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Faster, stronger, longer. For a longer health span. It’s well-established that exercise can significantly reduce the risk of major diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and dementia. Also, being fitter and more physically healthy leads to improved mental health. I’m 66 years old, and while I was an average athlete at best as a young man, I’m now at the high end of performance and key health metrics for my age group. The message is clear to me. Working hard, being faster and stronger, and training for longer durations works. Especially when attention is paid to nutrition and other lifestyle factors. See here a summary of the benefits of exercise and, conversely, the risks of frailty, disease and mental illnesses when more sedentary lifestyles are enacted.

Follow my blog and social feeds, where you will see the type of exercise and nutritional strategies I use. I’ve been fortunate to have been involved in sports, sports nutrition, and functional foods for thirty years. As a result, I have a good idea of what works and what is BS. I will support the former with scientific evidence and call out the latter.

Please remember that the challenges I set myself are truly challenging for me. I only complete some of them. If I were to hit every target, then I would not be setting the bar high enough. Injury can stop me, or life can get in the way. But I will give them my best shot and document the good, the bad, and the ugly.

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January 30, 2024No f@£$%^g way am I doing that. Well, guess what, I am. I got the news last Friday that an entry into the 2024 New York Marathon was mine. Thank you to Dan and Sam at Science in Sport. Logically, there is no way I should or can run a marathon, and that’s why it’s such a great challenge. It was 23 or 24 years ago that an orthopaedic consultant told me that I had a bone bruise in my right knee as a result of my running and that it was time to hang my trainers up. I did do that. I didn’t do a lot of exercise for several years following that before finally getting off my ever-larger backside and buying a bike. The rest, as they say, is history. The farthest I have run is 16 miles in a training run, leading up to the consultation with Mr No Fun of Windsor Royal Hospital. Lazarus Rises I will be 67 when the starting gun goes for the marathon. I’m still not Eliud Kipchoge size, at 6′ 5″ and 230 pounds. My knees are worse than when I was not a great runner around the turn of the millennium. I indeed tore a meniscus in my right knee almost three years ago, and the subsequent x-rays told me that I have moderate osteoarthritis in both knees. I make a noise when I get out of a chair. If it’s after exercise, I make an even bigger noise. After brutal bike rides, I have been known to roll out of the chair onto the floor and slowly battle to an upright position. As I said, there is no f@£$%^g way I will run a marathon. Why can I complete 26.2 miles? Rationally, we know knee osteoarthritis is not a reason to stop running. It was twenty years ago, but a lot of medical research has shown running doesn’t worsen the condition, and indeed, in some scenarios, it can improve knee health. So crappy knees are not a good enough excuse. No sir. I believe that my knees would be worse if I didn’t exercise. I know my chances of living a long, healthy life would shorten, and I know my mental health would suffer. I’ll take some pain for the overall benefit of my health. Pick your poison. Do nothing and be gradually subsumed by age and lifestyle-related conditions. Or stay healthy and deal with a localised issue. I will wear out before I rust out. Can I Tough It Out? Mentally, I am better equipped for arduous training and a tough event. In the confusing mid-life sea of my forties, I didn’t feel I was a determined man, certainly not by my current standards. I was on the early slopes of my mental health journey and had not pieced together why I was how I was. I’ve developed a lot of insight since then, and I am most certainly mentally tougher now than at any time in my life. I figured out somewhere on the journey that mental toughness can be developed. My proof point was my cycling accident less than a year ago when I found I had reserves of toughness that surprised me. No f@£$%^g way is a different proposition in my later life. The task will take discipline. I will prioritise running in my overall training and not get overambitious, building up mileage steadily and, critically, getting enough rest. Losing a couple of pounds will help me. I am also ensuring I work hard on mobility and stretching. Nutrition and supplementation will be important. Like many of us, I am not consistent with the elements mentioned earlier. The key to turning no f@£$%^g way into a successful mission is to be consistent—week in and week out. I can do that. New York, New York Why the New York Marathon? I love the city and have lost count of the times I have visited it. I remember an old friend, an OG of ultrarunning, telling me there was no other event like it for atmosphere. He recalls crossing a bridge and becoming aware of an audible buzz in the distance