Couch to 5K – Day 4

Well, that was hard. My good lady did an early run yesterday so I was flying solo on this brisk and foggy night. My word, that made a difference, the whole not having someone to chat with. I didn’t think it would make a difference, but I guess it’s a mental thing.

The rounds were upped tonight and the whole time I had a thought in the back of my head! The next time the whistle blows I’m throwing in the towel. Funnily enough I think that made it slightly easier to get through each one.

Another thought recurring in my head was my little 11 week old daughter. It’s not fair on her to have a Dad who risks his health by not exercising his body. I want to be around for her for a good long time.

You see, earlier I scared the crap out of myself and weighed in. The grand total was a very worrying 17 stone. What I have now is a combination fit for disaster. My fitness is the lowest it has ever been while my weight is the highest. That situation needs to be reversed. Hopefully this couch to 5k will set me on the right path for a long and healthy life.

I did get through in the end. The legs were still sore and the back still ached. It’s for the greater good though, right? The greater good. I have to keep remembering that no matter how slow I jog, I’m still going faster than I would be on the couch.

Ireland may not be ready to face up to its health problem, but I am. All you can do is watch this space for more info. Hopefully this might spur someone on to make the change they need to.

Couch to 5K – Day 3

Ok, so day 3 was on Tuesday, but I’ve been busy so here’s a quick update before day 4 tonight!

It was cold, wet, windy and the track was waterlogged and filthy so day 3 wasn’t easy. Add to that the fact that my shin splints kicked in and you have a proper combo to knock the motivation out of you. Basically day 3 was hard and probably my tipping point. Ya know, the point at which you either stop or persevere.

It was hard. The runs were longer and we hadn’t a clue what way it was working. There must’ve been a busy schedule that night as the instructions were rushed and the instructors all had a different view of what was happening on the night. My good lady’s knee was also at her.

So, to sum up again. Cold, wet, filthy and sore, we weren’t loving it.

Then I noticed one of the guys there. Now, you have many different types of runners and joggers and walkers there. The more seasoned people fly past you, the ladies who have been doing this for years saunter on by while having their weekly chats and people like me just try to get better each time. Then I saw this big guy who was really putting his all into it. He motivated me. I thought to myself that as hard as I was finding it, how hard was he finding it? So I shut myself up with the moaning and just kept trying.

I’ll go back tonight and see how I do. But I do know one thing. If I don’t put the effort in now then it will only ever get harder.

Climbing Mountains

As I said in a previous post I was looking at starting counselling again. To reiterate, it’s not because I think I’m on the verge of losing ALL my marbles but rather I’m doing it to help me get through some rough seas. To be honest I think it’s something which a lot of people could use.

It’s a lot like mountain climbing. You look up and are in awe of the place you want to be. It’s so far away and you never think you’re going to get there. The thing you have to realise is that you can’t really think about the top, you can’t really think about the place you want to be, you just have to concentrate on taking that next step, that’s all. Unfortunately for me I’m not Superman, so it is highly unlikely I’ll do this in one bound. I’ll have to put the effort in and just take it bit by bit.

That’s where I think I’m falling down. All I can see is the big picture. In every picture there are little bits. Little sections that make up the whole scene. Looking at the big picture in your head and just expecting it all to come together is overwhelming. It’s very stressful trying to get all those things on the canvas at once.

So I’m going to start mountain climbing instead. Hopefully I’ll also start that again literally. But metaphorically I’m going to start taking things step by step. Little steps and little changes. Little obstacles and little jumps.

Maybe someone might read this who needs a little push or who needs to see they’re not alone. As REM said; Everybody Hurts. So next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, stop, breath and do something small. Take a little step. Make a little change. It’s the little things which matter.

Best Little Country

There has been a lot of talk in recent years about Ireland becoming the best little country in the world in which to do business. That, in my opinion, is an error. It translates to me as “Ireland should be the best little country in the world to do business…right now…but feel free to go somewhere else in 10 years”.

I think our priorities are all wrong. Ireland should try and be the best little business in the world. That way we might look at a sustainable future and concentrate less on small wins in the short term. It may even help remove the petty politics and poor decision making which have left us a battered nation.

