Brothers…

I don’t have any brothers (or sisters) and my father wasn’t close to me growing up, although he did his best to be a presence in my life and left me with an impression of a strong,silent man. He left this world several years ago, unaccomplished, in his eyes ,but never forgotten.

My mother did her best but had her own battles to deal with, leaving me to work a lot of stuff out for myself, one way or another. Over time, probably too much, I learnt a lot through mistakes and eventually through persistence to know more about myself. I also learnt to be comfortable with who I  was and if not change the parts I didn’t like.

Part of that ongoing journey was discovering role models and positive influences. They came from various sources, Work in the form of managers and colleagues, Books, Films,TV both fictional and factual and more recently the Internet with its blogs,social media and video content and not forgetting podcasts.

As you navigate this minefiled, you have to make some decisions; what’s useful and what’s destructive? In the early days your influenced by all , heroes and sometimes villains but the danger is you get blind-sided and certainly when I was younger and up to my 40’s (late developer maybe?) I believed every media input. 

What I have found is that you have to, like most inputs, take a brief pause before acting (not reacting). I now pick and choose my material,deciding what is useful and what to discard. The world of media is amazing, an unlimited source of information but i now remember to check what I take in and also to not spend hours getting sucked into the time stealer it can be.

Over time, I have built a small online network of brothers, who I take council from in various forms (they are generally unaware) and I think it’s worth mentioning them here. Nutrition: Abel James (the fat burning man) his podcasts on Palio and other topics are the foundation for good eating and its to him I go when I’m off the best nutritional path. “Manly” topics : Brett McKay and Chad Howse, these guys cover many subjects and are the modern day alphas. Chad is the online equivalent of a younger brother and Brett the older, he covers more family stuff, being a dad himself.  Fitness: Spartan up podcasts (Joe and Co) the Spartan race family, all the OCR community. Spiritual: So many to mention, Anthony Robins, Jordan Harbinger, Wayne Dyer. I will stop there because it occurred to me there are many.

A more recent addition and influence in my life is Krav Maga, in particular the KMG UK Elite team. It’s  early days but I get a sense there is much to learn here both mentally and physically. I believe I will get the tools to develop myself further, enabling me to protect myself,my family and others. 

So you see, I do have brothers, both near and far, those who I can call upon to help me grow and learn, enabling me to be a better person for myself and family. 

In this digital age, we have access to knowledge. Whatever your passion or drive is, you have no excuses not to follow them. If there is something you want to do or if your just not happy plodding along.. Do something, make a list , start blogging, start researching. Whatever it is your interested in, there will be a community which can offer a source of information. You don’t have forever… Not in this lifetime, so what’s stopping you? Doesn’t doesn’t matter your age. .. Just start something today.

Enjoy and let me know who your brothers or sisters are, who do your get advice from and what inspires you to take action?

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Krav Maga & Spartan spirit

For a long time now I’ve been looking for something that would complement my Spartan training, I wanted something functional,practical and physical… I found that this week in “Krav Maga”.

Krav Maga is a self-defense system developed for the special forces in Israel that consists of a wide combination of techniques sourced from aikido, boxing, judo and wrestling along with realistic fight training. Krav Maga is known for its focus on real-world situations and its extremely efficient and brutal counter-attacks.

My first lesson with Krav Maga Elite was intense,physical,useful and bloody. In a class of approx 30-40, we started with a warm up and this already was the beginnings of a functional lesson, slow build up but stop/start excercise designed to get you thinking on your feet or on the floor, depending on the instructors command. 

Then we started learning some techniques in pairs. I always had always had a mental block here, where the instructors step by step instructions leave my mind the minute I turn away to practice the moves myself, is that the same for everyone? I was determined to tell myself that this would not be the case and this time my mind would take in the steps… 

I felt I did a better job and the instruction felt functional and natural, so when I did the moves they had a purpose. Practice makes perfect, so I know it’s a matter of time but at this stage I’m confident these new skills could be learnt.
My favorite part of that section of the training was when the instructor stopped to tell us to be aware of what’s going on around us and not to get drawn into attacking our assailant, he, the instructor, had tapped us all on the back but only a handful had realized. Being aware is something I have practiced and improved mentally, so I wanted to get this useful lesson in my head from a physical perspective,we restarted and this time situational awareness kicked in as I noticed the instructors weaving in amongst the groups.
Finally, as we approached the last part of the class, it was time for the pressure to be applied and the intensity to be increased. This was probably my favorite part. We was paired off, people without sparring gloves, that was me, would stick in the same group.

We was on our knees,facing our opponent.The objective for the next minute was to get your man down, better him and at the end of the minute the instructor would call it. Then you would switch to someone else and do it again.

It began,I had no plan other than aggression and determination,this worked well and after several successful “bouts” I found myself without an ungloved opponent. My fitness and stubbornness to quit had been the victor here as men younger than me sat on the side waving my advances away with a “I’m gonna sit this one out mate”. 

