About hrgem

HR type. Fellow of the CIPD. Writer, speaker and blogger on all things HR and work. Author of the 'Putting Social Media to Work' book series. Believes that HR is all about doing good people stuff. Blogs at www.hrgemblog.com. Tweets as @HR_Gem.

Go run

I’m not a runner, I hear you say.

I didn’t think I was a runner either, until I ran.

Being a runner doesn’t mean completing marathons or even joining a local running club.  It doesn’t mean competing or living a certain kind of lifestyle.

It simply means having some trainers and running in them.  Running isn’t for everyone  but it is great cardiovascular exercise, it’s free, gets you out in the fresh air and almost everyone (certain health conditions aside) can do it.

Parkrun is a free, timed and local 5K that takes place in thousands of locations all over the world on Saturday mornings.  If you search online you will be able to find your nearest group – and I cannot recommend it more highly, especially for new runners.  You will find a warm and welcoming community.  There will of course be the superfast runners, but there will also be people walking, joining in with dogs or pushchairs, and no one cares if you aren’t very fast.

If you don’t want to join a group, the Couch to 5K app is great.  You can simply plug in your headphones and follow the instructions that include running and walking combinations, slowly building your abilities until you can run the whole way.

Starting to run might sound like big and scary thing to do. It might not sound like ‘you’.  But you don’t know what you are capable of until you try. Feel the fear and do it anyway.

If you try running, remember that slow is just fine.  You are still lapping everybody sitting on the sofa.   And at an event like park run, DFL (Dead F***ing Last) is always better than DNS (Did Not Start).

You don’t have to go fast, you just have to go.

running

Get up, work out

I have never really thought of myself as a morning person. It usually takes me a couple of cups of caffeine before I feel like a human being.

So a few years ago when my then Personal Trainer suggested morning workouts, I more than wavered. I had a whole range of excuses….. which he listed to not one bit.

So I regularly found myself in the gym at 6am. Terrible, right?

Actually, not so much.

I am now a convert to morning exercise.

Today I awoke to early morning sunshine. A light breeze coming through the open window.

No hesitation. Trainers on, out for a run.

Fresh air, light, nature. And me.

After the run, stretching out my muscles.

I’m awake, energised, ready for the day.

I feel epic.

No need for the coffee fix today.

Don’t think you’re a morning exercise person?  If that is what you tell  yourself, then that is likely to be true.

My advice: try it….. you might just be surprised.

 

morning

Be still, my butterfly mind

You know those times when your brain just won’t switch off? 

Thinking, always thinking.  The never ending to do list nagging at the back of your mind. Must dos, ought to dos, got to get dones.  Work life imbalance.  Thoughts like a butterfly, landing for a moment or two and then flitting to the next thing. 

This is when I know it is time to go to the gym for a while. 

Counting the reps.

Focusing on technique.

Getting the breathing just so.

Planning the next set.

Music in my ears.

There’s no time for the to-list here.  No space to think about work emails or domestic chores.  Time to re-set, breathe, find my calm.   Just me and the weights. 

And my brain, still again. 

pexels-photo-1913226

Thinking about wellbeing

Part of my day job is wellbeing within organisations. I create and deliver courses about wellbeing, and I coach people around their wellbeing and their life work balance (if there is any such thing).  Many of the people I work with are women who are balancing work, families and domestic stuff.

Many of us are so busy in the everyday, so focused on the needs of others and trying to get through the never ending to-do list, that we forget about ourselves.  Our own wellbeing gets neglected or slips down the priority list.  We just don’t think about it enough.  My role as a wellbeing coach is to help people think, reflect, plan.  To bring their wellbeing to the forefront.  Like many coaches I have questions that I use regularly. They are a way to get the conversation started and help the person I am working with to really think about where they are and what they want.  They provide an anchor for future discussions.

wellbeing pic

Reflecting on our wellbeing on a regular basis is something that many of us can benefit from. Here are a few of the questions that I often ask my coachees.

What does wellbeing mean to you?

 How would you describe your current state of wellbeing?

 What makes you thrive?

 What gives you energy?

 What is your biggest wellbeing challenge right now?

 What is the thing that you most want to change about your wellbeing?

 What’s the first, or easiest, step you could take to improve your current wellbeing?

 Thinking about your wellbeing, what does success look like to you?

 What gets in the way of you prioritising your wellbeing?

 What do you want to achieve – and by when?

 

When did you last think about your wellbeing – and make yourself your priority?

She came, she saw, she ran a bit

I did it.

Despite all the wondering if I still could, it went just fine.

My time was good, better than I had hoped for.

Even if I did get overtaken by someone in a giant bumble bee costume.

It has been three years since I ran in an organised event, and today helped me remember just how much I loved it.

Arriving at the start, number pinned to your shirt.  People watching.  Standing with the crowd, waiting for the signal.  The noise of hundreds of runners all around you, feet pounding on pavements.  Shouts of encouragement from the crowd.  The kindness and generosity of the volunteers.  The last push to the finish line.  Another t-shirt for the collection.

I am back in the game.

