Posted in Challenges, Thumbs Up

Kenya’s Running Spirit

Many times I have a good laugh whenever another “new” Kenyan athlete comes to the limelight.  They seems to have been tuaght by the same teacher. It is almost the same script different cast. I love the passion that is exhibited, the comic relief in their “direct” translation of mother-tongue to English. More importantly their motivation and aspirations are just epic. That’s what role models can do for a society. All the athletes admire and want to make a mark in their lifetime just life the fore-bearers. they aspire to run in all the major race and WIN! Break world records and better their time in every race. They want to build nice home like their role models and support worthy causes.

So you can imagine their motivation as they run. A conversation in their mind could be something like this:

“I am winning this race, if Tergat did it so can I. The prize money will be enough to build my mother a better house, buy me a nice car and have enough to afford better training for the olympics. Poverty ishindwe! Yes I can run faster than these guys oooo yes there was a time no one knew Kemboi or Rudisha. I am winning…hakuna kitu ingine!”

As Kenyans everyone expect good sportsmanship from us. They believe we run marathons by default. It is quite another thing to actually run a full marathon. many of us can walk between 5-20km. Running the full 42Km marathon aiiaiaiaiiii that requires experience, lots of practice and tact. Professional marathon trainers recommend two years consistent practice to run a full marathon. I challenged myself a year ago to run two half marathons this year.

I was afraid to share the plan with anyone for then I would have to be accountable to them. Building a consistent training regime was the hardest step. Our bodies have mood swings so it requires being harsh to self. Wake up when the body thinks otherwise, push yourself when the body is screaming for rest and so on.

The best five tips I learnt in preparation for running the two marathons is that:

1. Build a running style consistent with your body size – get the right (comfortable& light)shoes and build a consistent technique. If you can find a running partner or more the better!

2. Start with small personal runs and celebrate those wins – then work to better your time and improve your pace

3. focus on the simple 6 step sequence and forget about everyone else run as if you are alone. Count one-two-one-two-one-two

4. When you are running out of breath run for five minutes then walk for two minutes

5. Build a resilience to run with little water in-take ( sort of wash your mouth and spit out-use the rest to pour over your head for cooling)

Lastly take time to warm up and warm down. Learn good sets stretches and repeat until you muster them. Most importantly loosen up – do not tighten your muscles as you run for that drains you the more. Have fun and hey its only a run!

Posted in Challenges, Thumbs Up

Swedish Massage: My Current Need

“Exercise means more wellness, wellness means more vitality, vitality means better life balance” Technogym Equipment Messages

Eleven months ago, I discovered a few flight of stairs would run me out of breath. I had trouble finding sleep and there was sort of a drag in my step. For someone with a brisk steady step and one who would find sleep even in the loudest environment this was not ordinary. For a guy who ran to school about 10km away non-stop. Crossing three rivers this was unheard of. And more recent I would walk from town to Pangani without losing my breath just to catch the matatus before they hiked fares to Kasarani this really troubled me. Many times I did deliveries between the four corners of Nairobi; from Keekrok to Ukulima Cooperative house, TomMboya Street to Anniversary Towers and Railways to Finance house all within 2hrs. I could run the 10 floors of Harambee House as we all know their lifts were either reserved or under repair and always took too long in between floors.

This concern grew that I had to start exercising. But where was the time? I involuntarily changed my schedule to include a little exercise. For the better part of the first week all I did was check into the gym, struggle to cycle or walk on the treadmill or cross-trainer machine for an average 10-25mins level zero average speed of below 50 then steambath and sauna.

The adhoc nature of my schedule did not help and I often struggled to find time to exercise.

New Discipline

I do not remember exactly how the schedule streamlined but this I do remember; I made a deliberate decision to make time (an hour three days a week) for exercise. I cleared my schedule to accommodate this determination. My body was always in revolt. I wanted to relax more, I wanted to sleep more and the aches of muscles that I had not felt in a long time. But the muscles would joy each time I pushed myself and sleep was always in abundance so I slept easy and sound. This encouraged me. There are weeks I did four  even five days.

The exercise schedule become a routine and how nice when it turned into character. Now my body no longer revolts but yearns for exercise.

New Peace

Many times we want to lose weight so fast and get into shape in a flash. This “quick  fix” mentality spoils the fun and brews a storm within and without. How dumb-founded  I was when I met men twice my age, thrice as fit, actually they would pass for elite athletes. There are those who are big by any standard but they are not only swift but their body mass index ratio is at a balance.

Exercise is not about weight-loss or body tone – although this inevitably comes to those who are patient and regularly exercise. Exercise is finding peace in body and soul. When you sweat out the toxins and burn the excess calories and build stamina an unprecedented peace encompasses you.

