The Encourager

New newsletter for encouragers on 13th October

Who encourages the encouragers?

Who cares for the carers?

The newsletter is for people who encourage others as a matter of character, approach to life and occupation.

Coaches, teachers, parents, leaders, managers, healthcare professionals can all be encouragers. It is a way of being.

Everyone benefits

That’s the beauty of encouragement.

The person encouraged benefits — how does it feel when you are heard, seen and encouraged?

The encourager benefits — helping others is a healthy practice.

From here comes the ripple effect. The encouraged and the encouragers actions ripple out as the positive energy created by the initial interaction is passed on and on.

Starting the day by encouraging someone could be the best thing you can do!

October 13th

Sign up here for The Encourager to land in your inbox.

It would be great to have you in the community. R

RS

Finding purpose

The moment I realised my purpose was a WOW!

It took lots of thinking and talking to people. Years worth!

And experiences to reflect upon.

Then we need words to think it and share it.

You’ll know when it comes — it can be at anytime when you are doing the work.

It is like rocket fuel!

What do you love doing?

This is often at the heart of it.

Think about times you are in flow.

You are immersed in what you are doing without any sense of self.

You are performing, energised, playing to your strengths and time passes by without notice.

You see patterns and respond naturally without thought.

What is it that you love doing?

If you can, make your purpose what you do

Living your purpose each day brings great personal rewards and health.

Through your giving, sharing and compassion for others.

What you do helps to shape your purpose too — a circular causality.

Alan Wick, business coach, once said to me: sharpen your arrow.

I have been doing this for some years and it continues.

Make your message clear — to yourself and others.

What did I discover?

Through lots of talking to encouragers, especially Mike Pegg, reading, noting, and thinking, it came to me.

It is very straightforward. Simple language.

The words used often by Mike that have rubbed off.

I feel at my best when pursuing this purpose.

I love helping people shape positive futures.

In particular, people who have been suffering persistent pain.

I was encouraged and guided to find my purpose. Now I love to help other people find theirs.

That’s it.

I am here to help.

RS

Stuck?

Client not progressing as you hoped due to persistent pain?

You are trying your hardest to help them, but whatever you try does not seem to work.

We have all been there.

It’s so frustrating.

And we often start blaming ourselves. Or them.

But…..

There’s a way forward

When you understand pain and the reasons why it can persist you will see a way forward.

You become unstuck.

Join my webinar on Tuesday October 19th at 7pm to find out how.

Reserve your place here.

Richmond Stace
The Pain Coach | Pain Specialist | Chartered Physio | Hon Clinical Lecturer

Takeaways

  • What is persistent pain?
  • Why does it persist?
  • What can we do to help people move forward and get results?

Q&A

Bring your questions.

What do you want to know?

What is one question that would make a difference to you?

You can email me before if you like: richmond@stace.com

2 giveaways: where am I going?

I will randomly pick 2 people from those who ask questions (whether answered or not).

They will be invited to a free Pain Coach Mentoring session that will help you take the first step towards your ideal career.

See you there!

RS

Here is the link again just in case: click here to get unstuck

Dealing with disappointment

Roll with it – disappointment

Twice I have pulled out of events this year. It does not feel good.

A deep disappointment and regular waves of regret. There seem to be reminders everywhere.

In May I stopped halfway into a 100k race. I also took a wrong turn that meant I had to run 12k back to the start — 62k total. Should have just kept going, part of me said.

This month I pulled out at 90k along the South Downs Way. Should have slept for a bit and then kept going, bit by bit, part of me said.

That part of me always chimes in.

How to deal with the disappointment?

Three ideas to share with you.

1. Take a perspective

Zooming out, I quickly realised that whilst it matters, there are other considerations.

When you look at the bigger picture of your life and those around you, how does that feel?

2. In that moment, you made the best decision

There are always circumstances. Some things we cannot control and some we can.

What were the circumstances surrounding that decision and action?

What could you control?

3. The art of setting one’s expectations

I spend a lot of time working with people on the skill and art and practice of setting expectations.

When we set them too high and what actually happens comes in low, we feel bad.

Or we push on when we should stop.