and it becoming louder. By the time he left the bridge for the next city block, he felt it was like being in a packed football stadium. This guy has run Marathon de Sables, amongst other iconic events, and New York stands out in his memories. November last saw me at the event’s finish line, thanks to Science in Sport, a marathon sponsor. I had been recovering from a serious cycling accident and was already wondering what my 2024 challenge should be. Watching people sprint, walk, wobble, puke, and be carried over the finish fired me up. A blind man crossing the line at 3:06 was an inspiration. Watching a hero of mine, cancer survivor Tommy Rivs, finish in 4:41 made me emotional. This felt like an impossible enough challenge to galvanise me. Tommy Rivs, Gently Raging About Tommy. In July 2020, he was admitted to hospital with what was thought to be COVID-19, but it turned out to be a rare and aggressive form of lymphoma. He began chemotherapy and remained in a coma in the intensive care unit for two and a half months. He then went through a bone marrow transplant and spent time in physical rehab, learning how to carry out the simplest of tasks. Seventy-five pounds fell from his already lean frame. But in 2021, he returned to the New York Marathon and finished in 9 hours and 19 minutes, long after the event had closed. Now, Tommy was a world-class athlete before his illness. Nevertheless, I can get around the same course in November 2024 if he can return from that. Steady … Steady is the watchword for me—a steady return to running after a long break. I went out for a few runs of 2.5 to 4 miles in December and January. Immediately, I found my knees to be sore as hell. The reason was I was going too fast. I felt it was really slow, but after conferring with more experienced people, it became clear that slow running is the key at the outset. A maximum and minimum pace in my Garmin watch now keeps me honest. I don’t need to start my marathon training plan until May; therefore, until then, it will be a lot of slow three-mile runs to build a physical base. Weathering my knees and body to get used to the different running mechanics. I joined the Slow AF Running Club to power my No F@£$%^g Way challenge. Everything I read and hear is that, especially given my age, strength training is a must, preferably twice a week. Now my cup is too full, given my cycling. If I try to run to a programme and strength train twice, then there isn’t much left for rest. And bugger all for cycling. That has led me to make a plan for the full year. I’m zoned in on our Chaingang Cyclists Girona trip in mid-April, but that is the big event of the year for me. (He said, conveniently ignoring a summer jaunt to Paris may be on the cards.) I go to Venice for a month straight after Girona, and there I plan to spend a month stacking the three-mile runs. On 1 July, my marathon training plan starts. I’m using a structured Hal Higdon programme for marathon novices. It calls for four weekly runs, although I will see how that goes. If in doubt, I will drop one of the short runs. It’s all about the recovery. It’s not a flashy plan; it’s a proven plan. Simple is good. New Kit What’s a new sport without a new kit? Of course, I bought some. Thankfully, this isn’t a case of bespoke cycling frames and ludicrously priced shoes and bib shorts. I kept it to a new pair of ASICS Gel Kayano shoes I bought in New York. The timing of that purchase should tell you my mind has already been made up. Then, a few people told me to have a gait analysis. Which I did at the excellent Run And Become in London. That saw me walking out with the correct ASICS shoes that support my feet better. It’s worth noting I take a UK size 14, but my feet are very narrow too. I suspect my toes are longer than some people’s feet. The new shoes are comfortable. The more expensive Kayanos now sit on my shoe rack, looking bereft. I bought a Salomon running vest to try the new gadgets from an entrepreneur I am helping. His Mix Innovations business has some neat and patented hydration delivery devices. I will do a full road test once I break through the three-mile barrier. No f@£$%^g way am I buying too much kit. I’ve just lied to myself, in writing, in public. What’s Next? Let me log some training miles, and I will report back. Will my body adapt, or will it say no f@£$%^g way? Let’s find out. All the blogging in the world doesn’t help me now; it’s time to hit the road—a poor man’s David Goggins, raging against the weakness of humans, exorcising it from my body. For you Goggins fans out there, you must catch up with Walker Ward on Instagram, the fat, white Goggins documenting his adventures on the road. “I shat myself in Louisiana” is a classic from him. I also plan to raise money for a charity close to my heart. But more detail of that will come in future months. But most of all, the plan is to challenge myself. Do I have the discipline and mental toughness to get through the training? I know my body will protest; most certainly, my knees will trouble me, and my lower back is another weak area. The strategies include the right training volume, sensible strength training, and a real focus on recovery. And if I can do the training, I will complete the event. I don’t have a target time, as an aside. My goal is to finish, which will be more than good enough. I will walk the course if I have to. There is no f@£$%^g way I will fail to finish. Book that now. [...]
