Tag Archives: Work

A Training Hiatus

I talked about a big day of triathlon training in May, however I have realised that over the next few weeks I will have to take a bit of a break in my training.

I do this swimming (and running and cycling) for ‘fun’. As a way to relax and unwind after work, but also as a way to push myself and get the best out of my [now noticeably aging] body. I do it because I enjoy all the aspects of it – the training, the events and the camaraderie. I do it for me.

However, I have other priorities in life – in particular family and work.

Family stuff is fairly settled at the moment and my son and I have got into some great routines and we [at least I do] enjoy the time we have together. It’s work though that’s going to need my attention over the next few weeks.

I run my own business and I’m lucky that I enjoy it – but it is mentally all-consuming. Recently we’ve won some new and exciting clients and on top of that there’s a big industry event coming up at the end of Feb. Over the next few weeks I need to ensure that I have 100% of my focus available for work every day. So until the end of Feb I’m going to rein in the training a bit.

I still plan to do as much as I can, but to make sure that’s out of fun and enjoyment and not forced or pressured. I’ll be using any exercise and activity as stress relief and enjoyment, rather than as training.

I need to prioritise things in life and for now work HAS to be my priority. I also need to understand how I tick and although I’ve talked about exercise as a stress relief I also know that I just need ‘time off’ to relax and perform at my optimum. I’m not someone that can whizz through life at a hundreds miles an hour, and rush from job to gym every day. I need some down time too. I need to be able to spend time on my own and with my own thoughts to recharge the batteries.

So that it what I need to focus on for the next few weeks – work and then myself to allow me to perform for work at my best level. Exercise will play a part in that, but putting myself under pressure to hit training goals certainly won’t.

Hopefully once this period is out of the way and March rolls around I’ll be able to get back into it

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Filed under Cycling, Running, Swimming, Thoughts, Work

Money and fun

Not a swimming blog, but I’ve been chatting to a few people about my ‘philosophy’ for work recently, so I thought it was time to blog about it.

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I used to run a traditional, medium-sized PR agency – back in my London days. And when it was good it was great. We had a great team, we did great work and we went to the pub nearly every Friday.

However, when it wasn’t so good it was bloody hard work. We still did great work and we still went to the pub, but the team became a struggle to afford and it would weigh heavily on my shoulders. We had some work for them all, but not quite enough to make them profitable, but too much to get rid of anyone.

It’s the curse of medium sized businesses, especially service ones.

And too many businesses are wedded to this way of thinking. It means that if new business opportunities come in the only criteria they are judged on is income. Everything else is deemed irrelevant.

How can it be done differently?

I don’t know about you, but there are two reasons why I work – money and fun.

Money is important, it pays the bills, puts a roof over my family’s head and allows me an occasional nice thing. I like nice things, they make me happy and when I’m happy I work better – which is also why fun is so important. I don’t mean fun in a ‘wacky’ kind of way, but plain and simple enjoyment in what you do. I think that’s pretty important, especially as we all spend so much time working nowadays. So ‘fun’ also means doing a good job and seeing the results of your efforts.

But that’s it – money and fun.

I set up a different kind of agency to work in this way – and that’s how we judge whether a new project is for us: will we make money (and the best clients are those that understand that we all have to make a bit of profit along the way); will we have fun (which includes getting good results)? I’ll be honest, if one will be high, then we can accept sacrificing the other a little.

But money and fun, why else do you work?

 

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Basic income for all

I’m making two big deviations from the regular nonsense about swimming and going to the gym. Earlier in the week I wrote about work, and today I’m writing about politics – dangerous ground I know.

At university I did a general social sciences degree which included elements of psychology, philosophy, sociology, and literature and also included modules on logic (to help with the philosophy). The idea was that we would study themes and topics across all these disciplines and interlink them all. Personally, I really enjoyed philosophy and the mixing of sociology and psychology into social psychology.

I can’t remember the exact moment or lecture that it happened, I’m not even sure that it was part of anything that was taught directly, but during my time there I became convinced that the best way forward was to give people – everybody that is – the same basic income. No means testing, no applying or judging whether you are worthy – just a simple payout to all.

I felt that this was the best way to free people up from the stigma of handouts – there’s no stigma if we all get it. It would also free up the state from spending an absolute fortune on judging people’s worthiness. It would be simple, hassle free and given to everyone.

It would then free people up from ‘having’ to work. Those that didn’t want to work wouldn’t have to, they would have just enough to survive, but maybe they’d be happy with that. There certainly wouldn’t be any people that didn’t have enough to survive but didn’t qualify for benefits and so looked for ‘other’ means to find money. That said, for many people the basic income wouldn’t be enough, so they would work and they would enjoy the rewards that the work gave them. But equally there wouldn’t be the same level of anger directed towards them, or guilt felt by them for having luxuries.

Perhaps more importantly though, it would allow people to move fluidly between those two groups. As I’ve got older and worked hard and strived to do ‘better’ and have ‘more’ I’m also aware that there were / are many times that I’d like to have to do less. There are many times when I’d like to spend more time with my family, or achieve a personal goal (like swim the channel), or work for a few months for a charity, or whatever it may be. But by doing that, I’d be able to come back to work refreshed and able to work harder and more creatively.

In some senses that’s the ethos behind Joshua PR – we only work with freelancers so that they [hopefully] feel that they want to do the work and therefore are mentally better able to do it. They can take a break, go off travelling, or choose to retrain and their ‘job’ will always be open for them. Of course the income bit is missing, but the ethos is there.

Anyway, over the years I’ve mentioned this philosophy to a few people, but more in a slightly jokey, “wouldn’t it be great if..” kind of way. I know I’ve not worked out the details and I never really expected many people to agree with me, but I’ve believed it all the same.