If one where to examine the issues which plague the country at present then you would have to explore the possibility of treating this little island of ours as a business. Consider the following 3 problem children;

  1. The HSE: The dreaded HSE. In its current form it is not fixable. It is in essence beyond hope. It is that way because it has been allowed to be that way. There is unfortunately an underbelly in the HSE which is happy with the way things are and which has no desire to see the organisation change and evolve in the way it so desperately needs to. Our hospitals are at breaking point. The doctors, nurses, midwives, support medical staff and paramedics are giving their all and are really at the point where they can give very little more. They are doing a wonderful job under very hard working conditions and they are seeing very little return for their investment. Now, the problem is not with the people on the ground doing the job, but the people at the top of the ladder throwing the muck down on them. Think about the HSE like a business. Would it be allowed to continue? Would the current chain of management be allowed to stay in their very well paid jobs? Would the doctrine which dictates every archaic and disastrous decision be allowed to remain?
  2. Irish Water: Where to start. Irish Water, which is State Owned yet seeks no advice or conducts no research before implementing its own decisions is a disaster. It was set up with the one original overriding objective of securing the water supply and infrastructure for said supply for Ireland going into the future. Thus far it seems to have abandoned that idea in lieu of gratuitous perks for its own staff. For unnecessary water meters which will fail before 2030. For laughing yoga retreats for its staff. For unnecessary and costly breaches of data protection. In short, it seems the only future Irish Water has secured is its own. If it were a private entity completely culpable to its shareholders would it be allowed to continue in its current guise? Would it be allowed to abandon its original mission in order to pursue its own interests? Would it be allowed to make mistake after mistake without being gutted and restarted? Would it be allowed to ignore the calls of its shareholders?
  3. Politics: It’s a general one alright, but it is a problem child all the same. Political games and name calling are ruining Ireland. Politicians are far too busy scoring cheap shots off each other to recognise that Ireland is on the cusp of disaster. Its people are desperate. History has taught us that desperate people make desperate decisions. Both World Wars are prime examples of this. Closer to home you need only look at the volunteer ranks of the IRA and how they rapidly grew in Northern Ireland in the 1970’s. In all cases nothing else was working so the people thought they’d listen to the lads who sounded mad a few years ago. While Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour trade tacky and inane insults the people lose their patience. While they deeply analyse each word their opponent utters there are people lying and dying on trolleys in our overwhelmed hospitals. They talk about job creation and skew the unemployment figures while the young people think of emigration and become ever more disillusioned with a system which only talks a talk full of empty promises. If the government was a business entity completely answerable to its shareholders would it be allowed to continue with its current board? Would the shareholders stand for all the broken promises? Would they stand for all the spin talk? Better still, would they really choose the same people to represent them the next time around? The big giant issue with Politics in Ireland is that they are all gathered around the same pot, eating the same meal and singing from the same hymn sheet. One talks job creation while the next talks about creating jobs. Even Lucinda and Eddie have missed the point. Lucinda is the shunned Fine Gael poster girl. Her public views will change to reflect her unemployment fears. The issue with who we have to choose from is that they are all the same underneath. They are just wearing different colour shirts.

I know there may be a certain level of apprehension in relation to the concept of Ireland being thought of as a small business as opposed to a small country. If we all were to be considered as shareholders and stakeholders and not merely voters then maybe we might be able to enact the change we so desperately need. Maybe we might attract the right people to the right positions. What we need are balanced and experienced people with the necessary skill set to truly get Ireland on the road. We need the people who say little and do a lot. We don’t need the same old same old. We don’t need the guy who promises to fix your fence for a vote taking up a seat on Kildare street. We need the people who can cut the dead wood from the problem children and ensure that we can keep this great train of ours on the tracks. The people who I believe can do that are afraid of putting their necks on the line. They are, in my opinion, afraid of the stagnant machine which is the Irish Governmental system. With that in mind, maybe it’s time to stop the train and change tracks? We are acutely afraid of failure. Maybe it’s time our country failed so we could start anew. Iceland failed. Go to Iceland. There is very little to be afraid of there. The Icelandic people hold their heads high. They made the difficult choices and came out the other side all the better.