Now what can I sign up for next?

run.jpg

 

When you didn’t know that you could

I started running a few years go when a friend dragged me a long to a Couch to 5K group. After we completed the course and bagged our freebie t-shirt, we started to go running by ourselves, near her home.  We figured out a 5K route and once a week or so we would run and walk and talk in between.

Typically we’d just set off and see how it went. We’ll run until we get to that tree and then we’ll start again at the next lamppost. And so on.

One night, we’d only done around a kilometre when it started to rain. Just a light drizzle that rapidly turned into a downpour.  We figured we would get wet anyway if we turned back so we might as well carry on.  Because of the rain we decided not to walk and just see how much we could run so that we could get home as quickly as possible.

And we ran all the way.  The full 5K.

It hadn’t occurred to either of us that we could, so we hadn’t.

Sometimes, we don’t know what we are really capable of, until the moment presents itself.

So when that moment comes and finds you, seize it.

 

Mind-set

Last night I went for a run. For the last few months I’ve been doing a variety of run / walk combinations.  I set off, with one eye on my watch, counting down until the first chance to walk.

And then I decided not to.

My legs were protesting but I know from experience I always struggle for the first kilometre or so before I warm up enough to find my rhythm.

I decided not to stop and walk.

So I didn’t.

Once the decision was made it didn’t even occur to me again at any point during that run to walk.

A reminder that when it comes to this fitness stuff, your mind-set matters. The things you tell yourself about what you can do and what you can’t, become your reality.

Decide. And then do.

brain

Running. Probably.

I’m doing a run on Saturday. An actual event run.

It’s been nearly three years since I have felt capable to sign up to a proper event. It’s only a 5K.  Not quite the half marathon distance I ran in 2016.  But it’s big to me.

In the Spring of 2016 I was at the peak of my physical fitness. I ticked off my first half, triathlon and long mud run, as well as a couple of other 10Ks. By mid-Summer I was unwell.  The last actual event I entered, I was a DNS. The rest of that year was spent mostly on the sofa.

It’s been a long road to this coming Saturday. I have got back on my bike and back in the gym. I’m regularly taking classes, cycling and lifting weights.  Running however….. that’s still eluding me.  I’m not quite sure if it’s in my legs or in my head, but something that used to be there, just isn’t.

I signed myself up to this event as a challenge to myself. In recent weeks and months, every time I have gone out to run, whether outside or on a treadmill, it has felt like a hard slog. It still does.  An event pushes you out of your comfort zone.  Makes you work harder than you do alone.

If I’m honest, I am dreading Saturday coming around. The prospect of not being able to complete even this short distance is huge.  It is entirely pressure of my own making.  I could just not turn up.  Decide to go to the gym instead.  In the gym, there’s no one to watch you fail.

But.

But.

Only by challenging myself, only by trying and risking the potential of Did Not Finish will I know if I can. If I am truly back to health and self.

Five days and counting……

trainers

Excuses, excuses

My training isn’t going so well. I’m working out but not seeing any noticeable difference to my capability, physical shape or weight.  It’s obviously not my fault.  I haven’t quite decided who or what else I can blame, but I’m working on it.

It is definitely nothing to do with:

  • The amount of wine I drink (and a recent ‘Bottomless Prosecco’ incident).
  • Eating out
  • My diet, which is too heavy in carbs.
  • The lack of water I’m drinking.
  • Prioritising exercises that I like rather than the ones that I need to do.
  • Chocolate.

Once I figure out the real reason I’m not progressing, I’ll let you know……

wine

No quick fixes

I was chatting to some friends on Twitter today about the constant clickbait quick fix torrent of ‘information’ about diet and fitness. It is a source of frustration for me.  Every year I find myself blogging about the ‘new year new you’ narrative, that, following the messages to eat all the food and drink all the drink at Christmas, turns to telling you that you need to sort yourself out and reduce the size of your thighs.

It’s mostly about marketing. But the marketers are only telling us what we want to hear.  We don’t really want the truth.  We want something easy and quick.  We want to look like the beautiful people in the magazines, even though deep down we know they are airbrushed to hell or living on kale and never, ever have a glass of Prosecco.

The reality doesn’t sell quite as well.

You want to get fit or lose a lot of weight? Here’s the reality.

It is going to take a long time.

It will be tough and involve significant effort on your part.

When you get to where you want to be, you will have to work just as hard to maintain it. Probably for ever.  This is just as hard as the getting there in the first place. 

You will have to give up stuff you like.

Your body will hurt, quite a lot in some cases.

You will want cake.

You will also want wine.

You will have to make good choices in the moment. Every single day. 

Sometimes, it will all feel like too much and you might want to give up.

You might never look like the person in the magazine in real life. Although you might be able to on Instagram if you get good with Photoshop.

The quick fix stuff doesn’t work – not in the long term. We know that.  Most so-called miracle diets are anything but. Otherwise they wouldn’t need to keep inventing new ones.  The diet industry in particular has failure built in – their revenues depend on it. Because if you can easily lose the weight and keep it off, you won’t need to buy any more stuff.

The quick fix stuff is a nice idea.  It’s also a dangerous one.  It sets people up to fail. It can encourage bad habits.  It promises but can’t deliver.  And this helps no one.

Reality is better.  Even if it isn’t quite as sexy.