Unlocking Our Potential

Last time I spoke about the beginning of a new year opening up new possibilities and adventures for my health, wealth, happiness and business. My latest adventure involves setting myself a physical challenge because, as you all know by now, I’m very dedicated in pursuing how far I can push my body and mind together. Which is why, if you had stopped by Holyrood Park a couple weeks back, you would’ve spotted me in my running finery, about to start a half marathon in the freezing and delightfully dreich weather, bolstered on by half the office who had turned out either as supporters or fellow participants. It turned out to be a really enjoyable race despite the wind whipping around my knees and elbows at every moment. It truly was a ghastly day, made more so by the fact that every lap included a run up Arthur’s Seat, which by the way is a 3km steep uphill climb, so that was a nasty surprise on the day as I had incorrectly assumed it was to be a flat race. However push came to shove, and I completed the race in 1 hour 49 minutes which I was really happy with considering it included 12km worth of climb, and the fact that that was the hardest half marathon I’ve ever done.

Afterwards I took my recovery seriously, I had all my protein shakes and other drinks ready and waiting for me, as well as a full set of dry clothes! On arriving home I immediately took an ice bath which reduces delayed onset muscle soreness (doms) and made sure I gave my legs a good rub down, which helps relieve the buildup of lactic acid that happens during long distance running. I took all my usual supplements to make sure I wasn’t depriving myself of needed vitamins and I was in bed by 8. I clearly remember waking up the following morning and doing a sort of mental checklist on myself. I felt good, I didn’t feel tired, my upper body felt good too, but as soon as I swung my legs out and attempted to stand they just didn’t want to work. I ended up having to go downstairs to my kitchen backwards! I thought to myself, this is going to be a challenging day.

Because doing one half marathon wasn’t enough of a challenge for me, I’ve ran plenty of those in the past, this time I was doing two, in two days. I wanted to set a physical challenge that scared me a little, was out of my comfort zone and something I’d never done before. Specifically, the reason behind doing two half-marathons was because I wanted to have to turn up the next day sore, and my whole body in pain, knowing that I had to undergo it all again. And to see how I physically and mentally responded to that. So, that Sunday morning I was headed to Glasgow Green to complete another half marathon, and in a weird way I was really looking forward to it because I wanted to push myself. I guess it goes back to some of my previous blogs where I’ve spoken about the harder you push yourself, and the more uncomfortable places that you take your body and mind, the easier life becomes. It’s like how David Goggins says when you do something difficult repeatedly you’re putting calluses on your brain resulting in becoming more mentally and physically stronger. As a society there’s always talk about being physically strong, and those who are, are accoladed, but we don’t talk enough about being mentally strong. Although it seems like that tide is changing for the better. I’m really very passionate about understanding my own mental strength and how I can become stronger every day, every month, every year, and teach others the same. 

A testament to that passion is how many people from work showed up either at Holyrood or at Glasgow Green despite the wind howling, the snow biting and every extremity frozen. When that gun sounded for the start of the race and I felt all of yesterday’s half marathon in my legs, I’ll admit my first thought was what on earth are you doing Gilles, but this was quickly superseded by the dominating thought of one foot in front of the other, let’s go! While the Edinburgh half marathon was enjoyable, the Glasgow one was more interesting because I learned valuable lessons. The first lap was pretty difficult mentally because I knew how far I had to go and that just felt like pain. But then, surprisingly the second lap was slightly easier, the third even easier and by the fourth I felt like I was flying. I ended up finishing two minutes behind yesterday’s result, at 1 hour 51 minutes, which I was a wee bit disappointed about because at some point during the fourth lap I thought I was going to beat my previous time. That disappointment soon gave way to pride however, when the truth hit home that I had completed my challenge, and not only just completed, but smashed it. My heart rate throughout the race was averaging 160 bpm so I knew I was really pushing myself physically, and yet the interesting thing was that it was getting easier and easier, rather than harder and harder as the laps went on. It just goes to show that we’ve always so much left to give in the tank and normally we don’t push ourselves hard enough; we prefer to stay in our comfort zones, rather than testing them. In all honesty, the way I was feeling that final lap I reckon I could’ve done 4 more and gone for the full marathon. That feeling of achieving something, and achieving something new is downright epic. 

I felt so proud of myself, and so proud of everyone who had fulfilled the double half marathon challenge alongside me. Serious lessons were learned in those two parks. Firstly, you can set yourself a big challenge, train for it and you will achieve it because you are more capable than you can possibly imagine. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, it’s all mental. The pain during both of those days lessened as the races neared their end, proving the race we were running wasn’t really on asphalt, but rather against our own minds. I’ll be taking these lessons learned into the office with me as I’ve realised that I am capable of mentally taking on more than I currently am. All this is making me incredibly excited about the next challenges, both physical and mental, and the future that awaits in 2022.

I’ll definitely be signing up for more half marathons as the year progresses and don’t be surprised if you catch me at the starting line for the next marathon festival, come join me. 

Keep smashing it,


What I’m listening to:

Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins