Posts Tagged Marathon

Sunday Column (515)

Hello. I got about seven regular Sunday Columns left. That means Christmas is not far away. I managed two early Christmas presents for my boys, one is a trip to Manchester in order to see Man City play; the other one is a basketball hoop. Latter is also an early present for myself, but that aside. I can’t stop myself supporting the boy’s ambition to play sports, be healthy and exercise. How could I?

Today it has been 100 years since the end of World War One. It is hard to believe. My grandparents would be over 100 years old now and the world has moved on. Thinking about it, I introduced my youngest to some ‘oldies’ music from the 60ies and 70ies, another (Vietnam) war generation only 50 years ago. He wasn’t too keen. It reminds you to appreciate the peaceful times we live in. Despite mid term elections in the US and Brexit. A year from now, the world is a different place.

On that note, I read an article on the BBC about the decline in fertility rate. It is scary that we might not have an overpopulation problem but a problem of not too many kids to sustain our ever growing older people base. We are all going to live longer and no one there to follow us, meaning we need to work longer potentially. Our generation will see a lot of change.

For myself, post marathon, I just felt hungry this week. A bit out of place, not having anything to strive for. I was surprised how little I felt in terms of ‘weakness’ after the marathon. My knee felt fine from Tuesday already and all worries about that are gone. Some niggles around an insect bite I got during the run, and still some stiff legs. Nothing a massage, a stretch and a short run on the treadmill couldn’t cure.

The feeling after a marathon is interesting. You are in a hype bubble for a while, then it sinks in. It’s a super high and then a huge come down. It’s a phenomenon called the ‘marathon blues’, I read up a lot on it, and it isn’t nice to be honest. You spent three months or longer working towards something and then it’s done. It’s over. I can see the addiction to do more and more. It reminded me a bit of smoking cigarettes, you get this super high, then the low down, so you have another, and another. It is addictive for sure.

I find, at least for myself, that once it sunk in, it is almost as if it wasn’t there. But then it lingers around, that feeling of achievement. Not that I run around smiling, but it is that feeling of ‘yes, I have done it’. It definitely gives me energy, and wants me to run another one. So we shall see.

I was warned. The challenge is really to have the time and commit or sacrifice precious family time to running. That’s the hardest bit. The fitness and the mental strength builds up as you go along. I haven’t really decided yet, the next few weeks are quiet in terms of running, so plenty of time to think about it. But I might have just caught the running bug 🙂 (not that I didn’t run before anyway). Who knows. Maybe time to channel my time and focus to other projects, like basketball or building car models again. Who knows, nothing has been decided.

But those moments are decision moments. When running the marathon I was thinking of situations in my life where I went out of my comfort zone. The navy came to mind, now over 20 years ago. Night marches. Going beyond your limits. And compared to others, my training wasn’t that hard. And university, when being in the fraternity and fencing with sharp blades. Those moments of discomfort and going beyond the usual are moments that define you. They never go away. The wall as I call it, the next wall is there to come.

As I started writing this I am on an earlier train. If you don’t exercise in the morning and your body is used to a 5 am start, there is only that much you can do. My new breakfast routine takes 5 minutes (a nutrition shake), so I will be at work early. There is always something to do and sort. It was occupational therapy this week, work and food, and from next week things will change again. Time to go back to the gym, do more runs and decide on the next wall.

Don’t worry, there are still things on my bucket list. And maybe some of them have less impact on my knees. Maybe I need to learn a new skill. Maybe something to involve the kids. I believe I am through the blues. The weekend was great, getting on top of loads of work this week and being able to have a nice meal out with the wife. For our anniversary, to celebrate life.

I dreamed I had the chance to go up in a rocket to see the ISS (International Space Station) and paid a lot of money for it. And when it was about to take off, I wasn’t sure if I should go. What’s the worst that can happen to you out there? You never come back, you die. But you won’t. You will be fine, and things will always work out. If someone offers you a ride in a rocket, take it. Fear is a good thing.

