Tag Archives: fun

My rules for success

I have come up with my own rules for success/a happy life, which I share here:

1. Make your own rules

You must come up with your own rules that mean something to you, don’t just copy mine or anyone else’s, be true to yourself – there is no right recipe for success, just the one that means something to you.

2. Acknowledge the situation, but don’t let it define you

Yes you are the only woman in your office, yes you didn’t get your training done and now you’re on a marathon start line, yes the last time you tried this it didn’t work – but move on, move forward and get it done.

3. Move

Moving feels good. I’m not saying you have to run miles and miles, just stretching your body first thing in the morning, dancing to a song, waving your arms around, sitting down on the floor rather than a chair, going for a walk all feel good. Look at the joy that children get from running around and jumping about – do you remember that? So move. A lot.

4. Read

People who proudly claim that they haven’t read a book since they finished school scare the hell out of me. Yes, you can learn a lot from watching documentaries on TV or listening to radio 4, but you can get also so much from reading (and it doesn’t have to be books – there are plenty of good blogs and magazines on the internet). Even reading trashy novels (I’m a big fan of John Locke – Goodreads, but I count his novels here!) is just so pleasurable, all those worlds you can just escape to at the drop of a hat, and because you have to work to read rather than passively watching TV, I find you can get more engaged and switch off more easily.

5. Drink water

I do not understand people who don’t drink water.

6. Don’t let the stuff that’s meant to be fun become a chore

I like running, but some days I don’t want to run, so I don’t. I have enough chores and stuff I have to do in life without making something I am supposed to enjoy and do for fun into a chore. Don’t beat yourself up about it, it’s supposed to be your hobby, not a stick to hit yourself with.

7. Say thank you

If someone does something for you, thank them. Thank colleagues, thank strangers, bus-drivers, waiters, just say thank you. And, if you can then also send a thank you note (or, if you have to, an email). Didn’t your mum teach you this when you were little?

8. Work HARD. PUSH further. Dig DEEP.

From an earlier blog post – sometimes you do have to work hard to get the results that you want – to study and work full-time, to have a career and run a family.

9. Recuperate – take time to sharpen your axe

Also from an earlier blog post – you can’t go at it 100% 100% of the time and you shouldn’t feel bad for not doing so! Athletes know they can’t be at their peak year round and they plan around it, we should too.

10. Believe in yourself

Also from an earlier blog post – as Henry Ford said:

Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you’re right

You need to have an amount of self-belief before you can achieve anything.

11. Be open to opportunities/ASK

You are very unlikely to have the world handed to you on a plate. You can be content and happy in what you do (or your pace!) and still keep an eye out for opportunities to make progress, develop or broaden your horizons – the two are not mutually exclusive. If there is something you want or are interested in, never be afraid to ask – you may not get it, but it will change how the person you asked perceives you, often in a good way.

12. Be honest or be quiet

Don’t say you agree with something or think something is good if you don’t, just don’t say anything. Remember you can be honest and constructive – praise what was good and give examples were things could be improved or were an improvement on before.

 13. All that matters is you keep at it

I tweeted this quote by Runners World columnist because it rang so true to me, and like the best philosophies, it applies as strongly to running as it does to the rest of life:

Inspired by Karen’s talk at TEDx Aylesbury last month, I decided to make up some rules of my own. I admit I stole the first two from Karen (how’s that for irony?), but they say something about mimicry being the most sincere form of flattery don’t they?


Fun run

After my awful awful last marathon I decided that I needed to approach my next race very differently and actually have some fun and enjoy it, rather than slogging round with a time in mind.

The morning of St Alban’s half marathon arrived (I hadn’t even ran more than 6 miles since early May) and in a first for me – I left my Garmin at home and took of my watch so I would have no idea of the time at all.

I started off steady and having fun and then at about mile 2 or 3 I found a guy who was running his first ever half marathon, he’d only ran 14k before (for those imperial-minded amongst us a half marathon at 13.1 miles is 21.something-I-think-1 k) and was a little worried and hoping to come in under 2:30. I offered to run it with him, we stopped for a brief walk every now and again, I gave him some tips to tackle the uphills (“forget about your legs, just concentrate on pumping your arms backwards”), tonnes of encouragement and we finished in 02:01:58.

And I had a PB of my own – a race I really enjoyed. I had a lovely time both talking to my new friend and feeling like I was helping him. The course was great, very beautiful, spectacular organisation and I loved the mementos, a really nice technical t-shirt with big fun logo (I will snap a pic and add it), a medal and an ice lolly which in my hurry to wolf it down, I managed to stick my tongue to it. Ouch.

