Day 3: FCG My Epic Week Team

Resolution IT

We are really grateful to ResolutionIT for putting a team together for the FCC EPIC Challenges Week, with the impressive goal of completing at least 10 Olympic Triathlons. Thank you and congratulations on your 10th anniversary!

Completing 10 Olympic Triathlons is no mean feat, especially when you have to fit it in around the day job. Shaun Lane from ResolutionIT tells us more about the team’s fantastic effort.

How did Resolution IT’s employees react to the suggestion that you get involved with My EPIC Week?

They were apprehensive initially, but also excited. There was an air of confidence about fitness levels but when we wrote down what we’d have to do we realised it wasn’t going to be easy and we’d better get out and do some training!

What is your challenge and why have you chosen it? 

Ten of us are taking part, all doing different distances due to different fitness levels and other commitments. The target is a minimum of 10 Olympic Triathlons. Ideally we’d like to achieve nearer to 20 but we’ll be content with 10. People are doing different activities each day and then recording the distances.

We have to schedule it around work: going out for early runs and cycle rides, swimming at lunchtime and going out late in the evening. I’m not a morning person myself but some of them are getting up at stupid o’clock to do a run – it’s really quite impressive!

What inspired ResolutionIT to take part in the FCG My EPIC Week?

It’s our company’s 10th anniversary so we’re doing 10 challenges throughout the year to raise money. This Is EPIC was one of the charities we had chosen, as we’re big supporters of This Is EPIC and of Warren and Phil themselves, having worked with them over the years. This week coinciding with our anniversary has made it a company challenge as well as helping the charities.

How is it going so far?

After Day One it’s looking like we’ll go way above our original target of 10 Olympic Triathlons so it’s going really well. As a team we achieved about double what we’d aimed to do in a day so we’re hoping we can continue like this. There’s a buzz around the office and everyone is excited to get out and do their bit.

Day two of our FCG My EPIC Week. Meet our Mark Smith!

This is Mark’s first EPIC Challenge and it’s a big one! Philip and Warren will still be sleeping when you start your cycling each day, so you definitely deserve a high five for that! Welcome to the fold and good luck, Mark.Mark Smith Day 2

Can you tell us a little about you?

I’m a 45-year-old father of twin girls, married and a self-employed Customer Service Consultant from Guernsey. I’m a keen cyclist and a member of the Guernsey Velo Club. I’ve been cycling competitively for about 13 years but recreationally all my life.

What is your challenge and why have you chosen it?

I’m going to be doing 100 miles on the bike every day. I first heard about the EPIC Challenge from Warren and, having done several endurance events previously, it piqued my interest. I knew, however, that to make it challenging I would have to do a long ride every day.

What training have you been doing?

My normal training for the racing season started in January so aside from a few longish rides and a 100-mile time trial in June I haven’t done any specific training, which is probably why I feel a bit underprepared.

What inspired you to take part in the FCG My EPIC Week?

Being self-employed I didn’t think I could fit it into my schedule, so decided I’d do it next time it came up. I was then at a conference where one of the speakers talked about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone; this talk really resonated with me and I decided that if my schedule doesn’t give me time then I will make time. I’m planning on starting my rides at 3am, so I can then fit in a full day of work too.

Day one of our FCG My EPIC Week. Meet our EPIC Challengers!

 

It’s Day One and we have already heard from some of the fantastic people taking part in the FCG My EPIC Week. We’ll be hoping to keep you inspired in your own challenges by sharing their stories.

Our first post comes from Dawn Sealey. Thanks for your support, Dawn, and best of luck with your challenge!

Can you tell us a little about you?

I’m a working mum with a three-year-old boy, Jack. I started running after he was born. I’ll never be the fastest runner (in fact I’m frequently at the back of the pack) but I appreciate the good health and good friends running affords me. After a traumatic start to my son’s life, running also helps keep me sane and my husband has been known to gently suggest I go for a run when I’ve got a case of the mean reds! As an extra challenge, and so that I might participate in triathlons, I decided to learn to swim properly earlier this year and just over a month ago swam my first ever full length of front crawl (well a type of front crawl anyway!!). I’m doing a couple of swimming lessons a week now and it’s slow progress but a great feeling of accomplishment to be learning a new skill at this old age.

