News & Events

Training Partner to Reading Half Marathon

For the last 14 years I’ve been the training partner with one of the UK’s largest half marathons, the Reading Half Marathon.  From writing training programs, organising the pace team & taking the warm up, my role has been to support the runners taking part in the race.

warm up

Much as I have enjoyed my time partnered with the race organisers Sweatshop, I decided that it’s time to hang up my warm up mic for the last time.

Sunday was my final event, as I focus even more of my attention on my other priorities.

Thanks to the Sweatshop and sponsors of the last 7 years Mizuno who I have enjoyed a positive working relationship.

Some members of my team of pacers have been with me for over a decade and the same for some of the warm up crew.

I feel as though it’s the end of an era but absolutely no doubt in my mind that it’s the right decision to make.

Onwards!

Oxford University Wellbeing Program

I was approached a couple of weeks ago by Oxford University college St Hugh’s recently, to talk about putting together a wellbeing program for their students.

St Hugh's

After meeting with the senior tutor & some of the welfare team we’ve created a plan with the intention of implementing it at the start of Trinity Term (that’s the summer term for us non-Oxbridge grads!).

I’ll be creating a some specific content based on my 5 Core Elements of Wellbeing, designed to help support students as they move into the high pressure examination term.

We’ll also be building an online community, modelling the success of my free Facebook group ‘On The Wagon’.

This has been a tremendous source of inspiration and support for thousands of people over the last 18 months, and although we are anticipating a number of differences with this particular project I’m confident that we can create a similarly positive & supportive virtual place to connect.

BBC MoveIt! Campaign

This month I’m working with BBC Radio Oxford to get Oxfordshire more active.

BBC

Their MoveIt! campaign is all about encouraging more physical activity, though not necessarily sport and exercise. This is a perfect match for my ‘progress not perfection’​ philosophy, and the objective is to find ways for people to inject a little more movement into their lives.

As well as a stint in the studio this morning we did a live slot from solicitors firm Brook Street Des Roches in Milton Park, working with a couple of solicitors who are keen to get more activity into their daily lives.

We’ll be back every Wednesday for the next 3 weeks to see how they’re getting on!

Pyrenees Retreat

Last May I took my first group out to the French Pyrenees for a 4 day Retreat.  It was such a success that I took my 2nd group out in October and am preparing for the next one this coming May.

I have always liked the idea of going away with a group for a few days of fun, fitness & adventure but have been put off by the organisation.

It was never going to be a core part of my business and the idea of going through the process of sourcing locations & activities and the logistics of everything else such as meals & accommodation was enough to put me off venturing into this area.

But I was approached towards the end of 2015 by a company called Alkari, who specialise in all of the above, and run regular groups from their chateaux about an hour away from Lourdes airport.

pyrenees

 

Whilst I’d be the first to admit that I’m no expert in running retreats, I’m not so bad at bringing groups of like-minded people together which it turned out was all I had to do in order to make this work.

Within 48 hours of launching the first Retreat we had every one of the 24 places booked, despite having very few details of exactly what to expect on the other side.

I learned an immense amount from the first two Retreats.  Developing a positive, inclusive and non-cliquey group dynamic was one of my key objectives and from the feedback I received from those who attended I believe I achieved this.

The next Retreat takes place on May 12-15 and we have a few additions to the schedule of events when we’re over there.

The ‘main components’ include adventurous training activities such as climbing, kayaking and hiking but it the less structured and more experimental elements that provided the backdrop for the majority of the stories.

I’m not about to push my core offering towards Retreats, but whilst I can combine fun, friendship, adventure, learning and efficient business I’ll continue running them.

Zero Degrees West Wellbeing Program

ZDWI’m currently working with London-based creative agency Zero Degrees West to tackle employee wellbeing.

There is a clear link between health, fitness, nutrition and resilience, and our ability to be creative.

In a company that relies on that human resource then, it pays to invest in ensuring that staff have the support they need to make smart choices.

Creativity is primarily a ‘pre-frontal cortex’ activity, essentially the human part of our brain.

Problem solving ability is compromised when we are under stress.

A very different part of our brain recognises this as threat, and shifts the decision making centre to the survival-oriented ‘mammalian brain’.