I was exhausted,energy depleted but my ego was inflated and my heart was strong.. I looked at the instructor and he waved me towards a gloved,more experienced opponent. It was now I would learn my lesson through failure but I was ok with that. As I squared of against my opponent,still on our knees I realized this was going to be interesting. 

He had the gloves and all the gear,combined with a look of ability and confidence..oh and 20 years less wear and tear. I dove at his chest, surprising him and briefly pinning him to the ground before he twisted free,catching me with multiple blows before pinning me. My time was over, we faced off and he said “you better get that sorted mate”. What I thought was additional sweat was in fact blood, I had picked up a blow to the head and my first war wound. I was pleased… 

I sorted myself out and returned to the mat, I was ready to go again and couple more successful engagements with my now slightly recovered gloveless friends and the session was called to an end. We finished with 1 legged burpees, just to make sure we had nothing left and then stretches to warm down. 2 hours had almost passed.

This was a great class and experience,despite the aches that followed that evening. Why did I like it? Because the training and Spartan attitude I have developed over the last few years was relevant and more than anything the ability to find that grit was my advantage. I also enjoyed the physical intensity,it was relentless. I learnt a lot in that session and without a doubt will return again…. 

The journey continues… Aaaaarrrrrooooo!!!!

@theurbanspartan

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July 31, 2015 at 11:51PM

Just a quick post… Training going well, nutrition going excellent. Lost 6lb this week and feeling great. Also did my best time for 5k since November last year!!!
via http://ift.tt/1MYpiFJ

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Sign up, show up, get it done – Push Goals

Last time I posted I had set myself a few basic “to do’s”… I didn’t quite manage them but I have taken some steps in the right direction.

Nutrition – I am back to calorie counting, not something I necessarily agree with but it does give me some form of visibility and tracking to my habits. I am eating pales 70%  of the time and processed/junk food is pretty much non existent.

I have been tempted, many times to completely blow things and have a binge, however I have been saved from this by my wife. She has also been eating healthily and this has really motivated me to keep to my goals.

Fitness – this has not moved nearly enough, however I haven’t been completely idol. I started Adrian James Boot camp,abs and Hiit challenges using a nifty little app that has helped me achieve results in the past. It was tough starting with these again but they don’t eat up much time and you can feel the benefit.

Running has been minimal and slow, I love running so much but getting out early in the morning ain’t always practical and excuses are easy to find when your tired.

Push Goals – So this is something I heard about on an Art of Charm podcast and the concept has grown on me, I don’t want to sell the process short so check it out for your self but in essence, set a goal that will push the other things you need to achieve. 

Here’s my example, I want to be fitter, healthier, lose some extra weight,run more, get my connection back with outside and nature. What one goal could I set/achieve that would push all of the above? My conclusion was, sign up for a race/event and then I am forced to train and look after myself.

So… Once I came to this conclusion I was back to the point of finding something to sign up to and taking the plunge. Today I took that plunge and signed up to an Obstacle Coarse Race (OCR) called Nuclear Blackout, this is a 5k lapped event, you have 2 hours to go around as many times as you can. This will involve,crawling,climbing,swimming,running…and every bit of fitness and concentration to complete. Add to this the fact the event is done in darkness….this will be a new challenge, they say darkness teaches you to appreciate the light. Throw in a fair helping of determination,grit and endurance and you have the reasons me and millions of others love this sport.

Measuring progress – I am partial to statistics and goals, so to compliment some apps I use regularly, I invested in a fitness tracker called “Fitbit” this is a great piece of wearable tech that is already spurring me on to beat my previous milestones.

So, I’m all signed up and ready to get stuck in, I love to be challenged and the harder,tougher,meaner the better. Here we go again!!!

Follow here @theurbanspartan

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Back in the hole…

Just had a quick read of my last blog post and you would have noticed I didn’t even manage the “quick and dirty approach”.

Life has been hectic, very hectic, the challenge of having two young children (3 and 8 months) is phenomenal. Also an increased focus on delivering results in my career. Both of those are going really well..and life is enjoyable. 

I “managed” the Virgin London Marathon back in April and that was a life changing event, you may notice I say “managed”. I say this because I could have done better, my time was 5hr06min and I had moments of real struggle. I am happy I did it but I feel unsatisfied in some respects because I didn’t give it my all, and I mean mainly training.

Fitness and nutrition over the last 6+ months has taken a real nose dive. And sitting here now in the sweltering heat I am at that point of “no more”.

The problem is, I feel I’ve said “no more” a few times lately and that makes me angry. What I am doing by writing this post is trying to unlock that  inner determination that will ensure I stay focused.

i wonder what others have done who have reached this point and there must be hundreds,thousands even. how do they do it? 

i know this, i feel physically uncomfortable, my clothes do not fit, i have less energy than i did when i was healthy. I know that in general i just feel sluggish and blergggggg. The challenge is not succumbing   to the old enemy, laziness and “the easy route”, also addiction in the form of food. All these things are counter productive in being the best version of yourself. 

Being the best version of yourself or “myself” is a journey I am firmly on, mentally and spiritually I feel I have developed significantly in the last year but I am a man out of balance. A return to balance will see me back on track, this balance can only be restored by healthy “real food” without junk and trash, as well as movement and excercise.

And there we have it…  The answer, the motivation,the purpose and the reason. If a man is to be all that he can he must strive for that in balance. I am a strong believer in the fact we have this life to experience and to be the best versions of who we are. What a waste otherwise, what a waste to have this magnificent gift of life and body, only to waste in weakness of mind and soul.

So..the practical steps. 

1. Stick to Paleo 24/7  – this works for me and there is no need to go hungry.

2. Min of 30 mins excercise every day (morning is best)

3. Continue study time.

That’s it…..these are some of the ingredients of a better father,husband,man and Spartan for my Family and myself.

Comments and advice appreciated. Hope to see you all soon.

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Quick & Dirty

OK, so blogging is going to become quick and dirty.

I have so much I want to write about but I’m not going to always have lots of time to write, this means changing my approach, adapting to circumstance and overcoming.

For now,  quick update on where I am and whats going through my head.

I,m a dad for the 6th time!!! at 45, Jill (my wife) and I have a new baby girl, Ruby Louise Ruth Skipper, born 5th October, she is amazing!! and so is my wife. (lots to write about on this topic and the challenges it brings later) (10k Dedication)

I’m a Grandad!!! what I hear you say, you look to young :-), my daughter, Lauren(20), had a baby boy Harrison on the 6th of October (crazy week right). Lots to write about on the subject of an extended family and just the pressure and beauty of family in general.

I have a Spartan Beast race looming in 3 days, I’ve had “some” sleep, my nutrition has been “patchy”, exercise has been limited the last week.

I have gotten a place in the Virgin London Marathon 2015, (April 26th 2015), going to be lots to write about on that!!!! training etc.

My wife is starting her journey to fitness… and that’s just a whole different subject, I think she will have so much she can share, being 42, a mother, relatively new to fitness.. I cant wait to support her in whatever way I can and have my best friend join me in some of the fun stuff… Tough Mudder anyone?

So why write about all this and more? because I have a story and so do so many people, if anyone gets something from this then i’m happy.. I think their is very little exposure for Men, of a certain age in the UK with family and pressures that comes with it.

So, to continue and expand on the this Journey… I (The Urban Spartan) will continue to write about;

Fitness, Health,Nutrition,running, Obstacle course races, challenges (of all kinds)Mind,Body, Soul,Fatherhood, Manliness,family, and any topics that I experience on a daily basis. I’m no expect, I’m just a man, on a journey and I kinda like writing too.

Excuse the mistakes, that’s how we learn… to live a full life, you have to keep raising the bar, evolving and growing. Learning how to do whats good for you, recognizing whats not adding value BUT don’t forget to live in the moment…enjoy whats in front of you too, even the simple things. Before you know it, the time has passed.

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New beginnings and Beasts

I always knew the last third of this year would be a roller coaster and it’s not disappointing.

At this point in time, I am in the best shape of my life and there is always improvements to make. I’m sitting in 65th Position in the Euro Standings for the Spartan Race series and 1st in my age category. I have one race left…. The Beast, the dreaded Spartan Beast. This will be the 3rd time I have faced this monster, the first was good, the second and last years one, took me apart.. I remember standing freezing at a fire after the race, vowing that this was it… no more.

I left my running shoes and my broken spirit at London (Pippingford Park) last year, what a course, what a day..endless rain and endless cold. A lot has changed since then, me in particular. I am no longer that man, I am stronger, determined, tougher and more focused. I know what I need to do to, I have trained for the cold and overcome it. Earlier in the year (March) i took on Tough Mudder, Artic Enema in particular was the obstacle I was dreading, with its freezing cold water and submersion… just to prove i was in charge, I did that obstacle twice.

The thing I love about Obstacle racing ,is that it tests your ability to adapt and overcome, your spirit and your strength… you have to push on, you have to just “get it done”. It’s not enough to be able to run or just be strong, its tests all your ability.

I cant wait to face the Spartan Beast in just 13 days ,however there is something much bigger than the Beast about to happen.. something that will disrupt sleep and routines, something that will steal my heart… something so small and yet more powerful than me or the dreaded Beast. I am to become a father again.. my 6th child is due in a few days and I am excited for that more than anything.

The arrival of a new little Skipper, will spurn me on to even greater achievements, I strive to become more than I am today, so that they will see what can be done..so they can see you have to keep raising the bar and improving, exploring and squeezing every last drop out of your days.

Just over three years ago, I was 20st 10lb and would puff, pant and sweat at the very thought of exercise… today, I can run, crawl, jump and play with my two-year old and enjoy it, we play, we laugh, we jump, run,crawl, climb and have so much fun… it’s the best ever to have the energy and fitness to be able to enjoy the gift of a child. I’m 45, apparently, I feel in the prime of my life.

So with all that in mind, I dedicate the impending Spartan Beast and every ounce of effort I will apply to it to my beautiful wife Jill ( who is joining me on the road to fitness) and the latest little Spartan Skipper due on the 7th October.

Arrrroooooooo!!!!!!

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