Tag Archives: training

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!).


Storytelling in presentations

Yesterday evening, I was fortunate enough to go to a wonderful presentation by a man called Garr Reynolds – renowned famous, umm, presentation-giving guy.

maths floor

Garr has written a number of books on the subject of making and delivering presentations, which he calls Presentation Zen.  He has also written a number of books on the subject.

Garr encouraged us all to forget what we knew about giving and writing presentations:

  • putting bullet points on slides
  • reading/expanding on said bullet points
  • (eg the slide has 4 bullet points, you are a good presenter and know you are not supposed to just read what is on the slide, so in your notes you write 8 bullet points to read)

And to go back to basics – plan away from the computer and to make sure we tell a story with accompanying, visual imagery.

To make messages “sticky” you can use emotion, unexpectedness (this can be done through contrast – a big image with a small one, a coloured image next to a non coloured image).

What is the story you want to get across? Simplify!
Your story should have some character building at the beginning so we can sympathise, get involved and concerned; then a problem or obstacle, and finally a resolution/solution.

We have a departmental meeting at the start of November when I had planned to speak anyway about the fact that despite the major changes in the team, yes we were still here, and yes we were still doing some work and these were the projects we would be working on.

So after this talk, I lay in bed wide awake thinking, and have pretty much got the whole presentation planned out; I even now what I need to get photos of to add some of this visual impact to my story, rather than using a bullet point list of the projects we are working on.  I will report back as to how it goes, but I am pretty excited about it!

Oh, and I also have subscribed to Garr’s RSS feed to, linking back to Thing 7!

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.

Predictive Analytics Training

Last post I said I hadn’t posted because I was busy…well, one of the main things that I have going on at the moment is for two days next week I am undergoing some predictive analytics training with Josh Birkholz from DonorCast (a leg /arm of Bentz Whaley Flessner).

As you can imagine, I am incredibly excited about it and already have lots of great – well, lots of ideas about models to run, variables to try and things to look at.  So more on this after the training!

Its been a while since I’ve done any “proper” statistics – when I did a Post Graduate Certificate in Social Science Research Methods with the Open University which was in…(checks records) 2007!  Crikey, I feel old.  I think I got over 90% in the stats module though (I will have to check my files), so that’s good.

And I got a guy on the market to make this the other day.  I guess it’s pretty sad!

psylina band

CASE Spring Institute – sessions

As part of the programme at CASE, you can choose from a number of different elective sessions.  I thought I would take this time to document here, the ones that I signed up for:

Building a culture of giving to education – Joanna Motion

  • The number of donors is increasing steadily every year is giving becoming more normal or is it a response to increasing professionalism in the sector?
  • Across UK universities, average participation is 1.2% but 50% of graduates give to charities.
  • We need to draw out the history of gifts – why it is called X school or X prize or X scholarship. They are good at this in the USA, normalise it!
  • Listen to donor’s motivations, non-alumni gifts are often to places that can deliver or have the reputation.

What happens after you get your gift? Stewarding your donors so they will give again and again and again – Martin Kaufman

  • The systematic and strategic process of thanking/looking after and developing a relationship with a donor which starts with a first gift and hopefully continues for life.
  • Everyone should be stewarded, but it is important to think of ROI.
  •  For major gifts, donor motivations are “belief in cause” at the top, “catalyst for change” is second. Duty comes fourth.
  • Partner with donors, they are citizens not subjects involve them in the process of what you are fundraising for/the plan, don’t just ask them to pay for it!
  • Nobody minds being over-thanked.
  • If you don’t thank, you will be bad-mouthed, damaging your reputation amongst potential donors too.

Making the Most of Yourself – Joanna Motion

  • Soft skills, listening, dressing for your next job, responding/adapting to the audience.
  • PACT Purpose Audience Content Timing.
  • Confidence (real or faked).
  • (I stood up and told the lumberjack story – weird for me as I have never spoken it before, only ever wrote it.) 

Measuring Performance – Jennie Moule

  • Be pro-active about how you wish to measure success, or somebody else will do it for you!
  • Consider what is important to your institution right now.
  • Information should be used to illuminate and not support (ie validate a decision that’s already been made).
  • Benchmark fundraiser ROI – salary in year 1, 3-5x salary in year 2, 5-10x salary in years 3+.
  • ROT – return on talent, manage your best staff as you would your best donors!
  • CASE have a lot of materials that can be used to benchmark

Fundraising for scholarships and bursaries – Mark Curtis

  • Bursaries are means-tested, usually for undergraduates.
  • Scholarships are about competition, usually for graduate study and about attracting the best.
  • Alumni reunion gifts can inspire  – class of ’62 scholarship.
  • Some institutions have a reception inviting donors and recipients.
  • A very personal way to show support as it touches someone in such a personal way.
  • What if a student leaves or is expelled? Importance of telling the donor what is going on!

 Etiquette for Fundraisers – Lorna Somers

  • Name tag on right shoulder so when shaking hands it is in line of sight as you look along the arm.
  • Keep ‘clutter’ to a minimum, no scarf, no drink, no bag (if at all possible).
  • Hand-written thank you notes are simple but extremely well-received.
  • Use someone’s name after they have told you it to try and keep it in your head.
  • It’s ok to eat your bread while you wait for food! It should be torn and only butter the bit you are eating.
  • Nothing should be on the table that wasn’t set there by the server.  Turn your name-card away once seated, have stanchions removed by the server once you have found your table
  • Getting into a car in a skirt? Bum down and swivel, reverse to get out.

You can see why I was so exhausted afterwards!