There has never been a better time

I will start this post by wishing you, your family and your friends and pets a very Happy New Year. However last year treated you, I hope you get what you need from 2021, and I am sending you positive, warm wishes.

I haven’t written a blog for what seems like a long time (“Thank %*@#” goes the cry). It’s not because I haven’t had anything to say – I generally always have something to say, it’s usually a choice between whether it needs to be said or if I’ll say it in the right way. Now obviously the elephant in the room in this difficult second paragraph is the C-word. Not the religious festival we just saw fly by in the blink of an eye, or the word mostly used on my birthday cards, no, of course I am referring to the C-word of the global pandemic. I’m not going to write about what I think of the politicians, or any conspiracy theories, or rant about how bad it really has affected me, as I’m sure it has affected everyone in different ways. I will address though that despite a few bumps along the way that weren’t directly related to COVID-19 and lockdown, more bi-products, I have actually enjoyed it. I’ve said before that I am a largely solitary person, and the lockdown didn’t massively change my life, and I’ve tried to work towards self-improvement throughout and seek out the positives. On New Year’s Eve, I wrote a long list of all the great things that came out of lockdown, so I have a lot to be thankful for. In fact, my introspection and getting-on-with-it mentality is the main reason my blog posts have dropped off and my social media presence has been zilch since the summer – I have just been happy doing my own thing. I look at the news every day, but I don’t get down about it as to me, it is what it is and in my trying-to-be-a-Buddhist eyes, anger and worry will do nothing. So being quite black-and-white over the matter, and just making sure I stay on the right side of the law have been just that – no fighting against things that I cannot change.

On my list of New Year’s intentions, I overwhelmingly decided to look at picking up the pieces around me of things that I used to do that had fallen by the wayside, so began writing a new blog at the weekend. Here in the UK on Monday evening, we went into another national lockdown. This altered my post considerably. I had been writing with the subject of returning to ‘normal’ (whatever that may be) and my perhaps cynical views on that. Overnight I had an enforced change of heart – I can’t write about returning to normal when people are now being told not to go out. Even I am not that insensitive (he hopes). With that thought and a combination of things that happened the following day and the rest of my New Year’s intentions, and a blissfully sunny day, my subject matter changed, and I’m glad it did.

I have many goals, intentions, ambitions, whatever you want to call them, for this year. Some of them thrill me, some of them terrify me but they do one thing – they give me a sense of purpose, hope and positivity. It got me thinking – there has never been a better time. I think it is the same for all of us. We can all think about what we would like to do with our lives, where we would like to be, even whom we would like to be. This strange situation is going to play out in its own way. It doesn’t care about you or I, and we have two great tools at our disposal: effort and attitude. I’m not saying that if you feel lonely and depressed, that it is your fault. What I’m saying is setting targets no matter what they are or how big or small they are, they can make a huge difference. There has never been a better time to look inside yourself. Never been a better time to learn something about yourself, history, the world, even someone you’ve never met. The journey could be incredible. Don’t come out of this historic pandemic and live to 100 years old just to tell your grandchildren that all you did was binge-watch stuff on some sort of streaming service (avoiding free advertising space there), and made silly videos of yourself miming to ‘Holiday’ by Madonna on another well known (and morally questionable) social media platform. You are destined for greater things!

In the first lockdown, I busied myself with lots of small projects, more for my own sanity and a break from work really. That lost its momentum during the summer and I lost my purpose somewhat. I spent most of my time outdoors, reflecting, thinking, fighting wave after wave of changes that hit me from all angles. My original hope was that I would continue to post, and continue to support and inspire others, whereas all I did was end up trying to support myself and disappearing off the radar. I half expected to read my own obituary somewhere (transient thought; as an exercise, if you’re up for it, write your own obituary. Write how you would like to be remembered and thought of at the end of your life. A bit morbid perhaps, but I had to do it for something two years ago and it can be very humbling.)

As covered earlier, but humbly reiterated, Happy New Year to you, and I genuinely send you my best wishes. You won’t be reading my obituary any time soon, I am still here and I intend to be a bit more useful.

Hau’oli makahiki hou (try saying that without smiling).

Ten years gone

I shall start this first post of the year by wishing both of my readers a very happy New Year. I hope you enjoy reading this one. I can guarantee it’s the best thing I’ve written this decade so far.

Christmas and New Year were very enjoyable and different to what I’m used to, but in a good way. In the midst of all the festivities also was a house move, which, truth be told, is still ongoing. Towards the Christmas break however, I could, and still can, feel my general confidence level plummeting. There are probably many reasons as to why this is happening. One thought might be that so much happened to me last year, mostly in the summer, as well as achieving so many of my goals. By the end of September, I had had my first ever DNF and was almost definitely at the mercy of a potentially long-term injury. Two very unusual events for me as I’ve lived a seemingly charmed life in my physical activity existence. Being injured has held me back a little and I do feel out of shape, feeling reluctant to push myself like I used to.

My new tradition (second year) is competing in RED (Run Every Day) January. I headed out for run number two and felt up against it so decided to push it a bit and by the time I got home, I felt like I used to years ago when I first started to run seriously – fairly sweaty, suitably pushed and most importantly, buoyant on endorphins. It left me very satisfied and feeling raring to go for my next session, so I am able to see the positive in my fitness slipping.

With last year being pinned down by three ultra marathons, a Fan Dance and two Paras 10 races, I feel 2020 should be a return after a three year absence to road marathons to rediscover why I run to begin with. In true me style, I have set myself the goal of running a marathon in April in under three hours and fifteen minutes. I think currently, I’m in the four hour mark, and my personal best from my peak is three hours twenty-something, so I have a lot of work to do. Symbolically, the marathon will be exactly ten years since my first marathon, so there will be plenty of parallels to be drawn on many fronts. It’s definitely been ten years of complete change so I will more than likely be quite reflective throughout the whole thing.

I am hoping the marathon will be exactly what I need to put me somewhere near halfway to feeling like I’m actually good at something.