Resilience to stress – your bounce-back-ability – is supported by better nutrition, more activity and enhanced sleep & recovery.

I am delivering a series of live workshops, in person to the London office and via weblink to the LA operation, and combining it with my online Implementation program.

Milton Park ‘Wellbeing Wednesday’

wellbeing wednesdayOn March 1 I’ll be presenting a couple of sessions at Milton Park in Oxfordshire on the subject of wellbeing.

Soll Leisure Centre have arranged the day, which will include a variety of taster classes designed to appeal to the 7,500 employeess of the resident businesses on the Park.

My two sessions will both be 30 minutes in duration and aim to inspire and educate those present.

The Mindset of Healthy Eating

‘Understanding the science of self- sabotage’

In this 30 minute session, I will uncover the real reasons behind the tendency to derail our     progress with episodes of self-sabotage and emotionally-driven eating.  Combining expertise in nutrition and neuroscience, George will outline a number of strategies to help reduce the occurrence of this frustrating, sense-less behaviour.”

The 5 Core Elements of Wellbeing

‘A holistic approach to your personal wellbeing’

“Wellbeing is about more than just moving more and eating less.  In this 30 minute presentation, I will introduce the 5 Core Elements of Wellbeing and how their interplay is essential for a healthy, balanced and fully charged life”

Both of these short talks are designed to encourage people to think differently about their behaviours, habits & even their thoughts & emotions.

BBC Workplace Wellbeing project

bbcBack when I was running my local fitness boot camps I had a monthly slot on BBC Radio Oxford discussing all kinds of things related to wellbeing.

I stopped doing this when the station had a shuffle around with the presenter line up but have kept in touch and am happy to be involved with their latest project aimed at getting Oxfordshire more active.

Speaking to the station editor Will Banks, the project which launched at the recent Oxfordshire Sports Awards last month, will encourage people to add more activity into their lives.

One of the focuses will be on ‘workplace wellbeing’, which is an area I have been increasing my involvement in over the last few years.

I’ll be visiting an (as of yet unnamed!) Oxfordshire business at the start of the project (mid-March) to find out about their current lifestyle habits and offering some suggestions for how to make improvements before returning again towards the end for an update.

The results will be shared through a combination of live on-site broadcasts and in-studio interviews.

British Land Service Leadership Conference

I was invited to present at the annual Service Leadership Conference on Friday February 10, attended by over 100 of the key people within British Land and Broadgate Estates.

I shared the stage at the Barbican in London with award-winning speaker & service champion Marcus Child, whose philosophies on leadership & service dovetailed well with my approach to wellbeing.

My 2 hour workshop in the afternoon introduced each of the 5 Core Elements of Wellbeing (Nutrition, Activity, Mindset, Recovery & Connection) and encouraged attendees to think about how they could step up in each area.

The focus was on personal leadership & effectiveness, but also something practical they could take away and share with their teams.

Positive feedback has been received and I look forward to hearing about the changes that have been made, along with the impact on their lives.

Dell EMC

Dell EMC, Brentford

Since September 2016 I have been working with the Customer Service team at Dell EMC to deliver a ‘high impact’ wellbeing program.

By combining live workshops with online follow-on ‘implementation programs’ we have begun to make a difference in the lives of many members of the team.

The objective of the program is to ‘Inspire, Inform & Implement’, and the overarching philosophy is ‘Progress, not Perfection’.

Encouraging individual participants to move along to their next level, rather than outlining an unachievable vision of perfection allows associations to be built and confidence to be built to take the next step.

work book

Core5 Workbook

Core5 Elements of Wellbeing

The Core5 Workplace Wellbeing program introduces the 5 Core Elements of Wellbeing: Nutrition, Activity, Mindset, Recovery & Connection.

Enough theory is delivered to make sense of the guidance, and then the workshop focus is on practical application.

Taking participants through the WHY and the WHAT, through the HOW and into the WHAT IF?; imagineering how the new ideas map into an individual’s reality.

To date I have delivered 5 workshops to Dell EMC and look forward to expanding my work with a more centralised approach and HR support.

On The Wagon Facebook community

In December 2015 I set up a group on Facebook with the intention of gathering together a few people who shared similar views and challenges when it came to wellbeing.