I’m also inspired by my son – there is nothing more heart-melting than when he puts on his trainers and announces to me he’s off out for a run (don’t worry I never let him get too far).

What is your challenge and why have you chosen it?

My challenge is to complete a half Ironman distance across the week. I wanted a tough challenge to push myself but also one where I could involve and inspire as many people as possible to join me on either a run, swim or cycle and fit it around work and family. I have colleagues, friends and family joining me throughout the week on various sessions and I’m hoping Jack will do a few with me too. The organisation alone of fitting in all these sessions is one of the biggest challenges.

What training have you been doing?

I’m still running a couple of times a week and in addition to the swimming lessons I’ve been trying to fit in some cycling, mostly commuting.

What inspired you to take part in the FCG My EPIC Week?

I’ve followed Phil and Warren’s challenges over the least few years and they did a talk at my offices (GFSC) which inspired many of us to push ourselves but also explained how the charity was benefitting communities in a real way. This is EPIC and Guernsey Mind are both amazing charities and myself and my colleagues are always happy to support them in any way we can.

Have you taken part in any previous EPIC Challenges?

I took part in the Kings Mills run and the Y-Front Run and my husband and I did the family run with the buggy before EPIC 12. It is starting to sound like I’m stalking them!

Break it down

This post could easily be titled ‘common sense’ but one thing that Warren and I have learnt about setting goals and targets since 2014 is the absolute necessity to break them down.
At our recent talk at the IoD Shadow Management Awards we had the pleasure of listening to a number of students present on their experiences of shadowing managers and leaders in local businesses. Many of the presentations included some great definitions of leadership, the different approaches to leadership and how leadership and management are two different things. There was also talk of vision, strategy and goals across the presentations, from team goals to setting a 20 year vision for an island (yes Guernsey).
In 2014 Warren and I took on 7 Marathons in 7, which was our first lesson in how to breakdown big goals. I specifically remember in the evening following marathon no. 1 thinking to myself “wow, we have 6 more of these xxxxxxxx to go”. This then transferred into multiple messages to Warren about how big this challenge was and looking at the end point at the end of day 1. We discovered that this is categorically the wrong way to look at any big goal, target or challenge. In the midst of the challenge you cannot focus on the finish, as this will inevitabley create a the feeling of being overawed by the challenge or goal.
We soon realised that focusing on what is immediately in front of you, rather than the finish line, would enable us to focus on progress, to achieve smaller goals and for confidence to remain high during the challenge.
On day 2 we broke the marathon down into smaller goals and milestones. We had water stops set out at mile 5, 10, 15, 19 and 23, these became our new goals, not the 7 marathons.

 

How did this help? 

 

It helped by taking our focus off the enormity of the challenge, which harvest negativity, in the dark moments when you need to dig deep it is much more effective to focus on the progress made than the miles left! Shifting focus onto smaller goals enabled us to tick off progress on a regular basis. Rather than waiting 4+ hours to celebrate progress we were ticking off the targets every 50 mins or so.
By marathon no. 7 on day 7 our targets had reduced down from the water stops to lamp posts. As we made our way through the final few miles of our 184.3 mile week-long challenge, our eyes were fixed on the next lamp post which was 100 yards away. This made the last few miles fly by in terms of progress.
This lesson learnt has become a constant part of our training and challenges since 2014. But it is also relevant in so many other areas outside of crazy challenges. Whether you have a personal goal, a goal for your team or a 20 year vision for an island there is huge benefit in breaking them down into smaller goals.
The impact will be to see and experience progress, which all of us need to ensure we don’t give up easily or give up at all. 
With our third EPIC Moonlight Marathon coming up this may be a helpful lesson for any participants who are either getting their trainers on for the first time in ages, running at night for the first time or have pushed themselves to take on a few extra miles than you normally would. Here are three tips:

 

  1. Don’t over think it 
  2. Break it down into smaller milestones / targets 
  3. Remember to enjoy it, as you’ll be with people who are in the same position as you. 
#NeverGiveUp 

Success is not final. Failure is not fatal.

Failure, it’s an interesting word, and often one that holds us all back if we are honest. I’m writing this post as I sit on the train from Manchester back to Euston about 4 and a half hours after I finished the Greater Manchester Marathon.

