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!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Helping out while running

This morning while out for my tempo session, it dawned on me just how much I am able to assist as a result of running. Firstly I always enjoy venturing into new nooks and crannies of cities that I visit and in particular my own city of Sydney. There is quite simply no better way to see a city and to discover new unchartered territory than on the run. The heart and the lungs are getting a workout and I know that I can venture into areas that cars, trains and buses can’t take me. Sometimes I will see a piece of bushland that I won’t have had chance to explore and will randomly head off carving a trail through it and thus getting a feel for the land and what lies beneath it.

But aside from the spiritual side of things, there is also the getting to know where certain places and landmarks are. This morning for instance I was stopped by a couple departing one of the cruise liners in Sydney harbour and was able to point them in the direction of where they wanted to go. It just so happened that they were headed for something that was not listed on their map and were it not for my having zigzagged past it at some stage, I to would have not know about it or been able to help them out.

You see folks running has so many multifaceted benefits to my life that it remains the most natural thing for me to do any day of the week.

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

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Transcending all boundaries

Running for me is the one sport that can truly transcend any and all boundaries. We can all quite simply run. It is not like swimming or other sports that may require some training to perfect the technique. From the time that we are able to walk, we are able to then take a few quick steps, which can be considered to be the first venture into running.

Kids are funny to watch when they run as they have no care in world for how they look, how their style or form is or what their caloric intake is. These trivial matters don’t concern the child. All they really care about is what I cared about when I first started running track as a five year old youngster at junior school and that is that they want to go fast. So long as they are beating the chap next to them in the race then they are happy.

I remember zipping down the 100m sprint at that young age and becoming highly annoyed if one of my friends beat me or heaven forbid someone from a rival school were to beat me. Mum still has memories of separating me from another kid at age five after we were involved in a post race dust up.

Running though has helped me to formulate great friendships in life. It has enabled me to run with those much less fortunate than myself and to share in their lives and assist these folks where I can. It is the great humbler and the great leveller in life.

Long distance running is one of the very few sports on the planet where ordinary runners like me can test themselves over the same course and on the same day and time as world and Olympic Champions. A sea of humanity locked in a common goal of completing the same course albeit at significantly different times.

It does not matter if you run in the latest Nike gear and with the Garmin related technology or if you run barefoot with no shirt to cover your back and no watch, all are welcome.

Running long distance events like the Comrades Marathon gives me a hope for the future – it shows that the human spirit is alive and well, it gives me hope that tomorrow will be better than today and through my running and motivation I can and will effect some small positive change on humanity on a daily basis. Even if it just means me offering some positive words to someone struggling in a race or when out on a training run, I hope that as a result that person’s day will go better.

There will come a time when my personal improvements will start to wane. This is natural and happens even to the very best in any sport. Although the mind may be willing, the body knows its limitations and advises training smarter as time marches on. Despite this I have no doubt I will run until I am physically not able to do so any longer.

One thing I know will not wane is my enthusiasm for seeing new runners enjoying their running and discovering the joys and freedoms that this great sport can bring.

Do something each day to push yourself out of your own comfort zone and do something for someone else each day and life goes so well!!.

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

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Thoughts with those in Christchurch

I am deeply saddened to see the devastation and destruction caused by the quake in Christchurch today. Many of you know that I have a great affinity with New Zealand and with the people of New Zealand and have many friends in the country. Many times have I visited this beautiful country to participate in the numerous world class running events that they organise.

The South Island is indeed a very beautiful part of the world and Christchurch probably one of the flattest and coolest courses that I have ever run on.

May those in Christchurch be instilled with renewed strength through this difficult period and may those that have passed on have a lasting peace.

Running with the buggy

A mate of mine pointed out recently how his running has significantly improved since he started running while pushing his children in their buggy. It would then be logical that he has made even greater improvements by pushing them uphill in the buggy. The extra resistance has contributed to a no doubt greater leg strength and drive. I gave it a go and can absolutely say that pushing two small children up a hill while running is no easy feat.

He even says that sometimes when the kids are not available he packs the buggy full of heavy objects and pushes it up the hill as part of his training program. He also plans to hang on to it once the kids have outgrown it to use as a training device. Whilst I agree that running while dragging a tire is extremely beneficial and one of the old Kenyan tricks, this could indeed be the new version of tire dragging.