Neither works.

What is realistic? You can certainly be positive in as much as you focus on what you can do, but tied with what is possible.

Positive realism.

If you think it might be possible, break the task into chunks and take it steps by step – achievable steps.

Your ideas

There are many other ways to deal with disappointment.

Of course, it is inevitable in life. So having skills to deal with it is better than being surprised.

What do you do to deal with your disappointment?

Do share your thoughts so others can benefit.

RS

A day of ups and downs

Who would have thought that I would bump into an old friend on the edge of town? As I approached a T-junction on the path, three cyclists appeared from the right.

Richmond, the front rider called out.

It was Gideon, who I had not seen for years. We caught up, exchanged some jokes and stories. It was a real booster.

I expected the day to go well.

From the other end my support Peck was on his bike, peddling from Cocking.

I think the terrain was a bit tougher than he expected. I imagined him gritting his teeth, pumping his long legs and listening to Test Match Special.

We met at Alan’s Coffee van.

Alan makes real coffee from the back of his transit. He also sells snacks not dissimilar from those you’d find at a ultra aid station. Turns out that Alan is an ultrarunner.

Then we found out that his name was Andrew.

Refreshed, I trotted off down the hill towards Cocking. Peck headed off towards Winchester. His plan was to cycle to the city, then turn around and head back to the van: our first rendezvous.

It was warm but I was sipping away at my water and Precision Hydration drink. I think perhaps this is where things may have been going awry. The sips may not have been enough.

My legs were feeling great inasmuch as I was not feeling them. The struggle of May seemed a million miles away. This was so very different. The pleasure of running returned.

Then…

I can’t remember the exact moment when things started to change. There was a shift of state.

Not feeling good is part of the journey. It is expected. You deal with it in different ways — I have a toolbox of strategies. Usually it is pain.

This time is wasn’t pain. It was waves of nausea. I had not had that before during a run.

One of my first actions when feeling bad is to have a nibble. It often works. Eating a morsel of food creates a different sensory experience: getting something out of a pouch, followed by the flavour and the texture are all useful.

Something changed for the better but I did notice a lack of saliva. I continued to sip. I continued to nibble. I continued to trot along. The trotting felt good.

The ease of running was gradually being replaced with increasing nausea. It was not going away. The water was fine, but the hydration drink I had to force down. The van seemed miles away, although on the map it was only a couple. Time and distance are easily distorted, so it is best to try and move your thoughts away.

I remember reaching the van with such relief. Still my legs felt fine, but I was rough. Flu-like tiredness, persisting nausea and just blaaagh. I decided to take a good break, take on some water, salt tablets and try some food.

The salt tablets may have helped. The water was going down but threatening to come back up.

I’ll have a nap, I thought. After all, I had been running since 9:15am and now it was early evening.

I dozed for fifteen minutes and woke urgently, thinking that I needed food. Let’s try some pasta – I’d made pesto pasta. It was like trying to eat small plastic toys. Chew, chew, chew, gulping swallow. Nausea.

I know that horrible feelings and perceptions come and go – nothing is permanent. So I decided to get going, believing that I would feel better soon.

I set off into the evening. The sun was just peeping over the hills, dyeing the sky with reds, pinks and oranges. Bumbling up the track, I checked in the with kids.

19k to Amberley. That’s fine I thought. A few hours.

This was the toughest part of the day. It was dark. I had a circle of light ahead via the head torch — just running and thinking. I knew it was part of the deal. This is one of the reasons for ultra running and one of the major obstacles to deal with.

It was becoming a real battle. The stream of thoughts occasionally interrupted by shadows, dark shapes, stars and occasional shuffles in the hedgerow. But the predominant feeling was nausea. There was an occasional stumble.

I continued to sip, just. I tried to nibble. But I could feel my energy dropping off with each step.

A text came through from Peck with an image of a camp set up at the rear of his van at Amberley station. He told me that the kettle was set up. Rooibos tea kept appearing in my mind – that’s what I wanted. It soon became an obsessional thought.

The relief on seeing the van was enormous. In my own thinking, that was it. I had no energy to carry on. Peck had other ideas.