In December 2015 I set myself a very tough personal challenge of aiming to run a marathon in under 3 hours, which is averaging at around 6:50min/mile pace. Warren and I continue to state that we are not athletes but we do enjoy setting challenges to see how far the body and mind can go.

One of the key lessons that Warren and I have learnt over the past couple of years of taking on challenges is to enjoy the process of being the best you, and not to beat yourself up when things don’t go to plan, like today.

Training over the past 16 weeks went to plan, I followed it religiously and found myself getting faster and the body adjusting in terms of the increase in pace and recovery time/approach. Did I feel confident of achieving? If I’m being honest I was, but I’m also not naive enough to ignore the fact that events like today are also about how you feel on the day and the conditions etc. Thankfully I felt great when I woke up this morning and the weather could not have been better, a crisp clear blue sky and hardly any wind.

The race went really well in the early stages, sitting in with the 3 hour pace runner with a group of around 50 other runners, the pace was very consistent, between 6:41 and 6:51 min/mile pace, I even managed to chat to a few other runners about the joy of running on a flat course compared to Guernsey (I’m not sure they were happy to talk).

I found myself still chuckling at a certain MarathonManUK who said he was going to jog and go for a 3:30 time and use it as a training run. As the elite runners came back up the road to was mile 1 and were just going through the turn, there was Robert Young, leading the race, bloody brilliant that guy.

I went through the halfway point bang on 1:30hr, Louise was waiting there to cheer me on, I managed to see her and pointed to my head and smiled. This was meant to indicate that I felt I had it in my mind and it was about the body coming along with me.

The next few miles flew by and the support was brilliant, I made sure to high-five the young kids that had come out to support us runners, it was great fun and it also helped ignore the pain that the body was quietly trying to tell me about.

Mile 20 – right, just a 10km race to go I thought, the wheels were still on and the body was aligning to the mind telling it that sub 3 hour was on. Up to around mile 20 we had been in a big pack of 50 or so runners, suddenly it thinned out and I found myself with only a few runners around me, it was interesting how the pack thinned out.

Mile 22 it started to get interesting, I ran past a few runners that were now walking due to cramp and the body starting to get the better of the mind and question the ability to stick to the 6:50 min/mile pace.

The body couldn’t stick at that pace, I needed to back off slightly. This was an interesting process. I had to dig deep and pull on all the experience and dark times of the 7 marathons in 7 days and the EPIC48 challenge.

I need to thank a few strangers in the crowds, the shouts of “this is where the hard miles count” and “you haven’t run 23 miles to give up now” really helped. They may sound like cliches but when you have someone you don’t know give up their Sunday morning to cheer you in it really does help.

Encouragement is vital, we all need more of it and we all need to give more of it.

There was a great moment at 24 miles, a poor guy in front of me stopped with cramp, a supporter tried to encourage him by shouting “don’t stop now mate, run through the pain” far easier said than done, but it helped me, it gave me a boost to just keep going.

I knew the sub 3 hour was out of reach but wanted to get a sub 3:05 now, the last mile or so were great, making sure to get eye contact with the amazing supporters on the roads, giving them a thumbs up and thanking them for coming out to support the runners.

The finishing straight was something else, packed with a few thousand people cheering, a real moment to savour and enjoy, I must be honest I was milking it for at least 400mtrs, thumbs up, arms raised, fist pumps, anyone would have thought that I’d won the race. Another lesson that Warren and I had learnt is to run happy, we got this from Rob Young.

Whatever the experience, a good run, a bad run, a brutal run, enjoy it and enjoy the moment.

I crossed the line in 3:03:37. 3 mins 37 secs off my target time but 27 minutes taken off my marathon personal best.

Failure. I’d like to challenge that on behalf of anyone that has ever set a goal and fallen a little short. It’s a big step setting a challenge beyond where you have been before, it’s another huge step going for it, and coming up short is neither here nor there. It is about enjoying the process of being the best you.

We often say that what you learn through the process of being the best you often has more impact than hitting the end goal.

Failure, or rather the fear of failure, holds us all back from time to time. I’m starting to learn that it is not about success or failure, it really is down to pushing yourself further than you have been before and overcoming the dark moments.

We all have it in us to go further than we have gone before.

We all have it in us to be the best version of us.

