Uncover your inner athlete!

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

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

Sunday, 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