January 8, 2024It’s too early in the year to decide what my 2024 challenges are. I’m spreading my efforts across several disciplines, having thrown in the running for the first time this year. Ideally, I would have a big day on the bike, a half marathon or more, and a 160kg deadlift. But I’m still trying to find the right balance of rest and recovery for all three training types. I will set my 2024 goals at the end of January. [...]
January 7, 2024Faster, stronger, longer for longer. I rebranded my website to focus more clearly on having a longer and healthier life. If you are 50 years old or older, then there is something of interest to you in my blog. Physical exercise, being mindful of mental health, and adopting positive lifestyle practices will all improve your health span. I will not live forever, even if the option were available, I won’t take it. I’ll leave that to the billionaires of Silicon Valley. But I will do everything I can to get the most out of my lifespan. I want to be healthy and then die quickly. I have no ambition to go the way of family members who saw a chronic decline in physical or mental health over many years and even decades. The science is unambiguous – regular cardiovascular and strength training exercise can reduce the risk of many age-related illnesses. Longer. All-cause mortality reduces by 30-35% through consistent, vigorous physical activity. Here is another large-scale study that quantifies how much exercise makes a difference. Elsewhere in the blog, I will add to a list of scientific references to support the thesis. Even at 66, I can become faster and stronger and exercise longer. As well as enjoying challenging myself, the health upside is worth the sweat and discomfort. I hear some of you challenge whether anything can be improved. After all, Father Time cannot be denied. I’m fitter now than I was at the age of 50. But, even if I went along with the challenge, yes, improvements can be made. I measure all my achievements versus the norm for my age, height and weight. Stronger. Faster. The weight goals to reach advanced or elite in a deadlift for my age group are clear. I know I hold my age group’s Regent’s Park cycling lap record. My Vo2 is in the top 10% of my age group. If it can be measured, it can be improved. And even when you are on the slide due to the passage of time, you can always compete with your age group peers and, indeed, yourself. Or you can sit in an armchair and become immobile and obese, with a plethora of lifestyle-related diseases ready to creep up on you. If you want to be faster, stronger, and longer, then bear with me. I’ll relate my journey and hope that somewhere along the journey, there’s a nugget of information or a recognition of a challenge that might help you with your journey. I won’t sugar-coat it; there is no miracle method, and I don’t believe in snake oil. My knees have been burning since a 5k run on Friday. I tore a meniscus during a squat challenge three years ago, and that triggered osteoarthritis in one knee. Then, the same happened to the other knee. I have moderate osteoarthritis in both knees, and sometimes new exercises can make it flare up. In my case, taking up Slow AF Running triggered knee pain. This is where the critics say, “See, exercise is bad for you!” Yet I come from a family where exercise has never been taken in any generation, but several relatives have suffered arthritis. Pain during exercise is not always a reason to stop. I’m not advocating David Goggins-style pain. But, sometimes, the pain of carrying on is less than the years of pain that can come from doing no exercise. Don’t Fall For The BS Please don’t fall for the later-life BS where people talk to you as though you’re fragile and will break if you exercise hard or pick up a deadlift bar. If you want to be fragile, infirm, and prone to falls, then don’t do the exercise. If you insist on being overweight or having type-2 diabetes, then don’t go out and do some cardio work. I decline to be addressed as though I’m in some way disabled by age. I will be the best version of myself by not living like the previous generations chose to do, for voluntary and involuntary reasons. Men lose 3-5% of muscle mass per decade from the age of 30. Over their lifetime, can lose 30% of their peak muscle mass. This is called sarcopenia. It can result in a higher rate of falls and associated injury, and an increase in all-cause mortality. The study here indicates that loss of muscle mass and muscle strength hurt all-cause mortality. The very good news is that muscle strength and mass can be improved in whatever decade you are in. The study here shows significant gains in mass and strength can be made even at 75 years old plus. Do not allow people to turn you into a version of their parents and grandparents. The science is robust, and cardio training or lifting heavy weights benefits your entire health span. Don’t fall for the BS. Be faster, stronger, go longer, for longer. It’s Always Training