Perfecting My Morning

As the name of this site suggests, I do not consider myself the sharpest tool in the shed e.g. there were three words missing from this sentence when I originally read it back, but in my head and as I typed it, it sounded perfect!

But there’s a lot to be said for being resourceful in the face of a lack of resources (just ask MacGuyver or The A Team). In fact, an awareness of our limited time, money, energy or attention is what drives us to get creative or at least seek out others’ ideas, to make the most of the little we do have. Necessity is the mother of invention, after all.

The best non-fiction books, Audible audiobooks, podcasts and YouTube videos I read/listen to/watch make me change my way of looking at world, or behave differently. I want to learn better ways to use my resources – and even now, with so much of it on my hands, I appreciate how limited time is. So how should I spend it?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Twenty-four hours, minus a third for sleep tax (I don’t resent paying this tax, as it ultimately serves me – take note Branson and Bezos!). So sixteen hours to invest – morning, afternoon, evening.

Below is a look at my current morning routine and the inspiration behind the various habits I am trying (does anyone else hear Yoda when they use that verb? Just me? OK) to instill – with varying degrees of success.

Morning Routine

04:30 – Wake up / WHM Stretching

I’ve spoken in previous posts about WHM (Wim Hof Method) and my struggles with stretching, but why wake up so early? Jocko Willink‘s book Extreme Ownership convinced me that getting up before most people means I can get things done without interruption and with the minimum amount of stress. The alternative of oversleeping, missing out on exercise, arriving late, not being prepared and spending the rest of the day playing catch-up (the type of day that was all too common in my youth) just fills me with dread. It’s not easy leaving the comfort of my bed, but a few things that have helped are:

Three alarms – first, my vibrating wrist watch gently pulls me from my slumber, one minute before what will be a LOUD mobile phone alarm at the other side of the room. To save me from the wrath of my wife, I leap out of bed (or groan and roll) and dart (shuffle) over to the phone before that alarm can sound. Jocko recommends three alarms, but in all honesty I only have two – which is working fine, so why fix it?

Eating deadline – As recommended by Mark Sisson in The New Primal Blueprint, you should eat your last meal a couple of hours (or more) before bed so I stop eating by 18:00. I can’t eat too close to bed time. I just feel too uncomfortable and wake up in the morning with a horrible taste.

Bedtime routine – or sleep hygiene, as it’s often called includes going to bed and getting up at a regular time, limiting food, drink and screen usage for two hours before bed and keeping your bedroom at an optimum temperature (cooler is better). On a good night, I will turn off the screens at 19:00, stretch and maybe shower, and then read a paperback before going to sleep at 21:00. I’ll only journal if my head is busy, or I need to write down an idea or memory before I forget it. Some great tips on becoming a super sleeper are in Dr Richard Wiseman‘s book Night School – well worth a listen.

05:00 – WHM Breathing (4 rounds)

I use the Wim Hof Method app for this, specifically the Breathing Bubble. I’m generally able to hold my breath for over three minutes now and one time I even managed four minutes. That isn’t really the goal, but it is an indication of the method working, and honestly I just love “getting high on my own supply”. It really is a trippy feeling – well worth experiencing.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

05:30 – Exercise

Cardio (running or cycling) for thirty to sixty minutes, OR bodyweight strength exercises (air squats, push ups, pull ups, planks). For the particulars on these, refer to the book The New Primal Blueprint mentioned earlier. I’m considering doing a vlog on this – comment if you would watch that!

06:30 – Warm and Cold Shower

I can’t go straight into a cold shower, and I am putting off doing my first ice plunge, but I’ve gone from thirty seconds to two minutes. I have to have a four or five minute hot shower first, to get clean and psyche myself up, but then I turn the tap. Have you ever eaten or drunk something so cold that it’s given you brain freeze? Next time it happens, try putting your tongue on the roof of your mouth – it works I promise! But not when the cold is coming from the shower head above you. The only way I can handle it, is to move around and focus the water on my back, chest and shoulders when my head-freeze gets too intense to bear!

07:00 – Ready to Write

Black coffee and pint of water (sometimes with lemon) positioned to my right, laptop open in front of me, I sit down to face the blank page (Word document, you know what I mean).

Until my first coffee break at 11:00, I will now struggle to produce WORDS. Which will only come if I can answer my THOUGHTS/QUESTIONS.

  • What am I going to write about?
  • How can I make it more entertaining/enlightening?
  • Who is my ideal reader?
  • How would he/she react to that part?