I felt that last weekend, I went into that rocket, despite fear, and I came back. Yes, it was a hard come down, but now it is time to find the next rocket ride. Some training at basecamp and up to the next stars.

I almost don’t want to quit this post, but it’s time to let go. Literally. 7 more weeks.

Have a great week ahead,
Volker

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Sunday Column (514)

This is a special post. Why? You see below.
I have made a few decisions this week, based on having a few hours to think about life and life’s priorities. From January, I will stop writing my Sunday Column. 10 years, over 500 posts and a collection of over 1000 pages are enough for now. It helped me in my personal development, my reflection and I aim to use it as a base for some further book writing, including a publication of the posts in an e-book. It might just take a few months/years to review and publish.

When I started my blog in 2009 I was childless, working in search marketing and just bought my first house. Things have changed. I have developed over the years and have found my blog both a creative outlet and therapeutical. However, it is time to channel that energy elsewhere. Stay tuned. This doesn’t mean I will stop writing, and occasionally you will find a topical post here. Instead I want to continue with my podcast, another creative outlet where I personally, and hopefully the listeners, gain more from too.

Finding a wall. You might remember that I took part in a 24 hour endurance race last year, having had to pull out due to injury after about 35K. I wanted a new wall, and leisurely went for a marathon. When I say leisurely, training in the heat, on the treadmill during our holidays in Singapore, and running my longest run after a week in India, literally off the plane, jet lagged and having a cold. It was awful and I feared for the worse for this weekend. Life is about those walls, the challenges, the things that push you further. That’s how you learn and grow.

This weekend was marathon time. I spent the last week worrying. As a mentor of mine says you can be a worrier or a warrior. The former dominated my last week. It’s a phenomenon called ‘maranoia’. Any little niggle might stop you running the marathon. The worry something could go wrong. My knees not holding up, too much pain, too much food, etc. – a lot of the marathon training is in your head. You need to be physically fit but the “head fitness” should not be underestimated. And everyone who knows me has said, if I don’t have the headspace to do that, who does? Maybe. Anyway…

And so I did it. Saturday we embarked to Kington upon Thames, for me to run the Thames Meander Marathon. A non gradient run, officially a trail marathon, but really a mixture of gravel, soft and paved grounds. Along the Thames river, watching the rowing boats, and too many people in your way at the water front. But that all aside. I didn’t hit the wall until Kilometer 38. I walked a bit around that mark and closer to the end. Mainly to refuel, to digest, and to drink. It was hard, in my head, in my bones, in my knees. My aim was to run it all which I mainly achieved, and also to come in under 4:30 hours. I did that too.

This is probably one of the few times where I would admit I am proud of what I have achieved. It’s an achievement, and I enjoyed it. Whilst running a marathon is for oneself, it is also the official rubber stamp to have achieved one – if that makes sense. Joining the club. And without my wife, I couldn’t have done it. The endless hours of training, the impact on the family, the grumpiness. And she has done 5 😉

A lot of people already asked me what’s next. You can see above, and I wrote about it this summer, my life gets more focus. I am feeling settled in my job, and I have done a marathon. I will cut back on my blog, focus more on my podcast. And there are more plans, which I will share when appropriate. Life never gets boring.

Love and Kindness,
Volker

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Sunday Column (511)

India. This week was my first trip to this beautiful country. Like most business trips I mainly saw the hotel and the office, besides a few bus trips and an additional day spent on a temple tour. So at least I got some flavour of what the old town of Chennai, Mylapore, is like. The temples, the way Hindus celebrate religion and how India developed. Included was a ride on a motorised rickshaw or tuk tuk which was a lot of fun given the crazy traffic. When most people travel to India for the first time, they have a culture shock, I didn’t so much.