Day I am going to do a daily update on my training – here. And I will be as honest as I can. Because we all have an exercise philosophy in our head, but it doesn’t always survive contact with the real world. I want to train every day, for example. And often, I can put together an impressive streak of days on the bike and in the gym. But the body invariably says enough. Every time I think I have solved the equation, the body will randomly say no more. Now, I’m wise enough to listen and not push on. To my credit, I don’t give up whenever a cloud comes over the sun. It needs to be a severe signal of fatigue or bodily pain. Today is the latest in my running delusion. In November, I took up running and bought myself some high-end running shoes. I had three runs in December, and I completed three 5k runs in January. An orthopaedic surgeon told me around 25 years ago that my running days were over. Yet, here I am, lacing them up again. My knees hurt, and today, my shins hurt. But they would hurt if I didn’t run. My shins? – not so much. Let’s see how I go. I enjoy running once more, although my fitness and pace are low. But already, I have sneaked looks at the beginner, novice, intermediate, and advanced 5k times for men my age. Purpose, Mental Health, Social Ties To be clear, there are more factors than exercise in the longer health span part of my faster, stronger, longer for longer approach. Paying attention to sleep. Social ties and community. Having an ikigai – a purpose, a reason to be. I touch on these areas when I blog about mental health. I intuitively understand there is a positive and reinforcing cycle between physical health, exercise, and mental health. There is a lot of scientific proof supporting my intuition, for example, here and here. The feel-good we get from exercise is more than just a fleeting feeling, there is a concrete link to your mental health. Indeed, a very tough training session or event also can support positive mental health through the act of setting the bar high and clearing it. The pain is worth it for the gain in the tough sessions. Once More – Faster, Stronger, Longer. For Longer I would like to summarise my philosophy. It’s based on scientific research, which you can find in links and references all over this site. Vigorous cardiovascular exercise and regular heavy gym or home bodyweight work have many health benefits. Fact. Consciously attend to your ikigai, build social and community ties, pay attention to your sleep, and be mindful of your mental health. That, too, will benefit your health span. Fact: Again, with deep scientific support. And I’m talking to you. Man, woman, other. Short, tall, fat, thin. We can all be faster, stronger, go longer, and live longer. It’s a democratic and inclusive mindset, too, in that anyone can adopt these practices. One advantage of enjoying later life is to utilise the wisdom acquired along the way. Attitudes to health and wellness have changed dramatically, even in the last 20 years. Sadly, diseases related to being overweight or sedentary have also increased. But anyone 50 or over should refuse to accept the old, worn-out stereotypes of ageing. Old, handed-down images of people in the third and fourth quarter of life must be discarded. Get out there and be faster, stronger and go for longer. Your health and wellbeing will improve; your family and friends will be grateful; and you will be less of a burden on the healthcare system. [...]
January 4, 2024Getting the reading list underway, here is a surprisingly good book by The Terminator himself, Arnold. His book Seven Tools For Life is a great read. Simple and easy-to-grasp concepts for improving your life. I haven’t been much of an Arnold fan, but I watched the Netflix series on him, and it made me think, “Wow, this guy came from a modest background but progressed to the highest level in three very different walks of life.” That led me to add his autobiography, Total Recall, to my reading list. Which, as you can see, wasn’t favoured by this Guardian reviewer. Having established my poor credentials as a judge of a good book, I went on to buy his latest. It’s worth a read. It lays out some clear directions and ones that made me reflect. I was taken by “Never Think Small.” We are primarily raised to think small, to fit in with family or social norms. It takes some real guts to say that you will not play by the rules many parents or educators set out. Arnold most certainly did not do that. If you’re considering taking a different approach, especially in your work or sporting life, it’s worth the two or three hours needed to read it. It’s not highbrow or laden with scientific concepts or references. But it’s practical and, for me, thought-provoking. That’s my first reading list suggestion. [...]
