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, June 29, 2011

A big thank you!

A massive thanks to all those people who have written to me and contacted me to express good wishes and also to offer support for my challenge ahead. I know that it will be a tough one and as I said I am disciplined and ready to take it on and I won’t be deterred from my task at hand.

Please keep debating and keep the issue at the front and centre of your thinking and running.

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

Monday, June 27, 2011

$14 a week - could you survive off of this?

This website was always intended to highlight only running related matters and tips, but I have decided to deviate somewhat and try to bring some attention to a really serious matter – world hunger.

Having returned from Africa and looking for a new challenge, some mates of mine told me on the weekend about ‘Below the Line’ which is a great organisation started by a bloke in Melbourne to bring about some publicity to the fact that the majority of the world still live on $2 a day or less. Even in our beloved Australia there are people that are starving – this seems nonsensical in 2011.

These mates of mine have taken the challenge this week and are living for the entire week only on $2 each per day for a total of $14 for the week on food. I have agreed to take on the challenge next week and am in the process of setting up some fundraising pages and planning to raise some cash for this plight.

I have pledged to continue running and training during this time and documenting each day’s meals etc to gauge what will happen to me during this time. Some of my friends have asked me why I have decided to do this experiment when in their mind ‘We can afford not to’, but I view it as a way for me to appreciate what I eat on a far greater level.

Running together while appreciating food more, stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The benefits of altitude

Last year a friend of mine took a very brave decision and removed himself from his comfort zone to go and live in the US in Colorado. Only hearing very infrequently from him (due to me not being on Facebook), he seems to be loving every minute and why not really. He is taking every single opportunity and even won his age category of a marathon last weekend. This is amazing and something obviously to be incredibly proud of. This fact though got me thinking about the training at altitude debate that always rages. Having grown up in the rarefied climes of altitude, I can definitely say that the lungs do burn alot more during hard workouts than they do down here at sea level in Sydney. While I have my doubts that me returning to train at altitude would turn me into a champion, I do think that it would do more good than harm.

Would be interested to hear more from those that have trained at the altitude levels such as those experienced in Colorado.

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

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Seeing the night before

Out early on the run this morning, it always amazes me to see the people making their way home gradually after a long night on the tiles. Girls carrying their shoes, holding their heads or clutching that cup of coffee or Gatorade. Many times they call out things like ‘Run Forrest Run!’ or ‘He’s catching you’ – inside I smile even if I am hurting since I know that they will be in for a far tougher day than I will. In my youth I used to be able to rebound from nights like that and still be able to function normally and continue on with my day. Father time then marches on and somewhere in the mid to late 20s one has to conclude that one is not what one once was and adjust your lifestyle to incorporate more grownup things and in this respect running has helped immensely. It is a great stress relief and a fantastic way to keep healthy and fit while all the time meeting new and interesting friends.

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

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Habit building running

Two weeks is all we need to pickup a good habit and is what I always emphasise to those that seek of my advice regarding exercise. Once we have been doing something for two weeks or more, it becomes ingrained in the psyche and is hard for us to put down.

This is something that has been examined by Noakes in Lore of Running. He expands that it is the endorphins that we become addicted to and as the brain becomes more used to having them, we require them in ever increasing amounts.

A friend has agreed to trail my two week theory and she is going to be running everyday now for the next two weeks and we will then gauge her level of addiction once we remove running at the end.

Two weeks can literally change your life. I remember back a few years when I was overweight and not training and can thank some people who were in my life at the time for getting me into running and enjoying exercise again. Enjoyment is and will always remain the key. If you enjoy it, you will do it again. – Sean Muller

Monday, June 20, 2011

Running politicians

Yesterday morning I was fortunate enough to share in a great event in my local community. The Minimos fun run takes place each year over 5K or 10K distances and attracts a large amount of families and those more serious about their running. The course is very challenging and as such anyone going under 40mins is doing very well.

Leader of the Australian opposition, Tony Abbott was in attendance running and again demonstrating himself to be a very fit man by coming down and completing the 10KM race. Regardless of political affiliations, you have to take your hat off to a man who has completed a full Ironman event and numerous other long distance events.

Many other politicians around the world could learn a thing or two from him in terms of maintaining a healthy weight and fitness and promoting this to the electorate. In a world of increasing sizes and weights in the west, positive examples like that of Mr Abbott are indeed a welcome but rare sight. – Sean Muller

That Lazy Feeling

Having been only just over 2 weeks since my Comrades exploits, I have been taking things seriously easy now. Last year I learned the hard way and started doing hard sessions too early again. This resulted in injury frustrations. This year I hope that I am wiser than I was.

Many of my mates have jumped back into training straight after the event, yet I am conservative and want to be running long term. Better to be more cautious and let the body heal than for me to jump in and come short.

