Tag Archives: commonsense

Who are They?

13 Apr

I’ve skied off the top of a mountain attached to a parachute.  Not recently, but I’ve done it.

I’ve gone trekking in Nepal with a group of people I’d never met before.  Not recently, but I’ve done it.

I’ve changed career, drastically, despite being well settled.  Not recently, but I’ve done it.

I’ve moved from a small village to live in London for a job – which turned out not to be the job I thought it was, but I stayed anyway.  Not recently, but I’ve done it.

I’ve moved house, job and county for love; I’ve stayed up all night talking, dancing and laughing because I was having fun; I’ve kissed someone out of the blue just because we both felt it needed to be done; I’ve  challenged people because I felt it was the right thing to do; I’ve tried to run on stage at a concert because I was dared; I’ve bought a run down old bakery in another country, because I had a vision; I’ve sung rugby songs in a remote, foreign bar during a power cut with a group of Australians, because we were glad we were alive.   All these things I’ve done, not recently, but I’ve done it.

Not recently.

When did I stop being fearless?  When did I start worrying about what People would think?  When did I get scared that I wasn’t clever enough, or pretty enough, or strong enough, or grown up enough, or interesting enough or any of the thousand of things that run through my head when I think of taking a risk or accepting a challenge?  Who are They, anyway?  The People that make up the jury that I seem to think is sitting judgement on everything I do or say.  These imaginary People who sit in my head and question everything, always looking at what the worst that could happen might be.  Why do I care what They think?

When I was younger and trying to achieve something, my mum would ask if I’d done my best.  So long as I’d done my best, then that was good enough.  If my best was good enough for my mum, why am I worried that my best isn’t good enough for a group of imaginary people?

All those things I’ve done – they might not have turned out to have the best result.  But so what?   They’ve all brought me to where I am.  Even the things that turned out disastrously, I’ve still learned something (even if its just not to do it again!), or gone down a new path because of it, or made new friends or started a fresh adventure or even just got a funny story from it.

I know what my values are.  I know I don’t set out to hurt anyone or upset anyone. I don’t want to achieve success for myself if it means damaging others.  That isn’t in my values and way of living.  So providing I’m living to those values, I’m going to stop trying to second guess that group of People, especially as I’m not even sure who They are.  If I could put a name to them – would I actually value their opinion?  Would they be people I’d care about if they actually spoke out loud to me and gave me their opinion?  Probably not.

It might be a bit scary, but I’m going to start by saying yes more – yes to things that might be a bit risky because they might make me vulnerable, or I might fail, or I might look a bit daft.  I’m also going to say no – no to things that don’t fit with my values or my aims.  But mainly, I won’t be worrying about what the worst thing that can happen – because regardless of what it is, I know I can handle it and that I’ll come out the other side, with my head held high, with a smile on my face and at the very least, with a story to tell!







A new C word

2 Oct

I don’t know if it was all the coffee or the nice weather or the thought of going back to work, but a strange thing happened this week.  A new c word came into my life.  One I don’t like to engage with too often as it seems a bit extreme and can make you a social pariah.  But I hope I can put it in context and you won’t think less of me for it.  Brace yourselves…. I was hit with a blast of commonsense.   I know.  Shocking.

I’ll try to explain.  Around this time last year I ran the Dunstable Downs 5K.  Whilst the distance isn’t too difficult, the terrain was like I’d never run before.  I’d always run on roads so hitting trails was a revelation.  Despite, or maybe because of, the need to concentrate fully on not falling down a rabbit hole (though isn’t that how Alice in Wonderland started, so actually that might not be a bad thing) or sliding down a hill on my arse or sicking up my lungs on the uphill bits – I enjoyed it.   So much so, that I set myself a target that by the following year I’d do the 10k.  That time is now almost here.  I applied a few months ago to make sure I’d get my place (and my TNF t-shirt).  Training was going well, I was up to running 10k on the road, it was just a matter of increasing distance, building speed, getting some off-road practice in.  No problem.

Now you know how people talk about ‘fly in the ointment’ – for fly read ‘surgery’ and for ointment read ‘addidas mi-coach training plan’.  What should have been keyhole surgery ended up as full cut and advice to take three months out of running.   That bit about commonsense not being something I like to subscribe to, kinda showed itself by me deciding that I could still run.  So over the last few weeks I’ve built up to a level where this week I managed a 5mile run, including some hills, around the streets of Clapham/Oakley.  I felt strong and convinced myself that with two weeks to go I could easily get that extra mile and manage the trails.  Afterall, trails aren’t that much different to nice concrete roads.  Oh, hang on, yeah, they are.  A lot different.   But still I was convinced I could do it.

Then a few things started to sink in this week.

I started to follow someone on Twitter who gave a great piece of advice about not trying to base your training on someone else’s and that although there are basic principles to follow, every training programme has to suit your own body and that everyone is going to be different.  Too often I’ll look at what other people are achieving and think that I ought to be doing the same, be it the same speeds, distances, build up or numbers of times out training.  But I’ve no idea what they’ve done to achieve that or what their body is doing – or even if they are risking injury to achieve their programme.  All I do know is my own.  So do I really want to risk a DNF (or worse, another injury that puts me out for months) on a 10k when I could more than likely achieve the 5k?  for the sake of a goal set a year ago when a lot has changed in that year and things have happened that I couldn’t predict?  So, no, I’m not going to do the 10k.  I’m going to switch to the 5k and be sensible.

Instead I’ve set some new targets.  And this is where common sense perhaps abandons.  A throwaway comment on someone’s facebook status and suddenly I’m thinking marathon.  I’ve done a half marathon before.  An awful long time ago when I was a good 2 and half stone lighter (at least!) and a good 20 years younger.  But what the hell, I reckon a bit of focus and a half marathon by April is very achievable.  So a full by November – Debbie, you’re on!!!   She’s talking NYC.  I was thinking Robin Hood or New Forest, but again, what the hell – I like her thinking better!!

So with this new commonsense approach, I decided to focus on my short term aim of Dunstable Downs 5k.  Which saw me dragging my sorry arse out of bed before 8am and running up and down the hill several times yesterday morning.  Ok – anyone who’d seen that probably wouldn’t have had ‘hmm, that person is imbued with a deal of commonsense’ as their first thought.  I did also think I ought to get a bit of practice in on grass, so tried where possible to run along the verges at the edge of people’s gardens.  I’d done this for most of my run, and I can only blame the early hour for not noticing until almost the end of the run that the opposite side of the road was all grass, a good 8 foot wide strip of it.   Maybe its because it was a new route, no hang on, I’ve run that road regularly up and down.  hmmm, I’ll go with I was focussing so much on my run that I didn’t see it.   But it does give me a new, easy to get to practice spot for a weekly or twice weekly 5k off non-road run.


As an addition to this mainly run based update – I will add that I wasn’t patting myself on the back quite so much at getting out and doing a 3miler up hills later that afternoon when following an off-road Segway session, courtesy of friends we then went mountain biking in Thetford Forest and got very, very lost.  What started as a gentle bimble around ended up with us doing about 25 miles up hills, through sand, along gravel.  Put it this way – it weren’t easy!  with an added sprint to get back to the bike hire place when we finally worked out where we were as it was due to close in 10 minutes!  All I can say is – if you go to Thetford, the Segways are awesome!  they will merit their own separate update very soon. But if you mountain bike – there are two different marker posts that use the same colours but don’t link to each other and the trees are numbered to correlate to squares on maps (thank you to the man who had broken down who told us that one with a look of ‘grockles, why are you even without trainer wheels’).