days when it was so imperative to have that kick and pump your arms as fast as you could until the end of the race.

I found that I was not doing that as much over the longer stuff just due to the fact that only in the last sort of km does one really start to put in the very hard yards. A friend recommended that I try and twice a week while doing my drills and stretching also involve using some 3kg dumbbells and using them to pump my arms back and forth in much the same fashion as I would if I were running. This has the effect of working the arms more, but also has the knock on effect of working well once you actually get back into the running on the road.

A simple little exercise that can make a difference and save the legs from a true pounding.

Try it- you just might like it.

Running together (and beating obesity) – Stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My program of recovery

I had promised to include my recovery program for those that were keen to hear about it so here it is.

Following my MRI and visit to the sports doc, he advised 5 weeks of solid no running – this was hard to swallow, but in the end magic for the legs after me smashing them for 3 years of hard running with very little break. I was able to ride the bike at the gym, swim and do my normal gym exercises without the leg portions. I also used the Power Breathe during this time, but had to wind it back from the 9 I was on to 3.5 again as the VO2 had scaled back. Don’t worry though as you can build it up again in 6 weeks if you work at it.

In week six he pronounced me healed, but advised building up the calf muscles through doing calf raises and heel drops daily for the first week (3-4 sets of between 12 and 20 reps).

Week 1: 3 sessions on non-consecutive days – ½ hour brisk walk with 6x1 ½ min jogs (jog pace for me 6min/km).

Week 2: 3x15 minute jogs

Week 3: 2x20min jogs, 1x30min jog

Week 4: 1x15min light run (5min/km), 2x20min jog, 1x30min jog

Week 5: 1x15min moderate run (4.40/km for me), 1x40jog, 2x20min light run.

Week 6: 1x20min moderate run, 2x30min light run, 1x15min hard run (4min – 4.15/km for me)

Week 7: same as week 6, but can start to add hills and after the two light runs can do some run throughs (6x75%)

Week 8: 1x20min hard run, 2x30min moderate run, 2x40min light run.

I hope that this can be used by others suffering similar injuries to what I did. Allow yourself the time to heal, eat right, give thanks and show gratitude and take time to change your life and come back stronger.

Stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Blessed recovery

Yesterday and today were just the best days that I could ever have asked for. Sun was out again – albeit briefly and the lunchtime run is back for me. Feeling great yesterday I managed to hammer out 10km in around 39.10. A real surprise and something I did not think I had in me at this stage of comeback. The learning I guess is that abit of rest, relaxation, altering diet and staying off the booze can produce good things.

I will later on this week put together a plan for recovery from injury and hope that it will be able to help others.

So good to be out there once again enjoying man’s greatest freedom at lunch time. As I was reading, even Salazar said that he wished he had taken some more time resting in an attempt to prolong his career. Try it you may just like it.

Keep believing – Keep achieving! Stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Universal gratitude

This morning was another wet one for us here in Sydney, but I did not care because for so long we have been needing good rains in this part of the world and now that it is raining, people are whinging because the summer suns are yet to arrive in full force. They will arrive in due course and in the meantime, I don’t really mind the wet weather. Fantastically refreshing and head clearing to be running through the rain and giving thanks that the drought restrictions in New South Wales are finally lifting after a period of up to 7 years or longer.

Most shocking about this was a report that I read which said that many children in rural New South Wales had not ever seen rain in their lives – amazing.

All we can do as runners is to give thanks to the earth and the universe for not only giving us the ability to run, but also for sending the rains to us.

Keep believing – keep achieving.

Stride for stride on rain drenched life changing ride. – Sean Muller

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Super Saturday Part 2

This morning I woke to another fantastic sunny day and intent on completing my 30 minute run off I headed to the track. There was a cricket match going on and instead I decided then to head out on to the road for my favourite 5.8km run. This was not in the plan, but I am glad that I did it. I had a quick word with my myself and my higher power and upped the pace slightly. 1km in and no pain and travelling well. 2km still no pain and travelled up a small hill well. From then on the kms just melted into one another and I finished up in 22.40. Slightly faster than what I had hoped for, but man alive did it feel good to be out there and loving life.

I had promised myself that I would not push things for another couple of weeks yet, and will slack back for tomorrow’s effort, but sometimes when you are feeling good it is just time to go with the flow and not let anything hold you back.

I am now working towards a full come back over the next three weeks and have even targeted a 10km event in New Zealand when I am out there in early December. Won’t be for a killer time, just for having that experience of running in an event again. They also have a 100km event on the day, so will probably volunteer to crew for some of the folks involved in that one as don’t have the fitness or inclination to do 100km while on this holiday.

Whatever you do today do it as best you can.

Keep believing – Keep achieving. Stride for stride on a life changing ride. – Sean Muller

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Powering through the day

In a swing back to nutrition for today, I feel it appropriate to give an update on how things are panning out in the third month of paleo eating. Although my weight still hovers around that 68kg mark, I feel alot lighter and the energy levels are up there at the end of the day.

Concentration levels are improved and my head seems alot clearer. I am occasionally still cheating and having a cup of coffee and some toast with peanut butter, but beyond and the odd multivitamin tablet; I have not deviated from the paleo diet at all.

Lean meat is still in the diet, but I have been following the advice of Bobby McGee in making it more of a side dish than the main part of the meal. Lots of snacking on veggies and fruit and mixed organic seeds is making all the difference.

A bonus is that a friend who has been following the diet is thrilled as she has lost 4kgs in one week. She is slowly training herself to walk past the sweet, softdrink, booze and junk aisles at the supermarket.

If you don’t buy it, you don’t eat it and you pretty soon won’t miss it.

I encourage all readers to give the diet a go. Turn your life around. Put down the sugar and junk, step off the couch and see and feel the difference.

Stride for stride on a life changing ride. – Sean Muller

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Why I run Comrades

Once Comrades spirit is in the blood it is part of you until you draw that very last breath. It will define you and cause you to live each day as fully as you can.

Comrades for me provides hope - a hope that we as a human race can overcome our differences. A hope that tomorrow will be better than today. A hope that we can set aside differences and move forward together. A hope that the human spirit and that care factor for your fellow man is still alive and well. A hope that greed and hate can be overcome in the world. It is that one day when everything in South Africa and in humanity is as it should be. White, Black and all different races are locked in that same goal.

It is the great leveller - for it does not matter if you are the man in the $300 running shoes and with the hi tech Garmin watch, or if you are the barefoot Zulu warrior in torn shorts who is out to prove your manhood by running over the ground where once your ancestors ran free. We will all suffer abit on the day. Each will be locked in their own struggle and with their own goals, but guaranteed whatever they are, once you are at Polly Shortts and 8km from the end you will be willing along the people with you to finish. A few hours ago those that were strangers are now your kindreds as you push on.

That pain is not a bad thing though, for there will be 15000 odd others sharing in it. It will allow you to set aside some of your weaknesses - it will force you to see life in a different light - more so than any other event it is not about the time spent on the road, or what you will see with your eyes on the day (although this will live with you forever). It is about that place you will go to in your mind and in your heart - the place where you will examine your moral fibre, your honesty and the very reason for your existence. What you will see and where you will go inside yourself and how you will emerge is the truest gift and I for one would embark on this journey again for no reward other than that feeling at the end.

If you don't yet feel that Comrades spirit in your life, it will eventually get you. Do something for yourself and something for someone else each day and life will be so good!

Stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Subtle changes – BIG results

I had dinner with a good friend last night who I had not seen in a long while. Aside from the fact that it was good to catchup and hear about her recent overseas trip, it was even more amazing to see her smile. It was a smile that is genuine, a smile that causes the whole face to light up and one that just makes you want to smile with that person.

This was great to see as this person had not looked like this in a long time. She has made some changes at work and some changes in her life. Small things, like taking time out during lunch to exercise has boosted the endorphins and caused her to smile at the earth. Her productivity has skyrocketed and her current line manager could not be happier. These subtle changes have almost had a bigger impact on her than if she were to have gone away on holiday (in my opinion).

Another friend who has recently made a career change and as a result suddenly ‘found time’ to exercise is also looking so much happier, healthier and more vibrant and in some ways looks about 10 years younger. This is equally so good to see. He is such a good role model and mentor to me and will be there to see his kids growing up and living his dreams.