I didn’t really have an objective with the group, but committed to putting up a daily post and supporting those who joined me.

Over the next 11 months the group has grown to almost 4000 members, has it’s own lingo and range of t-shirts, and is widely regarded by members as one the most supportive groups on the social media platform.

t-shirts

Seth Godin once wrote that for a tribe to exist 3 things are needed.

1) A leader who is able to communicate ideas to the group

2) A group who are able to share their ideas and experiences between one another

3) A common goal, belief or set of values

I somewhat reluctantly class myself as a leader in this context, but certainly the other 2 elements of Godin’s definition feel like the missing links from my previously limited method of sharing ideas: email.

Email has for 10 years been my preferred method of communicating with a growing audience of up to 32,000 people at a time.

There was nothing to connect each of these individuals, but thanks to Facebook’s Groups app I’ve been able to create a very active and engaged community of like-minded individuals.

Being so involved in the development and continual evolution of the group I have learned a great deal about the importance of factors such as engagement, group dynamics, guidelines and common purpose.

Once you get the magic combination, a group of connected individuals becomes a self-sufficient community.

I’m still at the helm of #OTW, but it is now very much the group’s group, rather than something I could even begin to class as my own.

Oxford Direct Services presentation

Some audiences are harder to work than others, and perhaps the toughest is the Oxford City Council Direct Services team.

Though in some ways I also have the most fun when I’m presenting to them.

The Direct Services teams I had in front of me on Monday were predominantly the bin men who regularly put in 30,000 steps a day around the streets of Oxford.

A tough audience because they weren’t there of their own volition, but because it was a part of their ‘Away Day’ and – as they kept telling me – they had to be.

It was the 2nd time I presented to the group, having been there in April of this year as well so I knew what to expect.

My plan was to deliver a similar workshop on nutrition as before, but this time open up a debate at the end to discover some of the healthy habits that some of them already had.

My rationale was that if they could see their peers already doing this stuff it would be more realistic and achievable than just listening to some guy with a PowerPoint lecturing them.

As always, I enjoy working with Oxford City Council and appreciate their forward thinking approach to investing in their people.

Mastermind Live Event

At the midway point of the first ever 12 week Mastermind course we had a live meet up.

This component was never intended as a part of the program but everybody was very keen to get together and a tremendous effort was made by everybody to get there with members travelling from all over Europe & the UK to be here.

It highlighted the energy that can be generated when a group of people on a similar wavelength get together and consequently will be a key component of the next program, due to be launched in January.

With me in the picture below is my friend Mark Willis, who I had asked to come in and present on his specialist subject of meditation & Pranic Healing.  One of the strangest subjects I’ve heard about but incredibly compelling and particularly powerful to several members of the group.

mastermind-group

Robin Hood Marathon

As the official training partner with the Robin Hood Marathon & Half Marathon. September 29 was the culmination of a lot of work over the previous months.

Not just from me, but for the thousands of runners who had been training for the events.

I was unable to pace the race last year due to a quad tear after my 10 marathons, but this year I was in good shape and down for pacing the 1:40 half marathon.

I had a full team of pacers and Mizuno had provided the kit for everyone in advance.

The event itself was extremely well organised and the route one of the best I have run.

Warm up

Before the countdown to the starters gun I took my place on the stage to get some of the runners warmed up.

 

warm up

Sharing the stage with Sammy The Hamster

warm up

Warm up

Ironman triathlon goal

hever castle

Hever Castle: The Next Goal

After the 24 hour ultra run earlier this year I knew that I was going to be looking for a new challenge in 2016.  

I thought that I was going to be drawn towards the 400m on the track – the distance I used to race over at university.

But after a few weeks of not feeling inspired by the training I decided to relent and give in to the calling of the iron-distance triathlon.

This really does present a huge challenge for me as I have always found swimming challenging.

As a result I haven’t been swimming since I last did a short triathlon 4 years ago.  

This included a 400m pool swim, which involved me stopping every 2 lengths to catch my breath and then my hamstrings cramping as I exited the pool.

My challenge is to get fit enough to complete a 2.4 mile open water swim followed by a 112 mile bike ride followers by a full marathon.

Once I can nail this swim I know the rest will fall into place, and I’m looking forward to the beginner’s journey.