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!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Running backwards in time

This morning was a time for extreme reminiscing. Having noone to run with today (my mate and his cross country kids being all on holiday), I headed off alone – no watch and just intent on seeing how far a would get in the early morning sunshine.

There were the usual shouts of ‘Gijima’ and ‘sure sure’ as taxis passed me and waved out the windows. For about an hour I did not pay any attention to anything around – I was in a kind of dream world (the best part of the run for me) where my feet just speak to the earth – both are speaking the same language and in unison we move forward. Although the ground I was running over was littered with potholes and uneven ground, I did not seem to battle at all. Things just came so natural to me.

Slowly as if something inside of me was awakening the past, I started to notice landmarks. I ran past my junior school – I ran past my high school and the track where once I ran a 10.6 for the 100, I ran past the zoo where the lions would wake me up with their roaring when I stayed over at my mates place. I ran past the bottle shop where in the old days I used to buy beer underage each Friday after school before a BBQ at my mates place. I ran past a lot of clubs and pubs (some long since shut) where I used to drink while still at school. I ran past the place where I shared my first kiss. I ran past the place where I used to hitchhike home – mad to think back then at the risks I used to take as a kid.

My mind cast back to all my old school chums and what they might be doing at this point in their lives. My mind cast back to a time when things were much simpler and though a part of me yearned for this time again, this can never be and must remain part of my past.

The future beckons and I run to it.

Running together (while concentrating on the future) – stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Rediscovering childhood and hidden roots

This morning I was extremely fortunate to run along some vaguely familiar routes with some extremely talented runners in my native Africa. As a slipped out on my own to rediscover areas familiar to my childhood, the sun was only just rising and getting hot, the birds were out and the land was coming to life. The beating heart of Africa was warming up and pulsing with life. The land was speaking – although I had long last heard it speak, it was great to reacquaint myself with what it was saying.

At first I laboured along in rarefied altitude air for the first couple of KMs and then something inside of me came alive again – I had felt it previously – although not for a long time. It was the feeling that I had as a child running track, where we were chased so hard by the coach and his dog that you invariably puked your guts up alongside the track at some point and your lungs were left busting and burning from the work put in. It was indeed the feeling of raw enjoyment and that animalistic instinct to push on despite hurting.

The hills melted away and soon enough I encountered other groups of runners who were also out enjoying themselves on a Sunday morning. The sheer talent of some of the runners here in South Africa is amazing – they just seem to have natural instinct and ability to harness the runner within. One happened to remark to me that I ‘was not bad for a white bloke’ – not sure how to take this, I decided it was probably meant in the best light and they really made my day by running along with me.

Two hours later I was back again - things were good, my soul was calm and inside my roots were burning. This is what I was needing – you see you can run, but you can never run from what you are and where you come from and ultimately I am an African runner. It matters not that my skin is white, what matters is what is inside and how your heart relates to the land.

Running together (while retaining your roots) – stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Using techonology to build community

This evening I was able to meet up with some friends who share my passion for running. Now what would you say is unusual about that? Well many of these folks I had not met previously in the flesh – they were quite simply online chat forum buddies. Now in today’s world of technology driven interaction, one of the simple pleasures of meeting people face to face and developing a community is slowly vanishing, so it was good to meet these people outside of the world of cyber space and discover that they are very likeable and that a common interest in running has drawn us together as a community inside and outside of the world wide web.

Running together (while building community) – stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The importance of good habits

Last night at my company Christmas function, I was again asked by numerous people how it was that I was able to run the distances that I do and back up day after day. It amazed me the amount of people who just said they plain could not exercise or they had no interest in exercising. For me this means then that the sad reality is that these people are not willing to invest in the most important thing in their lives – their health and their body. This is it plain and simple – there are no ifs, buts or maybes about it – these people just have no interest in cultivating the one habit that will stand them in good stead for the rest of their existence.

It is scientifically proven that if we do something continually for a period of 2 weeks then it becomes a habit. I am living proof that a healthy habit can be cultivated over a relatively short period of time. In fact so ingrained is my daily routine of exercise that I now rise before 6am each day to be out the door and moving as nature intended us to. For me it is quite simple – my overweight life is well behind me and each day I revel in how strong and fit I am compared to what I once was. Anyone who I can help as a result of sharing my story and ideas is just an absolute bonus to me and worth way more than any sum of money.

Running together (while sharing and developing positive habits) – stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Staying true to your morals

Like so many around the world, I was touched by the beautiful story of ‘Born to run’ as told through the eyes of Christopher McDougall and any runner who has not read the book yet should really get a hold of a copy of the text ASAP. The part that really impressed me was that the chap who is organising the Copper Canyon Ultra each year, Caballo Blanco has also knocked back big corporate sponsor dollars in the aim of keeping the race locally focused and benefitting locals. This takes a massive amount of guts in today’s world where money is viewed so highly by so many.

Seek not to take the easy road in life, for the fruits of that path have long since been plucked by others.

Running together (while maintaining integrity) – stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Running like an animal..

Friday night I was being asked one of those questions that all runners are asked by non runners – why do you do it?

I myself had been asking those sorts of questions just a few years back at 105kgs, but I was not quite as aggressive in my questioning of others as the chap on Friday was. Clearly we had differing opinions on the world and what is important and that is fine, as Gandhi said, ‘Healthy differences are often a sign of healthy progress’.

As mentioned many times on this site, the run and being out amongst nature is all about the spiritual side for me. It is a reconnection with the earth, my ancestors past and present and above all with nature. It matters not how fast or how far – what matters is that I am connecting. Something overtakes my sub conscious and I feel at one with the earth. It is not a question of having to run – that has gone long time ago with the 37Kgs – it is more about wanting to and needing to reconnect.

All of what is important to me went straight over the head of these people, and this is fine. We all have our connection some way. For some it is money, for some it is the arts, but for me it is that primitive need and want to run as one with the earth like an animal. Telling people that I am a running animal often brings looks of bemusement and sometimes laughter and other times people will proceed to tell me about how bad my running is for me and that ultimately it will lead to me not being able to walk in the future and destroying my legs. Clearly all of this is a load of rubbish, but the sad fact is that these critics will not know the joy of running with the earth and as part of the earth. They will be stuck in their rut of questioning instead of accepting that sometimes some things can’t be put in words – these things must be felt to be internalised and rationalised.

Running together (like an animal) stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Right advice at right time

The relationship between trainer and pupil in any activity has to be mutually beneficial to both parties, but more importantly, the pupil must have complete trust in that the advice and guidance they are getting is the most appropriate to them attaining the success that they crave and seek out.

This why I get annoyed at some of the advice that I hear being dished out to naive people who know no better and are in no position to challenge the information that they are receiving. Yesterday while running through my gym workout, I overheard one of the personal trainers telling one of his middle aged clients that she should be completely cutting certain things out of her diet in order to attain results. Now it was not the standard talk of cut out alcohol, chocolate etc etc, but instead he was recommending that she also cut back on things like fruit and milk.

Being a big believer in rather cutting back on things in moderation, it is my own personal belief that if the product is legal and of natural origin in our diets, then there is nothing wrong with consuming it in a reduced quantity and still being able to lose weight along the way.

Sure one would probably lose some weight by shocking the body in some way by drastically overhauling the diet as I did recently with my $2 a day diet. The challenging part then would be to maintain that weight loss as we all know that losing the weight is the easy part, it is the keeping it off that is the biggest challenge of all.

Not wanting to speak out of place while he was with the client, I did sneak a look at his credentials on the way out and nowhere did it state that he had any qualifications around dispensing nutritional advice.

When people find out from me that I lost heaps of weight, the first question is how can they replicate it. I am more than happy to help in my quest to eradicate obesity in the world, but my first words are always that it takes dedication, discipline and sacrifice to get the weight and more of the same to keep it off. If nothing else, I recommend starting with cutting out alcohol, soft drinks, sweets, lollies and cakes and drink more water. These moves alone will see your weight shift – I did it and anyone can.

Would love to hear some inspiring weight loss tales out there.

Running together (while losing weight responsibly) – stride for stride on a life changing ride!—Sean Muller

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Eating ourselves to death

Since I lost weight and got back on the good and healthy train, I have been extremely motivated to help others to lose weight and get themselves on the path to better health and a new life. It always makes me angry when I hear of so many stories of people literally eating themselves to death through a combination of no exercise and of merely shovelling vast quantities of junk into their bodies on a daily basis.

This is an absolute disgrace when you consider the opposite end of the spectrum in that majority of the people in the world are still living in abject poverty while we make sport and fun out of things like competitive eating and gorging on 2nd, 3rd and 4th helpings of food from the dinner table. No ordinary person should be eating that much on a frequent basis.