Two cups of Rooibos later and I was feeling better. Still no food though. Peck offered me various things that were easy to get down, but my body was having none of it. Kendall mint cake could just about sit in my mouth and dissolve.

Following some banal chatting and memory sifting, there was a brief negotiation. I agreed that taking on the next stage was possible – a short 10k to Washington. By the way, my legs still felt really good at this point.

Off I went, back onto the Way.

I had already noted that the Ultra Challenge was going the other way. The luminous green markers hanging on fences and trees gave it away, together with the blackness punctuated by bobbing headtorches.

There is something warming about exchanging encouragement in the dark as I passed the walkers (the runners had long since gone by). A few thought I was going the wrong way.

The first few kilometres felt good. My energy was lifted. I was running up a hill without much effort. Soon enough this dropped off. The struggle resumed. I managed the occasional wine gum, but nothing else. Even water repulsed.

The route was familiar. I have run this part of the SDW many times, so the mist made no difference. Yet I was moving slowly. Very slowly. I am not sure how long it took to cover that 10k, but it felt like hours.

I arrived at the van parked near the church in Washington at about 230am. I knew at that stage it was the end of the day.

RS

Next up: dealing with the disappointment of a DNF and learnings

Almost time to go

In 24 hours I’ll be moving, probably very slowly, along the South Downs, nearing Eastbourne.

I have no idea how long this journey will take: Winchester to Eastbourne along the South Downs Way. There’ll be no records except my own.

Now it’s time for some breakfast before getting the pack on, and walking to the start.

The first rest stop is Cocking, 55k. Meanwhile, Chris my support crew, will be cycling back and forth between the van, me and various points, keeping me well supplied.

That’s all I am thinking about right now. Step by step. One stage and then onto the next.

The weather looks good, so I expect there’ll be plenty of walkers and runners along the way. Less through the night though…

On we go.

Easy running

I would never have imagined that a monk would teach me to run.

Over the past three months or so, following my DNF in May, I have been getting it together by following a training programme.

This was a programme put together by record breaking ultrarunner Damian Hall. He bases much of his coaching on the approach by David Roche. David is a great advocate of easy running — you can run as easy as you like.

Easy running makes you quicker. Didn’t you know? I am not going to explain to you how, because David can here.

I can tell you that it works from my own experience.

I was pretty broken after two years of non-stop ultras. The pushing, straining, mile after mile initially worked, but the stress on my body caught up. You can’t keep going at that intensity without something giving. I see these folk in the clinic — the ones who are stuck.

So easy together with consistent and regular movements, stretches, stability and strength with have built me a base. What’s more, it has brought the joy back and the confidence to keep going. Perfect timing too with the SDW 100 miler next Saturday.

Thich Nhat Hanh

A great advocate of mindful walking, Thich Nhat Hanh encourages us to slow down, be in the here and now and cultivate a peaceful way.

I used to try and practice mindful running, but somehow had put this way to the back. Instead, I became over-focused on the feelings in my body and trying to work them out. This was part of the reason for the DNF. It is unsustainable because every little ache and pain becomes amplified.

Together with the easy running, I thought I would listen to Thich as I trotted along. To be able to listen to someone or a podcast whilst running means that your pace is easy — not stressful.

Thich guides many meditations, but the one I was listening to resonated. It also worked in as much as I became calmer and calmer, running relaxed and easy. Perfect!

This is the kind of practice I share with people who come to see me. Most if not all benefit from creating a calmer embodied mind having been dealing with many different challenges at the root of their suffering. Persistent pain in particular and the consequences.

The beauty of the practice is that it is so simple. Whilst it may not be for all runners, if you are someone who wants to master the easy run to become quicker, you may find it helpful.

Here are the words. I will share a recording soon.

Try this if you like.

The practice

Run easy, which means with flow, smoothness and upright, using your body as a guide — no strain. Notice your breathing, but do not try to change it or control it. One way is to place your attention at the end of your nose and become aware of the air flowing in and flowing out.

With your awareness now upon the flow of your breath, silently say to yourself: breathing in, I am aware I am breathing in. Breathing out, I am aware I am breathing out. The shorten to breathing in, breathing out.

