How I bootstrapped running 100km

As most of you already know, I have loved running for quite some time, but only since last year have I started taking it seriously. Whilst studying abroad in Australia last year, I took part in a competition called Inward Bound, whereby I was dropped off in the middle of nowhere with three other companions and we had to navigate ourselves back to base (which were a set of coordinates they gave us upon dropping us off (blindfolded!)). It was an incredible experience;  one I will always remember whenever I reminisce about my Australian adventure. Back to the run –we ended up running just shy of 80km in 17 hours. Our target was 105km.

One year on, on the 1st-2nd March 2013, I decided to run the Bogle – a 55 mile stroll around Greater Manchester, stretching to Bolton and the outer edges of the area. I decided to raise money for a fantastic charity called Kidscan – you can find out more about the wonderful work they do near the end of this post. Whilst raising money for charity is something I’ve always been keen of championing, I had a greater inclination to beat a Personal Best. I’ll be focusing on the “How” aspect, as I feel the current posts on 100km runs that come up on Google do not do it justice, especially for a novice runner.

Training:

Starting early, especially if you’re busy – I’ve never had the luxury of being able to focus on one thing for an indefinite period of time, so one thing I had to do was making time early on to run two or three times a week. I treated this like any marathon so I started slowly, running 10-12km in October and November, before slowly building up the momentum, endurance and courage to step things up. In December, January (exam time slowed me down) and February – I was running 14-22km quite regularly. I hit 25-30km twice, around three weeks before the run. I was way more prepared whilst in Australia, probably because I was running at a slower but more well-judged pace, and consistently with a bunch of other runners, whereas in Manchester – I had to make sure my playlists were exceptionally good let’s say. However, starting early is definitely a prerequisite – building up a habit of running is great if you want to improve your health; its necessary if you want to attempt a 100km run.

I never trained to run past 40km, and I wouldn’t recommend running 50+km to train only because you risk injuring your knees and ankles severely enough to be considered a risk before a 100km.

Nursing injuries – If you’re constantly running 20-30km twice a week, blisters are more than likely to come knocking at some point. I found it helpful to invest in blister pads early on and develop a love-hate relationship with them. Whilst on longer runs, they came in handy a couple of times when a unwise decision to carry on running took its toll on my feet.Image

Diet:

I don’t think I’m in a position to be able to recommend any special diet or things to eat that you already probably know of  – beef, pasta, rice and lots of salmon were pleasant and seemed to work very well. On the run itself, everyone works differently so I made sure I experimented with a number of things from nuts and fruit to cereal bars and gummy bears beforehand to see what worked best. Having scrupulously picked at every detail whilst running in Australia, I was happy to stick to what worked previously.

I wish I had more to say on this, but I never monitored anything too rigidly, so there’s probably a lot of room for improvement, so its something I’ll have to consider for my next endeavor.

During the run:

For any crazy novice runner, it is worth reiterating that this is no walk in the park.

Aiming to run over 100km is no easy feat as we can all safely assume. So what advice would I give anyone during the run?

–       Pack lightly – It is now a natural tendency of mine to pack as lightly as possible in terms of clothes as I realize that my running pattern becomes inconsistent if I’m not wearing the same clothes as to what I started running with (meaning I wore the same clothes on every practice run, and for the actual run itself). Recently, I’ve found being able to pack compactly really does help, especially when it comes to food. Taking a range of snacks was also helpful, and packing them in small bags that I opened at set times as opposed to whole bags I just bought from the supermarket (after the halfway point, I had to leave behind a bag of unopened nuts which would’ve worked better had I not spontaneously bought them on my way to the starting line) worked much better when it came to getting into the flow of things.

–       Pace – During 100km, the mind goes off on its own accord and its important to be able to keep things interesting. Having grown up in London all my life, I’ve never actually seen Manchester in all its glory. A 100km run was the perfect excuse to explore a historic and fascinating city. Something I had to keep one eye on whilst doing this was my pace. A couple other runners seemed to have the mindset that they were going to run the entire thing; I knew that physically that wasn’t possible on my accord, so I had to keep to a steady pace with a mixture of fast walking, jogging and running. I think it is about being honest with yourself regarding your capabilities and your end goal. I couldn’t run the whole thing in under 10 hours, but I most definitely could manage to do it in 14 hours.