As supposedly the most educated societies on the planet, we in the west have been taken in by our own laziness and for chasing the quickest and easiest way forward. We are always worried about not having enough time to do things and exercise and eating take a back seat to stuff like work. Life is so short though and I am pretty sure that when all is said and done and we are on our deathbeds one day, none amongst us is going to be saying that they wish that they could have spent more time working.

Reading today about a person who had literally eaten themselves to death, I could only but think what a waste that is of a life. I am not sure where the answer lies just yet, but am working on a number of projects to try and combat this happening in the future. We have to get really serious about this as a society if we are to beat the epidemic of obesity. It has to be looked at from all angles and from the roots (in the youth) upwards.

I would be interested to hear about any community based projects that are up and running to help combat this problem.

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

Saturday, November 19, 2011

School of hard knocks and changing things for the better

This morning out on my run through the city I encountered many groups of young people in a very bad way after their nights out. This is not that unusual for me, although normally when encountering these sorts of things, I have been out and about much earlier. This morning these scenes greeted me at 7.30. Now clearly it is school and university formal season and xmas party season, so the numbers of these groups rise, but it was shocking to see the state of some of these young folks so early in the morning. Clearly many were on more than just the booze.

Passed out in their own vomit – searching around for shoes, many with ripped clothing or vomit down suits... Now I can by no means ever claim to have been an angel in my youth, but this trend is worrying. Then I hear of examples of cuts to funding school and uni sports programs and wonder if it is boredom or just a case of too much energy and lack of positive outlet that is causing so many to indulge so heavily? I don’t know the answers and know that it is foolhardy to think that everyone can be helped at the same time.

As with most things, a solution will only come through a joint effort. We can all play some part in helping to offer support to young people and continue to show them that there are alternate ways to live life. A prime example of this is 81 year old teacher Frank Dando, who I recently saw on 60 Minutes. Despite being plenty old enough for the pension (and some might say the retirement home), this spritely senior is still teaching at his school of hard knocks west of Melbourne. He takes in children (especially boys) who society has given up on and reforms them using a mix of discipline, sports and martial arts. It is quite phenomenal what can be attained using his methods.

Have a look at the 60 Minutes report and the video.

Keep being positive – keep motivating young people.

See change – believe change and act to effect change!

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

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cleaning up the diet and thinking smarter

Talking at work this morning with a friend of mine, she reminded me of something that I am passionate about – that of eating as pure as possible.

We were discussing the plethora of protein powders, carbohydrate powders and similar laboratory developed (highly priced) supplementary powders and potions. Each day more and more of these products flood on to the market along with their promises to help us to grow bigger, stronger, faster and better. For the average person, these highly priced supplements may sound like the Holy Grail to attaining their fitness goals, but these folks may have not considered that there may be alternatives to these chemically produced foods.

In majority of cases, a healthy diet and plenty of fresh produce can deliver the desired results for a fraction of the cost of supplements. Eating 6 small meals a day and snacking on seeds and nuts as our ancestors did for many years suits our digestive systems just fine and

Admittedly I do take a few vitamin tablets to supplement my diet, but ever since following my $2 a day diet for World Hunger, I have dramatically altered my diet and perception of what is and what is not required. A large bag of powdered milk I have found is as effective for me as a supplementary drink as some of the highly priced powders out on the market. If you crave the different flavour, then just throw a bit of chocolate powder in to the mix and blend up for a great recovery drink.

Better still a small pot of natural yoghurt, some nuts and then a little while later a small sandwich with meat or tuna is ideal for refuelling.

Innovative thinking – innovative eating!

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

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A positive day - a positive life way!

This morning was one of those where you run into people who you have not seen in a long time. One of the two friends that I ran in to this morning had only taken up running 2 years ago and was not sure if it was for her or not. She did struggle along valiantly through a few injuries and really not enjoying herself. In fact I was sure that following her shaky start in the sport, she would not last long in keeping going with things.

Was I surprised to see that she is looking amazing, but also running strongly each day and feeling heaps better about herself since losing weight and altering her diet completely. She did reaffirm my initial thoughts, by saying that there were times when she wanted to give in, but then (and I am most humbled to hear this), she reminded herself of my exact journey into the world of running and thought – ‘Hey if that Sam can do it – so can I’. And it really should be as simple as that - we are all human and have arms, legs, eyes, a brain etc - why do we choose to go on the negative at times is beyond me.

To have acted in some way shape or form as a motivator to anyone else is for me one of the greatest gifts in this lifetime. I would have never thought when meeting this young lady that I would have been able to act as a positive motivator to her, but then again in life and in running you never quite know what will happen.

I read a good quote this morning that resonated with me – ‘You are not doing anyone in the world any good by staying in your comfort zone – step outside and elicit positive change’.

Running together (while motivating others and staying positive – stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thank you

Talking with a friend at work, who had stumbled on my blog and provided some encouragement, I have renewed enthusiasm to devote more time to putting out the positive messages associated with running, motivation, exercise and health and positive thinking.

Ultrassams was started as a little bit of fun last year following a relationship end and in between a rare injury incident. It certainly helped to take my mind off of my injury and get me well and truly back on the road to recovery. Now that I am back running strongly, I manage it along with my other obligations and my enjoyment for the run.

It is pleasing to see how many interested runners and fitness folk have congregated through here and shared thoughts and insights. I have tried to make this something other than just another boring training blog and will continue to do so.

One and a half years on - thanks for reading and please feel free to share any ideas of topics to explore.

Running together - stride for stride (while spreading positive messages) on a life changing ride! -- Sean Muller

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mentoring support

Mentoring is an important part of what I believe life should be about. In life or in sport, we all need someone to look to and learn from to help us develop to the fullest potential that we are capable of. Having that one (or more) persons to bounce ideas off and discuss any problems with is invaluable.

Sometimes these mentors come along when we least expect them. An old friend of mine shared the following wisdom with me – ‘When the pupil is ready the teacher will appear’. So it was with my mentor – when I least expected it, I found them.

Sometimes it is just great to know in life that one is on the correct track. Once on the journey together mentor and mentee are like one – the narrow road one step at a time to a common goal.

Running together stride for stride on a life changing ride!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The value of doing your own thing..

At the start of this weekend’s Auckland Marathon, I set off with a young lady who informed me that she and her boyfriend were running their first marathons. The first marathon is always a special occasion for any runner and I believe that it should be one that if run comfortably, will ensure that that person returns year on year to complete more and more events.

Now this young lady went off haring after the 3 hour pacer (who went through the first KM in 3.30). She was at that stage taking strain and with still 15KM of uphill to go until it flattened out a bit, I advised her that she was better taking it a little easier and not blowing out all her juice. The poor girl was distraught as she informed me that her boyfriend (who she clearly adored) had told her that they were to run with the 3 hour pace guy and she was worried about him being ahead of us.

I tried to reassure her that it was better for her to have a comfortable first run than an amazing time and crawl over the line, but she remained unconvinced. Only when we started to haul in quite a few runners in the back 21KM did she start to believe that what I was saying could vaguely be true.

At 27KM we passed her boyfriend who had slowed to a standstill and gave him a little wave as we ran past. She crossed just behind me to register a comfortable sub 3.10 performance in her first marathon. I did think that for her there was a sense of a bitter sweet victory for her as man crossed some 20 mins later.

For her that was the correct moment that she deserved for her efforts and the smile on her face said that she would be back for many more of the same in the future.

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

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Adidas Auckland Marathon

Sunday this previous week I was fortunate enough to complete one of my favourite marathons in the Auckland Marathon. This was the third time that I have completed this event and I am always astounded at the amount of people that they get for the marathon. The event attracted over 3000 participants for the marathon with a fair number also taking part in the half marathon and the 10 and 5KM events.

The organisers do an amazing job and have a great amount of really superb volunteers who are not only friendly and helpful but go above and beyond to assist the runners. Sponsorship is lead by Adidas who offer all participants an amazing amount of freebies. All in all so many other marathons can model themselves on the high standards set by Auckland. Just over $80 for a marathon and the chance to run over the Auckland Harbour Bridge – what an absolute pleasure.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Good competition in the running market

I was pleasantly surprised to see the other day that a bricks and mortar athletic shop in Sydney was selling my favourite running shoes at just a fraction more than they are available on my favourite online retailer. Now I know that we should be shopping locally, but when there is a price differential for me of over $100 between the same product in the shop and online, then I am going with the online option everyday. If however, there is only a slight difference, then I will definitely consider going and supporting the bricks and mortar option.