This brings your attention to your breath in the here and now. If your mind wanders, simply start again. This is a practice.

Some people enjoy the presence and rhythm that this brings, somehow becoming part of the overall movement of running.

A further mantra that I use to remain present and at ease is: breathing in, I calm my mind. Breathing out, I run easy. Then shortened to calm mind, easy running.

Of course, you can create your own as well. Choose words that give you gentle direction that you can follow.

Notice what happens.

Let me know if you like. I’d love to hear.

Next time, some thoughts on nose breathing — because that is what it is there for.

Happy running!

RS

PS/ If you are up on the South Downs Way next Saturday-Sunday and see me or want to join me for a few miles, let me know. I am running to raise £ for St Wilfrid’s Hospice in Eastbourne and in memory of my dad: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/richmond-stace11

Self-care for physio students

I have long thought that there should be a self-care module within physiotherapy training. Here is why.

Physiotherapy is arguably the best job in the world. Once qualified there are so many choices and ways that you can take ownership and forge a way forward.

I believe that there is a universal desire to contribute within the profession: to help people improve their lives and make it a better world. This in itself is healthy and helps build wellness. The latter is where we can make a real difference as we encourage, empower and enable individuals to shape positive futures — because they can.

There’s a but.

All this focus on helping others requires a strong sense of self and an absolute need for self-caring.

If you want to care for others, you must start by caring for yourself

#thepaincoach

There is a good chance that a number of therapists will be great empathisers. They will can can feel similar emotions and even pains described by others. There is a reverberation through their own embodied minds, which in time can cause stress responses and anxiety if not recognised — empathetic distress.

In one sense empathy is a gift that allows connection and understanding. Uncontrolled, this can lead to burnout. The answer to this appears to be cultivating compassion, which is boundless. There is an outlet in compassion that is a desire to help — taking action. When we take action there is a kind of release as we feel a sense of control and destiny with our chosen way of helping the person. (Whether they want our help and the kind of help we offer is another question! This is one of the skills of being a therapist).

A common way to practice compassion is with metta, or the loving kindness meditation. We develop our understanding and acceptance of ourselves, accepting that to take care of ourselves is the first step in caring for others.

Person-first. Always

This sits well with the person-first approach: person before patient. Certainly when it comes to pain, it is the person that feels pain, not the body part. We guide and encourage a person, not a body system or a limb. Zoom out.

The more the focus is on the place that hurts, the worse the outcome for a number of reasons: e.g./ attention and expectation play significant roles in pain perception. The more the focus is upon the person and what they want to achieve in their life, the better the outcome.

Each person has resources, knowledge, strengths and the potential to improve their lives. This is the start point, not a list of problems to solve.

It is the same for the therapist of course. A person with all the above.

Building wellness

How do you build yours each day?

To care for others we need to be well. Daily skills and practices that manage and lift our energy, help us to pay attention, maintain a positive outlook will keep us on a healthy path.

These are habits. Many are the same ones that we encourage the people we work with to create.

When I used to run Pain Coaching sessions for clinicians and therapists, we always start with you: ‘know thyself’. There is nowhere else to start. You have to gain insight into who you are, how you think and what you offer. From there you can build and be the architect of a fantastic career.

There are many ways to build wellness. The more obvious include exercise, moving your body, eating and sleeping well. There are more.

Connecting with people who encourage you, getting out into nature, knowing your purpose, breathing and being present more often.

As a start, I have created an infographic that you can use in your own way (download above).

My hope is that we see universities and colleges increasingly include self-care in the syllabus. Some methods and techniques are now outdated and should move aside, making room for the important practices. In my view, there is none more important that making sure therapists feel supported and that they are developing a strong sense of who they are as healthcare professionals.

Training is a huge investment, both personally and for the state. Surely then, we must ensure that the people undertaking this enormous commitment come first and are cared for by teaching them how they can care for themselves.

University lecturers and leaders, I am here to chat.

RS #thepaincoach

ultrarunning to understand pain and share hope

Heading off to the Menai Bridge for September upandrun

There is a purpose for my ultrarunning, and it is mainly to share hope.