We all have it in us to overcome the moments of doubt and pain.

Never give up.

What if I fall…Oh but what if I fly?

With just 7 days to go until the Manchester Marathon I wanted to share some of the experiences and lessons learnt from setting myself the challenge of running a sub-3 Hour marathon for the first time. Despite the 7 Marathons in 7 Days in 2014, the 48 hour treadmill world record attempt and running over 3500 miles in the last 2 years, I do not consider myself to be an athlete.
The challenges that Warren Mauger and I have taken on over the past 2 years have been all about endurance, stamina, mental strength and distance. This personal challenge of a sub-3 Hour marathon has added the element of pace and speed into the mix and pushing the body to places it has not been before, well not since playing semi-pro football in my early twenties anyway!
I have been asked whether I am confident of achieving the time, and this for me is the main point behind setting a goal or challenge that is beyond the comfort zone. My fastest ever half marathon was 6 years ago, a 1hr 32min, our 7 Marathons in 2014 were run at an average of 5 hour pace, the per mile pace for our training for EPIC48 was around the 9 to 10 minute mile pace and I ran the Jersey Marathon in 2015 in 3hrs 30mins, so speed has not been something I have focused on in the last few years. However, setting the very challenging target of sub 3 hours can help in creating a mindset from the start of training that knew there would be some dark times during training.
When you commit to a challenge you need to realise that the path to achieving the challenge isn’t always going to be an easy one. 
As the date has got closer I have been asked if I’ll be disappointed if I don’t get the sub 3 hour time I have been training for, here’s the thing, I won’t be disappointed. Why not I hear you ask? Well, it is quiet simple, one of the key things that Warren and I learnt over the last two years is the about being the best you can be and learning from the process of being the best you.
We often say that what we learnt about ourselves, the strengths, the weaknesses, as we trained for our challenges and during our challenges actually had a greater long term impact on us that crossing the finish line. 
Irrelevant of the time I achieve on Sunday 10th April in Manchester, without setting the goal I would have never experienced of achieved the following over the past 16 weeks of training:
  • Taking 39 secs off my 5km personal best time
  • Taking 40-odd secs off my 10km personal best time
  • Finishing a 10 mile race in sub 65 mins
  • Running a sub 1hr 30min half marathon
  • Completing a 70 mile training week at an average of 7 min/mile
  • Experienced multiple days where I felt like a sub 3 hour marathon was way beyond me, but learnt to ignore these negative thoughts
  • Experienced the body telling me to stop during long distance fast training runs, and learning to respond by trying to run faster and harder (the body didn’t always respond but it felt good to react in this way)
  • Learnt that by following the plan to the letter my ability to run faster improved significantly – as the plan told me I would
  • Confirmation, again, that the body will go where the mind tells it too
  • Always run happy, even when you don’t enjoy a run or have a difficult training run (don’t beat yourself up). The sun will still rise in the morning.
If I hadn’t set myself a personal goal or challenge beyond where I think I can go then I may not have achieved or experienced the things I have during the past 16 weeks of training. Whether I get a 2hr 56min, 2hr 59min 59 secs or 3 hour+ time in Manchester, the lessons learnt over the past 16 weeks have been invaluable.
For anyone else taking on challenges in the next few weeks, remember how far you have come during training, focus on being the best you, look back at what you have learnt and make sure to run happy and never give up.
If you are thinking about taking on a personal challenge or setting yourself a goal, why not think about pushing yourself that little bit further outside of your comfort zone.
What you become during the process of being the best you will have a greater impact on you than crossing the finish line. 

 

Sink or Swim?

About two months ago I started to swim, bar a week in Tenerife I hadn’t swum since I was at school. It’s been a shock to the system and it’s made me realise how much I like running more!

I spent the first month hacking my way up and down the 25m pool generally doing about 40 lengths in a session, which is 1km. But I had zero technique, it was more a case of not drowning than swimming. This was compounded when in the lane next to me swimmers are carving their way through the water like a hot knife though butter. My legs were sinking I couldn’t breath properly and when I did I could only do it from my left hand side. In short I was a mess.