New Confidence

“No grumpy feet, no nasty fists” This was a caption posted in our boxing arena in Dandora Phase 5 back in the day. I did boxing back then not to be fit but for self defense. Many young lads in my neighbourhood then had been involved in bouts either as a show-off or youth rivalry for girls or something stupid. And those were the days Bruce Lee, Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Van Damme, Rambo among other star movies were showing in “local theatres”. our “local theatres” were temporary “mabati” structures with big speakers and elevated 14inch colour tvs. I can count the number of times we watched big screen cinema in my adolescence. The very first experience was the Kenya Film Trucks that toured our communal grounds once a month then Jogoo Road cinema where Dad took me to watch “Bad Spencer & Terence Hill” plus the few times he took us to Cameo, Embassy and Shan cinema in Ngara.

The sweaty sessions of exercise, clears all internal glut and the result is glowing skin, a good toned body and a confident step. Your general outlook is enhanced and your step becomes bolder. All over sudden your output in many matters improves. You wake up early, you can do more hours at work and get more accomplished thus you become the guy to go to.

New Balance

When they say sports is a discipline they are never wrong. Could this be the reason most of our elite athletes come from the disciplined forces? Everyone can get the discipline but do not rush – build it over time. By creating time for exercise, you can spend your time more wisely and get more done. This enables you to plan effectively and gives you a push to follow through. This could be the reason of having your own sports watch, training diary and health chart.

The beauty that comes with good planning and timely execution is the new belief system of breaking big things into manageable sets just like exercise. Running for 10 minutes at a certain average speed, doing dummel weights certain sets and the other parts in that order. This balance will often extend to family, work and even your spiritual life.

Since I started exercising regularly, I also made time to be home early, made time for bible study once a week among many other things.

New Understanding

We often stereotype people and have misconceptions about things or situations. Training in a group greatly helps to clear many myths and such conclusions. There will be that guy whose bag you will not like in the locker room but he is always on time and exercise is a lifestyle to him. Another will not often greet you but the peace around them is tangible that you would pay anything to have it. Then there is the other who has an opinion about everything but has all you admire; a cologne that is very good (googling its price checks you into a blush for its not in your range). Then there will be exercises that you will have to struggle with every-time and their mastery is only in motion never in speech. Miss a few days and you will struggle with the same exercise just like any beginner.

You will realise that exercise without prudence will get you into sport injuries. You will learn that exercise is meant for the whole body so over indulgence in one regiment is not healthy. The greatest understanding is when you take into cognisance the importance of a healthy diet and lifestyle. Anything in excess will ruin your hard earned body tone and balance. No more 6 bottles of soda, no more 2kgs of ugali, no more 4kgs of nyama choma, no more 6 pizza servings just because they are on offer.  A balanced diet is all you need in the right portions.You have to understand what your body “requires” and quench the voice of what the body “wants”.

New Fellowship

I have made many friends, yes there are those that will never greet you in the locker room but will recognise you at the supermarket. I have found great encouragement, great discussions, healthy comparisons and moral support. And you will pass it on to many others who come maybe confused as you were and not confident about themselves and train together. Salute! Here is to why I need a Swedish full body massage.

Posted in Challenges, Need Intervention, Technology, Thumbs Up

Retaining Talent key to buidling businesses

Yesterday I had a candid talk with Icon Telesec CEO Mr. Nerry Achar. And for the short two hours, he emphasized on building relationships. As we discussed it was clear that employees require security of tenure. All of us want to know we have a place and we are appreciated in our organisations. Orientation is key as this is where employes buy into the organisation’s purpose. Then capacity building in the expertise areas has to be continous so as to improve results, deliver better and attract new businesses.

Mr. Achar believes that business growth is not in showcasing prowess but more in concentrating on aquired clients and serving them to satisfaction. He says to be the best do not run for the race but enjoy the run. He attests that Icon Telesec has seen tremendous growth for the main reason they concentrated on their clients, adding the individual touch and strict eye for detail. They nurtured their staff by having continous training, regular appraisals and allowing to grow.

He agrees that retaining talent in the modern world where “job hopping” is prevalent in this generation is no mean fete. Where talent does not spend more than 2-3 years in any firm. He says organisations need to model their growth around talent. Allowing them to flex their ideas and channel their energies into new projects. And their should be structures in place to allow staff to ultimately buy into businesses. As they grow their input and output becomes more solid, loyal and invaluable. The buy-in option enables them to come into new dispesation of patnerships which then propel organisation even higher.

Businesses need to engrave talent retention in their strategies to discover growth like no other. Many blue chip firms are practicing this and SMEs should consider this more seriously.