DIARY: The butterfly–emerging into 2013

With a New Year having emerged many are bringing out the New Years resolutions. I never believed in them as they are often adopted under self-inflicted duress, and motivation to pursue them then fades quickly. But a New Year IS a timely reminder to think about renewing yourself.

Renewal in 2012 – injury free

2012 was the year I finally broke the injury curse that had haunted me since late 2007. It took Tony Riddle’s tutelage and the open-mindedness to accept that a lot of what I knew about injury, how to train and health in general was wrong

I set eight new PBs in the process. That I was left feeling I could have gotten better times than I got on all occasions, especially the 2:55 marathon in the sweltering heat of Copenhagen, when I was not at my best physically, make this achievement even more satisfying when I look back.

The marathon was a seminal event in triggering the next stage of renewal – the realisation that you cannot live values by half measures. Something is either true, or it is not. “Do, or do not, there is no try”, as Yoda says, and I decided to ditch traditional running shoes for good and crawl into a cocoon to practice and hone my technique to the exclusion of all other goals.


This meant I entered a semi-retirement from racing from May 2012 which has lasted to this day. I wanted no distractions but the truth is I also got overwhelmed by the amount of new events I had willingly landed on my plate.

My training became overwhelmingly technically focused while I balanced an ever-increasing workload. Technically, the autumn was a success with my technical skill level now at a level where I am almost ready to return to competition. I can run bare foot on many hard surfaces with relative ease, if not yet on difficult terrain.

Muscle soreness is at an all-time low and, when viewed objectively, stride mechanics are at an all time best. But it also became clear to me that to be successful both at a sporting, professional and private level – with true balance between work, life and sport, I had to become more effective in the New Year.

Tony encouraged me with several small nudges or even wake-up calls. He understands, as many teachers don’t, that personal development is an evolutionary process even when it has revolutionary results.

A step back, now the step forward…

You could say that myself emerging myself into a “non-racing cocoon” was a necessary step back. Many would be horrified at the necessity. But I did not feel I could master a new skill while at the same time being distracted by racing. Would a combat pilot fly active missions in a new plane until he was happy he had the new steering down to a tee? I thought not, unless desperate, so this was the right decision for me.

So 2012 was about two steps 1) believe in the method and 2) prepare for the future. Autumn gave me this opportunity. The third step has to follow now in 2013 – deliver results.

Tony Riddle delivered the first result, with me as the willing participant: to become injury free. This is worth celebrating given that my visits to so many of this country’s best medical facilities failed to deliver this panacea to me. We all have the desire to run injury free – but few of us have the knowledge and the skill.

Athletic achievement

But injury free running was only ever the foundation – not the end-goal in itself. Had I been a fun runner, then “just racing” would be my next goal. Had I been concerned with weight-loss or my health, then “just running” would be. But I became serious about running because I enjoyed the rush of battle and the success of constant improvement. I noticed that running mid-pack did not compare to running further upfront for me. Participating will not satisfy my current standards. Competing will.

To achieve this I need to learn to fully embrace and embody Tony Riddle’s principles in the New Year. I must shed the last vestiges of the “old religion”, demolish non-conducive habits and destroy old PBs comprehensively.

Doing requires some fundamental changes in my life and a refinement of the ChampionsEverywhere vision beyond what it has been so far. That will be the goal of the blog in 2013 – to chronicle the steps I need to take to kill off the last remains of the zoo-human runner I had become. For ChampionsEverywhere, the goal will be to take as many others with us on this journey as possible and help create a future in which athletes and coaches together can create an injury free culture without the need for medical intervention or band-aid solutions such as orthotics.

Our success in these goals is my great personal wish for 2013. Look forward to sharing the journey with you on these pages.