I guess I have been in the job a while now, and I have been working with my Indian colleagues quite intensively. So for me it was a lot about putting a face to the name, connecting to real people in person. People I have known. Also, it reminded me of other emerging markets, e.g. Cairo where I spend some time in 2006 and also Thailand in 2007. A combination of emerging, high tech offices and crazy traffic; cows on the road, dogs, and organised chaos. I enjoyed India, Chennai to be precise, and hope to return many times over the next few years.

The friendliness is amazing. I have many Indian born friends in the UK, and I have to say, I love the culture and people. They are very friendly, forthcoming and helpful. The food for one is very flavoursome, yet after a week, I was glad to have something more Western tasting again, I have to admit. Being able to visit the team, and particularly work with my colleagues in one location, was not only useful from a job perspective, but it gives it the human factor. Too often do we underestimate the power of real, personal meetings. There are things you cannot achieve via a video conference, it just isn’t the same. Also, people from a variety of backgrounds in the business joined, location and function wise, which gave it an even more important angle. A fantastic trip!

What I missed most were my boys. Seriously. I couldn’t wait for today, or yesterday for you readers, to take my youngest to karate. That is the thing I do with him, and I missed that last week. Then we had the boys’ rooms re-plastered and made decisions on furniture. Exciting times for us, but foremost for the kids. It’s great to see them excited about their new bedrooms and seeing the walls being done. It feels like the last bit in the house we haven’t touched, and it is good to know we are now 100% done … when do we start again 😉 I suppose with a house that’s how it goes. Once you finish, you start over again. You are never really done.

And over the weekend, and my colleagues said I talked about it a lot, I ran 22 miles or 35K in preparation for my marathon. Yikes, this was hard. Still not 100% recovered from my cold, and exhausted and jet lagged. It had to be done though. I must have spoken about it a lot, as most of my focus outside work is going into it at the moment. That’s a good thing I think, however I don’t like the time away from the family at the weekend. Three more weeks to the big day. Fingers crossed.

Could life be any better I was asking myself this week. What do you think? I am very happy. I find the job is going well, things are progressing and privately we seem to get into more of a flow too. Life is good. Is it good for you?

Have a great week.
Volker

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Sunday Column (510)

I wanted to publish a different post this week. As you can imagine I have a lot of thoughts and love writing to comprehend them, to work through new input I am getting from podcasts, work and life in general. That’s one of my things. My creative outlet. So there are always a few posts in the pipeline. But then a few things happened which made me think, and I wanted to share those thoughts.

After last weekend’s 20 mile run, I wanted to run 22 miles on Friday. However, I came down with the man flu, aka as a common cold, and therefore didn’t run. I guess I am ready to go the marathon distance already, but will have to do a 22 mile run before the event. Hopefully I am better by next weekend to tackle that one.
And, we are lucky with the dry weather. The crystal clear air, filled with cobwebs and mist, that slowly burns away by a low standing sun. It’s mystical almost. One of my most favourite times of the year, and I was told that San Francisco is like that all year around. Wouldn’t that be nice?

In Germany we celebrated the reunification, it must have been 29 years since the wall came down. We plan a trip to Germany again soon. I want to show the boys the fatherland, introduce them to Berlin, some history. I couldn’t imagine to ever go back and live there but I want to at least experience it. So as a matter of fact, I am looking forward to it. Hope the boys and the family will like it too.

A podcast I recorded with a German living in Los Angeles this week, brought up the topic of greater German (or any nation’s) collective unconscious. Allegedly it takes 7 generations (or 140 years) for it to clear. So Germans still look at the Great Depression and two worldwars in their collective unconscious. That would explain some of the stereotypes and values I see in myself as well, like a need for security, cautious, not wanting to make mistakes, and being the good person. Interesting isn’t it? Or it is over-interpretation? It’s difficult for me to compare that to any other nation of course. The inheritance of a nation or even family, I remember studying family constellations at university, is a highly sensitive yet fascinating topic. Watch out for the podcast with Conni when it goes live, I really enjoyed that conversation.

