Endless Possibilities (2nd half of Unconventional Wisdoms Series)

Sailing Dini & sunset mudra :)
Dini, sailing & sunset mudra :)

After a short break in the series, I have subtitled the remaining two interviews this way, as I wish to convey the under-exploited potential of the human race.

 

Several years ago, my university friend drew my attention to the fact that many of our contemporaries were living in “self-created prisons”.   Luckily, I had already found running as a way of breaking free from the library, or life at my desk, but I understood what she meant.

At a time when we should have been enjoying limitless freedoms, people were living in boxes: a whole world where opportunities outside their windows were left untouched and unexplored, whilst hours were whiled away watching escapist TV, playing on games consoles, or just generally making every effort possible to disengage from the wider world. This habit only worsened as jobs and families became the norm for that generation.  

The notion of adventure seemed too much of an exertion for an already burned-out mind… No wonder the rate of mental illness seemed so disproportionately high… We thought we were happy in our bubbles, but we were scared to break-out of the comfort zone, and that’s a different thing entirely.

The following two interviews taught me that the life of your dreams is possible in the here and now (and here’s the cool bit for me) even with a couple of kids in tow :)  In fact, setting examples for next generations: that we don’t have to live a life of optional limitation, is pretty much a purposeful existence in and of itself.

It doesn’t have to be all rat race and rush hours, it can be sunsets, beer miles and saying “Yes” to opportunities…

Meet Dini Martinez and Patrick Sweeney! Patrick’s interview, regarding his adventure starting tomorrow, will be up later today, so check back for that :)

Patrick (and some random shirtless guy)

 

Read More

Unconventional Wisdoms 2/4: Nathan Farrugia (Part 2)

27 marathons
27 Marathons: Credit: Matthew Mirabelli

M: “Winging it’s” my thing :-) Remember the blog I sent you on minimalist training for Spartathlon?

N: In fact, if I look back at my training for ironman, my  best time was last year, where I came top 10% in the world in my age group, on 12 hours training a week, that is much less than people who get those finishing times.  The thing is, when you are running 250k, you have to get used to the discomfort, the muscle breakdown, the kidneys in clearing the waste production, there is no shortcut.

M: This race is in the footsteps of Phidippides, he dropped dead?

N: Well, yes, whether he had the right training and nutrition, who knows? I do know that 300 people run this a year, 50% of them finish, and as far as I know, not many of them drop dead.  Not to worry :)

M: What have people said about this challenge? Other than the usual “are you mad”?

N: I get that a lot, most people can’t fathom running 246k, particularly when you live on an island that is 17k long! (more…)

Read More

Unconventional Wisdoms 2/4: Nathan Farrugia (Part 1)

Nathan training in Gozo. Credit: Kurt Arrigo
Nathan Farrugia training in Gozo. Credit: Kurt Arrigo

I met Nathan for a cup of tea, a week ahead of his Spartathlon attempt.  I wanted to know more about this family man, business man, and arguably Malta’s best ultra-athlete.

Spartathlon is one of the most difficult ultras in the world (the only challenges that Nathan really takes part in nowadays, alongside his own record-breaking creations).  

Spartathlon is a 246km (153 mile) road race from Athens to Sparta.  It started in 1983 and takes place 25-26 Sept 15.  The goal of all participants is to finish under the cut-off time of 36 hours.  Battling extreme weather conditions and strict cut-offs for the first 100km, it’s not only the distance that will be challenging. It is a stripped back race, no MP3 players allowed.  Little support and only basic food is given.

Up until last year, Nathan was the CEO of Malta’s largest non-profit organisation that helps people with disabilities.  He stopped to maintain his role as president of the foundation. He set up his own business which helps people/ companies with executive coaching and business development.  He is also heavily involved in foundations and charities for young people with disabilities and health problems.

Nathan has been working and volunteering in the charity sector since 2000 and has raised hundreds of thousands of euros for good causes. His latest endeavours are as director of the Lino Spiteri Foundation, working to create jobs for persons with a disability on a national level.

Me (M): Many athletes with families describe their lives as a daily ‘balancing act’, would you agree that finding a sport/life balance is trickier after kids? (more…)

Read More

Unconventional Wisdoms: Interview 1/4: Maria Walton

Maria Walton
Maria Walton

In 2009 Maria Walton, a marathon coach from Arizona, was gifted with a copy of “Born to Run” by a friend. Shortly after reading it, Maria sent Micah True (the elusive and reluctant hero of the book) a Facebook message for some advice on ultra-marathons.

He responded almost immediately,

“It’s not my book. If it’s an autograph you are after, you’re asking the wrong guy.”

Maria replied: “No, no, I’m not a fan. I just want some advice on how to run an ultra.”

“Oh,” he wrote back. “You are going to run a little slower, run a bit longer.  And that’s it really. I don’t train, I eat some oatmeal, grab a coffee, get out the door and run.”

Micah, an American ex-boxer who gave away everything he owned, moved to the mysterious Barrancas del Cobre of Mexico to emulate the methods of the Raramuri, and ran ultra distances there carrying no gear, just a plastic water bottle and a $8 timex watch. (more…)

Read More