January 1, 202423 February today, and I’m on a training roll. I have bought a new myithlete HRV sensor as I find it more accurate and consistent than either my Garmin watch or Oura ring. My sleep has improved over the month and my HRV is in a very solid place. Training Peaks tells me my fitness is better than one month, three months, and 12 months ago. I’ve been varying the training. Cycling has taken more of a back seat as I’ve gradually worked my way up to one-hour runs on a treadmill as part of my base building for the marathon later this year. I’ve been consistent on the weights too, although purposely staying away from the big lifts until this week, when I cracked out some confident sets of deadlift. My knees hurt. Sometimes the left, sometimes the right. But they would hurt if I wasn’t exercising. My plan is to give my knees every chance, using supplements, knee wraps, compression and doing my ATG exercises to maintain muscle around the joint. Another month down and I must say, a good month. Friday, 2 February, and Saturday, 3 February, saw me do four-mile daily runs. I haven’t touched my road bike in 2024, and in the photo, I’m at Rapha in Brewer Street, having run to the customary Friday chat laps. As you can see from my expression, four miles is serious business. Saturday’s run was the same, I ran into Soho and then got public transport home. My hips were hurting me all night. This isn’t an injury; different muscle groups are coming into the mix. I will need to do enough rolling after runs, as I’m sure IT band issues will happen quickly if I don’t take preventative measures. Sunday – today – I was supposed to be on my bike, but my overnight recovery was poor, and there is no point in going out hammering 60 miles. That’s likely to burn me out. I’m in the annual phase where I wonder about giving up cycling. The weather is not helping, but the truth of the matter is I have no bike form at all. I have only ridden 60 miles on a fairly flat course since my accident in May 2023. It’s a long way back to form, and I will have to buckle down or call it a day, as I have a beast of a climbing trip in only 11 weeks. It’s a massive mental challenge for me. I sometimes wonder if I fell out of love with the bike after recovering from my accident. I like running around town on my Brompton, but longer road bike rides are not appealing. I can get knocked off at any time, and indeed, in my area of London, I am at high risk of being robbed of my bike by the wave of scrotes-on-scooters thefts. The biggest appeal of cycling is the social aspect of riding with my sisters and brothers in Chaingang Cyclists. I need to work this through in my mind. Training Day – Snottier, Slower, Weaker On Sunday, the 21st, I had a great squat session at the gym. I used the safety bar, which gives me confidence and helps me go slow and low. The following day, I had a good 45-minute run on the treadmill, and the numbers were good, given where I am in my running. On Tuesday, I felt sore. Wednesday, even more so, my Garmin data showed my resting HR was up, and my sleep was poor. Late that night, my eyes were itching, I had a buzzsaw headache and sure enough, Thursday morning, I was on the slippery slope to man ‘flu. Four days of coughing, aching, sneezing, and suffering like only a man with a cold can suffer. You can point to two decent training days, but I suspect I already suffered from the virus on Sunday. I’ve had a very long streak, a full year without a cold, so I have no complaint. I rested through to Sunday – today. Let’s see how I am tomorrow. Unless I have recovered, I will rest again. There’s no point in knocking myself out for a long time. It’s early in the year, relax. Training Days – Cross Training I’ve had several training days since my last post. A Slow AF run, two gym sessions, a treadmill Slow AF run, and a Hyrox training hour. It’s been really good to mix up heavy and light training. I smashed a hard deadlift session, then came back with a single leg and upper body workout two days later, which felt good. On the running front, I have slowed right down to 12-minute miles, which feels a lot better, in that I’m not ending up with sore knees. I need to do many, many of these sessions and build my running base on solid foundations. It’s been a breakthrough, and it came from listening to training friends Iron Empress, Donna (next to me in the photo) and multi-sport athlete Greg Patmore. I’m learning to drop the ego and embrace Slow AF. I had an interesting hour with Hyrox master coach George. I haven’t done a circuit-style session for a good million years or so. Upper body ergometer, rowing machine, step-ups, burpees, heavy bag squats, and heavy ball walks and shoulder throws. I got around it. My biggest challenge was burpees, where hitting the ground hurt my damaged collarbone and shoulder. George said, “You should be able to taste a little bit of blood at the end of this set of circuits.” He got that right. I will be back next month. Featured photo is my Chaingang Cyclist sisters Donna, Lisa, and Brandy. While CGC hit North London hills, we hit George’s session. Good coach, recommended. Training Day – Maintenance I’ve had a maintenance day today. I’ve had sore knees and one sore shin since the Sunday run. I took yesterday off and researched a sensible routine running for someone starting on the road again. The Slow AF Running Club was a great source of advice, information and encouragement. I’m not giving up on running. I need to go back a few steps figuratively to go forward. Step one: I have bought some Enertor insoles, which have been highly recommended. Then, I started to do some lower abdominal