Jose Gonzales - Guest post from Brett....

Jose Gonzales

It has been said that the human heart has a finite number of beats before it simply stops. The day you reach that figure, which is apparently unique to each individual, and your time on this mortal coil is over. There is, of course, not one shred scientific evidence to support this theory.

Having said that, animals with high pulse rates, like hamsters and mice, live short lives, while ones with low rates, like tortoises and whales, can live longer than us. The Galapagos tortoise’s heart, when resting, is just six beats per minute whereas the dormouse is an incredible 240 beats. Maybe there is something in the claim.

Recently, once again, I have been struck down with injury and unable to run. Interestingly, in running terms this is my lowest mileage for years. I have more DNS’s than I care to mention, and I won’t even begin to add up the financial hit I’ve taken. However, I have learnt more about ‘me’ than during any other year of my ‘running career.’  

There is a point, which all runners must face, that they will have to stop or make significant changes to their running. Like Damocles, seated at a banquet with a sword suspended over his head by a single hair to show him the perilous nature of his happiness, do runners need to occasionally be reminded of their own fragility; and in doing so would this be a bad thing?

Undeniably, injury - in whatever form - puts runners into a tailspin. The longer the injury prevails the harder their time-out becomes. To alleviate the impending sense of doom the runner is more likely to head out regardless, thus aggravating the injury setting them back further. It’s a maze where the exit is clearly signed with ‘You must rest’. A sign so easily ignored.  My torn calf muscle is for now a hard reminder that I am far from invincible which is, ironically, how I have often felt at the end of a long slow run.

Physiologically I know stopping running will have an effect. Possible weight gain, a drop in VO2 efficiency and certain brain functions may become less efficient. It has often been reported that runners have a tendency towards addiction. When the commitment teeters over the line to dependency and compulsion, the runner forgoes ignores the signs in pursuit of the ‘fix’. Unfortunately, the malignant growth of overtraining is insidious, perceived by others but rarely by the runner in question. We become blinkered.

In the absence of running I decided to turn my attention to new pastimes. Stretching, in isolation, was never ‘my thing’. My pre and post run culminated in little more than a gentle, or in many cases non-existent, thigh stretch. But following a brief conversation on Twitter the notion of yoga was presented to me by a faceless runner. I say faceless as I’ve literally never seen her face. Following a few clumsy attempts using static pics I eventually found an app and followed a video. Initially the poses seemed unnatural and honestly downright painful.

Slowly but surely my flexibility improved along with a hitherto unknown core strength. In short, Yoga is now part of my daily routine and one I would loathe to give up. In my mind I see this as undeniably positive however I must also ask myself ‘have I merely given up one addiction for another’? Grace Jones may well have been a slave to the rhythm but are we slaves to?

I desperately try to step back from a pastime I love and see the cold hard facts but honestly, I’m in too deep. Stopping running, up until my recent slow return it had been three months, has led me to Yoga. But it also led me to accept that I am now bigger than the next race and if there is a healthy balance then perhaps that is it and perhaps that is all there needs to be. The acceptance isn’t that running will one day cease, but that I am more than the run.

‘Heartbeats’ by Jose Gonzales features the most amazing music video of all time; in my most humble opinion. A million coloured balls bounce down the streets of San Francisco. The balls bounce elegantly down ridiculous inclines in slow motion. Time is mesmerizingly stretched.

Yoga slows my heartbeat. I listen to this song as I stretch. If there is a finite number, then maybe I’ll be meeting my maker a little later than expected.  

About Brett:

brett.jpg

Brett is a father, a teacher, a runner. He completed his first triathlon at the tender age of 17 and has gone on to run every distance from sprint mile to marathon and aims to complete his first ultra marathon in 2018 at the not so tender age of 47. 