Running together (while pushing prams uphill) – stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Friday, February 18, 2011

Drills and more drills

Hops, skips, jumps and bounds – sounds like a kids game of hop scotch, but how can this possibly improve your running?

Since first seeing some blokes jumping off of boxes and stairs and skipping around the local park, I have been putting some of the plyometric moves into my own routine every week and find that a day of drills on a recovery run day is sometimes just what the doctor ordered. One must of course start slow as although these moves have the ability to strengthen and improve balance, core strength and overall running form, they can also hurt and injure you if you don’t slowly work through them and as with anything, only stack on new moves when you get stronger and more adept at them.

I find that a safe bet is to pursue with them for blocks of 4 weeks and then add in new moves. There are literally hundreds of different exercises that one can do as drills and half the fun is in the experiments – many look very easy when viewed, but when actually trying them they are a lot harder and more taxing on the body.

Ideally for me a full set of drills can take up to 40 minutes to complete and when you throw in a warmup and cool down jog then it is more than an hour of time taken. For some this may seem like a waste of time and they will be more intent on just running. For me though I have learned that these sorts of things break the monotony and keep the brain fresh. I will continue on my funny walks and skip drills etc!

Stride for stride on a life changing ride – Sean Muller

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The track is our friend

When we need comfort in life and when we need to feel good about ourselves when we may feel down, then we invariably go in search of a friend. The friend that I went in search of this morning was the local track.

Albeit my days of running 10.40s for the 100m are over, I still feel very much at home when running fast and hard over those sorts of distances. While many have said to me, ‘Why are you wasting your time on those ball busting sprints when you like the marathon?’. The answer is that it helps to keep me sane, helps to improve my technique and is something that suits me and my personality very well. Plus over the last two months I have fallen in love with the track again. As sprint coaches say – the track is our friend. Embrace it like a long lost lover and it will serve you well. Respect it like you would your wife and stick to your principles and it will reward you well. If you choose however not to show it the respect that it deserves then it can punish you and spit you out for breakfast.

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

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The return of the turkey neck

It seems as if the turkey neck is making a comeback everywhere that I look these days. What do I mean by the ‘turkey neck’? This is the old double chin/treble chin which traditionally was associated with Edwardian England and a stiff collar that causes the neck to protrude like that of a turkey. It is most commonly seen on fat men who are wearing the wrong size collar shirt.

To me this phenomenon is almost as disgusting as the massive beer gut or the sweat stains under the arms of someone really overweight. The cure for this is unsightly sight is simple however – healthy eating, abit of exercise and getting more active.

Following these simple moves can help to put an end to the turkey neck for good! – Sean Muller

Monday, February 14, 2011

Never EVER give up!

127 hours - Never EVER give up in life or out on the trails. More simply than this clip you need never need.

Nuff said really!

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

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The overall body workout

This week I started writing my second book and it is so liberating to emerge after a run, put the kettle on with some green tea, crank up some old style U2 and get writing. For me it is vitally important that I have an outlet other than my running for what I do and it is so refreshing to be able to express emotion through the power of the written word. For me the running and training is very much about exercising the body and keeping it strong, but it is only through the exercising of the mind and the spirit through my writing and also through my meditation that I find that my body is truly attaining a thorough workout.

I find that too many runners are merely content to only run and not ensure that their brain and spirit is also trained. Reading ‘Tea with Mr Newton’ recently illustrated some of the huge benefits of concentration that Newton was able to muster and channel into his enormous running talent.

My personal feeling is that this is where the future of all athletic improvement, injury rehab etc lies in the ability to focus the brain more fully into utilising its full potential. After all it is scientifically proven that we only use a minute fraction of the brains full potential on an everyday basis.

I know that I have had some success in rehabbing injury by staying focused and also developing visualization techniques and self talk to cure myself. Having read about some Japanese martial artists who were able to heal their broken hands this way, I am even more convinced.

They quite simply refused to be beaten down.

