Banana Republic

I’ve never been a Royalist. If they try and give me an award, at any point, I will turn it down. I don’t need a bunch of regal people telling me they think I’m good enough. If it ever got to that stage, other people’s validation will be more than enough, thank you very much. I’m also mightily annoyed the National Broadcaster is acting as if it’s State Media as well. Seriously, this is not 1953. Give it a rest, guys.

Lots to do, but for now I’ll be over here celebrating the fact I didn’t fuck up my body over Lockdown.

A Whole New World

Been an interesting weekend, all told. The irony of how much money I’ve spent over the years to try and pull in this amount of reach, and then it happens without even trying, is absolutely not lost on me. The timing is also more fortuitous than I first grasped, but that’s often the way these things work. Someone popped up and told me that they’d left the party because of their stance on sex-based rights, and if the Fates had not been utterly aligned before, they were then. Also, been mansplained twice, but you can’t have everything ^^

This week, therefore, is about mental health before physical health, because DEITIES GRASP that right now, the former’s a bigger issue than the latter. That means I’ve just signed up to do the Vitality 10,000 which is 10km which gets me a medal and a shirt. It costs me 19 quid for this, and I suspect my PT (who suggested it) thinks it will inspire me. It doesn’t. It’s what I’m doing four times a week right now, it’s part of my life. It’s another badge that is great to say I’ve earned, but doesn’t matter nearly as much as being told my writing is good.

It’s the things that money can’t buy that really matter most, did you not know this?

All the Small Things

Yeah, that’ll be a second newsletter, then. You make choices based on what you feel is best for your ‘brand’ when all is said and done, and This is the Way. No escaping the inevitability of not dissing every new thing that comes along and actually embracing a few. Just as long as it isn’t Instagram or Facebook, I’m happy. So, we have options, and a plan. We hit the Tier 1 Sub level, and it all changes. We’ll see where it ends. That’s all I can do, and it gives me options.

I think the Gaming strand could have legs, but this is only Wednesday. We’ll see.

A lot’s going on tomorrow too, and I’ll probably be working all weekend, which is a pain but a necessary consequence of my daughter returning to school next week. I’ve also got some actual weights here today too which is a real bonus for me preparing to go back to the Gym…

I might just go do my weights session now, if truth be told… no, let’s edit my video first…

Respect

‘Run’ is a broad term. My times will tell a seasoned runner that, a lot of the time, this is a pseudo jog, or a very fast-paced walk. They know what their splits are, where weaknesses lie. I’m here, right now, trying to breathe from my diaphragm and not pass out. This is about betterment and empowerment in ten second improvements. However, in the next week we’re gonna open the throttle a bit and see what we can do.

My best 5km is 46:27. I reckon 30 seconds off that’s doable on this new course I have organized for myself. So, the first part of this is a sub 46 minute result. The second set is endurance and practising active recovery over distance. That means seeing if 15km is doable tomorrow. It should be, with a route pre-planned. Gonna be the warmest day of the year so far as well, so…

Only one way to find out.

Just For You

A weekend of game-playing did the trick. I am back on track and in the groove, and this is progress because instead this morning of playing a game over breakfast, there was exercise instead.

I promised myself something, every day this month, even if it’s just a walk, and that plan has been kept to pretty well, even with the awful weather (and personal news) last week. It’s become the foundation for everything else and no, it’s not all about to go out of the window. That would have been the old me. This, better version understands how everything just goes sideways when you don’t prioritize your own mental health over everything else. In that regard, this is a very decent place to be right now.

It’s also right that only with the ability to heal and address the issues does any significant progress get made. Many people will never have that luxury in their lives, or never feel the need. That latter revelation took a while to grasp: trying to get other people to confront their own demons is not your job. If someone wants to talk, you let them, but there is little or no point in pushing that. Only your life can be altered, and no-one else’s.

Knowing what matters is a big deal now. Making sure that the priorities are kept is still at the habit-forming stage.

We’ll get there in time.

The Race

Dear Strava,

I’d like a quick word about your business model, if I may.

Before we start, don’t worry, this is not a rant about Summit, I have no issues paying a subscription and never have. You have to fund yourselves somehow, that’s a given. My problem, such as it is, revolves around the countless ‘wellness’ companies and fitness equipment providers who you keep encouraging to turn up and ‘challenge’ me for ‘rewards’ which we all know aren’t really rewards at all. What happens is that they get my email address under the mistaken apprehension I’ll buy their stuff, if of course I even bother now to ‘claim my reward’ in the first place.

I think it might be time to evolve past the digital finishers badges to something more tangible.

We all know you’re only competing with yourself, when all is said and done, except those people who do genuinely enjoy racing and being best. I know they’re out there, and also grasp all too well the significance of that as motivation. The psychology is above fault here. What might be nice, as is now the case in Zwift, would be to have some kind of virtual currency earned from events that could translate to… I dunno, being able to customise my homepage, or which you or a wellness organisation might take and match for a charity donation… because the more this becomes about consumerism, the less I want to take part.

Exercise, I will grant you for some, is a quite lucrative career path, but for most of us the fact we’re running or cycling is because we can’t realistically afford all these high-end ‘luxury’ goods that you seem to think we’ll buy if you offer a discount code. Being more ethical is something I’d like a lot of the companies I interact with at least try and look into, and although obviously you make quite a bit of money from selling us as a captive and aspirational audience, there is more to it than that. Take this group I’ve become a part of…

Mental health’s a subject I’ve always been passionate about, and this group is, like it or not, a reason right now to push hard. I get no reward except knowing other people have formed a community where nobody will /flex at me or try and belittle my progress… in fact, it’s quite the opposite. This is a place where I just feel happy to be, and thanks to this I’m beginning to stretch my legs as a runner… and that’s where my second group comes in. I ‘ve given myself three months to run across the UK, where my progress on a street in my town translates to a medal, thanks to @MedalVirtual‘s setup. Yes, I’ve paid for it too, more than happy to do so. It’s a memento, not a transaction, and that’s a vital difference.

