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, February 26, 2014

Listening and interpreting

It is pleasing that so many folks from across the world have been writing in a saying that they have been gaining from my musings on here. Sharing of knowledge is one of the most powerful ways that we can enhance things in this world. No one knows everything and the more we learn, the more we find there is to learn.

Today I wanted to focus on an often overlooked part of training – that being rest. This morning I woke and was due to go for my normal 90 minute Wednesday run, but my stomach was not feeling great and to be honest it felt as if Mike Tyson was going 12 rounds with its insides. I’m not entirely sure why this was as I hadn’t done anything different over the past few days and have been eating that which I normally would eat through the course of a week. That said in the pain I was in, there was no way that I was able to go for my run.

Being in the taper for Six Foot Track, means that I’m not panicking at all. As the great Bruce Fordyce said, if in pain, rest. If in you are tired and feeling washed up and weak – rest. In fact he added ‘If ever in doubt then rather rest’. This has always proved sound advice for me (although at first it took some getting used to).

Your body will tell you what it wants on the day (or any day for that matter). It will tell you how much of something it wants and when it is not happy about something. It is only a matter of listening to and being able to interpret these signals that will provide us with success. That is if we are only willing to listen.

Running together (while interpreting your body’s signs), stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The different forms of winning!

Winning comes in many different shapes and forms.

In the past I enjoyed participating in sport for the sheer selfish pleasure of winning and bringing whatever glory that meant to myself and my team mates. Since my competitive days are behind me, nothing beats hearing about those that have done well and succeeded through a range of hard work and training, self belief and mental strength.

Today was just such a day when a really close friend stood up to a great athletic challenge, overcame it and stood on her own mountain. I am immensely proud of her as she is one of the most phenomenal individuals I know but often doesn't see this herself.

Hearing how she executed her race plan perfectly, I'm so incredibly awe inspired and motivated to draw on some of her strength in my upcoming Six Foot Track Marathon.

Hearing about her success suddenly makes any selfish wins and records that I have produced completely insignificant.

Running together (while drawing inspiration from others achievements), stride for stride on a life changing ride! -- Sean Muller

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Channeling previous difficulties to attain success

I was speaking with a close friend who is stepping up to her first half Ironman this weekend about the taper and race planning. It has been fabulous to see this young lady come so far in the past months to the point of her current fitness where I feel she will even outdo her own expectations.

Key to race prep for me is always spending at least some of your last week in your own head and in a positive frame of mind. Once your training is done you will know that it is taper time as you will start to get antsy, your legs will start to twitch a bit and you will just be ready to take on the race.

Once you’ve jumped in at the gun, it is important not to fly off the handle and go out too quickly. Distance events are precisely that – distance events. There will always be a few idiots in any race who will go out like a bull out of a gate. Let these individuals go and think only of your race. Pace yourself nicely from the start and let those clowns surge ahead. Time will ultimately tell if they are stronger than you or if you will be cleaning them up in the last few K of the event. I have often found that in my case it is the latter.

Personally I also find that flying under the radar always allows one to relax and perform at an optimum.
Trust in your training and listen to your body and what it wants in terms of nutrition.

Above all though there is a small trick that I use to trick the mind when things become tough in any event or when it starts to hurt. I always cast my mind back to other difficult situations in my life that I have managed to overcome and channel that resilience to overcome the current hurt and pain.

In this regard, I find sometimes that hurt and pain that you may have been feeling is ideal to not only channel success, but to help to set aside that hurt from your life once and for all. I ran one of my best times after really being hurt in the past. That even helped me to also get past that time in my life.

If this is not enough then I also use the phrase that I was taught by a very wise Scottish coach who helped me through Comrades:
‘The urge to quit something in life or in sport will come but once..Once you have defeated it, like a coward it will not return for another fight’.

Rise above – channel your previous difficulties and ACHIEVE! -- Sean Muller

Thursday, February 20, 2014

When life goes well.

Today I encountered a young lady who used to be part of a training group that I worked with a few years ago. She had wanted to get fitter and improve her running which she has clearly done judging by the way she moved and her physique, but she also seemed a lot happier.

On chatting some more, it came out that she had met her current partner while out on a run and had quite literally almost run into him. They have been very happy together and share a mutual love for physical activities.

Now the fact that she had continued to improve so much over the past few years is fantastic, but that she was also to have other great news in her life to was just the double whammy. I'm thrilled for her and this is another example of just how life can dish up anything at any time and that we quite simply don't know when our lives may be changed forever.