Life goes in cycles, and there is only one certainty. This week I learned that an industry friend died at the age of 49. When I attended the industry trade shows recently, I saw him and we had a chat. This week I also caught up with a mentor who had health problems when I was working for him. It was good to see he is better for now. Those moments are when you pause for a second, take a deep breath in, and breathe out. I don’t know about the exact circumstances, but I know that in our small industry I know a few people, and we are close. We look after each other, and it is always with great sadness to hear someone passing away or being ill. It affects me. One reflects on priorities, the focus we discussed a few weeks back. One thinks about their own lifestyle, health choices and how long one might have back on the clock. And then it’s business as usual, isn’t it?

So a bit of a melancholic week almost. Taking a flight on a Saturday missing a family weekend isn’t nice but to see a bit of the world prior to a conference makes up for it. Monsoon season though 🙁 A weekend to myself, 10 hours of uninterrupted time on a plane. To relax, reflect, write, read and sleep. What’s not to like?

I will tell you all about it next week. For now, have a great week, enjoy the autumn and stay well.

Volker

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Sunday Column (506)

This week I listened to a podcast called. Transcende hosted by Jeff Riddle who I got introduced to a while back. Jeff and I had a good phone chat the other day discussing the way you can structure podcasts and exchanged some notes on learning around podcasts. Anyway, I listened to his episode this week. It was about finding peace with your parents and upbringing. I have gone through that, and won’t go into details here, but in life we make a lot of assumptions on what others think, and what is right or wrong, and how things are perceived. As I mentioned last week, the best advice I got in ages was to ‘not worry and live in the moment’ – have you tried it? It gives you almost a new perspective on life. Most of our thoughts and assumptions are, naturally, based on our perception and digestion of what we learn from our upbringing, with our parents being the biggest influence in life. It makes me think whether I have a good influence on mine….

The reason I share that is because I got a few comments from my post last week, wanting to constantly better myself. I do. Yet, I also enjoy just being somewhere, being in the moment and enjoy what I have. I don’t think one must exclude the other. There are clear tasks I want to achieve today, and there are others I want to achieve tomorrow. I seek to understand those, prioritise and work accordingly. Personally, I believe by putting the puzzle pieces together in the right order, and that includes your history, influences and future aspirations, life becomes the flow it should be. Giving you the confidence you need. I also believe that you need someone to help you with that, a coach, mentor or partner. Whatever it might be, but that must be the aim for high achievers. Would you agree?

There was another time of reflection this week. I was running before work, trying to keep up some interval trainings. It hit me unexpectedly, my thoughts went back to our holidays. It was warm, nothing to worry about, nothing to plan, just go with the flow. A mind and attitude flow that I haven’t experienced in a long time. Maybe it was because it was so much warmer, or it was a lot more different to home, but other holidays never gave me that relaxation and the feeling of being so close to my family. This year was so different, in a very good way. So I looked back at my holidays and for the first time in many years would have loved to stop the time. That’s how much I enjoyed it. Time to book the next one. Giving the kids are getting older, the holidays are more enjoyable too. It makes a difference to them.

It’s those moments you need to keep sacred. Last week I spoke about clearing out the now, the past, but cherishing the moments in your heart that you want to remember, not the ones that drag you down or back to a history long gone. All that whilst living in the now and being there with whoever you want to be with in the moment. It’s another balancing of things.

And then the decision was made. Marathon. That’s all I say. There is a chance and hope that I might get into the London marathon, as my podcast listeners would know. So I started training a bit beyond my usual 10K runs. I started running outside. At time of publishing I should have finished my third half marathon distance and I am on my way to run 18 miles (28K) next weekend. If all goes well, given I am travelling a fair bit over the next few months, I should run a marathon early November. Fingers crossed. The entry fee is paid 🙂

That’s all folks. Let me know if you like the mix of topical and private thoughts and what else you would like to see on the blog. As you can see I have a lot of podcast related, success related posts until end of the year on this blog. I also want to change my podcast concept next year. I also want to be sure to have focus on the things that matter. My job for instance which I really enjoy, a mix of operational and commercial, just right, dealing with lots of interesting and smart people. Is life falling into place? I think so. I am very content, and as my podcast guest this week said, success means contentment, means happiness. Yes, I am happy.