But to run without the pressure of a watch, knowing that my time was irrelevant because it was his time – wow, that was freedom!

Will probably do this race again; (maybe I will even race it). The next one is on Sunday June 12th 2016 – there is also a walking half marathon option which I think is a terrific idea and a 5k (which I think I could have got an age category place in as a senior woman – most adults who could run well did the half!).

Forays into crowdfunding

Until recently, I hadn’t done any crowdfunding. I was aware of it, but there was too much other stuff keeping me busy. Then, one evening on the One Show, I heard all about a project called Chicken Town – a not for profit social enterprise designed to help local people in Tottenham by providing a healthier (and tastier) alternative to fried chicken and chips, subsidising lunch time offerings to local children and providing training and employment (paying local living wage) to locals.

It sounded brilliant so after a few google searches, I managed to find it on Kickstarter and made my pledge. The target was £50k and I must admit, I was doubtful at times if they were going to make it or not. The publicity on the One show was brilliant, but, the One show didn’t give any links or a definite “call to action”. I’m sure a lot of people watched and thought “that sounds great”, but as they weren’t given a website link or an emphatic call of “please pledge your support”, they did nothing about it. A bit of a missed opportunity.

Getting closer! If you’ve not yet pledged support for @CHICKENT0WN now is the time! http://t.co/hjDJr3ccSi

One of the features of the Kickstarter website is that you can set reminders so you are emailed when a project has 2 days to go – this means a lot of projects will see a rush of donations in those last two days as people are notified and (finally) get their wallets out.

They made it, with 700 backers pledging a total of £55,000 (their goal was £50,000). It was exciting and I followed them closely as the deadline came and I became more nervous that they wouldn’t make it. Phew. I am really excited about Chicken Town and can’t wait to hear about its progress. I shall also be making a detour to Tottenham next time I am in London!

Card games

As I had by now set up a Kickstarter account etc, i thought I would look and see what other stuff there was that I could get involved in. I was interested in physical board/card games, based in the UK (so I wouldn’t get stung on postage and most pledges say “ships to USA only”). I stumbled across this – Lords of War game:


It looked fun, professional (lots of funny videos on how to play the game), they had had previous success and I could get a game for a pledge of £13 as well as any extras that were unlocked, whatever those may be ( there were a lot!). The Kickstarter was to hep them raise money to get a new expansion deck printed, but you didn’t need this to play the game and I decided to do without it this time (maybe if they do a KS for Templar & Undead expansion pack, I will jump in!).

I tweeted about this a lot and there are now a few people I follow because they responded and joined in with me on the tweeting. Kickstarter also has a comments section (that only those who have pledged can post on) which was very busy, giving a real sense of community – and you could also spot people from twitter on there.

The Lords of War staff themselves also gave frequent updates as emails and as tweets for fans to retweet and spread the word:

It was all very exciting and really fun. LoW had set up numerous stretch goals (the funding asked for for the project to go ahead was £8,000) at £9k, £10k, £11k, £12k etc as well as at numbers of backers (250 and 500 – didn’t think we’d get to 500!). As well as providing more bounty for faithful backers (and getting people like me to up their pledges as I realised I was getting free booster cards for sets I didn’t have!), this provided opportunities for them to tweet, get publicity and reinforce the message. LoW also had numerous card game shows and conventions and stuff going on at the same time which of course all helped spread the word.

The campaign ended with £22,845 of the £8k target raised with 559 backers pledging support. Made me feel excited and part of something – which is what Crowdfunding is all about really.  I am now sitting by the postbox, awaiting my cards….


I posted a comment on LoW hoping that they would be doing a through analysis of stats (depending on what they get from Kickstarter) to work out what worked and when the big jumps in pledges came in. Someone posted me to a site called kicktraq which basically shows you stats and pledges over time. A really useful, fun site. So lets have a look.

Lords of War stats
Lords of War: Fantasy Battles -- Kicktraq Mini
They averaged 18 backers and 17 comments a day, with an average £ of £737.
148 people pledged on day 1 and then the next highest jump was 2 days (71) and 1 day (60) before the close (it actually closed at 8:45am on May 10th which is probably why there weren’t many on the 10th itself). I love that it shows you data on comments too.

Chicken Town stats
Chicken Town - Tottenham -- Kicktraq Mini
They averaged 24 backers, 1 comment and £1,855 a day. Nearly £10,000 came in on the penultimate day (April 22nd) – told you it was a bit nerve-wracking at the end there!
Chicken Town appeared on the One Show on April 10th – but this day only saw 14 backers and just over £1000 and the 11th was just 6 and £120. I think the One show definitely could have done more to help.