These previous massive differences go a long way to prove to me just how much we are being ripped off everyday (even by so-called discount retailers). We (in Australia) have been told many times that the population will not embrace online shopping, but anyone going into a physical store (especially the larger sports stores) at a busy lunchtime will find that this is completely untrue – these stores are desolate. I also read a very interesting stat the other day which pointed out that the majority of sporting goods in Australia were being purchased from online shops in 2011.

With such large price differences and the fact that I can shop online anywhere from the comfort of my own home at any time, means that in a time poor society, most stores would be on a hiding to nothing and it is pleasing to see that these stores have been thinking of some innovative ways of attracting customers back.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Beating the overweight burden..

This morning I was confronted with one of the most annoying things in life. I was running through the Sydney suburbs, when I saw a young child running away from his mum. This is not unusual you may be thinking, however he was about to run directly out into the traffic and his mum, who was morbidly overweight was in no position to chase after him. Luckily for him I was able to grab him just prior to him running in to the road and being badly hurt or worse.

While there was a good positive ending to the saga, it really got me thinking some more about the amount of overweight and obese folk out there, who are not in a position to act as a positive example to their children, or to offer them all the things that parents should be able to, such as running after them in the park and such, or in the case of the lady above, being able to catch their child and prevent him being running over. This is so unfortunate as is the fact that we in the west have such a problem with people being so overweight, whereas half of the world is starving to death. This does not add up at all.

We all have the power to wipe out type 2 diabetes and rid the world of obesity by just following some very simple rules like not eating junk (or overeating), doing some form of exercise each day and giving up soft drinks and replacing with water. It really is just that simple really.

Something needs to be done about this epidemic and the sooner the better or we as a society are in serious trouble.

Running together – while beating obesity – stride for stride on a life changing ride!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Turning B+ into A

A friend of mine at work was talking to me the other day about her personal training session that morning and she remarked that she felt that she was not on her ‘A game’ that day, but rather a ‘B+’, now this is surprising, since this young lady is usually very positive, upbeat and energetic. But we are all allowed some off days – we are only human after all.

This comment by my friend got me thinking about some of the world class athletes that I had studied and how they manage to get over exactly what my friend had been describing. The standout for me is Kenyan Catherine Ndereba, who has often been described as being the most successful female marathon runner ever. Ndereba was not only an ex world record holder and Gold medallist at the World Championships, but she also is the only female marathon runner to have run the most amount of marathons under 2.30. However she has often remarked that her time trial times were down when she should have been at her fittest. This she excused though by acknowledging the fact that she had been training hard and that when the time came for her to race, she would be fresh again.

Ironman legend Mark Allen was another one who had similar experiences. Allen also remarked about the fact that his time trials became harder as training intensified. Experience however taught him that he need not have worried as he came good on the day and often managed to run a 2.48 marathon off the bike in an Ironman event.

Quite simply we all have our ups and downs and we will bounce back, as I no doubt believe my friend will to. Sometimes we need to just make slight tweaks to our diet or rest patterns. This can be the magic bullet to revive. In the meantime though, any form of training is still heaps better than no training at all. Keep a positive mindset and keep believing in yourself!

Running together (while bouncing back) – stride for stride on a life changing ride!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

100 and going strong

Imagine you were in your second century of life... and still running marathons. This is true of Fauja Singh, who recently became the oldest person to complete a 42.2KM marathon in Canada. Now granted his 8 hours odd was not the fastest time in the world by a long shot, but it he completed it nonetheless.

The holder of several records for fastest nonagenarian, he also claimed eight centenarian distance records from 100 metres through to 5,000 metres during Sunday's Toronto waterfront marathon. Some had never been attempted by someone that old before.

Such was his effort that he even beat 5 other runners in the race. His next goal he says is to carry the torch for part of the London relay.

Any who says that running is bad for one, must surely be eating their words right about now. A truly amazing effort and I can only hope to be going as strongly as him at his age. He believes in strong ginger tea, being happy and remaining healthy as his keys for success.

Running together (while knocking over a century in age) – stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Random kindness and building community

The end of this week I had to visit Canberra for work reasons. Thursday evening when I had concluded all that I needed to, I asked of my hotel where they would suggest I could take in a quick 10KM run or so. They looked at me bewildered, but handed over a map and instructed me to head for Black Mountain and to do a loop and the Australian National University. I ventured out in to the cooling night and the days stresses just faded as I dropped the hammer and ran quickly.

Passing by the university grounds, I was suddenly 12 years younger and playing rugby and running with my uni mates. Up ahead I saw a squad of runners heading in the same direction as I was and I pushed the pace to catch them.

‘Want to join us?’ – three simple words from one of the leaders and the invite I had been hoping for. Smiling and nodding I joined in – a few handshakes round the group and exchanges of names and I was part of a uni running group and in my element for the evening.

Now the group set a challenging pace, but there was the presence of banter (as with all groups) and the formation of new friendships. Just under an hour later, I thanked them and peeled off to retrace my steps to my hotel – mission accomplished in building community around a positive and healthy endeavour.

With all the electronic mediums that we communicate through nowadays, there seems to be less of the inclination to actually say ‘hi’ and to get to know someone on a base level. On that level and with that group, we could have been a herd of animals out running and doing exactly what nature intended us to do.

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

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

iPod infection

I am still amazed again at the amount of runners running in the early morning with their iPods on. This is the time of day when it is the most cool and the earth is only just starting to wake from the night before. Things are coming to life again and it is amazing the kinds of things that one sees, hears and experiences at this time of the day. Why one would want to drown out these sounds with the droning coming from a set of headphones is beyond me. Perhaps I am just one of those sad technophobes.

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

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The curse of the iPod wearers

Those that know me well, know that it takes a lot to even get me mildly wound up. Life is so short that I don’t believe in harbouring resentment or hatred towards people – I generally move on though and just extradite these negative, energy sucking souls from my life!

As the saying goes – ‘There is no need to fear the angry man in sport or in life as he will generally defeat himself with time’.

What does get me extremely annoyed though is the amount of iPod wearing runners who have no regard for others who share the roads with them on a given day. I recently read of a wheelchair athlete who was battling to find money to repair her wheelchair in preparation to try and make the London paraolympics after having an iPod wearer smack into her in the City to Surf and what was worse, the cretin kept on running. I must admit that I started out running with an iPod, but have not used one (even on short runs) for a good few years now.

This morning I was out on my 35KM training run and am always alert on particular sections of the track I take as there are bikes that share this path with runners. Generally things are harmonious and nothing bad happens – cyclists ring their bells and we get out of the way. It is simple really.

That was until Mr and Ms iPod wearer – with it on full blast decide to rock the apple cart somewhat. The poor cyclist is yelling and ringing his bell to alert them, but they are oblivious – stuck somewhere in a techoclub soundtrack. Clearly having had enough, said cyclist decides to take matters into his own hands and overtake them only to be greeted with a barrage of abuse and four letter words as he almost runs them over (they were weaving all over the shop and clearly in the wrong).

This happened again with another group of people (walking 6 abreast and blocking the whole path) and a cyclist trying to get through politely at first and then losing his cool a bit. Mind you I was also greeted with a mouthful as I made my way through that group.

Now I have no objections to someone ruining their running experience through using an iPod (can’t understand why one would want to do it), but these machines also seem to take over brains and cause people to act like idiots and in a downright unsafe manner.

Put the machine away – listen to the earth around you and under you – get lost in your own thoughts – allow your head to clear as you indulge in man’s greatest freedom.

Running together (sans iPod) – Stride for stride on a life changing ride!! – Sean Muller

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The spiritual runner

Sometimes it happens an hour into the run, sometimes it happens after a shorter time than that. It is that moment that some liken to a religious experience- the moment when you feel at one with yourself and your environment and all that is around you. It is that time when (even if you are alone), you feel someone running next to you or just out of reach of you and it pushes you to go that little bit faster. Zoning out and just ‘going with things’ you find out what it is that is important to you, you examine your moral fibre – you by no means just go through the motions. You are in the good space in life and running with the earth and as part of the earth.

Some people struggle to understand how I how attain my spiritual enrichment from being out on a trail for a couple of hours, but that is just how things seem to pan out. It is there that I feel my most at home and my soul is the most at ease that it ever is.

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

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Always good - even when at first it may not appear so..

The best piece of advice I got from anyone was to sometimes not think so much and to rather act. This is exactly the case when it comes to my running and this morning was no exception. Anyone who was around in Sydney this morning will know that the weather gods were raining down on us and it by all accounts was a day to be spent snuggled in bed rather than out on the roads running.