Love and kindness from my corner of the world,
Volker

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Sunday Column (494)

Experiences. Given I write this blog a week in arrear just before the weekend, the reflections are almost a week old. Never mind, the story last weekend was more experience. We rented some kayaks and went onto a small lake. Needless to say the boys are in an age now where they love it. We got wetter than anticipated, yet not totally soaked, and enjoyed the new experience. Following on from that we of course had some ice cream and time to play in the park; finishing the weekend with a BBQ in the evening sun in the garden. What else to wish for? We might never get a summer like this again, so we must make the most of it whilst it lasts. I very much appreciate what we have, what we enjoy. Every moment matters.

Now, 10 years ago this week we moved into our first house. That was back in Beckenham, just after the house prices came down. We probably overpaid, were naive and inexperienced but loved the experience. Exactly to the day a year on, we had our first son. I cannot believe he turned 9 this week. Watching the smaller kids on the playground last weekend makes you appreciate how far you have come and how grown up our boys are. How far have we come? It’s this amazing journey of bringing up a human being, to teach, to love, to develop. Nothing ever prepares you for it, and I hope this journey will continue a life time for me, a bond only father and son can have. I am truly blessed with my two.

I am not sure if I used the analogy before but my job hunt which turned pretty much into a consulting role, became an episode of waiting for a bus. Looking back at some of my conversations, thoughts and opportunities in February, compare them to April and then the big promise of part time work in May, only ever materialised in June. This week I got rather busy and enjoy the work I am doing, working with a few companies to see how things can progress.

Actually, I really enjoy being able to help, offer advice and come into a company and give a new perspective of what’s happening. Then again, I can still do that in 5-10 years time when I have even more experience, when I had another few learnings under my belt. What became clear across the board was that people appreciate me ‘getting stuck in’ and ‘my management style’. I just love working with people and want the best for them. And I am not one for taking the mickey either. I like to get sh*t done.

Yet I resigned from one role this week. It was time to move on as I had done what I could do. The other role is just ramping up and there is something on the horizon – so I hope anyway. It is a good position to be in if you can choose, to be able to make decisions. Put your head where your mouth it, is that the right expression? Maximise your impact, maximise your outcome. And on top of that I had the privilege to spend some quality time with a mate. Those moments are rare. I cherish them. We talked odd stuff too. Enjoy the moment, know when you can enjoy it, be within it. Be in the now.

Friday I had a day off. Often happens these days, and I decided to go for a 10 mile run. Why not. The wifey went for one, and I kept up well. It was one of the first runs outside, and I definitely have the fitness, just need to get used to the running outside bit again. So I am planning another 10 mile next week. Back into it. One of my podcast guests suggested me to run the London marathon for her charity, and I happily accepted. The episode goes live week after next. I am excited again about running, about making things happen in life. Now, just another few days and hopefully life will be sorted for a few years….famous last words.

Keep your friends close. I really appreciate what I have, what help I have received, and life has in stock. I am passing things on as much as I can. Be well, stay safe.

Love and Kindness from my corner of the world,
Volker

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Sunday Column (404)

She has done it. I am super proud of my wife this week who finished the Loch Ness Marathon. What an achievement. Given she didn’t really start running until a few years ago, she has transformed her life by running half marathons, 10Ks and now the ultimate goal: a marathon.

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I have always said, I am not interested in running a marathon, yet given the achievement I have seen, maybe I am. Yes, if you follow a routine and you train hard, you can do it. Even my wife says everyone can do it. However, the mental power, the will to do it, must be there. I am a bit jealous as I had to cancel my challenge this year and I am not sure what I put my head towards to next. We shall see. Something will come up, I am sure.