–       Enjoy it – A fairly generic way of ending any post, but really, if it weren’t for the small things – a random guy running with me for 3 miles in order to keep me company, awesome volunteers along the way cheering on the runners+walkers, watching the sunrise across Manchester – I wouldn’t have truly savored the journey. I can imagine that this wouldn’t be a regular thing for most of you, so if you are about to embark on such a journey, thinking about why you’re doing this as well as the elation you’ll feel and applause you’ll receive at the finish line, makes it all the more worthwhile.

If you must know, I finished in 17 hours and 53 minutes. The plan was to finish in 12 hours, but injury struck after 39.5 miles and I had to walk the rest of the way after I pulled a muscle and twisted my right ankle. I ended up running 63 miles (got lost and took a longer route home in order to get over the 100km mark once I realized how close I was to it) which is about 102 km in total.

Additionally, I’d like to plug my JustGiving page here (I only need to raise £60, which really isn’t that much) and I’d be grateful if you were to donate as much or as little as you can towards Kidscan.

More information about the charity:

KidsCan Children’s Cancer Research Centre was established in late 2002 to specifically support research into new and improved treatments for children with cancer. Our scientists are looking for treatments which are less damaging to the bodies of children and young adults. They aim to reduce both short and long term side effects whilst retaining the effectiveness of many current treatments.

Our aims are simple:

  • To cure more children with cancer.
  • To improve the treatment of children with cancer.
  • To develop new treatments for childhood cancer.
  • To be a source of information about childhood cancer.

 

Here’s a link to the page: http://www.justgiving.com/fahimbogle2013 .

 

Thanks in advance! 

How to get business ideas at University

If you wait for opportunities to occur, you will be one of the crowd – Edward De Bono 

I hear from a lot of students at university that they want to start a company in the near future, either once they’ve graduated or in a couple of years, once they have experience in one particular area, such as graphene engineering (what even is that?).

In my experience, it’s easier to start a business in a particular  field once you’ve already set up and worked in a business beforehand. There are opportunities all around us, especially at university, and it has become increasingly important to not necessarily engage in enterprising activities; but to at least identify opportunities (although the former is a huge leverage point, and it’s one thing to identify, and another to act upon your perspective).

This is something I’ve spoken to many people at Manchester Entrepreneurs about; many individuals wish to start something, but have no idea what to start. Therefore, this post isn’t directed to individuals who are THINKING about whether starting a business at university is a good option- I hope most of my readers already understand that it is, and are just short of a little inspiration.

I’ve done a bit of research around this, and most of the stuff I’ve found have been outdated, traditional (and quite frankly, boring) ways to earn money at university. I like to think people in the UK have a bit more ambition than just mowing someone’s lawn for a fiver or finding unnecessary clothes and selling them at a car boot sale (considering these to be actual businesses are questionable at best, but nonetheless you can make a living out of them. Someone is, somewhere in the world).

How to find ideas:

1. What’s your problem?: University students have problems all the time. For most of them, university is the first time they’ve had to leave home and live somewhere permanently. Things which we take for granted such as regular cooked meals, heating, travel and much more. Your friends are constantly having problems, and you can identify them by finding those keywords they may mention…”I wish X was run better”, “I honestly think I could do a much better job than they are at managing Y”, “I don’t understand why they don’t supply/serve Z”. Finding clear and simple solutions to everyday problems has much more scope to expand if you know of people who share the same problem. That usually means a vast majority of individuals in the same segment at least, may have the same problem. Most students I know complain about the amount of time they waste, or their sheer inability to track their spending.

It still holds true that man is most uniquely human when he turns obstacles into

opportunities. – Eric Hoffer 

2. Latching onto trends: A friend of mine recently set up a website where you buy Christmas Trees. Now, this might not be one of my pressing needs in March/April, but during November and December you can be sure many students, especially 2nd and 3rd years with houses, are probably looking to invest in affordable Christmas trees to go along with Christmas festivities. While he made a small profit out of it, he learnt a lot from the experience (I can testify to this, he was complaining to me how his supplier massively increased the wholesale price without informing him in advance and he had to react quickly to this setback) whilst being able to say he built a credible website, used social media tools to boost awareness, and even engaged in content creation in order to improve his own SEO. So Valentine’s day is coming up….