I had to gee myself up to get out there and complete the 25KM that I had scheduled for the day. Once outside though it was like I had stepped into my comfort zone again – the strange world of falling water from the sky seemed to be just where I needed to be at that particular time. Very few people were out at the time (given the weather and time of day) but that did not detract in the slightest from the fun that I was having.

Sidestepping puddles and being free out in nature, I could have 10 again and running around in our yard chasing the dogs and barrelling around without a care in the world. In years I may indeed be older, but the fun factor remains the same. Happy, sad, mad or glad, I always return from a man’s greatest freedom feeling invigorated and that is why I will continue to run until they put me into the box and enter whatever is waiting in the next world.

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

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Opening up access to activities

This week I have been exposed to something that touched me immensely. A young man I met through one of my volunteer programs confided in me that he had not ever been able to express himself through the art of sport at all until just one year ago. Not through lack of ability of not wanting to try, he just point blank did not have the opportunity as his school and members of his community just did not present him with the chance.

This saddened me to know that such kids in their teen years existed with society seemingly having given up on them.

Not all of his story is sad however in that once presented with a soccer ball, he took to it like a duck to water and is actually very gifted at kicking the round ball around the field.

This all got me thinking about how privileged I was in my youth (and indeed still am) to have had every opportunity to play sport at school, club and representative levels. My resolution to where at all possible prevent this boys story from being the norm in society today.

Running together – stride for stride (while changing lives everyday through little actions) on a life changing ride!! – Sean Muller

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Street Work

We as runners are generally a very giving lot and it was my privilege to be associated with a fantastic charity last night in the form of Street Work. This organisation based on the north shore of Sydney, offers an alternative to young people who may be straying off the good path during their teen years. They don’t only offer the traditional counselling and mentoring, but also offer access to great programs such as those around sport, music, dance and martial arts. All of this is designed to keep kids off the street and remove them from an environment where they may get themselves into trouble.

Now having looked into this concept somewhat, it is something that exists in many big cities and something that we as a community can really get behind. I encourage you to look at how you might be able to get behind your local chapter of a similar organisation and really help to share skills and build the future of tomorrow. We have all been in situations which could have resulted in a bad outcome were it not for someone else helping us out, so how should this be any different for any of these young people.

Running together – while building the youth – stride for stride on a life changing ride. – Sean Muller

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The recovery run

The recovery run is certainly one element of running that I really enjoy in the week following the marathon. It is that slow, effortless jog through – just enough to keep the legs ticking over that one can really enjoy and just get the blood flowing through the legs yet again.

So many people I know overlook this type of running altogether or else do very limited amounts of it. For me it is essential that I run at different speeds in order to keep the interest levels up and to make sure that things remain fun always. Fun is the cornerstone of why I run and also freedom – freedom to explore and wander over the earth as we were all born to.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Human spirit when times are tough..

Sunday was one of the hardest events that I have ever completed. The distance by all accounts was only the standard marathon and something that should have not posed any problems for me in the past, but the heat on the day of the Sydney Marathon just eclipsed much of what I had run in previously.

The entire field did it tough and there were very few personal best times, with even those friends of mine who are regular 2.40 marathoners battling to break the 3 hour mark.

Quite why it got as hot as it did (touching 30c) we won’t quite know. Then again that is one of the things that makes marathon running not a sport for those who are unable to tolerate levels of pain and who don’t enjoy spending time inside of their own heads. It is by no means easy, but also something that I find always brings out the best in people.

Despite the fact that people were doing it tough, there was plenty of runners looking out for one another and giving some positive self talk to those walking or hobbling along due to cramping or other ailments. This also went on after the finish line and it reinforced my view that runners are inherently a caring lot and that they do give a dam about each other. Pity that this spirit only carries through to few parts of life.

Will I be back – just as sure as grass is green I will be back.

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

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cheat eating..

The taper is well and truly underway now. It is nice to count down the days, chill out, meditate, read and run the course in your mind. Marathon running will hurt – it is how you manage that pain that will set you up nicely for future events. Noakes advocates the running the entire course at least once in the week prior to the marathon – best done at night before you close your eyes for the evening rest. Getting the obligatory 8 hours a night each night is also beneficial. The week of the marathon is also my excuse to cheat eat stuff I normally don’t touch. Chocolates are on the menu as is the after marathon pizza and even Coke. Happy days = taper days.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Taper time and inspiration

This morning was the last longish run that I do prior to the marathon week. 19KM on the Saturday is the proven method that works for me. But as science has told us many times prior, we are all an experiment of one and what works for Sam won’t work for all. Sometimes the selfish side of me wishes that I could come up with a universal method of tapering and be able to make a mint off publishing it. Sadly this is not the case and in a way such a method would take the whole experimentation fun out of things.

It was great to see so many international runners out on the streets in Sydney this morning. They are all here for the marathon next weekend and I can’t think of a better way to see a beautiful city like Sydney than to run 42.2KM through the streets. I am fond of racing overseas (sometimes just because I happen to be in the city and see an event) and sometimes just for the heck of it.

This weekend I am also having some mates over to watch my favourite Gee up movies in GI Jane and Any Given Sunday. In fact I am going to break rank and post Al Pacino’s speech to the team in Any Given Sunday. This can and will motivate even the flattest person.

See it in your head everyday – Believe it – Achieve it!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Achilles runners

I recently performed an experiment on myself by blindfolding myself and going for a run. I wanted to see just some of the challenges that some of the visually impaired runners in the world experience everyday. Some might say that this is a silly experiment, but once again it was something that I had to do to get a grasp of what others go through on a daily basis. It just reinforced to me the fact that all the people associated with the Achilles group of runners and their volunteers are absolute champions.
I encourage you to get involved with your local Achilles group to enrich your life beyond your widlest dreams.

Running together while benefiting others in the running community – stride for stride on a life changing ride!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Blackmores Sydney Running Festival

This week I experienced a rather pleasing yet frustrating thing – lack of showers and lockers at work. I know this is a trivial thing, it surprised me to an extent as normally it is very easy for me to get a locker and a shower for a lunchtime run. Now however with the Blackmore’s Sydney Running Festival coming up in the next two weeks, many people who you don’t usually see out and about running are coming out of the woodwork to run in Sydney’s best road running event. This is by no means a bad thing, however as stated many times before, I wish these folks would stick around so that we could build up the club system in Australia and have more community running clubs as they have in my native South Africa.

I personally can’t wait as it is my favourite event (I have my marathon pb on the course – albeit the older hillier course), but the event is by a long way the best organised in Sydney and the owners take a lot of pride in the event as being a promotion of the positive effects that distance running can have. Excellent sponsors, great volunteers and a good day out - what more could you want!

I encourage anyone who has not yet entered to enter one of the events as with all distances finishing at the Sydney Opera House, there can be no better venue for a finish line.

Running together (while supporting the Sydney Running Festival) stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Things that make one smile

This morning on my run out, I ran into a couple that I have not seen in so long. As they came running across the Bridge you could just see and sense the love between them and the great bond. It is so good to see this between two people and both sharing in their passion for running. One of those things in life that just makes you smile as you consider that good things and good people are out there in the world doing good things together!

Sydney Trailwalker 2011 100KM

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to witness one of those moments that lives with one forever. Four friends (two old and two new) walked across the finish line at the 2011 Sydney 100KM Oxfam Trailwalker event. 100KM through the dense terrain that they had to cover is indeed a momentous achievement for anyone. They walked through the night and completed the event in just over 31 hours overcoming the dark and cold and misty conditions and only stopping at the various checkpoints to refuel, visit the ablution facilities and rest briefly before heading off again.

What made the occasion even more special for me was the fact that I was able to crew for them and also to complete the last section of the event along with the group.

The event not only raised a lot of money for Oxfam, but it illustrated just what many ordinary people could achieve if they only put one foot in front of the other and refused to give up until they cross that finish line. Any lack of physical strength was more than compensated for by an unbelievable amount of mental strength and the drive to continue on and on until the end.

I was truly motivated and moved by this show of teamwork between people who were relative strangers at the start and who bonded well to complete the event.

A fantastic day out and great achievements all round. – Sean Muller

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Challenge yourself and make yourself stronger!

In life and in running I believe that challenges define us and make us stronger. Small or big, it is always good to overcome something that we have not done, have faith in completing it and then seeing it through to fruition.

For me the harder you can make the challenge, the more satisfactory the reward. When asked all the time why I run, the answer for me is that 'I run to overcome'. Long distance running and iconic runs have a way of shaping you and your thinking if you let them. As mentioned many times before, I am not one of those runners who obssess only about the medals. For me they are very much down on the list of why I run and most end up in the bin or somewhere in a sock drawer. What is it then that I cherish?

I cherish a long run that truly challenges me - KMs, hills and heat are what it is for me. I was told off for mentioning my love of challenging conditions, but I don't see the fun in completing something that is easy.

