Tag Archives: Work

The First Steps

All of a sudden, it seems that there have been a lot more things to do than blog, so I’ve not really had the chance to record my daily musings on various subjects. So here’s a bit of a round up from the last couple of weeks.

I finally got around to doing my schedule, fitting together a keenly carved plan to allow me rest every third week, while ramping up my mileage no more than 5% per week. This also takes into account a couple of races I have planned as ‘test’ runs – mainly to get myself ready for the rigours of the MdS as I don’t really want to be finding out new things about race preparation in the middle of the Sahara! More about the schedule later.

Talking about entering races, the Centurion Running guys had another crack at the whip as they had promised, after the technical problems they’d had with their web registration, due to the popularity of their planned 2013 SDW100 along the South Downs. The race in mid-June goes from Winchester to Eastbourne, passing only a few miles south of Guildford so should be ideal for me. This time (2nd Oct) everything hung together on the website and I, and nearly 150 others, registered in the first hour. The race was sold out by the end of the week. I am looking forward to doing this as it should be a treat, similar to the Cotswolds race I competed in, what seems many years ago now!

Last week, the EBRD IT dept had our team retreat. In the past this has been a rather more social event than was planned for this time, primarily due to senior management changes, but on Thursday I duly made my way across to Frimley, only about 20 minutes drive, to meet up with a good proportion of the team. Being a ‘service’ dept for the Bank, it is always impossible for attendance to be 100%, but I couldn’t help feeling that the threat of ‘work oriented, strategic discussions’ was perhaps too much for some people to bear the thought! In the end it was actually quite a good session, as a team meeting, with the usual brief focus on self-analysis (Briggs-Myers type casting for conflict resolution!) before we got onto the future focussed strategic discussion.

St Peter’s, Guildford

Unfortunately, although the social side started at 5:30 after the day’s work, i had to leave as there was an open evening at one of the local schools which we are looking at for Joshua. Over the last couple of weeks we have been to two other senior schools, and this was to be the last for the moment, but the most important as this is the Christian school and hence has the right ethos that we are keen on for Joshua. Luckily he was also keen on it as well from the point of view of the size and subjects and facilities they offer.

This was all after really not feeling 100% as well. No sympathy needed, but I had spent e previous day pretty much in a preemptive attempt to stop a cold developing, which seemed to be successful up to the point that I had a relapse on Friday where it transmuted to full blown man-flu! My gorgeous wife looked after me on both days, while I snuffled in bed, to such an extent that I felt 80% and well enough to go for a long run on Sunday.

But more of that shortly.

Where is all the work coming from?

It has been very busy at work recently.

I think this time of year seems to be busy for almost everyone at the EBRD. Generally speaking, there are mid-year reviews of projects and budgets to get in place and, because of the nature of the Bank, specifically the high proportion of people who come from foreign countries, August seems to be a bit of a ‘close-down’ month and as a consequence of impending two or three week holidays approaching everyone tries to get as much done during late June and July.

Solstice Sunrise…. Not this year.

Of course, since we are in the middle of a financial crisis and credit from other private investment Banks has reduced, especially in Eastern Europe, and the fact that as a Bank, we are currently expanding our areas of operation to countries involved in the last year’s Arab spring, we have even more projects and investment to get through than ever before.

From an IT perspective, we are also going through a mid-year budgeting and prioritisation process in order to clarify the work plan for the rest of 2012. I have had so many requests coming through into my area that many of my projects are being put into the prioritisation hat for consideration, although this is frustrating as it means we are doing less ‘real’ work.

So my week to date has been filled with budget reviews, project investment analysis and a lot of project feasibility work, all, of course, needed yesterday!

I’ve had the chance to get down the gym a couple of times and my foot is a lot better on the top, although the side is still of concern. As a result I’ve been doing a lot more cycling again and keeping up the physio exercises as well as pilates and swimming at the beginning of the week.

It is the longest day (summer solstice) in the northern hemisphere as well today, which always reminds me of things that I have done in past years; 2 years ago I was about to do the Cotswolds 100 miler and the year before that, Tim, John, Greg and myself were off to Snowdon for our first attempt at the Welsh 3000’s. It was similar weather back then, as it is now, and at that time the rain in the Welsh hills beat us into submission very quickly. This year, the sunrise at Stonehenge was an equal washout.