You may have seen the tagline I was using for the September upandrun: ‘ultrarunning to understand pain and share hope’. Here is why.

Ultrarunning to understand pain

Running for long distances means being on your feet for hours, moving along. On the journey, you discover much about yourself — you find out what is under the hood.

Under normal circumstances, we use our resources to deal with challenges as they arise. Life is full of uncertainty (more than certainty), twists and turns. That is the way.

What we can do is to focus on controlling the controllables. What can we control? Our approach and attitude.

Suffering comes from the way that we think about any given situation. Prior to this, it is merely a situation. This has long been realised by philosophers and others.

Life is a journey — cliche yet true. How do you approach the journey? How do you deal with things when they don’t go your way? The style that you use will determine whether you see it as an opportunity (to learn) or an obstacle?

Ultrarunning is the same. You set out on a journey that will be full of unknowns. When you are trotting along and feel great, it is wonderful. What about when you are in pain, feel sick, are hit with fatigue and hunger and thirst and more? How do you respond? How do you keep going?

Sunrise from the Little Orme

The concept of the pain cave describes the place you can go. It is dark.

But, there is ultimate learning about oneself in the pain cave to the point that many embrace the experience.

Pain is inevitable on an ultra.

You become your own experiment (n=1) as you examine your perceptions and thoughts shaped by the very actions you are making. When you change the way you move, your thinking changes — embodied cognition at work. Thoughts are very much grounded in the state of our body, and the state of our body is determined by the focus of our attention. Expectations also play a significant role — we see the world that we expect to see.

As inevitable pain emerges, the opportunity arises to closely examine the sensations and how they change. Different perspectives and different language all shape the experience. Noticing a shift in running pattern, perhaps leaning forward or the head dropping, one can lift and be taller to notice the change in perspective.

What is the story I am telling myself in these moments? If I alter the words, what happens? I notice how attached I am to that particular narrative and how easy or hard it is to let it go. Bringing my purpose to mind, or a loved one and there can be a sudden transformation of state.

Heavy moments are normal. Body, legs, head suddenly feel like sacks of wet sand — have you ever tried to move one? But you know that this will pass, like all perceptions. Nothing is permanent. This insight alone pulls me back from the mire of thoughts.

Our perceptions and bodily sensations are dynamic — always changing. Life is not static, instead fluid and moving onwards. It is the story that stays the same. The one we have been conditioned to believe is true.

Then you realise that there are infinite stories and possibilities. Freedom.

Ultrarunning teaches you about freedom.

I can examine my own experiences under duress and elucidate my resources my journey continues. The finish line is of course the beginning of the next.

Sharing hope

My message is one of hope.

Both the knowledge of pain and what we can do to guide, support and encourage people to live fulfilling lives has grown enormously.

We have much better answers to the questions (start here):

  • what is pain?
  • why do we feel pain?
  • what is the purpose of pain?
  • what can we do to improve our lives?

Many of the strategies, practices and techniques to transform and overcome pain are taken from the skills of being well, peak performance and strengths based coaching. Over the past 10 years or so, I have called this Pain Coaching.

There is a simple principle. The more you focus on the pain and try to treat it, the worse the outcome. The more you focus on the person and how they want to shape their life, the better the outcome.

Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. As soon as you are saying, ‘I don’t want this pain’, we focus right back on the pain.

Instead, re-focus on your picture(s) of success and the steps you can take right now in that direction. This is an approach and an attitude. You will need some help, it will be up and down, but

There is great hope for many. This is my message.

RS

Conversation with Adharanand Finn

I first met Adharanand in 2019 when I went on a writing and running retreat in Devon that he was co-hosting with Richard Askwith.

We kept in touch.

A few weeks ago I took the opportunity to whizz down to Dartmoor for a one day running camp: The Way of the Runner. This time it was co-hosted by Adharanand and Barefoot Joe. It was a great day, as I expected.

As we said farewell, getting ready to head home from the car park, we mooted the idea of a conversation.

And here it is. Eau naturale. Anecdotes about and idiosyncrasies of ultrarunning.

Enjoy.