But what a fantastic adventure for me.

Lessons I Learned From My Best Week Ever*

At the end of August I had one of the best weeks I have ever had – I set not one, but two running PBs, passed my driving test (the third attempt!) and got a promotion at work. Rather than just chalking it all up to luck (although I am sure luck played rather a large part), I decided to examine my behaviour during that week to see if there was anything that I did that perhaps, made my own luck.

  1. Work HARD. PUSH further. Dig DEEP

It sounds obvious, but sometimes you just actually really need to work hard to get what you want or to go further. I always thought I ran hard; after all, it wasn’t easy, so it must be hard, right? Wrong! Working hard is hard, when I ran for my PBs it was extremely uncomfortable, I panted the whole way round, it was tough. Similarly, for my new job I will be out of my comfort zone – I have not managed people before or led a team before and I will be doing this on top of my current job, but sometimes, you have to just “dig deep”.

  1. Recuperate – (take time to sharpen your axe).

We can’t go at things 100% 100% of the time. I can’t get a 10k PB , or even run a 10k at 10k PB pace everyday; it isn’t possible. Athletes know it, so they have training plans to gear them up for an event and then give them some time off/an off season afterwards to rest and wind-down before ramping up again. The day of my 10k PB I took the whole day off, I was rested, didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn and I was relaxed – I wasn’t even thinking about running a PB, I just wanted to run and have a good race. The day of my 5k PB, I was on a weekend break. When I passed my driving test, I had the whole day off. We can’t always take time off when we want to, but we can take a break, wind down, go for lunch. You can’t sprint all the time.

  1. Believe in yourself

Normally in a race I am constantly checking my average pace and panicking as I see it drop and I know my dream time has slipped by. This time, I barely looked at my watch, I just thought “I am going to run hard” and I ran hard, I had faith in my own ability to not need external verification of it the whole time. For the 5k PB eight days later, I looked at my past performance – I had just set a 10K PB, the 5 one was ripe for the taking. OK, I didn’t know the route, the terrain, the weather, I was away from home etc – things that could be negative but ultimately didn’t matter, I had just done it, I could do it again – I had faith in my ability. This was also true of my driving test, ok; past performance was that I had failed twice, but I had faith in that I could actually drive. This was true of my promotion, I know I have a lot to offer as an employee and I can do the job.

  1. Keep your cards close to your chest

I told everybody about my first driving test, I was just so excited I wanted the world to know. Then I failed. Ouch. A similar thing happened the second time. My third time, nobody knew I was taking it. I am not suggesting that this was why I passed but it is interesting – if you are aiming for something where the result is out of your control – a test, an interview, it’s best to keep it to your self or a trusted confidante; you can always tell the world when you’ve done it.

  1. Don’t sweat the small stuff – delegate, throw money at it, just sort it

I had been worrying before the 10k – I still couldn’t drive and I was wondering how to get to the race. I don’t like asking people I don’t know very well for lifts, I don’t want to inconvenience anyone, I could walk but then I would be tired, the logistics stress me out, I could get a bus but it wasn’t really on a bus route, I could leave work early….eventually I took the whole day off so I could relax and enjoy myself and I paid for a taxi to take me there. Done, sorted – I arrived completely relaxed and ready. How often do we stress about the small details, the things that really should be insignificant in the scheme of what we are trying to achieve but instead keep us up at night worrying about this tiny detail? We can’t all just book a taxi I realise, but perhaps we can delegate or fix that tiny thing so that we can get on with the bigger picture and what is really important.

  1. Be open to opportunities

If I had looked at my watch during the 10k I would have thought “Wow, that’s fast, I can’t possibly run 6 miles at that pace” and then I would have slowed down (I had been thinking I was in 52 minute shape – not sub-49 shape!). If I had not been open to opportunities, I would not have been promoted – you can be content and happy in what you do (or your pace!) and still keep an eye out for opportunities to make progress, develop or broaden your horizons – the two are not mutually exclusive.


* Ok, it was eight days, and maybe it wasn’t my best week ever, but it was still fantastic.

Amusing correlation story and some excuses

It seems it’s been a little while since my last update.  I have been busy with root canals, playing with infographics (a post on this will follow soon) and some upcoming training at work (more on this later too).


But, I loved this story on the BBC news website and wanted to share it with you:
Spurious correlations: margarine linked to divorce?

A man called Tyler Vigen has set up a website where he shows some interesting statistical correlations between variables such as maragrine consumption and divorce rates, Nicolas Cage films and people drowning in swimming pools.