This also meant I had the boys all weekend. So what do three lads do at the weekend? Take away and beers. No, maybe not beers but take away and a football game. We went to see Brighton Albion play Barnsley in the Amex Arena in Brighton. 2-0. What an experience. My first ever live football game (after almost 40 years) and the first for the youngest. The oldest watched his first game earlier in the summer in Scotland. Yet 26,000 people create a different atmosphere than the few 😉 in Dingwall. I can’t say I am more interested in football now but genuinely enjoyed the atmosphere and the joy the kids had. Luckily we had some great company to make the experience a bit easier. Also the seagull welcomed us, and my manager from my new job, a Brighton season ticket holder, helped out with some introductory gifts. A fantastic, yet busy, day. Great fun, I would certainly go back and watch another another game.

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The common experience is what we create and what we look at in years to come. That is what we remember. You remember when the first McDonalds came to Detmold, Germany in 1986 (?)? I do. It was a big deal for a 9 year old and a Big Mac too. That’s the most important thing in life. The stories you create in your life. That’s my priority for the kids. For the boys to engage in sports, seeing their mother running a marathon and dreaming of becoming athletes. That is the spirit we are trying to spark, not with the ambition for them to become the next Rooney, and most likely they won’t, but their engagement with positive things like sports and exercise. We have to lead children into the right direction and help them to develop and then ultimately make the right decisions moving forward. Isn’t that right? Isn’t that what will make us great parents?

Productivity – as you know I am still drafting on my next book release – it is fascinating. From a variety of views, I am exploring theories. From a book I read to focus on one thing only, and ever only have that one thing that is on your mind, I realised that some of those applied techniques will make you more productive. Instead of exercising regularly on a moderate level, the BBC proved you can get better results by doing high intensity exercise. Saving you time and fitting better into your life style. Then, another book I am reading focuses on the intensity of your work. Deep, uninterrupted, work. Our attention span, as previously suggested, is below that of a Goldfish, at around 8-9 seconds. New devices, reminder, alerts and constant interruption and attention seeking reminders are taking its toll. Meditation and deep breathing exercises are helping to concentrate, increase your attention span, helping you to work deeply on your one thing. That makes sense. Productivity is intensity over time.

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I covered a lot of personal development with the team this week. I am learning how to navigate around the agency and how to say no to some meetings. I am learning how to say yes to others and how to prioritise effectively. I enjoy what I am doing and I am happy in my world. Exciting things are happening and I am managing more and more to take less work home. And I am happy. Anything else I could ask for? I have arrived. This is my destiny.

So this way my week concludes. It has been a good one. I have been in my job for four weeks, yet it feels a lot longer. I am keen on making more progress quicker. Not because I must but because I want. When you know your goal and you know you have the tools…don’t you want to build your house quicker? Yet it needs to be sturdy, properly and lastingly build to withstand stormy weather. It will. Watching the100 (see earlier post for reference), I truly believe we as human kinds are ones that survive. Our species is build to move forward, to succeed and survive what we do. Because we like winning and achieving things. Most of us do.

There are always two sides to each coin. Being with people that only see the positive and better side of the coin spurs me on.

And then there was this light on Friday. An autumn morning, a light that just makes you vibrate, to embrace life. A life that gets you moving, motivates you get things done, to live and to actually embrace our little but foremost reason to be on this planet: To live, to give to make a difference and help others. The opportunity to grow and give back to the system, to mother earth if you will. I am writing this as I watch the sun setting over Gatwick airport and the South Downs as I am on my train home. The intensive sun with an energy that makes you soak up every drop of light prior to a long and cold winter.

I hope we’ll have more of those days. And Friday was a very good day. A day to look back at and think if life is going to be like that, then life is ok, isn’t it? Let’s be grateful.

We are winning!
We are giving.

Best,
Volker

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