strength exercises. I’ve also done a few sets with my Tib Bar tibia strengthening bar to build up the tibialis and ankle. Finally, I have made a deal with myself to go for no more than two miles and at a modest pace until I have built a solid base. The last thing I want is for stubbornness to stop me, not only running but more generally. I will be back at it tomorrow with a morning in Third Space Soho with deadlifts, back, and chest on the agenda. Training Day – Seven I skipped Saturday training and contented myself with a long walk. On Sunday, I went for another run of just short of 4 miles. My Garmin Forerunner 965 cleverly suggests a distance and pace for me. That’s not something I have programmed, but I’ll take it anyway. The watch turns out to be more intelligent than me in that it keeps alerting me to slow down. That’s my rookie problem. Slow feels too slow. But the speed I’m running at is too fast. Even though I’m running very slowly, the Training Stress Score for a 40-minute plod is 100. That’s the equivalent of close to two hours on the bike. I get home, and my knees and shins are sore, and during the night, my knees are burning due to inflammation. This morning, my recovery score was poor, as flagged to me by Garmin Connect. There are two sensible things to log. I need to take today off, no question. The low score has been creeping up on me for a while. Secondly, I need to slow down and build a base. The way things are going, I will have knee problems and shin splints. I must learn to slow down. If, after trying slow running, my knees and shins remain sore, then that’s the end of running. I can’t wipe out my broader trainer due to chronic injuries. There is tough, driven, and even stubborn, and that’s ok. But at a point it becomes stupidity. Training Day – Five No double header. I woke to rain and didn’t do the bike ride. Either weakness or my Garmin watch telling me that my readiness state is low, and my sleep poor. On perception versus how I feel, the Forerunner is a much more gloomy companion than the Oura ring. Went for a 5k, consisting of two steady laps of Battersea Park, with a 250-strong group Friday Night Lights group. Nice workout. I’ve got this issue with pelvic discomfort and I wonder if it’s an adjustment my body is making to this new discipline. Anyway, I will keep going. I’m taking today off and looking to do a steady 60 miles tomorrow with my Chaingang Cyclists friends. Training Day – Three Upper body emphasis in the gym finished up with single-leg curls and extensions. 40 minutes, in and out. I was dragging a bit, to be fair. Last night’s short run took something out of me. And my Garmin form tracker is pushing me to slow down with my low recovery scores. It tells me what I know: I’m a trainer for 5-6 sessions a week. Pushing to a daily schedule does not work. Rest day tomorrow, but Friday looks like a double-header with a morning cycle to the cafe and a 5k run in the evening. Training Day – Two Storm Henk assailing the UK at present. Stepping over broken branches, running through standing water, gale force winds. 2.5 miles never felt so hard. But I went and did the work. Someone needs to carry the logs; although I didn’t expect logs to be dropping off trees. Not to be too Dr Google, I’ve got Osteitis pubis, an inflammation of the pubic symphysis in my pelvis. Two factors possibly coming together – I fractured my pelvis in three places last May, one in the pubis, and running can irritate that area in any case. I will need to tread carefully. I can’t believe I just inadvertently typed such a weak pun. Training Day – One It’s time to start building a base. It takes a while, and it isn’t very interesting, mainly. But you can’t build a fortress on the sand. Without Zone 1 and Zone 2 work to put in place an aerobic base, progress in more intense work later will fail. I’m fortunate to have a Wahoo Kickr and a Wahoo Headwind fan, too, which makes it easy to fit in a quick hour without my day being disrupted. Andrew Huberman interviewing the legendary David Goggins was my listening of choice for the hour. Fascinating stuff and a lot of use of the words “fuck” and “motherfucker”. Building Immense Inner Strength is the title, and there is some stunning new research into the neuroscience of the brain. [...]
November 26, 2023Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes* The next chapter arrived for me last month when I parted ways with my company after 12 years. It wasn’t long after I wrote my last blog post, “Going Through Changes“. I don’t believe in coincidences. I heard someone say that once and adopted it, mainly because I lean towards it as a truth. Deep down, part of me knew change was coming when I wrote the piece. In mid-October, I stopped full-time employment. I’ve worked for exactly 50 years, having left school at 16, gone straight to work, and stayed in employment throughout. Do you think that a 50-year-long routine suddenly ending can throw up a lot of turmoil? You’re damn right. Some days, I wake up lost, panicking at an endless expanse of nothing to do. Is this the next chapter? Feeling lost, lacking self-worth, and worrying about money now my hunter-gatherer days are over? Am I now just hanging onto life, a