Salomon S-Lab Advance Skin 12 REVIEW

For years I persisted with hydration pack after pack and for years I was left chaffed, frustrated and above all, massively out of pocket. My latest purchase, which I spent another £65 on was made because it alleged that it’s cutting edge technology promised to solve all of the common issues a runner might encounter on a 50+ mile race…throughout the last five frustrating and chaffing years I have been considering buying a Salomon S-Lab pack, the reason I hadn’t was simple, I thought it was too expensive and no pack could justify the cost (£150 on the Salomon website at the moment)

The result of this typical Scottish frugalness was a total spend of £265 on various different packs that just left me disappointed and sore.

For me 2016 was going to be my return to ultra running, I had run ultras every year but nothing that had truly challenged me or pushed me so with this in mind I signed up for the West Highland Way Race which is 96 miles across the entire route. I once again bought a pack I thought was better value than the Salomon one and found myself three months into 2016 again frustrated and let down. In April of this year I was fortunate enough to be given some kit from Salomon to trial and review, the kit included the S-Lab Adv 12 pack that I’d been lusting after for years!

As soon as the pack arrived I couldn’t wait to try it on, the instant difference between this and all other packs I have bought was the fit, it was so snug and wrapped itself around my body (I’m a 38″ chest and have a M/L size) I decided to trial it by running around my back garden for a few minutes, it felt good but I thought I should probably get out on the trail and give it a proper test.

I headed up the Pentland Hills in Edinburgh on a cicrular 16 mile route following the Pentland Skyline, the course has over 6,000ft of ascent so would test the pack for comfort and also convenience for hydration and eating.

One big benefit that this pack has over the other ones I’ve tried before is that the Soft Flasks are located on the front of the pack…see the image below…I have found that by having the flasks here it’s easy to access your water/energy drink without actually having to remove the bottles or break stride to take a drink, they are also very easy to refill and take in and out of the pouches they sit in.


My only issue with using Salomon’s Soft Flasks is that once you’ve taken a couple of drinks from them they slip into the pouch and can be fiddly to reach, once you get used to this it gets easier. Apart from this small issue it’s a good system that will ensure you remember to drink regularly on your long races/training runs. You can sometimes hear  water sloshing around but considering it’s on the front of your chest it’s still quieter than all my other packs. If you need extra water the pack does accommodate a bladder, while it doesn’t come with a bladder but does come with a bladder pouch that will help hold your bladder of choice inside and keep it cool which was a nice touch.

You can tell that the materials used to create the pack are of the highest quality, you can also definitely understand when you use it that Salomon has worked closely with top athletes to design the S-Lab range. The pack has very few seams and stitching to minimise chaffing and it is made of a very stretchy mesh material which moves with your body so you almost forget that it’s there.

The pack is available in three different sizes, the 3l, 5l and 12l. For me only the 12l pack would be big enough for the type of races that I do but it’s great to have different options and I reckon the 3l could be a great pack for a marathon distance, especially a road marathon so you don’t have to bother with aid stations as they can sometimes be crowded and an accident waiting to happen.

For the 12l pack that I have there is plenty of storage, on the 12l pack there are two zip closed pouches at the lower back of the pack that are easy to reach around and grab a gel or food from without stopping running or breaking stride. There is a larger area of the pack which again is closed by zip, it is surprisingly spacious for a pack that weights only 285g and I’ve been able to comfortably fit everything in this pack that I needed for a 42 mile training run (although I did have to pick up more water from a (fast) running stream in the Scottish Highlands)

One thing I noticed is that there are no waterproof places within the bag so if you plan to run with a gadget/phone you’d have better hope for dry weather and carry it or get a waterproof pouch for it because unless you don’t sweat the pack will get wet and so will the contents of the pack, I almost lost a phone and only a hairdryer (my Wife’s not mines!) saved it from dying all together.

When it comes to actually putting the pack on, I have already said that it’s a great fit and I think that a big part of this comes down to the fastening system at the front, there are plastic clips on either side of the back at regular spacings, there are four material straps at the front with their own clips, you clip the plastic parts together and pull the chords tight, it’s really easy to use but does require some practice, again I am so pleased that there is no chaffing or even movement with this fastening system.


After waiting so many years and wasting so much money on other packs it’s been wonderful to finally try out the Salomon S-Lab Adv 12 Set, I can safely say that I will now never buy another pack other than the S-Lab range because from my experience it’s just not worth it.