As my old mate back in South Africa says, each year after Comrades, he takes an extended time and just does nothing – he catches up on things he did not do while training hard, goes out with the family, does odd chores around the house and just chills out in his shed. Another mum prefers to take time with other mums and do mum stuff like drinking coffees and baking cakes. That is not to say that she will not run again. This is just her sane stop gap that she needs to ensure things remain on an even kilter.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sports drink madness

One thing that amazes me is the amount of sports drinks that people consume on a simple visit to the gym. This morning I witnessed a young lady quaffing 2 bottles of Powerade prior to doing any form of exercise. Puzzled by this strange phenomenon, I asked her about it and she informed me that she did not want to get dehydrated. I am pretty sure that there was very little chance of her becoming dehydrated during her short trip to the gym and should she have wanted, she could have instead just consumed a few glasses of water from the fountain. This is all we really need unless we are participating in some really heavy exercise. Unfortunately she had bought into the marketing as laid out by the sports drinks companies.

Now I acknowledge that I have a tin of ready mix Gatorade in my kitchen, but find no need to just break it out willy nilly. The result, my teeth are still in good nick and my weight is at a healthy level. Besides which I also save plenty of money through not buying soft drinks and the like.

I encourage everyone to reevaluate the amount of sports drinks that they are consuming and you may find that most are completely irrelevant.

Running together – stride for stride (while preserving our teeth) on a life changing ride. – Sean Muller

Monday, June 13, 2011

shoeing the world

One of the funkiest and most worthwhile initiatives that I spotted on my recent trip to South Africa was that of the Bare Foot No More people. This is one man's effort to produce and provide shoes for the continent of Africa.

Anyone who has had the priveledge of either living in or visiting this magical place will know that the need is just immense and something that many of us soft westerners can not even start to consider or comprehend.

I encourage you to show support of such initiatives as it is amazing just how a little cooperation between people can lead to extremely positive results.

Running together - stride for stride (while providing basics to those less fortunate) on a life changing ride! -- Sean Muller

Friday, June 10, 2011

Comrades 2011

My Comrades experience this year was one of mixed emotions. It is always great to be linked to ‘The Ultimate Human Race’, but this year more so than the other years that I ran, circumstances rocked me immensely.

Of the actual race I have little recollection except that my time was slower than the previous two years and that I did less training than previously.

The toilet queues at the start were longer than before but then again some of the poverty also seemed more dire than before. Standing in my starting pen and waiting for the gun to be fired, I removed my old jumper in preparation to throw it on to the side of the road to be collected for charity. One of the blokes next to me looked at it longingly and his face just said that he would really like it. At that moment my old jumper changed hands and his face lit up. ‘Ngiyabonga’ – he thanked me.

Fast forward to Fields Hill (by this stage I knew my run would be more social than previous years), meet up with a lovely girl from Fish Hoek in the Cape (ironic since I have family living in this seaside village and spent many happy times there as a kid). We run and walk together and I share my trusty cramp stop with her. She finds her boyfriend in the crowd at the top of the hill and that is the last I see of her.

Halfway comes and goes and for the first time in 3 years of running this race I take the rose that is handed to me and lay it at the foot of Arthur’s Seat (the resting place that the great Arthur Newton carved for himself in the 1920s along the route). This practice is said to ensure a good second half of the race.

The earth speaks to me and along comes my next saviour in the form of my old mate Kirsty from Maritzburg. She is having a shocker like me, but keeps repeating to herself ‘This day will end’ ‘This day will end’. She is incredibly mentally strong and I am glad to see her. Is this Arthur or is this pure coincidence?

Onward and onward we roll chatting about a whole bunch of topics until we are joined by a carefree rasta going up Polly Shortts. While congratulating him on his 25th run and asking him what the secret is, he simply says that he finds the course to be getting easier. He is in his 60s and first ran Comrades in the 70s. His take is that the numerous water points and support make it much easier than when he first ran when the only support was water filled barrels every 5km. Makes one think how things have changed and how we might have been whinging had that been us running back in those days.

On we trudge up the mighty Pollys and on into Pietermaritzburg. The discussion turns to the contentious issue of medals and both Kirsty and I conclude that the only medals that we keep are Comrades medals – the rest may or may not be somewhere around the house. In contrast one of the blokes running next to us mentions that he has hundreds of them strewn all around the house. I suppose as with everything it is different strokes for different folks.

The finish line is again a welcome sight and appears after temptingly teasing us for many a kilometre. As in previous years I embrace my fellow Comrades and thank them for their help and encouragement. In true SA hospitality, Kirsty asks me if I have anyone waiting for me and offers me the chance to come and relax in her club’s tent. I politely decline and hobble my way over to the International Tent to be greeted by family and friends.

The event may be over, but the journey that it has set me on is lifelong. The course cannot be altered once you are on it.

Later that night I reflect on what in many respects was a less than ideal day in my running career, but then conclude that time is but one aspect of our lives. That day I accomplished what many can’t or won’t do in their entire lives. I made a new friend and I helped a stranger when they were in need, not because I expected anything in return, but purely because it is the right thing to do!

In the future I shall be seeking out to do even more for those much less fortunate than me.

Ah Comrades 2011 – a beast of tricky proportions, but indeed one that has rewarded in much more than the material sense.