Earlier in the week I won tickets to the first Innocent Inspires event. For those who don’t know, Innocent is the smoothie company that tweets really funny animal pictures (I’m sure they have an actual business strategy, but I like to highlight the important things).
Innocent Inspires is a series of five nights where Innocent and their invited guests bring their business values to life and inspire people to go forward and do better in their own lives. Last night was all about health and how athletes, communities and individuals can approach healthy lives. Invited to speak was James Cracknell, super Olympian and adventurer who has literally (and I use that word in its truest sense) done everything ever. Charlie Dark, founder of Run Dem Crew who has inspired half of London to get running, and Dr. Pixie McKenna who is usually found poking at Embarrassing Bodies on TV.
We arrived at the Innocent Sports Hall to be put on a green smoothie team or a red smoothie team depending on our taste preferences. The warm-up area was set up for us to get healthy but stay lazy so we stretched our quads on coffee tables and did toilet seat squats. All very practical for even the laziest. The smoothie bar was set up as were lockers with information about the presenters. Delicious dips and veggies from The Dip Society were passed around and we all got graze boxes to nibble on. It was pretty clear we were going to get our 5-a-day within the hour.
The night started off with an intro from Innocent founder, Richard Reed who explained that throughout the night, “We’re letting these awesome people do the talking, sit back and enjoy.”
First to speak was James Cracknell. He’s won 2 gold medals with Team GB in rowing and has some amazing stories about partying with Steve Redgrave in Sydney. You’d think that would be enough to inspire an audience, but then he told us about the rest of his life that has been filled with adventure after adventure. You think the 3 Peaks is a challenge? A marathon? Ha. Try rowing across the Atlantic, walking across Antarctica, and not just finishing but coming 12th in the Marathon de Sables. Next up was a quick cycle, swim and run across America but it was cut short when a 70mph truck hit him while riding across Death Valley. Not one to let a traumatic brain injury stop him, next week he’s heading back to cross the Arabian Empty Quarter with a super stubborn camel.
So, what have you done today?
But in all seriousness he gave us some good bits of advice to apply in our lives
- Your worst day of training should be worse than anything that can happen at the event. This one seriously hit home with me. I’m as guilty as the next person about complaining how hard training can be. The long, wet, runs, the blisters, the sheer pain of DOMS. But that is supposed to happen, training is how you learn how to cope on race day. I’d way rather get a sick blister on a random Sunday in January and adjust my shoes before race day. Yea, running in the rain for 2 hours sucks, but when it rains on race day I’ll be the one who is confidently at the start line. If training sucks you’re doing it right.
- No rules, trust your team. You’d think there would be a ton of rules for an Olympic rowing team. Be home by 8, eat 3,203,409.05 mg of protein each day, don’t drink this, don’t go there. James said it was the opposite. On race day you had to have 110% trust in your team, so why would you need to put rules down in training? You have to trust that your team is putting their all into training just as they trust you.
- Your worst has to be better than their best. He doesn’t care about your PB, if you’re training to win your absolute worst performance has to be better than everyone’s best. James spoke about how he set a WR one year, but the rest of his results were not as good so he didn’t get picked for that Olympic event. All those sucky runs you do and hate every step of before, during and after? They count. Make them good sucky runs and you’ll see the results on race day.
Next up was Charlie Dark from Run Dem Crew. It’s hard to run in London and not know about RDC. They’re all living legends and some of the most inspiring people I follow on social media are RDC’ers. Charlie is the guy who started it all with a box in a park, some friends who wanted to run around East London in the dark, and the idea that running didn’t have to be a separate activity blocked off from the community at large. Charlie’s story took up where James’ left off and brought the inspiration from the top tier athletic performances right into our communities.
- Integrate your health and activity. RDC runs routes around London based on tips from taxi drivers, challenges from bus drivers and whispers from community artists. For Charlie running is a part of his community and through RDC he’s introducing running and the community to young and old alike. He made it very clear that it starts with kids as young as 5. Most kids hate running 6 laps around a track at school right? But running for the bus and getting on it? Ace. 50 star jumps in a gymnasium after maths class? Blah. A field trip that includes a stop at millennium bridge and a impromptu competition to see who can run up the steps the fastest? Then having them write a blog about the results? Ace x2.
- Crew love. I’m going to direct you to the Food & Lycra girls to get a real sense about crew love. The sense of community is so strong in a crew that it’s about how well your worst does. How much as your worst improved? How many people came out and tried something new? Who was smiling at the end of the run?
Finally, Dr. Pixie McKenna was up and gave us 10 tips to inspire our selves and our bodies. It was straight talk and some of it was obvious, but helps to hammer it home.
- Eat breakfast, eat fish, don’t drink fizzy sodas. Breakfast sets you up for the day. It’s easy and simple. If you’re not hungry in the morning it’s probably because you ate too much the night before because you didn’t eat breakfast yesterday. You should be waking up hungry people! Get the nutrients in your body early and your metabolism will keep working hard the rest of the day. Also, eat more fish than you do now. Oily fish and those Omega-3s are so valuable for your health now and in 30 years. Constantly drinking fizzy sodas will kill you. It’s simple. Don’t do it.
- Get outside for 20 minutes a day. How many of you complained about being tired and lazy this winter? Did you catch every bug going around the office? Sick every few weeks. You are probably Vitamin D deficient. Apparently most of us in the UK are, it’s not always our fault (thanks for the 3 crappy summers) but if you’re outside when it’s relatively sunny for 20 minutes (with no SPF – as long as you don’t turn red you’re fine) you can top up your Vitamin D levels to last you the year. I personally felt a huge difference this winter as I only got sick once and felt pretty amazing all winter thanks to being outside and running more last summer. Dr. Pixie said get outside when you can and get in the sun.
- Everything in moderation, including moderation. Following from Charlie, you have to integrate health into your life and it’s not going to be sustainable if you suddenly pick up the latest fad diet or try to go to the gym 6 days a week. A slice of that birthday cake is fine, 2 units of alcohol for women a day is fine (aside: you can’t save up your units if you don’t use them – Dr. Pixie made it clear that binge drinking is causing serious serious [read: Cancer] health issues).
- Sit down and eat. You have the time. Eat only when at a table, stop picking at the cheese while the rest of your meal is cooking. Don’t grab a sandwich to scoff while on the tube. Sit, slow down, and eat and you’ll make better more complete choices and feel better. This isn’t brain science people, no one is too busy. Reading this blog, twitter, and facebook, they’re all time sucks that are taking away from the important things like eating and exercise. Make those the priority instead of scrolling through your timeline.
So from the top 1% of athletes to our community to our bodies, Innocent Inspires inspired me to do keep doing the simple things to live well and die old.