Positive great stories around running, relationships and life. What an awesome way to end a Thursday.

Running together (while embracing what life outs in our path), stride for stride on a life changing ride! --Sean Muller

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Importance of good coaching and mentorship

Every now and then someone comes into your athletic life and provides an extra edge to things. My current coach is one of those people, but so to is Bobby McGee and Norrie Williamson. Both of these characters have had a profound affect on my running and training. Both from South African extraction they have proven themselves to be adept at not only providing guidance around Comrades training but also long distance triathlon, Ironman and multi adventure racing.

Anyone interested in improving their running or other racing could do a lot worse than to listen to the guidance provided by these to individuals. They both have a number of articles, videos and blogs containing valuable information for free for the scholar of the distance event. They cover everything from nutrition, injury, training, technique and racing. 

Those particularly keen would do well to also acquire Norrie's book 'Everyman's guide to distance running', which I believe is out of print at this point, but you can still source second hand copies on the internet.

Running together (while having good mentors to turn to), stride for stride on a life changing ride! -- Sean Muller

Rocking out while running..

This one speaks for itself really. Every running event worth its salt plays this at the start. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Weird things seen on the run

I always find it fascinating how you never know who or what you are going to encounter when you head out the door on a run. This evening as I headed out to the pool, I was about 3K into my run and literally rounded a bend and came face to face with a giant pig being walked on a lead. This was in the middle of Surry Hills and I had to stop and take a photo.

Now I’ve encountered many different animals in my time while running or walking in the bush. Baboons have been a common one from the time I got my orienteering group lost on a hike when we were on a bush camp aged 11 and we managed to walk over the border from South Africa to Lesotho. That was a hair raising encounter and at that tender age I learned the value of following a map, not trying to outrun wild animals and that even as cute as they are vervet monkeys can scare the heck out of you when you are alone in the bush.

Normally I’m just happy to live inside my own head while out running, but the pig really got me thinking about things. How did they manage to domesticate it to walk on a lead and where would you keep it in the inner city? Also do you need a permit to keep such and animal?

Whoever said running was a boring sport.. Oh and the swim was pretty good to. 

Running together (while encountering weird things in your city), stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Monday, February 17, 2014

Rare occurrences in running and life

Those of you that know me know that material possessions don’t mean much to me. Don’t get me wrong, I live a great life, but I’m not really wedded to things that one can wander into any shop and purchase again. For me the things in life that mean the most are those rare occurrences or rare objects that you see very occasionally – they are the moments that make my life worth living.

Today I got some very kind feedback from three people. Two of these involved comments and emails to me through my blog which were quite complimentary (thank you whoever you are!) and the third came from a person that I used to work with who said that he had derived value from reading my blog. One of the emails mentioned how this chap had been motivated to lose weight of his own after hearing about my weightloss story. This is really phenomenal and incredibly humbling at the same time to hear that in some small way another random person has changed their life for the positive as a result of an interaction with me and what I write here. This was one of those rare occasions as mentioned above.

Running, weightloss and empowerment all go hand in glove as things that will change your life.

Running together (while trying to motivate others positively), stride for stride on a life changing ride! – Sean Muller

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Seconding your mates to success..

The role of the second or support crew is often something that is severely underrated by many endurance athletes. They compete only along very selfish lines and don't take into account those that will help them be they volunteers or simply friends who offer up time to help out during training (which to be honest can be very lonely). These folks often also assume events just take place and they don't acknowledge all the volunteer assistance.

Having been on the giving and receiving ends of assistance in the past, I used to be very keen to help out a number of people. Slowly though one observes that there are those that you can trust to assist you back and those who will just take and never give back in any way shape or form. Now I still willingly give back to only a select group who I care about.

Yesterday I was able to spend some quality time encouraging a dear friend who is taking on the Ironman for the first time. It has been a pleasure to be part of their training and to see them flourish and become fitter and stronger than I've seen them. Success in training is in no part due solely to the second, but their presence I have found can often be the difference between wanting to get out and train and lying in bed on a cold wet day. As with the group mentality if I know that someone has agreed to come out and help me, I'm more inclined to get my butt out of bed and training.

Having a friendly face to see every now and then can also mean the world of difference.

Supporting your mates is a sure fire way to find out just who would be there for you in an emergency.