We didn’t make the difficult choices. We bailed out people who should have been placed on bail awaiting trial. We accepted our politicians are corrupt. We continue to accept they are serving their own needs and do little about changing it. We fear what is different and unknown. The known is slowly killing us, so maybe it’s time to delve into the unknown? At the moment our beautiful little country is formed on a rust ridden Republic and we are merely painting over the rust. When a building is damaged beyond repair you don’t move your family in and hope for the best. You knock it down and start again.

Best Little Country awards are all well and good. The problem with little countries is that they have very little margin for error. A little change for a business invested here will affect massive changes on our people.

A small business now that can grow and adapt. Small businesses have to think about what they’re going to do 20/30 years down the line. Small businesses are not solely obsessed with 4 year time frames. They have to think about keeping their workforce happy. They have to think about delivering results on their promises. They have to worry about the people who support them. They have to worry about keeping the books in order and in the black. Think about the people who have crippled this country with their ill thought out decisions. They had very little to lose. They were still walking away financially secure until the end of their days. They were not accountable for their inept choices and abhorrent behaviour.

A small country run by politicians with a 4 year life span? Seems like small vision leading to limited success. A small country run like a small business. That is a breeding ground for other small businesses and entrepreneurs.

We need to pull ourselves out of this slump and not continue to allow ourselves to be pulled down any longer. It’s much easier said than done but we need to face into the unknown and try something new. We need to find our pride again. We need to find our reason for being. We have gotten used to being stood on. We have paid and we continue to pay for the mistakes of others time and time again. It is time to be brave and start again.

Our future is unwritten. I don’t know about you, but I need a new story.

Couch to 5K – Day 2

So it’s only day 2, still early days, but I’m still feeling optimistic about the whole thing. Just to make this a little clearer, I have done a few 10km and 5km runs in the past. The problem was that I hate running, as I said. I have very little knowledge of running techniques or best practice so always just end up hurting myself and feeling it for weeks after. That’s always put a dampener on the whole thing for me. It was never any fun, I didn’t really enjoy it. I enjoyed the medals but always felt I was doing it wrong.

So this is where the couch to 5k will shine for me. Hopefully I’ll learn a lot more than I knew and make this form of exercise a life long thing for me. I figure that I owe it to my daughter, my wife and yes even myself.

I know, you’re all dying to know how we got on tonight, right? It was good. The important thing is that it’s broken down into manageable sections and we just go at our own pace. The people there are all there for the same thing and that feels good. There’s no pressure, it’s structured and there is support there for you.

In the past I only really liked to exercise alone, but I have to say that it is nice having the little lady there. We have a laugh, we talk, we joke and we support each other. That’s nice at the end of the day.

My advice at this stage is that if you’re thinking of taking a positive step like this then do it, what’s the worst that can happen? You go at your own comfortable pace and just get on with it. So grab some comfy runners and get out there.

The hardest step in this was getting started, that first night going up. But even now this early in I’m definitely glad I’ve started!

A Social Friend

Social media is a hobby of mine. It’s an annoying, rewarding, draining and informative hobby of mine. It is many things and it has many purposes. The one underlying selling point behind any social media networking platform is that it is meant to make it easier for you to stay in touch with people. So my question this week…is a social media friend a real friend?

Unfortunately the answer is not as easy as a straightforward yes or no, it’s a kinda depends answer. It also depends on what you’re using. Twitter for instance is usually a no. I have 1,000 or so followers on twitter at the moment and I doubt I will ever get to meet 10% of them. Instagram, that’s another one. I interact with people purely based on photos and little else. LinkedIn is for business. I never LOL or LMAO on LinkedIn (in fact I haha, not LOL). There are many more and they all produce the same answer. Yes, it’s nice that you follow me and I appreciate it, but let’s not swap addresses just yet.

Facebook, now that’s the one that’s getting all too real. For some people their whole lives are lived out on Facebook so it would be just logical that their friends on that are their real friends, right? Wrong. Facebook is strange. It really has integrated itself into every part of our lives.

