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!

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