The West Highland Way Race is next week (18th June)  where i’ll really put the pack to the test and my own mind and body and it’s good to know that there’s at least one piece of kit I don’t have to worry about letting me down.

  • STRETCH FIT Ultra form fitting, stretch material with stretch sternum straps create a tight but comfortable fit that lets you breathe
  • LIGHTWEIGHT Lightweight materials and streamlined design keep weight down.
  • VERSATILITY Enables different hydration solutions, and works great for running, hiking, cycling, etc.
  • WEIGHT500
  • PACK WEIGHT (LB OZ)11.64 oz
  • DIMENSIONS42 x 20 cm
  • PACK WEIGHT (G)285

Sizing Chart (According to

  • CM
  • IN
  • SIZE
  • 75-80
  • 29 7/8-31 1/2
  • XXS
  • 80-97
  • 31 1/2-38 1/4
  • XS/S
  • 97-109
  • 38 1/4-42 7/8
  • M/L
  • 109-120
  • 42 7/8-46 1/2
  • XL
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Ultramarathon Foods

I wrote this blog post a long time ago (2013) and have deciced to call is ‘Endurance Foods’ it was a brain dump of foods that i’ve used to get through ultramarathons over the last few years. What I find funny when reading this list now is that I don’t eat many of the foods here now, i have adapted my intake of food to one that is less random to a well planned and thought out nutrition goal for each race.

I’ll post another article explaining what I eat for long runs later this week but for the meantime here is my old list, do you have anything to add to this list or is there anything on here that doesn’t agree with your training/racing?

2013 Post – Ultramarathon Foods

I have been drawing up a list of everyday foods that I like to eat when running long distances.

There is quite a bit of information out there on this subject but I personally find it confusing and a little over the top for someone who just wants to enjoy their running and get to the finish in one piece.

I’ve gathered this from my own experiences and from feedback from other runners. It is in no way a list collated by experts just people who have experience of going long and eating what they like and need to keep on going.

There are some elite ultra-runners who prefer a plant powered diet and that seems to serve them well, people like Scott Jurek and Rich Roll also the Paleo Diet is said to work wonders for endurance and health.

Then there are people like Dean Karnazes who has been known to eat a large pizza during long runs, at the end of the day it’s whatever works for you.

All of these foods contain high volumes of carbs, sugar, fat and protein. Some of them contain all of these items and some of them have a balanced mix.

You can and probably should incorporate energy drinks/sodium tablets into training/racing but these can be overprice. It is possible to make your own drinks and take care of your electrolyte needs by mixing half orange juice, half water with a small amount of salt.

Getting energy from real food is always better, not that some of the items on this list can even claim to be whole foods or even natural.

Please feel free to add your favourites in the comments below and also note that these are in no particular order.

1. Jelly Babies

2. Muffins

3. Cookies

4. Haribo

5. Flapjacks

6. Rice Pudding

7. Yoghurt

8. Cereal Bar

9. Pop Tarts

10. Baked Potato

11. Jam Sandwich

12. Bananas

13. Macaroon Bars

14. Carrot Cake

15. Fig Rolls

16. Dried Fruit

17. Snack a Jacks

18. Jaffa Cakes

19. Swiss Roll

20. Hot Cross Buns

21. Tree Nuts

22. Potato Salad

23. Hot Dogs

24. Sausage Roll

25. Oranges

26. Baked Beans

27. Nectarines

28. Cous Cous

29. Porridge

30. Tea Cakes

31. Soreen or any Malt Loaf

32. Rice Crispie Squares

33. Salt and Vinegar Crisps (I don’t think flavour is important)

34. Cold Tuna Pasta (Whole-wheat is best)

35. Honey Sandwich (Brown Bread at least)

36. Nutella Sandwich

37. Granola Bar

38. Walnut Cake

39. Figs

40. Fresh Beetroot

41. Fresh Grapes

42. Fresh Blueberries

43. Pot Noodle

44. Custard

45. Turkish Delight

46. Chocolate

47. Watermelon

48. Beef Jerky

49. Lentil Soup (Or any other)

50. Skittles

and finally…the best of the lot

51. Peanut Butter and Jam Sandwich!





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The Devil O Highlands Ultra

The Devil o Highlands Footrace is a 42 mile Ultramarathon that takes place on the northern part of the West Highland Way from Tyndrum to Fort William. It is scenic and has over 7,000ft of ascent.