Truth be told, we all have the time to exercise during the day, it is the motivation and the excuses that take over. I have found that turning off the television and only watching the news at night enables me to do so much more with my time. Even more time is created during the mornings when I awake early, run to the beach, have my swim and run home again. 8km run and hopefully a 1km swim done before 6.30am. We can all do it and in so doing improve our outlook, refresh the batteries, be more productive and have a fuller life.

May each step you take not be one closer to the grave, but one closer to your dreams and the person you were meant to be.

Stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Super Saturday

7km in just under 28 this morning on the track and boy did that feel good. The leg is healed, yet I continue to monitor it

So good to see some younger kids out there to, working on their sprint work and more importantly smiling and enjoying their running.

Enjoyment is the single biggest thing that one sees lacking in those training around in the parks and on the roads of the world. Laugh, smile and enjoy your time in the open. Each day spent running and giving yourself a greater chance at a greater life is one truly worth living. Too often as adults we have forgotten that child-like aspect of treating running as play. Chasing the dog or chasing the kids or racing our friends becomes a chore when it should be one of the greatest gifts that we have.

Keep running with the earth and as part of the earth. Keep giving thanks to the running gods for your part in man’s greatest freedom. Do something each day for yourself and something for someone else and be true to that which you believe in.

Stride for stride – together on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Friday, October 15, 2010

Foot strengthening

A fairly simple piece today on how to strengthen your feet.

Exercise one: Place a towel on the floor and grip it up using your toes. Grip it for a short period and then release. Practise gripping and releasing for a few minutes twice or three times a day.

Exercise Two: Use a golf ball or a bouncy ball to massage and strengthen your feet by picking it up using your toes. Repeat twice a day for a few minutes while at your desk or eating your dinner.

Exercise Three: Lying on the ground, pull your toes up towards your stomach and hold that stretch for 3-5 minutes at a time.

Try these a few times a week and lessen the chances of plantars, Achilles and other such problems.

Wave injuries goodbye. Stride for stride on a life changing ride. – Sean Muller

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tea with Mr Newton

I have not done a book review previously, but for anyone who has the slightest interest in Arthur Newton - the original and some say still the best Comrades runner, or indeed ultra running then 'Tea with Mr Newton' by Rod Hadgraft is a must.

Newton was a farmer who protested government reforms in a peaceful way through long distance running.

Newton was unstoppable in the 1920s at Comrades and knew already then what worked and what did not (in terms of nutrition) - he just did not have the science to back it up. That only came in the 1980s with Noakes.

He trained from all the learnings he obtained from Walter George and the pedestrians from bygone eras - including the great Captain Barclay of the 1000 miles in 1000 hours fame.

It is fast going out of print (not sure why), but it is still possible to obtain a copy on Amazon from third party suppliers. If you are like me - a book nerd and a running nut, then I reccomend chasing a copy like I am. Ancient secrets and the most fascninating story of the greatest race on the planet. The Ultimate Human Race - The Comrades Marathon.

Keep believing - Keep achieving! -- Sean Muller

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Winning in the war on obesity

Many people have asked me how I managed to lose the amount of weight that I did after ballooning out to 105kg and now bouncing back to 67kg.

Simple changes can make all the difference. Follow the steps set out below and you will lose weight. It is not that hard.

1. Cut out all alcohol, junk food, chocolate, cheese, soft drinks and fruit juices. If nothing else these steps will cause you to lose weight.

2. Learn to walk past the aisles in the market that sell these goods. If you don’t buy it, you don’t eat it and pretty soon you won’t miss it.

3. Drink a large glass of water before each meal to fill yourself up and you won’t eat as much.

4. Drink a cup of green tea each morning with breakfast and also after each large meal.

5. Buy, cook and eat vegetables of many different colours – more colours equal more vitamins.

6. If you eat meat, then make it only very lean chicken breast or beef.

7. Eat 6 small meals a day instead of the old-fashioned 3 square meals.

8. Snack on fresh fruit instead of chocolate.

These are all simple steps that have worked for me and they will work for you if you have a little discipline.