I haven’t given up though and I had a lesson with Russ Smith from Tri Fitness who very quickly identified a number of easy wins. Even just reviewing my stroke after being filmed I could see many ways in which to improve which reminded me how important it is for us to review our performances no matter if its in work or in sport. We did have one incident in the lesson when my shoulder dislocated which I think unnerved Russ a bit but I managed to get it back in the socket and we cracked on.

In the few weeks since Russ’s expert input I have both improved and struggled. At times I have wondered why I am bothering and then I remember a big challenge I have set for next year that means I have to be good at swimming. I also know that I will get there as long as I keep going and work through these challenging days. I am sure that this time next year I will look back at the semi drowning me and smile – I hope so anyway.

So what I have learnt so far;

  • I enjoy running more than swimming

  • Get professional help early to help you improve

  • Focus on your weakness, which for me is swimming

  • Don’t be scared of it going wrong or looking rubbish (in my case half drowning)

  • There will always be people better – don’t beat yourself up about it. Just be your best

  • Loads of people will help you if you set a goal.

7 Swims in 7 Days – The Lessons Learnt

There was an agreement with our wives prior to our holiday that our running gear would not get packed, thinking that would mean that Warren and I would just sit back and do very little on holiday. Little did we know that two pairs of swimming goggles could have such an impact in 7 days.

The thought of swimming generally fills me with fear, I haven’t done it properly since I was at school. But with a “no running gear ban”, Philip and I had to do something to stop ourselves getting too restless. With great trepidation we entered the “cold” pool at our hotel on day one of the holiday, the pool where only the most hardy dare to splash.

Whilst Warren is filled with fear of swimming, I am more of a thrasher and splasher in the water, at the start of the week it wasn’t very elegant and I am certain it gave the other holiday go-ers a good giggle as they sipped their mojitos.

Length one was completed in a spluttering mess and a “tip of the cap” to all ironman and women who swim 2.4 miles as just one part of their event multi-faceted event. We completed 5 more lengths (the pool was around 35-40 metres in length) and returned to our sun beds and wives feeling pleased as well as gasping for breath. That struggle didn’t put us off, in fact it spurred us on, we committed to swim properly twice a day for the rest of the holiday.

Much like our lessons learnt from our 7 Marathons in 7 Days and the EPIC48 WR Challenge, Warren and I set a target to reach each day, and then usually broke that down into smaller targets.  We discovered very quickly that each day we (felt) we improved significantly when compared to the previous day. This was confirmed by our ‘coach’ and ex-island swimmer Louise Smith (my wife). This is also down to the curvelinear relationship between performance improvement and effort, something that Greg Whyte writes about in his book, Achieve The Impossible. The greatest improvements will happen in the early stages, this is exactly what Warren and I have experienced first hand this week. This isn’t to say that it doesn’t take hard work or comes easy, even through the times of the greatest improvement it still takes hard work and commitment. Spluttering our way to 5 lengths on day one, and by day seven we swam over 100 lengths (approx. 2km) in one day.

Each day we started to feel like the lifeguards were less concerned as we entered the water. Philip and I probably swam 150 meters that first day, on the last day of the holiday we reached 2km, it made the all you can eat buffets more enjoyable. Unfortunately both Philip and I have read “Hell and High Water” by Sean Conway, his story about swimming the length of Britain. Sean’s story often went through our minds as we were remembering our breathing technique!

Philip and I applied the same mental thinking to this mini challenge as we did when we started endurance running nearly two years ago.

  1. Commit – Warren and I committed to swimming every day with the aim of improving technique and distance. 

  2. Tell people – Warren and I told our wives what we were doing which meant we couldn’t back out! 

  3. Set a plan – Our plan was clear, swim every day with the aim of achieving 100 lengths on the final day. 

  4. Never give up – There were times that a 50 length swim felt as if it was going to be a 15 length swim, but as we kept going the body and mind began to believe that we could do it. 

One other thing that Warren and I did was to get some technical advice from a very good swimmer, Louise. A couple of times early in the week she would watch us for a couple of lengths and give us tips on breathing, our kicking and overall technical input. This technical input at an early stage was priceless, as we achieved some great improvements both in terms of technique and distance achieved.

Now Philip and I have grand plans, swim from Guernsey to Herm next August and there’s even talk of a IronMan at some point. No wonder our wives roll their eyes when we start thinking ahead, maybe they should never have agreed to us all going away together!

#NeverGiveUp

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