This was the first time I’ve ever run this part of the West Highland Way, the furthest north I had been on the route was to Tyndrum whilst running the Highland Fling. I have to be honest and say that when I left Edinburgh on Friday to head to Fort William I was feeling a little apprehensive about the race.

I felt that my preparations for this event had gone well, I had taken part in the Edinburgh Marathon in May and also completed a new event called Run100 an event that saw a small group of runners run from Inverness to the Skye Bridge. The terrain on Run100 was similar to the Devil O Highlands and I find that repeatedly running on tired legs is always good preparation for an ultra. I followed up Run100 by completing two long runs in the Pentland Hills following the Pentland Skyline route which over the course of 16 miles has over 6,000ft of ascent.

After checking into our hotel we headed out for dinner and then to bed for an early night, the bus that had been organised to take runners to the start line was due to leave at 4am so I didn’t want to risk missing it.

We arrived at Tyndrum and the Green Welly was already alive with excitement and the familiar buzz of runners just keen to get started. This is the part I dislike the most, waiting to start the race.

The Start

The Start

As soon as the race began I felt a sense of relief and normally I wouldn’t listen to any music whilst running but for an unknown reason I decided that today I would listen to my music for the duration of the run.

The first 6 miles were very runable, pleasant underfoot and the majority of this was flat. The first 6 miles to Bridge of Orchy would take just 51 minutes, I arrived at the 6 mile checkpoint feeling great and excited for the rest of the course.

I made it to Glencoe (mile 18) and I was feeling very hot, I had started with my OMM jacket on but after less than a mile I had to remove it, my top was drenched partly because of sweat but also because the Scottish weather was very damp and the air was wet with mist. I was delighted to see some familiar faces at the Glencoe checkpoint, Debbie Consani, Paul Giblin and Sharon Law. It was brilliant having some of the countries top ultra runners looking after us and their checkpoint was like a well oiled machine. Debbie stuffed by pack with my drop bag items and handed me a can of coke and simply said ‘you look like you need a can of coke’ (thanks Debbie!) I asked Sharon how far it was to the devils staircase and she said around 4 miles and that this was the best part of the course coming up but she also said that it was ‘a bit cheeky’…

I made a decision not to stop until I reached the bottom of the devils staircase then I would walk up it and take on some food/liquids. I had wanted to climb the devils staircase for years and finally I was getting my chance, the gift if reaching the top…a 6 mile downhill into Kinlochleven.

At the top of the Devils Staircase

At the top of the Devils Staircase


Upon reaching the top of the staircase I was met by two people dressed as devils, I couldn’t work out if I was hallucinating but I decided to give them a wave and a hug as I was excited for the 6 miles down into Kinlochleven (KLL), finally some downhill!

There’s a well known phrase, be careful what you wish for and it definitely applies here, as I began my descent into KLL it became apparent that the path was not the soft, pine cone laden, muddy trail that I had hoped for but instead it was a path filled with wet, slippy rocks. I’m sure most of them had the potential to be ankle breakers and I felt like I kicked every single stone on the way down, it’s still unclear whether two of my toenails are going to survive the week after taking a beating on this section.

The third checkpoint where runners could get their drop bags was at KLL (mile 28) I had been happy to reach this checkpoint in 4hr 40mins which was 20 minutes faster that I had estimated. Unfortunately Ferelith hadn’t managed to get to the checkpoint in time to see me pass through, when she arrive I had already been and gone 10 minutes before. Up until this point I was feeling very well, I walked for roughly half a mile whilst I ate the contents of the drop bag before arriving at the bottom of a hill. Now, this is where it wen’t a bit pear shaped for me, having never run the route and being honest never having done any research on it I hadn’t factored in a big muckle hill at this point, turns out this was the biggest ascent of the day at 1,000ft in height and it completely took it out of my legs.

I lost over 14 places on this climb and it’s really given me food for thought on what areas of my running i need to improve and work on, uphill is definitely a must but not just running, simply hillwalking regularly would help me with this part of the ultra racing so that’s what I intend to do for my future races.

I found the section from KLL to Lundavra really tough, probably the hardest part for me, to give you some perspective it took me almost 3hr 30mins to run the last 14 miles, with the undulating route I simply couldn’t get into a rhythm.