The brilliant nature of Strava’s setup means I could easily enter an event across the planet and take part virtually, and the pandemic has highlighted how the importance of exercise is not just about large, group events but simply the business of getting yourself more active for both physical and mental wellbeing. I’m halfway across the country from both the people who have organised these groups but neither mind, this isn’t about having to turn up on the day and just be seen. I can contribute significantly and still remain at home, and that’s what makes this so brilliant.

So, Strava, if you won’t consider virtual currency for sprucing up my homepage, maybe you might consider working with companies to provide me some better rewards… other people are already aware of the benefits.

Yours, six days ahead of her January mileage total,
S
xxx

Too Much Pressure

I’ve not been looking forward to today, if truth be told. My weekly race looked a bit hard. I wasn’t wrong.

The harder part of today however has been writing 12 poems from scratch, and I’ve only managed 10 before calling it a day. Mentally, it was a lot to ask, but tomorrow should be easier, as I won’t have to climb a fucking mountain first. This is the first instance where physical exhaustion’s cause a mental consequence for a while. There’s a good chance however those last two will be done before bedtime. For now, I’d just like to do anything else…

Open Up

Today, as I though might be the case, is the fastest I’ve done 5 km for almost a year. This time last year I was in the midst of RED January but yesterday, I had a day off. It wasn’t because I was that tired either, it just felt like a good idea, having covered 10 km for the first time the day before. Tomorrow, I have quite a challenging virtual climb to deal with, and we are into the realms of new and unexplored in terms of exercise.

This is an interesting time in terms of knowing what’s possible and what should be avoided. For the record, yesterday’s rest day was the first one taken since December 23rd. That’s not meant as a flex either, it’s just a statement of how much more adjusted I am to working hard and recovering differently. It’s also got a lot to do with the fact I’m not lifting anything hugely heavy and that endorphin burst, as a result, needs to come from somewhere else.

The biggest step forward, undoubtedly, is pulling this level of effort in the real world and not hidden in the shed. A lot of that has to do with a growing confidence from elsewhere: I submitted the NaNo to a contest yesterday, which would NEVER have happened this time last year. There’s a choice, simple and inescapable: either move yourself forward or never know how good you could be. Balancing the options can happen for the rest of my life but nothing ever changes.

It’s time for some positive, assertive action.

Fear

Have decided to do what I said I wasn’t going to do and publish myself on video to YouTube. It’s another tiny step outside the comfort zone [TM] and as I already know the worst that could happen, there’s very little left to lose. I’ve not had a new Patreon sign-up for months, so stuff needs to change. If I get one new person as a sub, it was worth it. That’s the tiny benchmark that needs to be attained. One new Patreon Sub.

It worries me that those surrounding me have little interest in what I do. It makes me wonder why they follow in the first place. When you ask, the answers are always wrapped around how interesting I am or thought-provoking, yet that is not enough to make them take part. There is the very real understanding, of course, that I have chased true fans away in the past, because that level of devotion I found worrying, and in some cases actually frightening. Finding a balance is a tough ask.

This is as much about me as it is them.

Comfort zones are hard things to break free of. If life’s good enough, especially in the current climate, why on earth would you want to in the first place? There’s enough fear and loathing in place without intentionally manufacturing any more… but to grow, this is the task. It’s why today 10km outside needs to happen for no other reason than sometimes, the only way things improve is when they hurt. I know this will be painful and difficult and that would once have been enough to prevent any forward motion. Now, it just has to be done.

Also, there could really be better trainers at some point, so yeah, being rich and famous won’t happen without showing my face in this world that is utterly obsessed with looks over stats. Sometimes I wish I was better at things that get you better noticed too. Being as susceptible to jealousy and social avarice as the next human being… all of this is part of the exam syllabus. How you cope, and how you react. Getting five people to follow the YouTube Channel yesterday was the most excitement I’ve had virtually for days.

Fear must be overcome for us to proceed.

Hey Ya

Yesterday, I made three videos in one day. Once upon a time, it took me a week to do that just once. Of course, it helps that it’s just me that needs to be edited, and there’s no extra elements at play. However, we’ve entered a new realm after the chaos of Christmas, and there’s a desire to keep the momentum going for as long as is conceivably possible. In the middle of all this, it undoubtedly helps that there is nothing else to do that focus on working: no School Run, nor any real stress from my family.

I also made it outside to exercise. There was shopping done, though the reality in my supermarket of choice is that Brexit is having more of an effect on supplies than anyone is really letting on. After writing this, I’ll pull a yoga mat out and see if I can’t do an hour or so, because there’s undoubtedly some benefit in having a decent stretch once a week. Then, it’s just more of the same for as long as I can, because there is this feeling that if I do stop, everything will just summarily disintegrate around me. A niggle with my left inner ear is a case in point… it’s better now I’m awake and upright. Let’s see how changes in balance affect it, shall we?

No, I’m absolutely sure I won’t crumble, but just in case…

The disturbing thing about this email that I was sent was, undoubtedly, that its title was indeed an old Facebook password. This tells me all I need to know about how safe (or otherwise) the platform was back in 2009 and that I’m really very grateful I have nothing anywhere, any more, that is of any interest at all to Zuckerberg. The next job on my list of Tech Related Gubbins is to delete WhatsApp once and for all off my phone. After that, people will just have to text me. I’m sure we’ll all cope just fine.

The more I go off grid and force people to have to interact on my terms, the happier I become.