3. Look around you: Glasses Direct Founder James Murray Wells started his business, which sells glasses online at rock-bottom prices, by actively keeping his eyes peeled for opportunities. He reiterated that being able to flick the switch in your mind which involves harnessing the mentality of keeping your mind open to problems that need to be solved. Seriously, I can’t cook- if someone can either teach me/provide me with meals, I’d consider paying depending on the end-value creation and whether it is sustainable for me to do so. In all seriousness, I believe many students suffer from the same anxieties (aka “laziness”), and it’s worth delving into a bit more.

4. Leverage what’s out there: In The Straight Story, the 1999 filmabout a 73-year-old man who drives a lawn mower 300 miles across Iowa, I’m pretty sure he could’ve found a young snapper who would’ve done that for him for less than $10. In the 21st century, however, we’re thankful to have apps such as PocketMUni and Sooqini, which can help students indefinitely earn extra income. If you want to write a press release, teach a class, cook meals- you can pretty much do anything on these platforms and get paid for it. Now, this blogpost isn’t entitled “How to get more money at university”, but I merely point out these services as they demonstrate demand- if it’s something people want, you have a market to sell your product or services to.

“Opportunities are multiplied as they are seized” – Sun Tzu 

I’ve listed a number of my own ideas which I feel there is potential to expand and to think about and at least conduct some very basic market research.

My ideas: 

1. Library books

As a student of social sciences, I’m supposed to be checking out a large number of books per week, but its increasingly difficult to find these books in one of the largest university libraries in the UK. People misplace books, put them on the wrong shelf, or throw them out the window (OK, I made that last one up, JRUL is really an orderly place). One idea I thought of would be a service which collates all my library readings/books/e-books/journals all into one document, or all in one shelf or area for which I’d pay a £5 service and have a range of books varying in depth and topic.

2. Confessions/Spotted and Matchmaking

After being part of the Hottie In The Library craze during June 2011/Jan 2012, there have been numerous University “Confessions” and “Spotted” sites enter the fray, and as I mentioned to my friend who created the HITL site, there must be something in matchmaking, or building a strong community ( or even a social network) around this concept. I currently see all of these pages and sites pop up, but I just see a large number of users accruing, and the owners seem content with this for now. I’m eager to see how they attempt to monetize their coveted platforms.

3. Time-management

This is one of the biggest problems for students (myself included), and I feel there is a real innovation here. Whether that be condensing lecture notes more efficiently, helping students learn efficiently or just organising my time by tracking and monitoring how often I perform badhabits or encouraging me to adopt good ones. There’s much I can delve into, but I feel I can write another blog post on this.

What untapped ideas do you feel are left behind or where do you think there are the most problems at university that students can simply solve? If you’re a current student, or a graduate I’d love to hear your answers in the comments! 

 

There’s no need to make a New Years Resolution

“Learn to focus on the task at hand, take it one step at a time, life is too expensive a gadget to be operated on trial and error”- Unknown

With 2012 coming to an end, many people are quick to compose their New Year’s Resolutions and even quicker to justify why they’re going to stick to it this year, unlike the last few years where the  new annual gym membership was more or less obsolete.

Before you read on, just note that this isn’t one of those “Yeah, screw New Year’s Resolutions, they don’t work anyway, just live all day like you would your last”. No, I really don’t care for being controversial. I merely just want to divert your attention to a different way of thinking about the new year. Having jumped onto four new learning courses without finishing the one course I’m not even halfway through and starting new projects without abdicating responsibility or minimising my involvement in what I’m currently engrossed in because I’ve relented to opportunism,  I feel I would’ve achieved a lot more in 2012 if I were persistent in finishing rather than being so eager to start.

With New Year’s Resolutions, many people just don’t adequately prepare well enough to achieve their goal. It’s all very well having an end goal in mind, but it’s too easy to break your resolutions, become dispirited in the process and feel despondent enough to drop the goal altogether. From a recent university study, over 78% of participants who set New Year’s Resolutions fail to achieve these goals. While these studies may discuss new goals set in the new year, most people have goals they’re already actively pursuing. For example, I’ve started to wake up earlier and run every other day since the 15th of December. Before that, I set a goal to organize my time more efficiently by writing detailed schedules about where my time is currently being spent and comparing it to my Time tracker which highlights where my time should be spent- I started doing this halfway through November. Frankly, I really don’t have the capacity to try and focus on another audacious goal, which would result in a new habit, once this has been broken down into smaller goals (E.g. If I want to learn a new language as my goal, the habit would be that each day I spend 10 minutes on Duolingo doing two lessons a day, and then reviewing these fortnightly).