Running together (while supporting your mates), stride for stride on a life changing ride! -- Sean Muller

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Falling in love on the run

Love is a beautiful thing indeed. But sometimes (nay many times it can be downright frustrating or infuriating). I swore that this would never happen again. I was going to be tough and after being hurt so many times in the past, I would feel nothing in terms of intimate love for any lady (and definitely not one I've trained with in the past). This would ensure I wasn't hurt, but here I am again and have completely fallen for just such a lady. Her smile is sunshine and her laugh that of a songbird. In her company life feels complete and whole. Yet it seems destined not to be and I don't know how to change it. Perhaps I am just friend material and a relationship is beyond me. I don't know.

I'm too old for games and nonsense. I just want a quiet life and someone to smile and laugh with, someone to have fun with to just be my geeky self around. Why does life have to be this complex? Still I'm blessed to at least have her in my life and even if we never get together, it is always better to have loved and put it out there and been turned down.

Unreciprocated love is better than no love at all. It makes one crazy at times and rips out your insides, but still staying true to yourself and others and respecting their feelings and wishes (even when they change from time to time) is how I'll continue to be.

Life goes on. Keep on living and loving. Keep on running. Stride for stride on a life changing ride! -- Sean Muller

Friday, February 14, 2014

Running as a universal language

It is really amazing that sport and something as simple as running can transcend cultural and language barriers and that any lost in translation moments are forgotten when it comes to the crunch.

Some years ago I had the pleasure of running with the winner of the Sydney marathon the day after the race. He was of course only on a recovery run and showed me just why he was so successful in his sport. He said to me that in the west people ran for their health, but in Kenya people ran because it was a way of life. They formed packs together and so no one ever felt out of place. There was always a group going and from that group formation and ideal success came.

Similarly today I had that experience with some Japanese runners. Running as a pack in Sydney for the betterment of the group. They run hard, but always loop back and pickup the slowest (that being me today).

More often than not you don't even need to say anything on the run, just a few nods and away we went. It reminded me also of a trip to Hong Kong some years ago when I fell in with a Chinese squad where the female coach barked orders at them and then told me I was okay for a white man.

Running together (while overcoming language barriers), stride for stride on a life changing ride. -- Sean Muller

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Inspiration from everyday folk.

Inspiration is something that I look around for whenever I can. It is not only massive Olympic stars that inspire - sometimes the biggest inspiration comes from those that are just out doing their thing and in some small way overcoming odds that would have left many giving up.

I was exceedingly pleased with myself to be able to take on and complete the ocean swim that I did this morning off the back of only a few short weeks of training. I guess that the swimmer that I was back in college must still be hiding somewhere down in the doldrums of my memories. But the was a young lady who took part with only the use of her arms (her legs being paralysed). This totally inspired me. She came in well behind, but she finished and  I was fortunate to chat to her at the showers where she had two male mates who looked pretty strong who she said had swam one on either side of her the whole way to make sure she was fine. This in itself is again a great show of mateship and not something that you see everyday.

In fact it reminded me of the blind runners interviewed a few years ago at Comrades who said at the finish that he wanted to quit at the 70km mark, but didn't because then his guide wouldn't get the finishing medal.

I can only hope that someday I'm able to also give back in this way by assisting someone else in their journey towards a goal.

Running together (while helping your mates to a goal), stride for stride on a life changing ride. -- Sean Muller

Saturday, February 8, 2014

How different would life have turned out?

Being the literary nerd that I am, I'm always thinking about books and plots as well as about the fascinating stories that people have to share. One of my first teachers said to me that we have at least one book in us and that has stuck with me ever since. Life and a life on the run is fascinating. Many people think that their story is boring, but to many others it may be fascinating and inspiring and just the thing that that person may want to hear at that point in their life.

I sometimes think how my life would have panned out if I'd made different decisions along the way. I do firmly believe that everything is for a reason and that we all have our own path to walk in life, but what would have happened if I'd stayed in the UK? What would have happened if I'd stayed in Africa? And... Indeed what would happen if I were to move back to either of those places or to another place on earth. Would I still be running or training, would I have bothered to shift the weight I have and would I have changed my life?

It's weird really because I don't have any family ties or relationship ties tying me to Sydney or Australia, so a move shouldn't be that hard in theory, but I've also met some pretty amazing people here and moving can be taxing the first couple of years again.

I suppose life is just a great big adventure and worth rolling with the punches for after all you never know what or who could walk into your life at any point along the way and that's the beauty of things.

Running together (while pondering the mysteries of life), stride for stride on a life changing ride! -- Sean Muller

Saying hello - being polite!