If you really want to see fast results then combine the above with a daily workout.

We can beat obesity together. Stop feeding the fast food company profits. Get off that couch and out the door. Stride for stride on a life changing ride. – Sean Muller

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Weekend ramble

Another amazing day this morning. Woke to a nice cool morning and headed out on a nice 30 minute jog. Had the Garmin on as per the docs advice, but the legs felt very good and what should have been a nice gentle 5min/km turned into an average of 4.45 – so much quicker than what I was hoping for. Still all the while I was talking to the earth and experiencing the wind and light rain and giving thanks that I am healed and able to come back to the most natural thing on the planet.

Still sticking to the plan though – in the past my will got me not very far and the learning has been to trust in others and do as they say. Reading and rereading knowledge from times gone by has helped me loads in the process and I am keen to experiment with different techniques.

One interesting thing I did read this last week was written by a South African coach who has experience running and coaching all over the world and he said that he was very interested to note that in his studies South African runners ran many more KMs than did their European counterparts when training for marathons. Averaging around 65km – 70km per week. The Europeans only tended to hang around the 45km – 55km per week, yet they produced similar sorts of finishing times when it counted.

This was interesting to me, yet there can be factors that can account for this – South Africans doing alot of training and running more ultras than the average European runner who is more interested in the marathon. This was driven by the Comrades boom of the 80s and isolation of sport. Climate is also a big factor with most areas of South Africa offering one the chance for year round training whereas in Europe there is the distinct seasons for running.

Last bit of the ramble – I don’t believe that we have a finite amount of Kms in our legs before we pack up. Once we crack the code and are able to figure out what works for us, there is no reason why we should not be running fast, but also over many years.

Keep believing – keep achieving! Stride for Stride on a life changing ride. – Sean Muller

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Fighting the big O word

A few readers have said to me that I have been neglecting my promises to assist with those that are seeking nutrition help and hence the next few posts will be devoted to food and healthy eating and fighting obesity.

Some recent shocking stats that I have been reading show that we are in some serious strife in the developed world. In fact if we keep on growing at the rate that we are growing, then we are going to be very deep in the brown stuff as a human race pretty soon.

Already in Australia 1 in every 3 people is overweight or obese and growing larger by the day. What I am about to say may hurt, but I don’t care and I am qualified to say this as I to was FAT before I rediscovered man’s greatest freedom.

The fact is that we have gotten soft in the west as a result of technological advances. Back when there were no video games, there was no TV and there was no internet and no fast food epidemic, children used to actually get out and play with the dog or ride their bikes or play soccer and run around. I don’t want to be soft. I want to be strong like my grandfather was. He used to swim a couple of KM every night (winter and summer) around the harbour and then walk home.

Nowadays with the proliferation of rubbish like Wii and Facebook, we have even more problems. The average teen in the west is said to spend about 4-5 hours a day between Facebook and television. That is staggering. Adults are also watching about 4 hours of TV a day (some watch more). No wonder we are in so much trouble.

Anyone saying that Wii is exercise is severely deluded. There is absolutely no way in hell that waving a stick around in your lounge is going to get you fit. Yet we are still prepared to pay hundreds of dollars for these machines. Worse still are the grown men that sit and play video games all night. They are all part of the people ‘who don’t have time to run or train’.

Turn off that TV – trash that Wii and miraculously I have created time for you. Step off that couch and out that door. Stride for stride on a life changing ride. – Sean Muller

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Something a little unusual

A solid part of this blog is the ability to give back and keep the chain of kindness flowing around the world. In this vein, one of the things that jumped out at me this morning was the Santa Race that is held each year in Sydney (I was accosted by a Santa Suit wearing lady at the bus stop).

A great event to benefit the Variety children’s charity, it is now being rolled out to other cities in Australia. At $40 including the Santa suit it is very worthwhile.

I encourage all of our Australian readers to give this event some thought.

Imagine being crowned the fastest Santa in your town.

Keep believing – Keep achieving! – Sean Muller

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

When to run and when to be absent

Many times in the past I ran obsessively. I would run 3-4 times a day just because I thought that this was what one would have to do to improve.