The places that I go inside myself and the answers that I seek to problems as I run are the moments that I live for. Most runners struggle to articulate an answer to the question of where they have been during their run. They are unable to answer due to being focused more on the end goal than on the journey. Indeed where you go and what you see when entering the meditative stage of the run is your journey alone. Each of us will experience that unique thing that will either solve a problem, ask more questions of us or merely cause us to wonder. I try and direct my thoughts to something good - after all if the mind has been there enough, then the body will follow in due course.

Running together (while doing good, seeing good and being good) - stride for stride on a life changing ride!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Running while exploring the world.

There is very little more that I enjoy than going to another country to participate in a running event of some sort. Going to a different city is good, but there is something special about another country where you can see different parts of the world but at the same time as enjoying man’s greatest freedom. I now actively seek out events when going on holiday – my family and many friends find this behaviour to be slightly off the wall, but ultimately it is something that I enjoy and am passionate about and as stated many times previously, once you are on this path, there is no altering it. It is a journey for life and one that is not only very rewarding but also intriguing and exciting.

Mapping out some of my calendar this morning and booking some travel over the rest of the year, friends have commented that I seem to be spending what they term to be alot of money on going away to run and explore another part of the world. My reply to this is that if they were to add up how much money they spent on a weekend in pubs and clubs, then we are about equal (with some of them ahead of me). It all balances out I suppose. Life is good folks if we make it good!

Monday, August 22, 2011

The best (and most cost effective kit ever)

I was talking with some running mates about what they felt was their best piece of equipment that they invested in and many spoke of the different pieces of clothing or compression wear that they had acquired. Now all of this is very important to aide recovery, but as I have pointed out on here many times previously, we can get by without large amounts of this gear and in fact due to the fact that most athletic and running gear these days is made from synthetics means that it is very hard to wear through these garments to the point that they need replacing as often as cotton items.

For me the best purchase I have made has been my foam roller and little bouncy ball (pictured). The roller was $10 from my physio and the ball $1 from a sports shop. Most athletes will have either used a roller at the gym or own one (they come in different shapes and sizes but do the same job) to massage areas of tightness or concern such as the ITB area or the calves or hamstring area.

The ball is perfect for massaging the underside of the foot and the plantar fascia. You can also strengthen the foot and the toes through picking it up with your feet (use your toes to grip it). Another bonus is being able to use it to massage areas of tightness like the quads, ITB or the glutes – either roll around on the ball on the ground or place it against the wall and massage the area by moving it around over that body part.

Friends of mine have recently bought a new age device that is designed to do the same job as my ball and roller, but due to its design it costs substantially more. Personally I like my roller and ball and contrary to what some people may tell you, they do not wear out and I have had both (used several times a week) for 5 years.

My current employer was giving out some similar balls for free at an Expo and a couple of the ladies running the Expo were surprised when I pointed out how good they are for massage. Here’s hoping some of the delegates find them equally useful as I do.

Don’t get sucked in by marketing ploys – a ball and roller are all you need!

Running together stride for stride (while using rollers and balls) stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Face it and overcome it!!

This morning I witnessed something that always seems to make me feel proud and happy. It is one of those simple moments in life that make it all worthwhile. Completing a 34KM run as part of my training plan, I encountered a group of runners completing a similar run and since we were all finishing in the same spot, I ran the last 2KM with them while chatting. At the end one of the ladies in their group burst into tears and could not stop crying over the fact that she had managed a 34KM run. She had never thought herself capable of such a distance and this mere fact took me back to two occurrences in my past.

The first of these was the fact that seven years ago I could not even manage to run 3KM without needing to stop and walk. Now 35KG lighter (a little more than that now since I seem to be losing abit more fat since adjusting my diet recently) and my life is completely different. I was that lady after completing my first marathon – granted I did not cry, but it was a moment of incredible achievement. A fear faced and conquered.

The second event that came to mind was a business breakfast that I attended while working in event management to pay my way through university. The guest speaker was addressing the audience of high ranking corporates in their late 40s and early 50s when she asked who in the room could sing. Only 2 people out of about 100 raised their hands. She then commented on the fact that if we were to ask a group of five year old children who could sing, the entire group would raise their hands. You see they have not been indoctrinated by society yet as to what is an acceptable (or good) way to sing. Fact remains that we can all sing if needed, we have just been told by society that we are either good, bad or whatever the case may be.

Running is exactly the same as the example I used above, we can all run if we try. That is what frustrates me so much about society – people saying ‘I wish I could run, but I can’t’. My standard reply to these folks is that if a madman came down the street with a gun wanting to shoot them, then I am pretty sure that only a fool would not try and run away.

We can all do so many more things than we think we are capable of if only we are willing to try. Facing and overcoming fears makes life so much more interesting. Try doing something new everday or every week and life remains a challenge.

Running together (while overcoming fears) – Stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Running and relationships

Over the past couple of days I have been chatting to various friends (running and non-running backgrounds) about keeping relationships healthy and also keeping the passion for your sport going at the same time.

A clear theme that emerged (and has been my experience to) is that you really need to find a partner (or even friends) who are either active in your area of fitness or well being or indeed who understand how important it is to you in completing you as a person. One female friend who has done the trifecta in dating a runner, a swimmer and a triathlete is very vocal about the fact that she will never again become involved with another man who is active in any area of sport since she found that this takes over and quite frankly she has had in her words ‘enough of this’ after 3 guys in these areas.

One would be forgiven for thinking that perhaps this phenomena is only driven by males, however I have several female friends (of varying ages) who all take their running and triathlon very seriously, however they seem to have ended up with men who are perhaps not as serious, but who compete nonetheless and who share the same sets of values of maintaining healthy body, healthy mind and for them healthy relationship.

One of these ladies has always competed and as her hubby says if she does not get in a daily workout then she gets antsy. Even during her pregnancies she ran (albeit at a lesser intensity) and all the babies are healthy and happy. In fact her doctor and her husband both agreed that she would probably have been climbing the walls had she not been allowed to run during this time.

Then there is another couple that I know where the wife goes to the gym, but does not understand her husband’s joy that he obtains from long distance running – but he comes home happy. However as she says ‘At least at 43 he is fitter than people half his age and is acting as an example to the kids’. She also adds that if all she has to contend with is running then that is just fine and after all she would far prefer him coming back happy after a run with his mates than coming back after a night at the pub. And that pretty much sums it up really..

Does this make me boring? To some perhaps.. But then again I don’t care what others think as I am happy and running is hurting no one so onwards and upwards.

Running together (while seeking out like minded people) – Stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Friday, August 19, 2011

8KM fun run for Parkinsons

Sunday 28 August sees an important event on the NSW running calendar with an 8KM fun run being held at Olympic Park with the winner taking home a trip to Hawaii, but perhaps the greatest gift is that all the money raised goes to helping to find a cure for Parkinsons.

Knowing people in the running community who have Parkinsons, but who at the same time remain a continual source of inspiration and mentoring to me, I am committed to promoting the fundraising towards a cure for this disease. Have a look at the Unity Walk for more details on how to enter.

Come along for a great day and help out a very worthy cause!

Running together - stride for stride (while assisting each other) - stride for stride on a life changing ride! -- Sean Muller

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The power of the one legged squat

This evening at the gym, I was reminded of the power of one of my favourite exercises that I have picked up from my physio. The one legged squats done off a bench or chair is the one exercise that I value to help to stabilise my running and also ward off any niggly ITB problems. I know that if I do them three times a week, that I feel better and that things go much better in general.

I generally do 15 reps off of each leg and concentrate on the lowering of the body (power up, slow lowering and loading of the quad). Done three times a week as part of my gym routine is plenty for me. My advice would be to not do more than 15 and if you have not done these sorts of exercises previously then best to start with 8 or 10 of them as when done properly, they are pretty tough.

Build slowly and your strength in both legs will increase and it will improve your running in the long term.

Running together (while doing one legged squats) – stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Monday, August 15, 2011

Classic clip of all time

The purity of the run.

Some funny sights and reminiscing about the past..

This morning was rather amusing as I observed so  many people in the city hobbling about and off buses after their yearly exercise of the City to Surf down to Bondi Beach. They excitedly jabbered on about their times and about how they had completed the 'City to Surf Marathon'. I only sat back and smiled while enjoying overhearing the tales of heroics and it got me thinking about own debut at the City to Surf where I was so unfit and untrained, that by the end of it all I was so buggered that I could not walk properly for an entire 2 weeks. I too felt on that day that I had achieved an amazing thing, and it is pleasing to see so many people and families getting active out and about. As stated previously, I only wish that more of these people would stick around and join some of the running clubs in Sydney. We have such potential for depth at club level if only these folk would consider sticking around. One can always hope.