He is open about his battle with mental health and since hitting rock bottom 8 years ago has been on what he would describe as being a life changing journey ever since. He is a firm believer that through sharing and support anything is possible and that above all else we must strive to de-stigmatise mental health.  You can follow Brett on Twitter and cheer him along as he battles his anxiety and beats it most days.


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Billy - Another Guest Post from our Favorite...Brett!


Billy

 

Liking, partiality, leaning, proclivity, inclination, disposition, enjoyment, appreciation, soft spot, taste, delight, relish, passion, zeal, appetite, enthusiasm, keenness, penchant, fondness, affection, tenderness, warmth, intimacy, attachment, endearment, devotion, adoration, doting, idolization, worship, passion, ardour, desire, lust, yearning, infatuation, adulation, besotted.

 

Weakness.

 

There are far greater men than I who can wax lyrical about love and all the nouns in the world often pale into insignificance when confronted with this almost celestial manifestation. Quite rightly so. Hearing those three magical words can your day from disaster to triumph, from meaningless to meaningful.

According to psychologists it is the commonly held view that many hanker after romantic love and in fact, should we dare to scratch the surface, there are 7 types of love and romantic love is merely a modern construct.

  1. There is the all-enveloping love full of passion and desire – all very Cupid. Picture if you will Paris and Helen and the war that followed.  

  2. Friendships based on not only mutual benefit but also companionship, dependability and trust. Of course, there is nothing to say that all-enveloping cannot develop to encompass all the beautiful synchronicity. True friends, it could be said, seek together to liver a truer, fuller life by relating to each other authentically.

  3. Familial love may be asymmetrical especially when the ‘couple’ in question differ significantly in age. A parent and child, a career and an aging relation. Unlike other manifestations this does not rely on personal qualities but is often expected to be unconditional.

  4. Now consider if you will the playful or uncommitted love. The focus is on fun. Yes, it can be uncomplicated, undemanding and even long lasting. However, if one of the parties wants to move on, then what?

  5. Pragmatism also plays its part. A love born from duty and long-term interests. Think celebrity and politically motivated pairings.

  6. Self-love cannot be ignored. One word; Hubris. Of course, here we find a double-edged sword, self-esteem and the emotional appraisal of our own worth sits effortlessly alongside an inflated sense of one’s self. Arrogance and self-righteousness reign supreme.

  7. Finally, we come to what is often regarded as charity love; it’s altruism. The helpers high. The universal love; for strangers, for nature, for God.

To each their own. Where I sit, where you sit, is frankly irrelevant and almost certainly a fluid playing field. However, it has become apparent to me recently that I had been in a long-term relationship for years - one that I have only just come to acknowledge due to not the relationship itself, but that which envelops it. Let me elaborate.

Forgive me if you will for the gender specificity. For the car owners; is yours male, or female? You get my drift. Running for me is she and she is a myriad of beautifully complicated emotions. Tonight, was my first run post injury, a testing run, and as every step went by I was awash with euphoria and fear in equal measures. After a month off this was first date territory and as with all first dates it came to an end somewhat awkwardly - does it finish now? I know I should wait before sending her a text. Yes, I’ll play it cool. I’ll see her again in a few days, any sooner would be foolhardy.

And so, the game plays out.

In all honesty I have no idea how the game will play out. It’s been a year of injuries and illness and like all relationships we have entered a new stage. There is a familiarity there now. There is balance. However, this has little to do with my relationship with her, but everything to do with them.

Yes, tonight’s dalliance was tantalising but interestingly, my yearning to get back to running has little to do with the run itself, but the relationships that surround the run. Previously I have always hankered for the solitude of a run, even on race day, but there has been a shift which I can directly attribute to the friends I now talk to, daily. We were brought together by a run and have stayed an incredibly tight and wonderfully supportive group. Through their support I have found a hitherto unknown confidence to talk to other runners, to attend races and enjoy the somewhat smelly social side post run.

Psychologists and their theories make for interesting reading, of that there is no doubt but for me runners occupy and personify all that is the best of love; friendship, trust, authenticity, altruism.  