The other day I read this article – Why ‘unconditional basic income for all’ fails the ‘splutter test’ but would liberate the world – it’s a little bit aggressive and confrontational, but it is a great summary of this philosophy as it is now something that the Green Party in the UK is talking about. It is something that might become part of the wider political discourse.

And it is discourse that is needed the most. I’m not (nor ever have) said that the idea is perfect, or even is something that *should* be implemented. But I’ve always believed that it is an idea that we should think about. The article says it better:

“…we need to debate the living Christ out of this thing. We need to research and attack it and give it a good kicking and see if it still holds up… is it possible that this obscure fringe idea could gain widespread support in these strange, fevered times?”

Let’s see…

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Just one headphone…

I rarely talk about work here, but it just occurred to me how much I love the current working style that I have.

I run a PR agency called Joshua PR that is a virtual company – which means that we don’t have an office full of staff, instead we set up dedicated project teams for each client. But while the company doesn’t have an office, I do. Although I can (and do) work from home, I like the discipline of coming into the office every day and the separation of being able to leave my work in the office when I go home. I share this office with a good friend of mine Lucy (who runs KuKu Apps).

Our work complements each other and I’d like to think that our personalities do too (she may tell you differently if you ask her). And so we both tend to work with just one headphone on.

I like the new modern way of working that you plug yourself into your own music collection and focus on the task in hand. Yet Lucy and I also share, chat and collaborate throughout the day. So we don’t plug in completely, we always have one ear ready to listen to each other.

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Working from home

I tend to work from one or two days a week. I like it – it took a while to get used to, but I’ve been doing it for six years now, so I think I’m used to it. I find I can be more productive at home, but also it means I can be more flexible (which helps with the occasional lunch time swim) – which in itself leads to more productivity.

However, on days like today, I love it.

Not only am I working from home, but it’s the school holidays. So instead of commuting to an office I got to spend that time sleeping a bit more and having a leisurely breakfast with my family. I then had a quick walk and got to the [home] office at the normal time, ready to start. Lovely.

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Kids or training?

I recently posted about life getting in the way of training sometimes (and specifically for me last weekend when I was a lone-parent for the weekend). One of the comments on that post was from Mike suggesting – and I paraphrase – that a healthy training routine is essentially to give in to those moments – fully commit to spending your time with your child and then as you set off on a rearranged training session you will feel happier and ultimately train better.

Not my family.

That all seems wonderful in theory, and I’m not criticising Mike, but it is also a little simplistic. Mainly because it assumes that the planned training session can be rearranged. What if it can’t? What if it is the training session which you feel will help keep you sane and motivated for the child-care? What is you’ve already had to move other training sessions because of outside pressures and this was the “catch-up” one? All of these things were true for me this weekend.

Of course, it’s not just child-care that can get in the way. For me work does too. And as much as I’m committed to my training goals and the events I’ve entered (or will enter), both family and work have to come first.

Not my office either.

I spent a lot some time creating training plans that are constantly moved, adjusted or just ripped up by outside factors. I’m not sure what else I can do but attend the training sessions I can and try not to get too upset by the ones I miss.

What do you do in this situation?

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Washout weekend, woeful Wednesday

I don’t want you to feel sorry for me, but I work hard at my job. It’s not so much the hours as the intensity and sometimes it can just make me feel run down and unable to train and that’s what happened this weekend.

It started on Thursday which was a very intense day (don’t get me wrong it was great too – a lot of very exciting meetings about this). Thursday is also on the training plan as a gym night. The plan is to do a bit of cardio (bike and treadmill), but have a good weights session between those two to work on the back and shoulders. However, I got to the gym and could only manage 10 minutes on the bike. I just felt weak, had a killer headache and felt sick – not a good recipe for training. So I went home.

A good night’s sleep and again on Friday and I thought I’d be fine for my Saturday session – which is the same as Thursday plus a swim to finish it off.

Friday night didn’t turn out to be a good night as the little one woke up at 2am feeling ill, but I got everything ready as per usual on Saturday morning. I was just about to head off when I sat on the bed for a couple of minutes and nearly couldn’t get up – again not a good recipe for a training session. So Saturday got cancelled. The same thing happened on Monday morning as I was about to go out for my big swim. I realised I could go and try, but I’d either fail miserably or knock myself out for the whole week ahead – again with work not something I can risk. So another cancellation.

I did manage a very gentle mile on Monday evening, but that brings us to this morning.

I thought I was feeling better so I set off to replace Monday’s big swim with my threshold training routine. It was tough.

I managed the 100s in about 1:50 (between 1:47 and 1:52), but the 200s were a real struggle and in fact I left three of them out there.

Woeful… but possibly understandable and certainly better than a cancellation.

3,000m including warm up and cool down.

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Filed under Motivation, Swimming

Running Fail

I wasn’t planning to take part in Janathon anyway. I realised from last year’s 1,000kms challenge that I find it too hard to plan my life around my training to commit to a full month. However, the plan was to use the quiet time over the Xmas break to re-teach my body how to run without injuring itself and hopefully to re-teach me to enjoy it.

What I intended to do was to go out for a run* on nine consecutive days. *And by run I mean to take my time, to walk when necessary, to stop and stretch if required and not to worry about my pace – just be out there doing it.

I nearly made it.

After my first run I managed four more and almost got to point where I enjoyed the last one. But then it stopped. It stopped mainly because my son was ill (I had to take him to hospital on the 1st – he’s fine), it meant I got little sleep for a few days and I had to work and last week was an important week at work to prepare for the year.

And that neatly sums up where my training is – and always will be – in my list of priorities: behind family and work. Both of them can be demanding, both of them are naturally more appealing to me.

I know other people manage it – and at times so do I – but only up to a point.

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