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

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Staying away from the circus.

Today was the first time in 7 years that I have not turned out to the City to Surf fun run here in Sydney and despite not being among the 85000 I had a fantastic morning completing a 25KM run of my own along the 7 Bridges route and adding on a few extra kilometres. For a day in which there was such a large event on the go, there were plenty of people out and about running on the trails that I was on. Evidently I was not the only one who prefers to stay away from the Fairfax circus trail down to Bondi. A great morning to cap a great weekend of running.

Super Saturday

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to run with a visiting Eikeden team from Japan. For those that don’t know what the Eikeden is, it is a group of four runners running in a marathon length relay race and something that is massively big business in Japan. Corporations sponsor these teams who then compete on a regular basis. It was indeed a huge thrill to watch the four runners training while the coach ran behind them barking orders at them in Japanese. I have always been impressed by the dedication, devotion and discipline of the Japanese and Koreans in their sport and the ability to get the job done despite not being the most naturally talented and observing this up close was a sight to behold.

I had a double surprise, when I ran into an old friend and ultra runner who recently completed the Badwater 135mile Ultra in Death Valley. He was looking on spritely shape and we ran together for a little while prior to me turning to head home.

A super Saturday with some good surprises.

Running together (while experiencing good times) – stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Monday, August 8, 2011

Small blessings in a tough world

I was talking with someone at work today about the uncertainty in the global financial markets and of course things are concerning as billions are wiped off of financial markets on a daily basis, but there is only so much that the man in the street can do to mitigate this.

We can however learn to love the simple things in life if we have forgotten this in the past. Having an appreciation for what I have in life instead of chasing things that won’t or can’t bring about any happiness is the way forward in today’s world. Gone are the 2000s and the days of buying up everything and anything that we have no real need for. It is time to show some true appreciation for things and to be grateful for all that I have.

Watching the news this evening about the famine crisis in East Africa and these people having absolutely nothing and I know how blessed I am in all that I have and in the fact that I can run and do so many other things that many people struggle to in this lifetime. Most of all I am grateful that I am able to help out in life and in running and give back to those that may not be as blessed.

Only a ramble today really, but that is just the mood that I am in.

Running together – while showing appreciation for all that I have – stride for stride on a life changing ride. – Sean Muller

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sub 3 hour marathon barefoot

This morning I was encountered some barefooters on my run around the harbour and although this lot were moving very slowly, I was interested to see if I could find some videos to post on this. Playing around on Youtube I stumbled on this chap who ran under three hours in the Rock and Roll marathon in the US. Absolutely amazing! I am going to do some checks and see if there are any stats out there on how many people have gone under three hours completely barefoot. Good on him!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Running serene

Some days we just want to run and this evening was one of those occasions. A fantastic evening for running (around 20c) and hard to believe that we are supposed to still be in the midst of winter here in Sydney. I was so happy to run one of my favourite trails (even though it takes one slightly off road and into the bush for portions in the dark. There was a sense of serenity and calm about running through the dark with just the sounds of the bush around one. Just the calm night air and nothing else not even any other runners tonight. Magic really – no other way to describe it.

Running together – while observing the night serenity – stride for stride on a life changing ride. – Sean Muller

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The cost of running

Speaking with some people today, I was prompted to examine the cost of my running in terms of a dollar value.

Since completing the $14 diet for the week, I have drastically reduced my food bill (in half) and also reviewed numerous other areas of my life where perhaps I could save money that I need not be spending. Ultimately it is always nice to have new things, but how often have you wandered just how far you could push a running shoe or how many times you could wear your singlet before it falls apart.

There really is no need these days to be buying new running gear every five minutes as with synthetic fibers, things last and last and it is all happy days really.

Do we need all that we own? Probably not at all. I like my simple life and it does me just fine – no need to be chasing owning new things and gathering more and more stuff together just for the sake of it. I prefer to spend my money on experiences than on material possessions.

Running together (while living the simple life) – stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Listening to older wiser heads

This morning I tried a session that was suggested to me by an older wiser head as something that may potentially help me. What was different you may ask?

Well at a first glance it may seem like a session that many of us would undertake in that it involved loads of 400s at pace. I have done 400m sessions in the past and found them beneficial, however this one was different in that it allows for a float of the bend and then opening up the tank again for another 400m without stopping. The older wiser man had recommended going for 18-19minutes of this, but I could only muster a paltry 16mins and then was finished. I guess it would work better if I had had some company and not just the watch to participate against.

Easy – you may say, but not for me. Although I was finished afterwards and even during the cool down, I am now feeling pretty good and would that session again in the next few weeks to see if I can complete the entire thing and as a gauge of fitness.

Many times older runners I find are dismissed by young arrogant ‘guns’ as being over the hill. I however am constantly amazed at some of the times that these folk ran prior to the big marathon boom of the 70s – the era prior to gels and Gatorade and other sorts of fancy modern inventions. They were seriously quick and yet they are so humble about things.

Rather than dismissing them, talk to older runners – welcome and embrace their knowledge and most of all remember that old ideas are tested ideas and often the best ideas.

Running together (while embracing knowledge of older runners) – stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Friday, July 29, 2011

Change - better than a holiday..

Something has changed – something is different...

Perhaps I am fitter, perhaps it is the weight loss since my $14 week eating challenge, perhaps it is the move towards more vegetarian style food, perhaps it is the warmer weather, but I somehow feel much more aware, more in touch and generally a lot better than I have in a long time. What it is I am not sure, but I sure want the feeling to continue.

My 8km run at lunch today seemed an absolute joy as I cruised along oblivious to the watch, but feeling great. Things just unfolded as they should and the world somehow even seemed that little bit better and shinier than it has in the past. Realising how lucky I am even on my worst day out, I can’t wait, I can’t wait for tomorrow, I’m so glad to be alive! – Sean Muller

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Running and meditation

Setting aside time each day just for myself has been something integral that I have embraced over the past few years. With research saying that a mere 20 minutes of meditation can be equal to up to a 7 hour sleep, it makes sense to me to devote this small amount of time each day to clearing my mind, relaxing and just pausing to let things sink in. Mostly I devote some time at the start and completion of the day to self reflection and although this may sound slightly hippy and crazy to many, I also find that my main amount of mediation takes place on my morning run. I know the route so well now and just tend to let my mind wander into a state of focus while and float along – a double wammy really – keeping fit, doing what I love and completing my meditation.

I know that tomorrow will be better for my morning run and help to set up a good day for me. Try it next time you head out – just let the mind wander, let the legs take over and float over the earth.

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

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Winding back the clock

Yesterday I witnessed something that took me back to my high school career. I was out running in the torrential rain of Sydney and encountered a large amount of young lads running up and down the paths in the Domain. Curious to find out what they were up to, I sidled up alongside them and got chatting. Turns out they are a visiting school from England on a rugby tour. Now the running through hail and shine was something that definitely took me back, except that in my day we had our rugby master chasing after us with a great big stick or cricket bat to beat those of us who dropped behind the pace. This happened mostly if we had lost on the weekend. The idea being that we bonded into a tighter unit who learned not to lose in the future.

Now this sort of behaviour would today find said rugby master in immense strife and parents prosecuting, but in those days growing up in Africa it was all fine and parents encouraged the win at all costs mentality. Not to condone this sort of training method, but our team did seem to have a great win/loss ratio. These methods seemed equally effective for other sports including athletics in getting us to run quicker.

For a brief moment I was with my under16 team mates running through the rain of the Highveld and time went backwards. For all the memories, it was great to see youngsters out training hard and formulating friendships through the positive power of sport instead of what they are all too often doing these days by sitting on the couch and playing video games. There is some hope for the future and I got a glimpse of it yesterday morning.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

More equitable food prices

This week something amazing happened in Sydney with the launch of Costco as an alternative to Coles and Woolworths and other traditional supermarkets in Australia. Regardless of the model of having to buy in bulk, the Costco managed to cause some significant traffic delays due to consumers lining up to have a look and in many cases to stock up during tough economic times. While I have not supported Coles and Woolies in a long time (due to Aldi offering much better value), I still begrudge them having such a hold on the market and being able to charge pretty much anything they desire.

Since my $14 challenge a few weeks back, I have been in search of ways to bring down my cost of living and be able to channel greater funds into helping others and following my true passions and dreams. This I have thus far been managing quite successfully by being able to halve my weekly food bill and still eat great food. I can only think that the introduction to the Australian market of international giants like these can be good for prices and finally we might be paying a fair and equitable price for groceries and in line with what the rest of the developed world are paying.

