Monthly Archives: January 2014

90 down – 1,310 to go

January has been a tough month for me as far as training goes – mainly due to having two weeks almost completely off as I was ill. It forced me to pull out of Janathon and affected my #LETJOG14 distance. However, I’m starting to feel like I’m getting back on track.

The January numbers in detail are:

– Swimming – 22.65kms
– Running – 16.7kms
– Cycling – 21.2kms

Based on the way I count that gives me a total of 89.95kms for the month.

I’m currently nearly 27kms behind the monthly average I need to hit, but that said in the last six days I’ve done the equivalent of over 43kms, so I feel confident that I’ll soon be back on track.

Today’s swim was a great example of how I feel at the moment as I got in the pool and just swam. I didn’t do any sets I decided just to keep going non-stop for an hour. The first 15 minutes or so were tough as I had to talk myself into continuing, but then the laps and the minutes just flew by and I swam well – apart from the 10 lengths I had to swim breaststroke behind someone who wouldn’t let me overtake! I had to get out after an hour, but I could have just kept going no problem – so I’ve looking forward to the 10km swim in a few weeks time.

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Filed under Cycling, Motivation, Running, Swimming

Solving email

A journalist friend of mine, Stuart, posted a personal article today about dealing with email. His premise was simple – I get too much email to deal with effectively, what can I do?

Gmail_IconIt got me thinking. Like me Stuart uses Gmail and Google has done wonders at improving the way email works – adding labels, making filters easy to apply and of course adding in the search function so that you can retrieve emails easily. And of course there are other tools too – the Mailbox app being the most recent one that has gained a lot of traction – it allows you to easily swipe emails away on your iPhone so that you can deal with them later, or just delete them all together.

However, it’s not the tools, they’re not the problem. The problem is email itself – it just grows like weeds in the garden. It’s so easy to send an email to someone that no-one considers the consequences and just sends more and more. For journalists such as Stuart the problem is even worse as PR people add them to mailing lists no matter whether the news is about their sector or not.

There was a story today doing the rounds about a PR person who had sent journalists a news release but had used the CC field instead of the BCC field. Of course lots of journalists got pissy about it on Twitter – but the biggest issue for me is the sheer volume of people emailed in the first place.

So, how do we solve email for Stuart and us all. The easy answer is to stop sending as many – then hopefully everyone else will send fewer and so we’ll all receive fewer. But that’s not going to happen so what can we do? Well I thought of two features that we could lobby Gmail to include that might help:

– Bulk reply
While filing emails you have the option to reply to all you have selected with the same response (eg for a journalist it could be: “Interesting news, but not for me right now. Do send more though.”) In this way you don’t set up a mass auto-response, but you can reply to certain groups of people en masse.

– Priority Lists
Gmail already suggests emails that look important (because they are sent directly to you, or you have interacted with the sender a lot recently), but what about if we could pick the people who are important to us. As apps such as Path have done, the number would be limited – I would suggest to two tiers of 25 each – and Gmail would ask you to confirm the lists every 2 or 4 weeks. But it would mean that when you have a full inbox you could see at a glance which emails to deal with first (as a journalist Stuart may put friendly PRs into the priority list, you and I may put clients and colleagues in there). You can probably do something similar to this with filters already – but it’s not a simple tool… yet.

So those are my solutions for email – do you have any suggestions?

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How to Know If We Are Racing: A Flowchart

I like this. You may not know it, but we’re probably racing. Unless you are these guys from the other day.

10 mile swim

Racing

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Filed under Swimming

Swimming for charity

Swim 4 LeukaemiaIf you’re anywhere near Sheffield on 1st Feb then sign up for this.

It’s a world record attempt swim in Ponds Forge – they’re trying to swim 100 x 100m in a relay in a world record time.

So, charity, a world record attempt and to be honest it’s very cheap – just £5.95 per ticket. What more could you want?

Well for me, there is the added bonus of it being at Ponds Forge. I’m doing my own swim there in a few weeks time and as I’ve never been before it will be a great chance to scope the place out and get my bearings.

There are still quite a few tickets left, so please do sign up. And if you are coming and you read this blog, let me know and we’ll say hi on the day.

Sign up here – tickets.

– – –

Update – it might look like I’m swimming this – I’m not, I’m just spectating. You should too.

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Filed under Charity, Swimming

Other [fast] swimmers

When oh when am I going to be rich enough to be able to afford my own swimming pool?

Last night’s swim was [almost] ruined by two guys who got into the fast lane and proceeded to just swim over the top of me. They were good, seriously good. But they were also completely oblivious of any other swimmers around them. If I hadn’t stopped to let them past they would have swum into me – on more than one occasion.

My own plans for a swim (3km non-stop) were completely disrupted. At one point I even got out and had a word with a pool attendant to see whether they could police the situation.

The pool quietened down a bit and I managed to get back in and do as much as 2.5km, but it was still only possible by being on my guard for these two guys.

So in the changing rooms I decided to let them know it was me who’d said something – I didn’t want them to think I was hiding behind an attendant and I was keen to hear their reasoning. Unfortunately we then proceeded to have quite a good chat. They are serious swimmers (both having done the channel and numerous other sea crossings) and are training up to swim between the islands in New Zealand for charity. Which means they’ll be in the pool almost every day for the next 12 weeks. So any swim I do will be disrupted by them (even if they do be more considerate as they promised) and my training plan for the next few weeks will be tough to stick to – especially the threshold training.