I’m going to do some research today on some better questions to ask before/while writing. That could result in me having some better questions, and therefore some better writing coming out of the answers…or, it could result in 4 hours of googling and youtubing and me asking the same questions all over again tomorrow. That, would be a wasted day – and enough days spent like that, would be a wasted life.

Thank You

Thank you once again for reading, subscribing, liking and commenting! It’s much appreciated it!

This blog post is number 8 out of 10 – for the “10 blog posts in 10 days” challenge – just two more and I have met the challenge! Then it’s back to a weekly blog post, and a competition with a prize draw for subscribers (more details to follow).

Berlin Marathon Cancelled

So my plans to blitz this race are now kaput! It was supposed to have been my final race of the year, but its cancellation is not a complete shock in the current zeitgeist. Still, no less disappointing. September seemed so far away, and the hope was that Covid-19 would be firmly in the rear view mirror by then. Apparently not. Nein!

I wasn’t that bothered about the Paris marathon cancellation, or my sprint triathlon, or my Olympic triathlon, or even the 24 hour Spitfire Scramble…but Berlin has hit me. Like a wall.

Go ahead, you athlete-haters – you have my full permission to feel all of the schadenfreude you can muster. I am gutted.

It’s not just the cost of the flights and hotel, or letting down Prostate Cancer UK, the charity I would have been running for. It’s not even all of the training I’ve put in – because in all honesty, I hadn’t done more than my usual mileage yet. It’s more about the fact that this was supposed to be my final marathon, coinciding with my 40th birthday – a sensible age to say aufweidersein to marathon running.

I know lots of marathon runners talk about quitting straight after they’ve crossed the line (“NEVER AGAIN KAREN!”…signs up the following week for the next race), but the London marathon was a year ago and my decision still stands.

I want to swap some running time, for some writing time – so marathons are out. I’m also not convinced that marathon running is the healthiest of past times, and as much as I enjoy running long distances, I’m no spring chicken. Dr James O’Keefe’s TED Talk was also a serious wake up call.

The Original Plan

All going well with my training, I was going to break the 3-hour barrier and hang up my marathon running shoes content with a 2:59.

Achieving a 2:55 wouldn’t make me feel any better. Any faster just doesn’t excite or inspire me, so I wouldn’t enjoy the process of working towards it. For such a slight improvement, that would require far too much time and effort, I’m of the opinion that life is too short.

So on one hand, I’m looking forward to “retirement”.

No more 16 week training plans, or running too many days a week and feeling guilty if I missed a day. No more trying to stay as close to my racing weight (70 kg) as possible. For my height, you can’t even call me overweight until I hit 77 kg! POW! Bring on the bratwurst and sauerkraut! No more of those gels or glucose blocks…yuck! No more extra-early Sunday morning runs. Cosiness calls.

Retirement Plan

My retirement is by no means going to be sedentary. Yes, I want to spend more time writing, but I ‘m also planning on doing the following:

  • 30 – 60 mins of Maffetone-style, aerobic training, 3 or 4 mornings a week. Either running or on the bike, with an occasional swim.
  • Body weight strength training (air squats, push ups, pull ups, planks), 2 or 3 times a week.
  • Occasional, shorter distance races. Saturday morning Parkruns, 10km races or sprint triathlons.
  • Eat a low-carb high-fat, primarily plant-based diet, with some intermittent fasting thrown in. (SUGAR is my only weakness. I can take or leave alcohol and meat – blog post pending – the struggle is real).
  • Sleep as much as my body needs, and monkey mind will allow (INSOMNIA blog post pending), generally 6-8 hours a night.

I’ll Be Back? (F*** it, Austria’s close enough)

I feel a certain amount of angst about calling it a day with regards to marathon running. Forty is the new thirty after all and the following facts still remain:

Still stuff in the basement – I’m 99.8% certain I could go sub-3 to qualify for the Boston marathon and 99.9% certain that I’d regret not having tried.

Gene Dykes – 70 years old and still setting PBs!?! Who says it’s all downhill at 40 years old?!

Family and friends – I know too many people still involved in racing, and I have rubber arms. It doesn’t take much to convince me to enter a race or take on a challenge.

We shall see.

This by the way is the 2nd blog post of the “10 in 10 days, blog post challenge”. If I make it to number 10, I’ll go back to a weekly blog post! Hopefully the next blog will be on Step 4 of the Snowflake Method, I’ve been sidetracked with trying to convince readers to like, comment, share and follow the blog! The fact that anyone is reading this is still something I’m grateful for, so I’m indebted to all of you going the extra mile.

Danke shon. Aufweidersein!