It’s been documented that the hardest thing to do is to start. This may be true for many people, but sometimes, momentum itself is a bitch. Further down the line in your journey to completing that goal, there’ll be hurdles- in the form of higher priority work, a lack of knowledge and other forms of temptation (such as an awesome e-learning course which you just HAVE TO register for this very minute)- but I feel that in order to have a higher impact and to be more fulfilled with completing goals, requires you to break those goals down into rituals and habits. This allows you to consciously build small habits into your daily life, and to further expand these once they have been fully engrained into your life. 

“The best way out is always through.” ― Robert Frost

Waking up at 6am doesn’t just happen overnight after waking up post-10am for the past few months(I blame university life). It starts and continues by consciously working towards waking up just 15-20 minutes earlier each day. If you’re determined to complete a goal, then you have to build on it and think of ways to make something into a habit in order to instigate such behavioural change in the long-term. 

Forget new habits, and focus on building what you are already working towards. Don’t get distracted by the customary new year goal-setting resolutions. You already have your goal, so work on those results that you are so eager to achieve.  

Don’t waste another minute.

Whatever you’re doing at this very moment are you happy with life and the circumstances you’ve created around you (NOT the circumstances that life has given to you)?
Do you feel that you’re using your time to the best of your ability? The activity you did this morning, or yesterday or last week that was so trivial that didn’t really surmount to anything, was it really the best use of your time?
Were you actually striving to achieve your long-term goals, or did you feel that you could have directed your efforts to a greater cause?

The reason I’m writing this post is for different reasons to my usual “I feel the world needs to hear my thoughts, so I’m going to blog about whatever I feel like” reason. I came across an image, one I myself took at the Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art. It was a fascinating image in so many ways, at the time I felt it was apt to designate its context and meaning to my own life.

“Don’t Waste Another Minute” was displayed in orange letters, on a white background. I came across this image and thought about it for a long time. I took the picture, and moved on to the next portrait. My thoughts on the image, lost in the dust and musings of my brain and mind. Who really has time to think about a singular image for more than a minute?
I came across the image a couple of months later whilst fiddling around with iPhoto. Again, I looked at it and thought about the powerful words with the striking background. Don’t waste another minute.

This is probably the one phrase that will stick with me for a long time for numerous reasons. Who I was with, my feelings and thoughts at that particular moment and where I was, as well as the journey I knew I was about to embark on- all important reasons to why this image still resonates with me.
The bottom line:

I guess what I’m trying to say, is to not waste another minute. Go ahead and act as if your decisions are temporary. Because they are. Be bold, make mistakes, learn a lesson and fix what doesn’t work. Achieve your goals. Find your core reasons for being. Then give it your all plus that extra 10%. And in the end be happy that you made a difference, accomplished something meaningful, added value to the world, and had fun all the while. Just don’t waste another minute.

“No” is the New “Yes”: Four Practices to Reprioritize Your Life

I just had to reblog this as I- as I’m sure some of you-can relate to this more than other things which catch our eye in our chaotic lives.

 

I was sitting with the CEO and senior team of a well-respected organization. One at a time, they told me they spend their long days either in back-to-back meetings, responding to email, or putting out fires. They also readily acknowledged this way of working wasn’t serving them well — personally or professionally.

It’s a conundrum they couldn’t seem to solve. It’s also a theme on which I hear variations every day. Think of it as a madness loop — a vicious cycle. We react to what’s in front of us, whether it truly matters or not. More than ever, we’re prisoners of the urgent.

Prioritizing requires reflection, reflection takes time, and many of the executives I meet are so busy racing just to keep up they don’t believe they have time to stop and think about much of anything.

Too often — and masochistically — they default to “yes.” Saying yes to requests feels safer, avoids conflict and takes less time than pausing to decide whether or not the request is truly important.

Truth be told, there’s also an adrenaline rush in saying yes. Many of us have become addicted, unwittingly, to the speed of our lives — the adrenalin high of constant busyness. We mistake activity for productivity, more for better, and we ask ourselves “What’s next?” far more often than we do “Why this?” But as Gandhi put it, “A ‘no’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.”

Saying no, thoughtfully, may be the most undervalued capacity of our times. In a world of relentless demands and infinite options, it behooves us to prioritize the tasks that add the most value. That also means deciding what to do less of, or to stop doing altogether.