This morning's training session revealed another of my pet hates in life - rudeness. How many times have you been out and about running and greeted other runners or even just pedestrians and been greeted back  with blank stares or even offensive gestures or foul language.

Now in a big city like Sydney I understand that there are many tourists and some don't or won't speak English while a certain portion of people may also be deaf or too stoned or drunk from the night before to want to bother, but it really can't be everyone that is in the same boat really.

I was pondering this morning if it was because I perhaps looked weird or stalkeresque, but I look like a bog standard runner really and have even been described as boring and run of the mill looking, so why then do people refuse to greet me.

I'd be interested to hear any experiences you may have had in this regard to as I don't want to sound overly negative.

Running together (while greeting others), stride for stride on a life changing ride. -- Sean Muller.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Respecting others time

This morning I experienced one of my absolute pet hates in life when it comes to training or even just general life - that being flakiness or an absolute disregard for other people's time and effort.

I was due to meet a mate for training at his request this morning and had not only looked forward to having some company in my workout, but sacrificed starting at my preferred time to accommodate him. I waited and waited for 20 minutes and then got going on my own. I didn't have a phone with me so couldn't contact him and was actually a little worried during training that something may have happened to him along the way.

Getting home I found a Text message reading only 'Sorry mate- too many beers last night and so didn't make it'. Now he's a grown man of 36 and I'm certainly not against anyone going out and getting plastered if that is what they want to do, but why then not say something the night before or why make plans at all if you know you can't go out and just drink soft drink or be home at a decent hour?

Once or twice one can excuse this sort of behaviour, it's only human, but when it starts becoming a regular pattern (as it has with him) then I get annoyed and reluctant to even believe what comes out of their mouths, but also train with them at all.

It hurts even more when it's done and then blatantly rubbed in your face. It happened a little while ago with a female friend who then commented to her mate, 'Don't worry, it's only Sam - he doesn't mind.' Yes good old reliable Sam will always be there was what was being implied. Well I dropped their friendship only to get a text going I miss you... What - you miss messing me around and having things solely on your terms?

Don't mess around your mates or those you supposedly care about. It isn't nice at all. Everyone has their breaking point and if you push enough buttons even the most tolerant will just walk away.

Running together (while respecting others time), stride for stride on a life changing ride! -- Sean Muller

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

That little personal mountain

This weekend I am going to do something that occurred to me only at the end of last year. I vowed to myself that this year would be a time for some milestones and thus far I'm happy with where I am at as far as January and into Feb is concerned. Speaking to a gentleman at the gym this morning he asked 'Sam why are you training so hard?' And followed it up with 'are you hoping to pickup this summer?'.

I have to laugh at this as I've never been very successful with the ladies. Even when I was winning at school and college, I was never the one who picked up the most. Those that know me know that I'm kind of dorky (which I'll happily admit). Those times however were selfish wins and at times now I get reminded by people about how I used to be pretty decent at sport as youngster. That is why this weekend after only 3 weeks of training again I am going to complete an ocean swim.

I won't win and I won't come last and it may not be Olympian elegance to watch plus I doubt anyone will be there to watch me, but I'll get the job done. Then I hope to quietly stand up on my own personal mountain and just have a look around for a little while. Those moments in life for me eclipse the wins and the records and the tries of the past. There are other mountains that we summit with others and that is good to, but the view up there is different and when you are on your own you learn more about who you are and where you've been. In a shared journey each may have their own slant on things, but largely it's the same. A personal journey is just that and no one else will have been where you went or seen what you saw.

Why do I train so hard? The answer to this is firstly so that I don't get fat again and secondly so that I don't become a member of the 'I used to' brigade. You know the type, whenever someone says that they are doing a run, swim, tri or hike or whatever, then this lot will pipe up 'I used to be able to do that'. It annoys me because if someone could do something 15 years ago then why can't they still do it. This is why I'm doing the swim to challenge my current boundaries and to prove to myself that I still can. It's a self preservation thing.

Running together (while conquering small goals each day), stride for stride on a life changing ride! -- Sean Muller

Monday, February 3, 2014

So tonight I am doing something completely unheard of in posting two entries in one day. I just got a message through from one of my readers (yay people are still reading!!) asking me when I was going to pickup the mood in my posts somewhat with the perception that I was being anti love and all doom and gloom with regards to relationships.

This has not been my intention at all. My ethos still remains positivity, possibility and passion in life.

I still firmly believe that there can be no stronger bond formed between two people in a relationship if they share common interests and if those interests include exercise and running then that is a very positive start to things.