How did they do it – each night when going to bed they would close their eyes and focus all their breathing and thoughts and channel all their positive energy down towards the broken hand. Such was the concentration and focus that they developed that they could visualise little workmen working away at repairing the bones (right down to the workmens expressions and the little hammers that they used to work). One week of this and their hands were repaired, even though Western medicine had said that in some cases a full recovery would not be possible. How or why we are able to do this is something that I have been studying up more and more. In the meantime keep giving thanks – keep believing – keep achieving.

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

Defying age to compete in sport

I have often focussed on this blog on those that are abit older who have defied age to still do remarkable things and compete at the highest level. Although this website is about running, I would like to focus on a female American swimmer today.

Dara Torres is just amazing. She is one of the few humans alive to have gone to and won medals at 5 different Olympics. In fact her plans are to keep training for and swimming in the 2012 Olympics in London at the age of 45. I stand to be corrected, but if she can pull this one off, I think it would put her alone at the top of the pile of people who have been to 6 Olympics.

This is just amazing and as I am sure you will agree she also looks amazing for a mum in her early 40s. No time like the present to start training as I was recently reading in a UK medical journal, anyone quitting smoking, starting exercising and eating better has a much better chance of a good life even if they only do so in their 70s. It really is never too late. – Sean Muller

Friday, February 11, 2011

The importance of rest

I was talking only this morning with a friend about the importance of rest days in the running calendar. It is very important to incorporate these times into our schedules (and often the rest results in the big improvements) particularly as we get older so that the body has the time to repair and get stronger for the next bout of workouts. This is ultimately how we improve over time.

By only hammering the body at long distances and all through the week, we will only develop the plods and become overtrained. This is never any good as we lose our enthusiasm for the run and what was once a pleasure on a regular basis tends to become more of a chore over time. The legs and body feel heavy all the time and we just plain ‘Hurt’.

Running is like a pendulum for us, it can only swing back as high as it came (or higher) if we give it the rest it needs on the one side. As Fordyce always says, the best way to train for long distances is often to undertake a program of caution first. Listen to the body and let it dictate – if in doubt rather adopt the cautious of two approaches and the body will thank you in the long run.

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

Monday, February 7, 2011

Free running motivation

Whilst I don't believe this stuff is for beginners, I post this because of the message at the end. It is also cool to watch though and we should be enjoying our running most of all as if we are not and are not running with the earth and as part of the earth then what is life.- Sean Muller

Friday, February 4, 2011

Knowing when to call time

This morning I woke and was intending to go out for a 15KM run and when I got 10KM in, I just realised that I was not enjoying things that much and for as much as I wanted to go on and complete the other 5KM, there really was no point. I did exactly as prescribed by Fordyce and closed the training diary for the day and went to do other things.

Experience has taught me that sometimes forcing oneself is not the right option. When you get to that point it is time to just close the diary and then go and mow the lawn or some such other task.

Tomorrow you will then be able to attack the course again with renewed vigour.

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

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The 15KM moderate workout

This is another one that I am growing to love in the training program. A nice little mid-week 15-16KM at a moderate pace. What is termed by moderate – well if your aim is to run your marathon at 5min/KM, then moderate is either slightly slower or slightly quicker than this. I personally like the slightly quicker option and in this instance would advocate around 4.52-4.55/KM for this particular athlete.

This workout gets you running at or just under marathon race pace for what is a decent amount of time and gives you the added confidence of being able to maintain this pace for race day. The pace should be comfortable though and if you are battling then you need to re-evaluate again.

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

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

400s - man do I love them

This morning’s workout was one that I am fast growing to enjoy. A friend got me on to it, by suggesting that I take up a series of 400s on a grass oval and I can’t thank him enough. I have found that sets of these really help to get the leg speed up and although I know that I still need to be doing the 1KM repeats as part of a decent program, 400s and 200s on grass do it for me.

I like the 2x5x400m repeats at 5Km pace with 70s in between and a 3.5-4 minute rest between sets. This is preceded by a 3KM warm up at a slow pace and followed by the same as a cool down. Another one that I like is the straight 10 x 400m repeats. For this one you may need some company though and you may need a little more than 70s in between each, but trust me these are both very good sessions and even better to peak off.

Go the 400s and feel the speed surge.

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