Saturday, 23 January 2010

Planned swims and hangover

Went out last night and made a bit of a prat of myself. Am ok today, but not well rested and not all together there upstairs. So today is an intellectual write-off, but I'm going to attempt to salvage something from this - I am going swimming later. In my brand new, very tight swim shorts.

And tomorrow I'm training for rugby and playing a game of football. So training, after a few days of resting, is back on schedule. Sort of...

Monday, 11 January 2010

Applications are difficult...

You know something is tough when you're staring out of the window at the swirling snow and looking forward to your break. The break where you'll don the running shoes and go test your mettle. The 'something' I'm referring to is applying to various financial institutions for a summer internship.

This is proving to be a tougher and longer process than I ever imagined as they want me to spell out and elaborate each detail on my CV on several different application forms, and then want me to upload my CV anyway. Am I missing a trick, or are they looking for me to repeat myself?

I thought I'd post about how I'm getting the motivation to train in the snow. Yes, it's difficult, but dammit, it's a helluva lot better than applying for internships, so sign me up!

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Triathlon training begins...with a story!

So, it's a new year, a new goal (a sprint triathlon in September, and a new me. This year I'm going to get fit. Normally I'd stick 'again' at the end of that sentence, but I'm am going to finish the year fitter than I've ever been, hopefully peaking at the start of September for the triathlon.

A couple of details firstly... Last year my friend Ash and I were 2 of the 3 members of a team that did the very same triathlon as I'm planning on conquering this year. We raised a load of money for charity and had a laugh. What we hadn't anticipated was the tri-bug. It was so much fun, so addictive, that we had to do it again, individually this time. And much, much faster!

So Ash and I decided to place a little wager between ourselves as to who would be the victor. Currently all the smart money is on him, simply because he's a lot more active, cycles and swims a lot better than me, and is in much better shape than me (his VO2 max is high enough for me to worry about it, though I have no frame of reference).

So 2010 is the year in which I am going to go hard, or go home. Except that I'm not giving myself the 2nd option. I am going to push and push, train and train, until I am ready. Last year I squeezed my training into the last 2 weeks before the race - I hurt my knees on 2 occasions, having rested them after the first time (!), AND I wasn't as fit as I thought I was... the race was horrible, painful, looooooooooong (although 5k isn't very long for me, being a runner) and culminated with an ill-advised, but truly epic, sprint finish, at which my body said, "No way mate". I vomited just after the finish line.

None of that will happen this year. I am going to storm to victory!

And then gloat some!

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Aquarun

This morning the training began. And my lord, wasn't it wet! I ran just under 5 miles in 38 mins 29 seconds despite the mighty forces of nature determined to stop me. Rounding the corner into Woolacombe I found myself being blasted in the face by strong winds and ice cold rain. It was certainly an experience!

On the bright side, the route was moderately hilly, the weather was terrible, and my pace was pretty decent. I slowed down on two occasions to prevent vomiting (told you it was quite a decent pace) but overall I kept up to speed and felt pretty good.

Summary:
Distance - 4.9 miles
Time - 38.29
Pre-run state - Indifferent, fairly hydrated
Post-run mood - Good
Prior sleep - 8/8.5 hours sleep
Aches and pains - Slight headache after run
Notes - Felt extremely motivated to do more exercise following the run

Monday, 28 December 2009

2009: A review of my year

So, 2010 is upon us. Not quite yet, but it certainly is not far off, so I feel that this is a good time to review my year and outline my plans for 2010. Plans I have, many in number, great in scope. That, admittedly, sounds a little ridiculous. Oh well, on with the show.

2009 was an interesting year for me. I started the year fairly confident of who I was and what I liked, disliked and wanted. By the end of the year (i.e. now) I had learnt an awful lot about myself. Not in the way I had intended, by trying to take up French or resolving to work harder for my degree, but in many ways I hadn't expected.

For one, I discovered motivation again. Following my fairly decent results for my first year at uni, I decided that I would work for my second year and take my degree seriously. Freshers' week rolled around, term started, I wasn't working toooo hard; then the deadlines happened. I stepped up (by and large) and started to work. Work, work, work, work. To be honest, it was rubbish, but it taught me two important lessons: 1) that I can still work hard and achieve and 2) that I should really organise my time more efficiently.

Other key experiences this year: a couple of big arguments with my girlfriend left me considering my approach to life... hopefully I've sorted the issues at hand; an epiphany has left me with every intention to undertake postgraduate training in accountancy, thus providing me with an idea of a career to head into; and finally, randomly and spontaneously going SCUBA diving (and enjoying it like nothing else on earth) has left me with a desire to try anything and everything that I fancy.

SO, after that quick review, I would like to outline my intentions for the year 2010. I intend to keep this blog up, informing anyone, everyone and no-one of my progress this year. I have every intention to succeed at my (14) resolutions (including taking up Mandarin [yeah, I know, difficult], run a triathlon [scheduled for probably the 2nd weekend in September], and do some accountancy-centred work experience) and to continue laying foundations for my personal, emotional, financial (well, kinda) and professional future.