Fingers crossed for further giants like Tesco and Walmart.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The joy of the new runner

Everywhere I look over the past week I am running into people who have recently come to the joys of running. This is only natural as one always finds this around the same time each year when City to Surf comes around and one often finds that these runners disappear again and are not seen again until the next year. The one thing that I did observe this morning when talking to a young lady at the office who has come to our great sport is the sheer enthusiasm and joy that she had. It was almost like watching a young child opening their presents at Xmas. I can only hope that this joy continues on and that she sticks with the sport and continues to grow.

Running together – while embracing new runners – stride for stride on a life changing ride!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Rudeness: No place for it in Running or life!

This morning I experienced one of the absolute heights of rudeness and something that has left me quite stunned.

A person who I had helped out in the past and was friends with phoned me up to want to quiz me about running programs and setting them up and the usual training type questions (How do I get quicker etc etc?). Like most people, said person wanted the easy way out and when I pointed out that the only proven way to get quicker over all distances is by running quicker in training and that by decreasing your 5 and 10KM times, this would invariably allow your marathon times to come down, I was shouted down and told that my methods were wrong...

I struggle to think why anyone would ask my opinion if they are then not going to allow me to finish and instead will tell me that the information I am giving freely to them is stupid and a waste.

I am quite annoyed by all of this as I would not even think to treat a worst enemy in that way. At least let someone say their piece to completion during a phone call – at least that is the way my parents raised me to have good manners.

This conversation also got me thinking about manners in general and that they don’t cost anything and yet lack of them can offend someone immensely. Something I always make sure I am mindful of.

Running together (while embracing impeccable manners) – stride for stride on a life changing ride!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Lightweight and coconut milk

Today marks the lightest that I have been since the age of 16. 66KG this morning at the gym and out on my run this morning I felt like I was flying. Granted it was pretty cool and ideal conditions for running and I only did 12KM, but I felt pretty comfortable sitting at around the 4.10/KM mark. I can’t quite put my finger on why I felt as I did, perhaps it is the weight loss, perhaps it is the change of diet to a more minimalist diet and perhaps it was the weather.... Or maybe, just maybe it was the fact that I drank some coconut milk last night.

Why would one do such a thing you may be asking yourself? Well a friend had mentioned that all he drinks during ultras is coconut milk and raves about the benefits of it for sportsmen and runners. I had bought a tin some time ago and left it in my pantry (not having the courage to try it until last night) but as I had run out of normal milk last night, I decided to give it a go and drink some. Although it is definitely an acquired taste, I am always someone who will experiment with suggested things and then report back for others. On the whole it was not too bad, but not something that I would be inclined to drink everyday. As to the nutrient value, that is not to be underestimated it is definitely packed with some good vitamins.

Running together (while drinking coconut milk) – stride for stride on a life changing ride!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Refusing to be ripped off

I have mentioned this many times on this site, but it still seems to trouble me how we are being ripped off in Australia by retail running outlets. Now I don't dispise people making a profit and building a business, but there is business and reasonable margins and then mark ups of 600% etc. A friend of mine at work has taught me the mantra 'Though shalt never again shop retail' -this is so true. I mean why indeed would I want to go into a shop to be hassled by a sales assistant (most of them profess to be runners, but when you scratch the surface all they run is a few miles a week and the odd fun run).

No thanks - I love the freedom of partrolling websites free from the annoying chants of, 'Can I help you?' or 'Are you alright there?'. Yes shopping on the internet anytime I like for any shoes I like is just my idea of a dream come true.

Loving the internet shopping - it is like Xmas only you know what you are getting and also know how much it cost!

Running together - stride for stride on a life changing ride!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

No meat athletes?

So many lessons were learned during my recent $2 Live below the Line Challenge and indeed even more importantly over $600 kindly donated to crucial poverty beating charities.

I post the link to my fundraising page yet again as so many people have asked if they can still donate something and the answer is that they can, yet the fundraising ceases on 15 July 2011.

Personally I had attained a much clearer appreciation for the food that I eat and also managed this week to half my food bill while really thinking a whole bunch about what I eat and whether I really need something or not before buying it. Following on from the lead of Em and others, I have taken the step to greater vegetarianism (I have not eaten a great deal of Red meat in the past few years), but I am feeling alot lighter on my runs. This evening was a real pleasure.

Does anyone have any experience in no meat running and what are the best things to eat to sustain a long distance runner? I would really be interested in hearing some more about this.

Running together (while running on plants) – Stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Sunday, July 10, 2011

So today marks the last day that I will be eating on $2 a day as part of my Live Below the Line Challenge. It has definitely been a mixed week for me and the past day has been quite emotional. Last night during my evening meditation, I was pondering many things and again this morning while on my run and at the gym.

Have I done enough/am I doing enough in this life to leave things in better shape for the next generation? Are there areas that I have neglected and where can I make adjustments to assist my community, family, friends and my beloved running fraternity to a greater extent? How can I live smarter and not harder?

The clincher came this morning as I watched a program where a young kid in India was being interviewed about his future aspirations (he was born into poverty on the streets) and he said his first goal was to be a good human being... Now how a 5 year old kid thinks of that is beyond me and then it struck me that what he was saying was so true. The past week has reinforced to me that even my worst day is still much better than so many others on their best day and I have so much to be thankful for.

Vitals for the day and end of week:

Waking pulse – 43

Weight – 69KG

Body fat – 9%

Blood pressure – normal

Sleep patterns last night – interrupted as had plenty on my mind

Food for the day

Breakfast – oats and milk

Lunch – leftover tuna and veggies from last night

Dinner – will be oats and milk

Learnings I take away from the week of voluntarily eating at $2 a day:

 It is possible – not the most exciting way of eating, but I have not died either.

 We can all reduce our food bills if we try (I only spent $35 for this coming weeks shopping – felt really minted). It takes a bit of thinking and creativity.

 I am so blessed beyond belief in having so many great friends and family who have shown so much support to me and offered to help.

 The kindness of strangers is not to be underestimated as so many people have offered to take me in and feed me or deliver food if I was starving.

 Most of us are never really alone in this world.

 I will think more and plan more around my shopping to see if I really need to buy certain things or not.

Thank you so much for all your support.

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

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Inducing voluntary Hypoglycaemia

What a cracker of day here in Sydney this morning. Second last day of my $2 a day living below the line challenge. Supreme sunshine glinting on the harbour and high of around 16c. Not too hot and not too cold – three bears weather really.

Today is the day that I push myself the hardest and try to induce hypoglycaemia (extreme lack of sugar in the blood). Right pull myself together and with no breakfast in me (this is part of the plan) I will now proceed to run to dropping point.

Out on the roads and it is a nice clear and cool day. Not planning to run more than about 25K by myself, I find that I fall into conversation with another runner who I know and the KMs just melt as our conversation progresses. He is running 55K on the day and knowing that is perhaps a little beyond me, I turn around and push for home at a slightly faster clip. 23K in the stomach is telling me that it would quite like something (flat Coke and donuts for some reason  ). I have to resist – surely this is as easy as telling the brain to take over and put the stomach in its place. Pressing on – no stopping and the only way home is on my own two feet.

Last 4K the head starts to get a little fuzzy and I am having trouble focusing on the watch time (yep the classic hypoglycaemic symptoms) – getting home for around 34K, I collapse on the grass and watch the world swim by. I make it into the flat and sprawl out on the lounge floor while swigging from the water bottle – was this wise to run on nothing? Probably not, but for the first time ever I felt effects of true hypoglycaemia and lived to tell the tale.

Bowl of porridge and three slices of toast with peanut butter later I am feeling vaguely normal – would kill for some sugar laced snack and a bacon and egg roll, but that is not in the diet and I must remain disciplined. Still a little tired as I write this, I may have a mid arvo nap so that I can do some mental work later on.

The difficulty concentrating and unable to do mental arithmetic in the head is exactly as Noakes describes this condition and one which he voluntarily brought on during Comrades to test the first FRN (Fordyce Rose Noakes) gels that he developed in the early 80s (bit of trivia as to the orgins of gels).

Lunch – who knows too tired to think of that.

Dinner – some of the leftover tuna and veggies should get me through this.

Water – lots of it today (craving some sugar with it, but will remain disciplined).

Meditation – big session last night and big one tonight to push through.


Weight – 68.7KG

Waking pulse – 43

Energy levels generally still tracking well although had a bit of a fall last night.

Sleep pattern normal (although I did have a weird dream of running away from an alien race that were all like 4m tall)

For those wanting more info about saving money and eating on $2 a day, go to http://www.2dollars.org/. It has a $2 meal plan on there. Good luck !!

Running together – while inducing voluntary hypoglycaemia – stride for stride on a life changing ride!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Friday update

So Friday began with the usual bog standard 6KM time trial over my favourite course near my flat. We all have a route that although it may not be our favourite, it is one that we often run as a way of ticking a box – this morning I ran my box tick route. Given the hills involved and the fact that I may encounter red lights and also given that I am usually still a little asleep, if I get anywhere near 4 mins/KM I am happy. This morning everything went reasonably well and I came home for 23.50 which is a pretty good start to the day.

Energy levels suddenly (and for no explainable reason) rocketed and whipped up breakky (oats and milk) and then an early start into the office.

Lunch more of the same, pasta, lentils and veg. The can of tuna remains untouched and will be kept behind for a treat either tonight or on the weekend.

Vitals today:

> Weight – 69KG (stable)

> Pulse on waking – 44

> Energy levels stable

> Sleep patterns still normal

> No explanation for the sudden burst of energy this morning.

Exercise for the day – 6KM run this morning and 1 hour weights and bike after work.

Going strong!

Running together – while doing 6KM time trials at dawn – stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Four down three to go!

Day four of the Living below the line challenge began with one and half hour session of plyometrics, weights and bike at the gym. Thus far energy levels have been maintained, although I am finding that I miss my daily fruit and raw veggies that I usually take into the office for snacks. My mates from the gym also have a ritual Thursday morning coffee and toast session post gym and this morning I just looked longingly on at their coffees, but I know that I must remain disciplined.

Meals throughout the day were more of the same, breakky – oats and milk, lunch – pasta with veggies and lentils and dinner the left over pumpkin mash.

I am in the home straight so to speak with three days remaining and on my 10KM run this evening, I realised just how lucky I am to be able to not only be running but also to be enjoying my life immensely and being in a fortunate enough position that I don’t have to queue up outside the soup kitchen like the poor souls down the road from my offices.

On another note, today with the assistance of so many generous souls (many who I don’t even know), I broke through the $500 goal that I had set for fundraising. I had no idea that this would even be possible. Thank you.

Vitals for the day:

 Waking pulse – 43

 Weight – 69KGs (loss of 2KGs but 69 is my racing weight)

 Energy levels normal

 Sleep patterns normal

 General feeling that food is sufficient in nutrition levels, but slightly bored of eating the same sort of thing.

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

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The pumpkin is dead..

So the pumpkin bit the dust tonight in the form of pumpkin soup and I also mashed up some of it to mis with my pasta for lunch tomorrow. The tuna remains in tact and I will keep that for later in the week. One apple also remains as a treat.

Thus far we have far exceeded what I thought we could raise and thanks to you generous souls, $469 is finding its way to charity.

I am hoping that my planning is sound and that I won't have to go into the peanut butter with a spoon come the weekend, but never say never.

Thanks again for all the good wishes.

Running together - whille eating pumpkin soup for dinner - stride for stride on a life changing ride! -- Sean Muller

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Day two of the challenge

So day two in the Live Below the Line Challenge began this morning with a quick 10KM run. Not sure how quick I was going as chose to run without a watch (these are often the best runs). Need to keep up the exercise

Breakky consisted of oats and milk and throwing my 3 slices of bread into my bag I headed off to work. Everyone was keen to find out ‘If I was dying’... Obviously these folk are clueless to the fact that even if I was starving myself to death, it would take a little while before I would drop down dead.

Then came the comment of the day:

Sam to person x – ‘I am doing a $14 diet for the week’

Person x –‘So does that mean you are going to be drinking only protein shakes and the like...’

Since when does one see any homeless or poor people drinking protein shakes? I had to shake my head and exit myself from that conversation.

Lunch was pre prepared pasta with lentils, mixed veggies and some of the tomato paste. A true realisation of this came over me as I saw so many carting in their $10 or $15 lunches from outside while I sat there eating the equivalent of 50c. Just how much money had I wasted in the past? How much could I not only have saved, but also been able to channel into other pathways in my life? Can’t change the past, but certainly can shape the future. Onwards and upwards

Dinner tonight was some lentil soup. Certainly not gourmet, but I think to myself that the starving would love to have this and I have to be appreciative of what I have in life. This will definitely be going on my gratitude list for the day.

Vitals for the day:

Resting pulse – 46 (climbing and not sure why)

Weight – 70.5KG

Energy levels good on the run this morning and through the day

No headaches

Thanks again for all those that have expressed support and sent through recipes and the like. Very much appreciated.

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

Monday, July 4, 2011

What to do with that dam pumpkin?

This morning day one of my Live below the line challenge begun and as I opened up my eyes I thought - 'Hold on a sec this is like any other day, I do some form of exercise and then eat and head to work' and that is exactly how it was.

Got up and went for a swim this morning. Usually 1KM is enough for me in the mornings and today was no different. Back home and the morning's breakfast consisted on a bowl of cooked oats and milk (again no different to what I normally would eat). Last night I had prepared a pasta dish with some of the frozen veggies and lentils and that was to form the basis of my lunch. 3 slices of bread were carefully wrapped in foil as they would be snacks in the middle of the day.

I slightly missed my coffee fix of the morning, but not wanting to fade and be undisciplined I remained resolute. To be honest energy levels were fine the entire day despite there being a fair bit on to contend with.

After work I headed to the gym and enjoying my weights session of yesterday I did another hour of strengthening exercises and plyometrics. Day done and back home for another bowl of oats.

Everyone wants to know what I am going to do with my pumpkin. They seem almost obsessed with it as being the highlight of my shop. To be honest I am stoked that I managed to find a pumpkin for $2. The pumpkin though remains alive and well for the time being :-).

Anyways I digress and still need to up date vitals so here goes -
  • Pulse on waking - 42
  • Weight this evening - 70.5kg (the 500g difference from yesterday not to worry)
  • Energy levels fine and no flagging.
Running together - while deciding what to do with pumpkins - stride for stride on a life changing ride! -- Sean Muller

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Last minute prep for the challenge!

So I’ve been loading up on some 'harden the hell up' juice today and have done all the necessary – been to see doctor (tick), bought groceries (tick yesterday), vital signs taken (tick). All in order.

Doctor said to me that she can’t understand half the things that I do or why I would want to put my body through what she termed ‘unnecessary discomfort’, but she pronounced me in her own words ‘fit as a fiddle’ and reckons that the week is in no way going to kill me (mind you I have no intention of dying either) – still have way too much to do, give and see in this lifetime.

Vital signs this morning:

Waking pulse – 42 (usually in the high 30s, but not too bad)
Weight – 70Kg
Body fat – 9.4% (would like to be closer to 7%, but not bad)
Blood pressure – normal
Energy levels normal
Exercise for the day – 1.5hours of weights and bike in the gym

Now comes the fun and games of planning for the $14 worth of meals of the coming week. Onwards and upwards folks.

As Gandhi said, ‘Poverty is the worst form of violence’.

Finally one of Dan’s classics from Neither Wolf nor Dog ‘You want to know how to be like indians? Live close to the earth. Get rid of some of your things. Help each other. Talk to the creator. Be quiet more. Listen to the earth instead of building things on it all the time.

Running together – while living closer to the earth - stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Saturday, July 2, 2011

What food do you get for $14?

So my Live below the Line challenge begins on Monday and I headed off to see what I could get for my AU$14 today. Many friends and colleagues had made suggestions, but now it was time to stand up and be counted - no more talk - time for action. I browsed up and down the aisles before placing each selection carefully in my basket. In total I failled though as the cash register said $14.05. This was due to a couple of fresh items that I got where I had to guess the weight as there was no scale to use. I will get around this by not eating the entire item this week.

My run this morning was a dress rehearsal for next week when I plan to run on empty if need be to see the reactions of the body. Some have said I am mad and my neighbour has also offered me food as she does not want me to starve next week - all very sweet, but I am in it now and no backing down. Below is photo of what I bought.

For those that can't see the photo, it is a loaf of white bread, a bag of lentils, a bag of pasta, 2 apples, a pumpkin, 1 liter milk, 1kg bag of oats, jar of peanut butter, large tin of tuna, 1kg of frozen mixed veggies and a jar of tomato paste.

Now maybe I do not need the milk so much and maybe the tomato paste could have gone and perhaps the peanut butter is not essential, but you know what I think I can make this stretch. 3 slices of bread per day and then mixing and matching the rest and I can't wait. It won't be gourmet, but then again I won't die either.

If you still want to sponsor me in my challenge then that would be really welcomed and if you just want to add this to twitter etc then please do so.

Running together - while eating off $14 a week - stride for stride on a life changing ride! -- Sean Muller