As for the second date… ‘she is frequently kind and suddenly cruel…but she’s always a woman to me’.

About Brett:

brett.jpg

Brett is a father, a teacher, a runner. He completed his first triathlon at the tender age of 17 and has gone on to run every distance from sprint mile to marathon and aims to complete his first ultra marathon in 2018 at the not so tender age of 47. 

He is open about his battle with mental health and since hitting rock bottom 8 years ago has been on what he would describe as being a life changing journey ever since. He is a firm believer that through sharing and support anything is possible and that above all else we must strive to de-stigmatise mental health.  You can follow Brett on Twitter and cheer him along as he battles his anxiety and beats it most days.

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Straight Talking - a Guest Post from Our Favorite...Brett!

Aaah heifers, been a while since we’ve heard from our favorite guest blogger - Brett - this one doesn’t disappoint. Enjoy:

Straight talking

If you haven’t read ‘The loneliness of a long distance runner’ by Alan Sillitoe, it’s worth a read. If you haven’t heard the song of the same name by Iron Maiden then you haven’t missed much. If it’s songs with running in the title you need, there are better.

Most of my runs are solo. Although a long run can be passed effortlessly with miles slipping by with a buddy, with many topics covered, there is something about the solitude I crave. The silence without, the dialogue within. Herein lies the paradox.

I think it wouldn’t be a leap of faith to say people need company. Our species is predisposed to interact. Psychologists would say loneliness is a negative condition resulting from a state of aloneness.  People who desire more relationships than they actually have can develop feelings of loneliness. However, it’s not the number of relationships that determines whether people feel lonely. It is the emotional and cognitive reactions the individual experiences in relation to these connections that plays a role in experiencing loneliness. In layman’s terms, a mindless chat with a stranger probably won’t cut the mustard.

As a child I found social situations awkward and, most of the time, incredibly difficult due to an accident which left me with partial hearing loss. If you can’t hear, you can’t talk. During my formative years I tried to conform to social etiquette. I marveled at the apparent ease my peers mastered ‘small talk’. Put simply I tried, but failed, to communicate easily with others.  I remained lonely.

lonely.jpg

Fast forward to my mid 40’s and I have rediscovered running, initially to lose weight and stay fit. However, like Sillitoe’s character Smith I discovered the significant advantages of meaningful inner dialogue. As the dialogue continued my confidence grew. I launched a twitter account, I started chatting to other runners and for the first time I felt connected (albeit online) to a group of likeminded people. Yet the face to face meeting still left me ill at ease. I started and finished races alone. Until I became the proud recipient of a visor from Racecheck. The innoxious silver package changed everything. In 2017 I went to my first race sporting my visor. I can’t deny I felt proud, I felt confident and more importantly I now had a simple reason to talk to other #visorclub clad runners. Yes, they were all strangers however, I quickly discovered they were strangers with common interests, goals and indeed fears. For the first time in my life my friendship circle started to grow exponentially.

Running should be an incredibly unsociable pastime. A long slow run is effectively two, maybe three hours, with nothing but the passing landscape and time, like Smith, to mentally reflect. However, I now feel more connected than at any other because I know there are literally thousands of runners who are also part of a beautifully supportive (and chatty) community.

I’m still socially awkward and honestly that is unlikely to change, but I’m not lonely any more.


About Brett:

brett.jpg

Brett is a father, a teacher, a runner. He completed his first triathlon at the tender age of 17 and has gone on to run every distance from sprint mile to marathon and aims to complete his first ultra marathon in 2018 at the not so tender age of 47. 

He is open about his battle with mental health and since hitting rock bottom 8 years ago has been on what he would describe as being a life changing journey ever since. He is a firm believer that through sharing and support anything is possible and that above all else we must strive to de-stigmatise mental health.  You can follow Brett on Twitter and cheer him along as he battles his anxiety and beats it most days.




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