In conclusion, 2010 will hopefully bring luck and happiness, much as 2009 did. 2010 will also, ideally, bring a change in my attitude to life, and thus a paradigm shift in my outlook on life. I will strive to improve, I will strive to succeed. And, most of all, I will strive to be a better person this year, both physically and personally.

That is the plan.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Amnesty International

For a while now I've been considering joining Amnesty International (AI). They are renowned throughout the world, either for being a beacon of hope for those suffering injustice, a candle in the dark, or for being a "defender of lawbreakers". Which of these you consider them to be depends on your point of view...

In the eyes of many governments of the world, including the USA, China and Iran, Amnesty International disregards national security as a factor in the status of prisoners. The argument here is that certain prisoners pose a threat to national security, and so cannot be allowed freedom whilst the government accumulates evidence in case, during that time, they do cause an incident of some description.

With the rise of terrorism the fear of national security being threatened is, understandably, greater than ever. Governments can fall on their stance on terrorism (for example, in Spain in 2004, following the Madrid bombings, José María Aznar's Partido Popular claimed that ETA were responsible for the Madrid bombings. Later evidence pointed to the involvement of al-Qaeda and a complete lack of involvement by ETA. The Partido Popular lost the ensuing election, having been in the lead in the polls prior to the bombing.) and so cannot possibly risk terrorist attacks.

Do not get me wrong, terrorism should be treated with the utmost caution, and governments should do all in their power to avoid and prevent terrorist attacks from occuring. Unfortunately, as is the way with politics, the majority of governments are more concerned with how they do in the polls than how the public's quality of life is. I'd like to believe that governments are so harsh on terrorism because they don't want people to get hurt (and I'm sure that many members of governments all over the world don't want people to get hurt), but I suspect that the driving factor behind harsh policies on terrorism is, as with all things, votes.

As such any organisation, such as AI, that attempts to stand up in the face of such policies will inevitably experience criticism. I personally feel that terrorism and other threats to national security should be treated carefully and all the appropriate measures should be taken to combat these threats, but this does not mean that fundamental human rights can be abused. Human rights are exactly that - rights that every human is entitled to. Alleged criminals are still human. No government by itself can determine whether or not a human is permitted access to these internationally agreed rights and, as these are fundamental, basic rights, any government that flaunts their responsibility to allow their prisoners these rights should suffer international consequences.

This is exactly why organisations such as Amnesty International are so important. The silenced, the oppressed, the downtrodden, the voiceless all need representation, all need someone with wealth, morals and, most importantly, freedom to argue their case, to fight for human rights, to ensure that all members of the human race have the same fundamental rights, the same access to justice and the same chance of freedom.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

A few thoughts...

I could write about the war and ensuing events between Georgia and Russia, or about the Olympics, or about a whole host of other topics. But I'm am on holiday as of Friday and will write a number of blogs ready to post when I come back. Right now, as an 18 year old A Level student, I have one thing on my mind: results.

The day of reckoning is tomorrow and, try as I might, I cannot avoid it. Today has felt like the 24th of December - not long to go but time, just for today, has decided to slow right down. I have friends who's futures are riding on tomorrow. I'm lucky enough to be virtually guaranteed my place in university thanks to a combination of a low offer and excellent results in modules I've already taken. This is a rare position to be in and I'm still scared. Less about my future, more about feeling that I could have worked harder, but most teenagers up and down the country are scared about their futures.

The majority will do ok, achieving what they expected or, if they're lucky, better than expected. There will, however, be those who do not succeed, those who achieve less or significantly less than expected. This is an inevitable consequence of examinations and, some would argue, life in general. In fact, life, by and large, does not tolerate failure. Evolution is based on this. This does not mean that the process of failure has to be as harsh for us, supposedly civilised 'human beings', above mere animals, as it is for the rest of nature.

Those who underacheive tomorrow will not die because of their failures, but their results will mean that they may consider themselves to be lesser than their peers, the successful ones. The lonliness of undeachieving whilst all your friends are celebrating must have a profound effect on a number of teenagers every year. Hopefully I won't be in this position tomorrow, but somebody will be.

This suffering does not occur in a vaccuum, however. It occurs to the background of nostalgia-ridden, middle-aged members of the population who, through a combination of jealousy of youth and rose-tinted spectacles, believe that A Levels are getting easier. They may be. They may not. The fact is if a job needs doing someone can be trained to do it - the content of A Levels is rarely used in later life, if we are to believe other experienced points of view. The annual attack on the standard of A Levels does not change the difficulty of the exams, nor does it make anybody feel any better. The only thing it does achieve is creating additional grief for those who have underachieved.

By all means we should improve the standards of education. We should aim to improve year by year. The widespread derision of the current difficulty of A Levels is not constructive and only worsens the situation for those unlucky enough to underachieve in the education system. Come A Level Results Day this derision could do additional unnecessary damage to self-esteem, self-belief and future success. Those labelled as 'failures' often fail. Those labelled as 'failures' in a 'failing' system stand no chance.

Disappointment is inevitable. Devaluing the system from which disappointment arises is unnecessary.