Initially my running improved exponentially. I then started to run to get through difficult patches in life. I still do this, but no longer do I feel the need to run 40km before work in the mornings (not every morning, but some mornings when I thought my body needed extra punishment).

The result was that I was always sore, always hungry and constantly seeking out sweet treats and chocolates. Work left me additionally drained.

The past weeks have taught me that it is okay to be absent from running if indeed you are not truly absent (i.e. you carry over elements into your life). Training and training will not get me any better and as with alot of runners, I had fallen into that trap of training merely so that I could train some more.

A good fitness level is all that is required from now onwards. As a friend of mine who is in his 50s and still runs a sub 3 hours in the marathon pointed out quality is far more important. This will be my goal going forward. No more than 60km a week till December and then build again slowly. I should have known that little distance suits me as I ran my best marathon ever on a maximum of only 60 km a week.

Lessons learned indeed. May you take something from my guinea pig efforts and not repeat the same mistakes that I did.

Diversity is the key to refreshment. Keep believing, keep achieving – Sean Muller

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Lessons learned

I woke the same as any other day today, except a song was in my heart. As I headed out on my morning trot in the rain, I felt free again. Injury behind me I know that if I stick to the plan I have been fortunate enough to have been given then there is no reason that I won’t be back to hard running again in the very near future.

As much as the period of 6 weeks were hard where I could not run at all, I know now that this was necessary for me to reach a new level and new appreciation for man’s greatest freedom. I had needed to be humbled and brought back down to earth after the joys of Comrades. Indeed lessons had to be learned about life, greed and giving back.

In a weird way I have learned way more about myself and running over the period I was injured than through the many years that I have run and taken part in other sports. I have not been idle though and wallowing in my own pity party – what started as my own version of a Greg Welch master class of improvement quickly became so much more.

As the latest chick flick says, I have learned to ‘eat, pray, love’. In fact I would add to this the fact that I have also learned to listen, appreciate, trust and rest. So fortunate have I been that my doctor and physio are some of the best and have learned from the very best himself in Noakes. So many times had I ignored his wisdom and scientific findings in favour of my own personal ideas.

For those battling injury, trust that you will be healed, adopt a positive outlook and give thanks for all that you can do in life. Foster a new hobby – swim, write a book or learn another language. All of these will help refresh you for when you are able to return to man’s greatest freedom. Study what went wrong and come back stronger knowing that you will not repeat past errors. As Sheehan says, we are all an experiment of one and no set pattern that works for me will work for you. That is the joy of running and the joy of life.

Reading the Paula Radcliffe book at the moment has given me new perspective on being able to come back from injury and still reach highs. For anyone having not read it, I believe it to relevant to both the amateur and the elite athlete alike. In between the tales of her racing career, she imparts wisdom about nutrition and life that we can all take something from. A strange taking that I also found was how she talks about the power of friendships in running and that only her friends were able to understand her true pain when she faltered in her pursuits.

So true- only a runner truly understands another runner.

For me, Paleo no alcohol eating is definitely the way forward. Who needs the junk food hangover or the alcohol hangover for that matter. I did however cheat this morning and have two coffees in place of the normal green tea.

The itch is back this morning and I was keen to stride out yet I am also heeding the words of my doctor and coach. They have dealt with people of far superior talent to me.

May you stride out injury free and knowing that there are different forms of victory in our lives. – Sean Muller

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Spreading the run

I was casually listening in to a few colleagues yesterday talking about their exploits in City to Surf and the fact that they were proud of themselves for having run 14km. While I agree that 14km of man’s greatest freedom is better than nothing, I enquired as to why they would not consider running longer. The answer that I received was that surely 14km was as far as anyone would consider running – they could not fathom further. In fact one of them said that she had run the City to Surf Marathon. I could not but laugh at that one.
Once I had told them that I love the ultra events, I could see that they could not believe that this was something that humans should even be attempting.
I have my work cut out for me in converting them over to the good side but I will keep up my attempts nonetheless.
I would welcome any funny stories that readers have had around colleagues or friends who are yet to discover the joy of the long run. – Sean Muller