The point I was trying to make over the last couple of posts is that I haven't found that yet. It's out there I know as I see it around me in my training groups all the time. I'm still a massive believer and a big softie when it comes to seeing couples out training together. Such a beautiful sight to see two people not only in love but also enjoying doing things that they both love together.

Another point to make is that it's also okay to be single and I think one quality relationship is far better than having many superficial relationships that you try and nurture. It's akin to social media and people bragging about having 5000 'friends'. How many of these are one time acquaintances and how many of these are occasional drinking buddies versus how many would they feel comfortable calling on to help them when in a tight jam or when something truly disastrous were to happen.

So despite friends best efforts and constant encouragement I won't be getting on Tinder to find a relationship. I'll just continue being Sam and living life on the run just as I am.

I'm having a ramble - it's been a random 48hours. Keep running.

Be positive, look after yourself, your mates and ultimately your heart. Life is good friends!!

Channelling anger and hurt.

Yesterday I mentioned the bloke who asked for my help in overcoming his relationship breakup. First things first in these scenarios is to stop thinking and brooding about that person and what they may or may not be doing.

The easiest way to do this is to make sure that you have plenty to do and keep yourself occupied with so that you aren't thinking about them, but also burning up the excess energy that you will find you have now that they aren't in your life anymore. There is that inevitable void as he is feeling right now. The void where you want to pickup the phone and call them or when you are alone in bed at night and  missing them. All of this natural, but it's how you deal with it that counts.

Our program has him running and swimming every morning and with an optional gym session after work to keep him sane and burning that energy. It may not be the only way, but I've found it's the best way to beat the hurt.

He's showing signs of progress (or maybe it's just tiredness), but nonetheless it's positive. If you are going through a similar situation then I'd recommend that you flog yourself for a good solid month as that is the hardest time usually. With time it does get easier and you will also get fitter.

Be kind to yourself and don't be afraid to go a little mental on the exercise. It's better than the alternative of eating yourself fat. Channel that anger and hurt into constructive outcomes in exercise.

Running together (while burning off anger and hurt), stride for stride on a life changing ride. -- Sean Muller

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Beating relationship pain on the run.

It is often the case that when we are least looking or least expecting something it finds us
So was the case this morning on my recovery run and gym session where I ran into an old acquaintance who is going through a relationship breakup. He has asked for my help in getting him in shape and over the heartache. You see I've been where he is at and I could empathise.

The fact that he was wanting to embrace his fitness and rather hammer his body than go the other way as so many people do and hammer the bottle or worse in an attempt to get over the hurt. Instead we are going to set him a program whereby he will be training himself back into great shape  and in 3 months time we are planning to release him back onto the Sydney dating scene. In his early 40s, there are bound to be quite a few ladies out there who will take a fancy to him once he is all buffed up.

Break ups are tough, but brooding and doing nothing will make them tougher. Getting out and beating the hurt through physical exertion is a top cure.

Running together (while beating relationship breakup pain), stride for stride on a life changing ride! -- Sean Muller

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Now you see it... Now you don't ...

It is said that only when we are truly pushed to the edge in training or racing and stripped bare of everything that we discover things we didn't know about ourselves. We learn about what is inside our soul. We see that which we normally wouldn't (or cannot see). We find out what it is that truly makes us tick. Our battle mantra and reason for life. We rethink our ways even.

I'm not even sure who reads my ramblings on here, but as you know this is where I post some controversial and out there stuff including good bits of advice. It's an outlet for some of the things that happen in my life on the run (those able to be explained and those not).

I know that I'm a bit crazy and unusual, quirky, wear my heart on my sleeve at times and have some out there behaviours, but today I felt as though I was going round the bend abit.

When venturing on my 36k bush run in the heat I encountered for the very first time some brief occasions when I saw things that were blatantly not there. I didn't bother to mention this to my running mates as we were all taking a little strain in the heat and no one wants to be thought of as being crazy particularly when you are trying to reach a goal target.

The Native American warrior I saw hopping over the rocks - was he there? Was he not? I don't know and I don't know if I'll see him again. I saw him a few years while out on an early morning run near Manly. Who knows where he has been? Who knows where my brain was thins morning. More than likely I was dehydrated and my brain cooking. Perhaps he'll return and perhaps not.

I'd be curious to find out if anyone else has had these moments?

Look after yourself. Look after your mates. Be kind to yourself!

Running together, while experiencing different things. Stride for stride on a life changing ride! -- Sean Muller