marginalised figure stripped of his identity, which for so long was “what I do” rather than “who I am”? Some days, I wake up excited that the old constraints have evaporated, leaving me to explore new ideas. On those days, I felt liberated and invigorated about all the new aspects of life I could pursue in this next chapter. A feeling of freedom, of not carrying the weight of responsibility and other people’s projections onto me. Someone said, “You will find yourself busy doing all the things you have never had time to do”. That struck me as a neat soundbite, but there’s a catch. I haven’t yet figured out what all these things are. Some Things’ll Never Change** The next chapter has some clear characteristics already. I’ve always been curious since I was a small boy. I’ve always been a dreamer, too. That hasn’t changed for me. I’m not one to mope and say, “If only.” I learned from my skirmishes with depression and anxiety that every minute spent ruminating is not only a minute wasted but it’s also another log on the fire of mental health problems. Move on. A very fine man once told me, “Steve, don’t you be a woulda, coulda, shoulda kind of a guy; it just doesn’t suit you.” The older I get, the more I realise his wisdom is priceless. I feel simultaneously lost, sad, and excited. No one leaves something that’s been a blast without some tinge of sadness. Yet the gift of change is renewal, new opportunity, and new learning. Hence my excitement. The hard yards have been ground out over decades: long weeks, long hours, never enough downtime or holiday taken. Sometimes, I lost sight of myself in that. Dealing with life change, illness, painful injury, but all the time doing those hard yards. That chapter of my book is certainly closed. The next chapter will be written to stimulate my brain from many angles. Still very busy, but with a broader array of interests. It Took So Long To Realise*** It took so long to realise I needed to find my way home to myself. But I got there. I got there despite the obstacles. I got there because I knew that a better version of me awaited somewhere. I’ve always been determined, stubborn, or both. From an early age, when my mind was set, it was set. And that mindset led me to stick to the mission to find me, the real me. Therefore, I go into the next chapter feeling excited and renewed. I know what I’m good at and not good at. The patterns of curiosity and intellectual challenge bring me satisfaction. I am at ease with my constant need to move forward. I am more accepting of myself and shorn of self-loathing. The inner voices quieted. Renewal has extended into my physical being, too. My rehabilitation from my cycling accident has morphed into a 100-day-long streak of daily exercise, and I feel and look different. I even walk a little differently, more at ease, not apologising for my presence in the world. Bring It On We are only here for a short period. If we drop our self-importance, we are only a blip on the wave patterns that circulate the universe. Man makes plans, and God laughs, it’s said. So, I won’t regret, ruminate, or say “if only” about any part of my 66 years. Life is not supposed to be fair, and I’m not sure where we humans get that arrogant notion. Take what life brings and keep moving forward. That’s my plan. That’s how I’m approaching the next chapter. While I’ve beaten the tenuous link between my changes and song lyrics to death, I will finish with one more fragment of a song which has been almost a life mantra for me: “Cause people often talk about being scared of changeBut for me I’m more afraid of things staying the sameCause the game is never won by standing in any one place for too long“ Nick Cave; Jesus Of The Moon * from the track Changes on the Hunky Dory album, written and produced by David Bowie. ** from Changes, compiled from unreleased material after 2Pac’s death. *** from Changes by Black Sabbath; the Ozzie Osbourne version of the band. [...]
New @stetsonusa day - Silverbelly El Presidente - peach of a hat 🔥...

New @stetsonusa day – Silverbelly El Presidente – peach of a hat 🔥…

Rest day.

Rest day.

Tough day in the office
#neverstop #keepgrinding #embracethesuck

Tough day in the office
#neverstop #keepgrinding #embracethesuck

Sad to see @alexvolkanovski take a second KO. The lights are already out here after a crashing right hand from rising @ufc star @iliatopuria … what a reign by Alexander The Great. Brutal truth is he won’t win a rematch.

Sad to see @alexvolkanovski take a second KO. The lights are already out here after a crashing right hand from rising @ufc star @iliatopuria … what a reign by Alexander The Great. Brutal truth is he won’t win a rematch.

Smashing it, full body session @thirdspacelondon 
#embracethesuck #keepgrinding #neverstop

Smashing it, full body session @thirdspacelondon
#embracethesuck #keepgrinding #neverstop

The Furious Five. 
@chaingangcyclistsofficial

The Furious Five.
@chaingangcyclistsofficial

Brick by brick towards @nycmarathon - small improvements, being consistent, doing the work.
#embracethesuck #neverstop #keepgrinding

Brick by brick towards @nycmarathon – small improvements, being consistent, doing the work.
#embracethesuck #neverstop #keepgrinding