Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Sleep tips for athletes

I love sleeping.  Getting good sleep is so important and this ‘Sleep like a Champion’ infographic caught my eye.  While its about Sleep tips for athletes – it’s all so true for everyone!
It normally takes me 20 seconds to fall asleep at night, perhaps even less if I’ve had a run or a bike ride during the day.  Now I don’t think I can prove this but sometimes I almost know when I’m having a really good, deep sleep.  I can almost feel my body repairing itself!      This is a strange feeling and one which I do like when I remember it.
Thinking about it, I normally get about 7.5 hours sleep each night, so I guess this is in the right range, although I do admit that I like the idea of having a nap or a siesta in the afternoon.  Not that that is ever going to happen!  How about you – how many hours sleep do you get?

My friends at Casper, a start-up business that has been committed to sleep since the creation of their comfortable mattress, shared this graphic with me in hope of spreading better sleep habits to all athletes!

Tuesday, 19 April 2016


Eerie rainbow, quite recent, brings hope
This winter had seriously dragged on for me, plus its been pretty eventful for us as a family.  Life seems to have thrown quite a lot at us lately.  It is at these testing times when my faith has an important part to play makes a real difference.  Faith also provides answers in the most unexpected of ways and, as I discovered a few years back, taking good care of myself, eating well and staying fit has provided me with the ability to weather the various storms which seem to come along from time to time.

People say there are key sources of stress which seem to have the biggest impact these days.  Moving house, divorce are said to be among those but happily these don't apply here.  Instead the sudden and unexpected loss of my father on New Year's Eve was a terrible shock, as mentioned in the last post here.  And then a few days later I was starting my new job.  Both huge events for me having never lost a parent before and in terms of changing jobs, this was the first change of this scale for 23 years.

It seemed the short days and long dark nights were hampering me in terms of running and cycling.  Now spring has properly arrived I am pleased that I was able to keep ticking over to position me well for now as my mileage picks up.  I am seriously having to resist the temptation of sprinting ahead too fast in terms of increasing my mileage.  This is hard going, especially as I have had some nice runs and there is always the temptation of saying "I want some more of that" and then head out for another run before recovering properly.

Gym, again
So instead I've joined a gym (again!).  This time it's the shiny new leisure centre at Flitwick, Bedfordshire.  It's not exactly local but it's on my way home from work and, because I now work for the Council, I get a discount.  Fifty percent in fact.  That's cool.

I quite like doing 'people watching' while I'm doing a bit of cardio.  Quite a range of people; their ages, body weight, fitness and so on. I feel another blog coming on about that another time.

So now I'm feeling positive, optimistic and hopeful.  The days are getting longer and life is getting easier.  I've had some nice runs of late, including another with my friend Jon as we've both entered the St Albans Half in June.  Seriously looking forward to that but simply no idea if I'll come anywhere near my PB on that race (I think it was around 1:45).

Monday, 15 February 2016

So, what I have been doing?

I can hardly believe its been so long since I last blogged here; it's even longer on my cycling blog.  Plenty has happened by way of distraction.  Perhaps, it could be argued, having a little rest from something is a good thing: an opportunity to be revitalised, re-energised and to reflect on the general direction.


Took this when leaving the office a few days ago;
it sums up my optimistic view of work!
My full time work has seen an incredible change and from previous posts you will have seen this brewing.  After 23 years I have now left the criminal justice system. Through the dreadful reforms I have found myself on first name terms with my MP through my letters objecting to what has happened.  I wrestled with the reforms and restructure for months, survived the restructure and then accepted another job in my local authority for a whole range of reasons.  I understand my departure surprised a few people who questioned if I was doing the right thing, shocked one or two and possibly delighted one or two others.  I'm pleased I made the jump, although I have had some reservations:

  • I have left behind some lovely colleagues who I really like and miss a great deal (others, sadly, had already gone)
  • I really believed in the importance of the work, many agencies working together, getting the community involved, all for the greater good within the concept of public service which should be retained largely in the public sector.  
  • Whitehall is too powerful.  Ken Clarke had the right idea when he was Secretary of Justice and I came to respect him a great deal.  He knew reforms were necessary and took a measured approach to test out new concepts.  Alas that was all cut short when a Cabinet reshuffle took place and Grayling was shuffled in (there were always tensions between No. 10 and Petty France).  That was the start of the rot which finished off the Probation Service.
Nowadays I can simply move on from these reservations.  As I get to know more people within the Council, I see there is considerable scope for doing some great work there together.  The work is worthwhile; I really do like working and serving my own local community; this adds an important dimension for me.

In my new role I'm busy maintaining  and applying my skills and doing my best to apply them to a new area of work. To be honest, I'm quite enjoying it.  Although I know I've gone from being a big fish in a small pond to becoming a tiny fish in a huge lake, I am optimistic and positive about the future.  Much for me to learn!

Bringing the whole area of work into focus, in terms of healthy living and so on, it really has reminded me how vulnerable many of us can be to the negative pressures on work and why making a change can be a healthy thing to do.  It is so easy to get sucked into a rut.  Worse still it can be easy-to-get-drawn-into roles which become increasingly specialist it becomes harder and harder to even contemplate doing anything else.  Quite often colleagues asked me whether I'd ever want to go back to the front line, to practice again.  The scary thing was knowing I couldn't, I wouldn't be competent or be able to handle the IT system of assessments, sentence planning and so on - I wouldn't even recruit myself!  Things had moved on in the 13 years of management far too much to ever consider going back.

And another reason!
Yes, a further reason was about wanting to take a leap into the unknown.  Let me explain.  While I had done some research on what my new job would be like and I regarded the recruitment process as a two-way process, there were still some unknowns.  What would my colleagues be like?  What is the level of work like?  Why did my predecessor leave?  Will I truly enjoy the work?

Naturally there is a risk to this but, on balance, it's sometimes worth taking.  I didn't want to get totally stuck in a rut at this stage of my career.  If I left it much longer, would anyone ever take me on?  I simply had to do this while I still could.

Personal loss
One of the reasons why I haven't blogged much, cycled or been running very much is that I unexpectedly lost my father.  Aged 88 he died on New Year's Eve, completely out of the blue as he wasn't ill.  As a family we have had to make adjustments as we took this in.

We have been touched by the incredible support, love and prayerful encouragement from friends, family and acquaintances.