Making these choices requires that we regularly step back from the madding crowd. It’s only when we pause — when we say no to the next urgent demand or seductive source of instant gratification — that we give ourselves the space to reflect on, metabolize, assess, and make sense of what we’ve just experienced.

Taking time also allows us to collect ourselves, refuel and renew, and make conscious course corrections that ultimately save us time when we plunge back into the fray.

What follows are four simple practices that serve a better prioritized and more intentional life:

1. Schedule in your calendar anything that feels important but not urgent — to borrow Steven Covey’s phrase. If it feels urgent, you’re likely going to get it done. If it’s something you can put off, you likely will — especially if it’s challenging.

The key to success is building rituals — highly specific practices that you commit to doing at precise times, so that over time they become automatic, and no longer require much conscious intention or energy. One example is scheduling regular time in your calendar for brainstorming, or for more strategic and longer term thinking.

The most recent ritual I added to my life is getting entirely offline after dinner each evening, and on the weekends. I’m only two weeks into the practice, but I know it’s already created space in my mind to think and imagine.

2. As your final activity before leaving work in the evening, set aside sufficient time — at least 15 to 20 minutes — to take stock of what’s happened that day. and to decide the most important tasks you want to accomplish the next day.

Clarifying and defining your priorities — what the researcher Peter Gollwitzer calls “implementation intentions” — will help you to stay focused on your priorities in the face of all the distractions you’ll inevitably face the following day.

3. Do the most important thing on your list first when you get to work in the morning, for up to 90 minutes. If possible, keep your door closed, your email turned off and your phone on silent. The more singularly absorbed your focus, the more you’ll get accomplished, and the higher the quality of the work is likely to be. When you finish, take a break to renew and refuel.

Most of us have the highest level of energy and the fewest distractions in the morning. If you can’t begin the day that way, schedule the most important activity as early as possible. If you’re one of the rare people who feels more energy later in the day, designate that time instead to do your most important activity.

4. Take at least one scheduled break in the morning, one in the afternoon, and leave your desk for lunch. These are each important opportunities to renew yourself so that your energy doesn’t run down as the day wears on. They’re also opportunities to briefly take stock.

Here are two questions you may want to ask yourself during these breaks:

1. Did I get done what I intended to get done since my last break and if not, why not?

2. What do I want to accomplish between now and my next break, and what do I have to say “no” to, in order to make that possible?

Carpe Diem.

 

Originally Posted in the Harvard Business Review by Tony Schwartz

 

It’s very likely that you-as I probabily will too- not take this advice, and keep hammering along the daily grind. Nonetheless, some food for thought.

Who knows, maybe by reading and depositing this into your mind, it’ll come back to you one day when your looking to reprioritise your life for the better.

Insominac

Sumptuous amounts of tea are in abundance, and they’ll need to be for a few more hours. A lot of work still has to be completed, and I give myself strict deadlines. Reading an utterly pointless piece of text today (Ruggie-International Economic Regimes) is not advised for any students who may think it is mandatory to do so. It’s shit.

This allows me to prolong my already insominac state of mind, as I’ve been bristling around my flat in the early hours of the morning for the past 3 nights. For some reason, I hope today is no different as I am taking an estranged liking to my lack of sleep these days.

Short post, only because, well I have more things to get on with at 1:15am. God I love reading absolute shit resulting in me not learning anything and wasting the majority of my day. Hopefully I’ll feel better in the morning. Doubt it due to the lack of sleep.

 

Also, I really want to change the format and layout of this blog. NOTE TO SELF: Do this soon.

The Simple Bare necessities of life..

More than 13 hours without water is not uncommon in a famished region of the world; not in fully furnished, contemporary apartments in Manchester however. Fairly shambolic that residents pay as much as they do in comparison to half a mile in Rusholme, and are still subjected to such  minuscule of problems.

Being quite interested in the world’s water supply and the conundrum that is to solve the water scarcity that exists in the world, I’ve compiled a few facts for you to read:

– 884 million people lack access to safe water supplies; approximately one in
eight people.

-Every 20 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease.

-Constructing a sanitary toilet only costs $30.

It is the biggest cause of infection, and more students each year are unable to access a clean supply of water, leading to higher drop-out rates in schools and to the break-up of families and communities. So before people speak out of the necessity of mobile phones, social media and many other relatively minute devices, H2O still is, and will always be, the most precious gadget in the world.