Family Visit to Work

I have worked for the EBRD for the best part of seven years now.

In all that time my family have not ‘visited’ the office during normal hours to see where and how I work and meet some of my colleagues. That situation was remedied today, as they accompanied me on the final day of their half-term holiday to London.

A lot of my work colleagues, may of whom love closer to the office, seem to bring their spouse and children into the office regularly, so I felt it was high time that I also decloaked some of the mystery (from my children’s perspective) surrounding where I work and what I do.

It was to be an early start, but these things never quite work out the way you plan them, and after providing a hefty subsidy to the southwest trains profit margins, we eventually got the 8:15 train into Waterloo. As it was the end of the jubilee week, which many people had taken an extra few days out of, we all managed to get seats – almost unheard of, but they still got the idea of the normal crowding on this, and the Waterloo and City tube ride under the city.

They were all impressed with the ‘view’ from my office – down into the atrium from the sixth floor – but less impressed that I didn’t have any games to play in my office. Nevertheless, while everyone was excited and pleased to see the ready made ‘party’ I’d brought with me and an earlier snack had kept them going, breakfast was the first order of the day and with the little ones tucking in to a variety of delights from the fabled EBRD restaurant, disaster was averted shortly after our arrival.

They all disappeared after a few more greetings, to venture to the top of St Paul’s cathedral, which on one of the windiest days of the year so far, was perhaps not the best plan! Still, after a couple of hours they were all back down the stairs and through the tube again to meet me for lunch. Everyone was again very helpful and chatty, but their overwhelming impression was that the children were incredibly quiet, despite my protestations that they were seeing them on a good day!

Three bowls of pasta and a lamb burger later they said their goodbyes to my team, and then with a quick detour to the fourth floor to see a couple of model ships in the atrium, they were on their way again to the London Aquarium where they spent most of the afternoon.

At the end of the day I don’t think they will have much of a better idea about what I do, but at least they are now more familiar with my office, my manager, Marco, and many of the other people that i work with there.

They are also looking forward to the next time they can come up to have breakfast 😉

Back to Routine

The weekend hardly seemed to have started and yet the alarm was going off for 5:15am on a Monday morning.

Everyone that questions my sanity? – I think you’re right!

The sun was still fairly fresh when I checked out of the curtain, and it had not shown it’s face from behind the hills to our east  but the sky was still clear blue and unblemished.

Another day, another 10 miles to do. Over to Puttenham and back again as this is my favourite run of this distance at the moment. There were no deer today but the drier weather made things easier underfoot, and although it felt quite heavy going, I put that down to the continued effects of the cold I still have which is lingering about.

Mind Training

Still, this is where the psychological training takes place for the long endurance events. Without doubt these events are more mental than anything else (barring acts of God, outbreaks of war, broken legs, etc), but training the mind is the same as training the body; if you do something enough, it becomes second nature and it either becomes an unconscious action or it offers less of a threat, is less indimidating, than it might otherwise have done.

People often ask me how I run so far. Well, pure and simply, because I’ve done the training, but there’s clearly more to it than that. Once you body is familiar with a certain distance, it will grow, strengthen and adapt to take you further next time. The mind is the same. Once you’ve run 10 miles, 5 miles doesn’t seem so far, or to put it another way, when you start running, 1 mile may seem like a marathon, but after a few weeks of training and having reached and surpassed that barrier, it might become part of a ‘warm-up’, but then the next pinnacle looms; 2 miles, 5 miles, 10 miles, 15, 20, 26.2….. and then where? Well, all other things being equal, the sky’s the limit, as the process of adaptation is continuously repetitive.

There are two aspects at play here though, the physiological and the psychological and my point, I guess, is that while training allows your body to adapt, the increasing distance of the long runs and ingraining the distance in the mind, so 10, 20, 30 miles become ‘routine’, is even more important ‘mind’ training.

Put simply, with more training, what were your long runs, eventually become your short runs.

Interestingly, while my body suffered severely during the enforced ‘downtime’ of my accident and I’ve had to work hard to regain my fitness, I’ve not noticed the same effects from a psychological perspective, which is to say, I have never had any doubt I will be able to tackle the long distance runs again when my body is ready.