When oh when am I going to be rich enough to be able to afford my own swimming pool?

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When do you get a PR agency?

Please excuse this post. It’s a little bit self-indulgent from me as this is my response to a conversation I was having on Twitter. I’m not even sure the people I was talking to on Twitter will read it, but here goes…

It started with this tweet.

Tweet by @chrissyfarr

And so I replied (if you follow the link above you’ll see my responses). But it got me thinking and I realised that I couldn’t say what I wanted to in 140 characters, or even in several multiples of that.

I can completely understand the sentiment behind this – a reporter has a good relationship with a founder and finds them a good source of information (about their own company, but probably about the wider sector too) and suddenly that relationship and that source disappears. We’d all be pissed off about that.

But if you look at it from the founder’s point of view – they’ve just been given a bunch of money to make a step change to their business. The money is meant to make a significant difference and suddenly the founder’s targets, requirements and responsibilities have changed dramatically. In the same way suddenly the day-to-day activities that they were doing at the previous stage are not the same day-to-day activities they need to be doing now. I can imagine that there are lots of changes and of course the money means that they can now hire people (including a PR agency) to do some of those tasks they are leaving behind.

Personally, I don’t think it’s the fact that someone else is doing the task I think it’s the way the whole thing is handled.

Too often an agency will win the business and suddenly a junior will be employed to do the media relations. The journalist goes from speaking to a senior executive that not only knows their business inside out, but also knows the sector intimately, to speaking to a junior PR exec that isn’t quite sure of their own name (or that’s how it seems). If that is coupled with the fact that the founder hasn’t done a proper handover and highlighted the journalists they already know well (possibly even sending a personal email to a few) then that is bound to piss people off and completely justifiably.

In summary: of course the founder in this situation should get people to help take over some of the workload (that’s what the money is partly for), but pick a PR agency with senior people that know what they’re doing and give them a proper handover.

– – –

Of course I would say all of this – I run a PR agency. But I’m also the founder of a start-up.

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Filed under Work

Top hats

I got sent this fantastic image yesterday by a friend of mine. Check it out:

Top hats

Top hats

Just great isn’t it? I can’t decide if they swam like that, felt they needed to put the hats on for the photo (but weren’t that concerned about any other clothes) or were just trolling us from the past. A top hat won’t be replacing my swim hat though.

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Filed under Swimming

I’m back… kinda

After a couple of weeks of feeling ill and therefore not exercising I managed a very gentle 1km in the pool on Saturday. On Sunday I did 1.5km. Tonight I did 2km and even finished with the last 200m at 3:43. Pleased with that.

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Filed under Swimming

Janathon is over…

… for me at least.

It all started well and I ran for the first three days – not far, but further than I’d run probably since Janathon. Then I had a couple of days where I couldn’t fit a run in, but I still managed to plank and do press-ups. A swim on day six and I felt like I was kicking Janathon’s butt. But then I got my butt kicked.

I caught the horrible cold / flu that seems to be going round. What was even worse was that it had already laid me low just before Xmas. That time I put it down to being generally run down at the end of the year and ready for my Xmas break. I had assumed that the break had done the trick and the first few days of Janathon were great.

But then it came back and it came back hard.

The big hit was the lack of energy and the flu-like achy feeling. Although I didn’t have the energy to swim or run, at first I tried to keep with Janathon and plank and do press-ups, but eventually they had to stop too. It was hard enough getting out of bed and going to work (and I even admitted defeat with that one day and spent the day in bed).

Fingers crossed and touching wood I think I’m over it now (I even managed to swim 1km this afternoon – although I was worn out afterwards), but Janathon is clearly over. Not only that, but I’m already well behind in my #LETJOG14 target too.

I love the idea of Janathon and so I’m going to try and do a full month of exercise in February instead. It’ll be mainly swimming and running with planking and press-ups on days where my schedule doesn’t allow for anything else.

Good luck to the rest of the Janathon participants.

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Filed under Motivation, Running, Swimming

Janathon day 9

I’m feeling a bit better today – still not 100%, but well enough to go to the pool for a very gentle swim this evening.

I did 50 lengths, so 1,250m.

I do have another category to add to the list of bad pool etiquette (see previous lists here, here, here and in fact here – a bit of a bug bear of mine!). This one is the “This is what I always do” – you know the person, the one who always swims the same routine no matter how busy the pool and no matter how many people they are obstructing.

The pool was very busy tonight with a lot of “real” swimmers in the fast lane. As I only wanted a gentle swim anyway I decided to go in the medium lane and do a mixture of breaststroke and crawl. In the medium lane was an older guy that I’ve seen before, but I’ve never paid much attention too (cos I was in the fast lane before). Well, he was doing a little routine of 1 length breaststroke, 1 length front crawl and 1 length backstroke. This would have been fine except for 2 key points:

1 – his backstroke was as slow as an arthritic snail
2 – the medium lane was full (cos the fast lane was so busy) so he kept holding everyone up

Of course he hardly ever let people past and continued to do this annoyingly slow routine for about 30 minutes. Oh well, at least I was only doing a gentle swim.

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Filed under Swimming