It’s an odd one really. Facebook allows us to show our best sides to the world. It turns the introverts into the extroverts and the passive into the militant. All without doing a thing. It allows us to feel connected when in reality we’re isolated. It also allows us to become the ultra creeps that reality and society wouldn’t tolerate. If you end a relationship, be it a partner, friend or just somebody you can no longer stand you are expected to move on. However, Facebook makes that impossible. Which in my eyes makes Facebook unhealthy. If you break up with someone you don’t stay outside the house waiting for them to do something, yet you’ll stay on Facebook waiting for them to check in or upload a photo, thus negating any positive action you had taken to move on. Remember, the person you see on Facebook is not the real person.

In recent months I’ve had people who are on my Facebook friends list completely blank me and not attempt to say hello. It’s not a nastiness in them, I don’t think they dislike me, I just don’t think we’re friends, and that’s ok, we don’t have to be. As I type this a lady within ear shot has taken someone off her wedding invite list because they’re not a Facebook friend and they never added them as a friend. But really, is a social friend a real friend? No, I don’t think so.

People who maintain social media friendships are fair weather friends. They choose when to interact with you and when not to interact. They make a conscious decision that they only want to be there for the good stuff. A real friend is there for the good and the bad. The tears and the laughs. The ups and the downs. A social friend is there exclusively when they want to be. That to me is counter productive to the human condition.

Facebook is dragging online issues into the offline world. It’s making us into an awfully anti social bunch altogether. Perhaps it would help us all if we cared less about who was liking our updates and cared more about who wanted to meet for coffee. Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad thing if we paid more attention to the people in front of us and less to the people stalking us online!

What do you think? Is social networking the most anti social thing to have happened to us? Do you type LOL more than you laugh with people? Let me know in the comments!

 

A Bad Week

So some weeks you have your good days and your bad days. The past week was a bad one for me. Unfortunately I did the one thing I told my (relatively new) wife I wouldn’t do and I kept it to myself. OK, so there are plenty of things I told her I wouldn’t do, but in terms of things to not tell her, that was a no no. Sure, I could go out and have the 10oz steak and tell her I had the side salad, but when it comes to mental health I think we’re both quite clear on the subject. Talk or it will eat you up.

I’m not saying we’re brilliant at the whole expressing ourselves thing, far from it really, but we are learning. We’re learning that keeping it inside often just makes the whole situation a hell of a lot worse. So it was a bad week.

In the grand scheme of things I don’t have it too bad. I have a wife who loves me and a child who lights up when she sees me. Somewhere along the line though I buried something and didn’t talk about it and then something else went in on top of that and then I piled in more on top of that. It was the second anniversary of my Fathers death last week and I guess that was the straw that broke the camels back. All I could hear was the doubt in the back of my head creeping in. All the negativity of the past year had just caved in on me and I was stuck under an avalanche of issues. Ya know, the usual worries and fears had come home to roost. Like a monkey on my back just tapping away at me:

Hey, why haven’t you gotten a career yet, loser? Still no sign of that house for your family, no? Ya know your daughter is going to be ashamed of you, right? You’re doing everything wrong, why are you bothering? That idea will never work, best to just give up! 

Some of those are actual questions (although phrased differently) that have been put to me over the past year. I’m not a weak guy, in fact, at one stage I could actually bench press more than my body weight (I’m also not a light guy). That doubt though, that monkey on my back, was like a weight on my chest, pushing me down into quicksand. I was sinking.

Eventually I cracked, it had to come out. Thankfully my wife was there for me and could help me and we hugged it through. So we settled on a few things:

  1. The negative voices are wrong!
  2. The negative people should be forgotten and be allowed to be miserable on their own time!
  3. My daughter will not care about what I do as long as I’m there for her.
  4. I need to revisit the idea of counselling.

That last one came as a sort of calming revelation. I had been to counselling during secondary school and briefly during my Masters and found it to be very beneficial. It’s not the kind of thing that you have to cling onto for life, but it certainly helps when you’re mentally hitting bottom. Talking things through always helps. At the very least I will not do this for me, but for my daughter. She needs a Dad and she needs one that can cope. Last week I was not coping. Admitting that was hard.

So, now I’ll go to counselling. Hopefully someone will read this and will maybe take a look at themselves and decide that f*** it, I could use a hand to get through this rough patch in my life right now. Counselling is like mountain climbing, you’ll only ever do it one step at a time. Strength does not lie in refusing help, but embracing it.

 

Husband & Father. Green hat with a hint of Black, White, Yellow, Red & Blue.

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