After 42.5 miles and 8hrs 08mins of running I made it to Fort William and the finish line, I was aiming for 7hr 30m but as it was my first time I chose to give myself a break at the end and vow to be back next year faster and wiser and possibly wearing a triple crown. That will depend on whether I am lucky enough to get into the West Highland Way Race.



Thank you to all who supporter and organised and to Ferelith for coming to support me.

Congratulations to Donnie and Caroline who took first places male and female.

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Day 6: Are we nearly there yet?

Maggie's Run 100

Are we nearly there yet? I feel so free and alive! Where is that bloody bridge???!!! Just some of the things we uttered on today’s final run.

After 5 days on the road we found ourselves on the home straight of our run across Scotland, well…as much as an 18 mile run can be considered a home straight!

The day started with an early rise followed by a short drive to the start point in Morvich. The opening 5 miles were along a road which thankfully had a small, narrow pavement. After the opening miles we took a sharp right and started making our way up a steep climb towards a lookout point. The hill would take our breath away but not as much as we were promised the views would that we would meet at the top. Sadly the weather had other ideas and we were met by mist…

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Day 4: Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

Maggie's Run 100

This morning, we all woke up feeling a little on the achy side! After a much needed breakfast, we set out on our daily run this time leaving straight from our hotel where we finished yesterday.

A field full of cows was our first point of interest – one wandered over to us intrigued at what we were doing but soon lost interest when she realised we clearly didn’t have any food!

We then climbed a steady hill which, when you have run c. 50 miles in previous days, you could definitely feel in the legs! We powered on through and soon we were high up with incredible views of the valley below.

Carrying on through Scotland’s beautiful native woodland, we followed the path round which led us to amazing views of Loch Beinn a’ Mheadhoin which we were to follow for the rest of the run. The loch is…

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Day Two: Crash, Bang, Wallop!

Follow our 100 mile running adventure across Scotland!

Maggie's Run 100

After a hearty breakfast, the team were ready to depart the hotel at 9am. Daunted about the day ahead, there was a mixture of nerves and excitement on the bus as we headed back to where we finished the day before, Maggie’s Highlands. On arrival, we were papped by various photographers and fed quality streets by our fabulous host Andrew… Fraser was delighted to discover the last strawberry one!

Eventually we set off towards the Inverness Caledonian Thistle stadium and three miles later we were there. This was our chance to see the sea so we could truly do “coast to coast” and again have various photos taken.

We then set off in the direction of Skye and towards what can only be described as a pretty massive hill! One thing that became clear was how much hill training Joanna had been doing… she literally can sprint up them un-phased…

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24hr Treadmill Run Report

Looking back on this – no idea how I managed this!

It is now Wednesday 3rd August, I finished my 24hr treadmill run on Friday 29th July at 6pm.

I have mixed emotions about the event, as usual with ultra runs I found it to be….

Very hard, not that hard, mentally taxing, amazing, frustrating and inspiring – all at the same time.

Unless you have run ultras before it is hard to explain what goes through your head during a run of this distance.

I arrived at the Corinthinan Club on Wednesday morning for a photo call with Miss Scotland, we had a laugh with the treadmill and some jelly (Wobbly Williams being the charity) but at the back of my mind I knew what was about to happen, I knew the range of emotions I was about to go through and I felt ready.

My DNF at the West Highland Way race had really rocked my confidence, it had never happened…

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Interview with Natural Hero

Mark Cooper

Name: Mark Cooper

Hometown: Edinburgh

Sports: Running, cycling, rowing, anything outdoors really.


To me, my biggest achievement has to be completing my first ever 10k race back in 2007, I had just given up a 20 a day smoking habit and this really proved to me that I could achieve things with the right attitude. Despite this I am probably best known for other things. Such as, running 129.2 miles in 24 hours on a treadmill in July 2011 and running 50 marathons in 56 days from Amsterdam to Barcelona.

Cycling Lands End to John O Groats in 2009 – 11 days 1,000 miles. Setting a course record for running Hadrian’s Wall – July 2010 100 miles in 16 hours 59 minutes.

I also took part in a team event this year called the Trip to Remember where we cycled from Dublin to Arklow, rowed the Irish sea, which took 19 hours and then hiked 20 miles to the top of Snowdon all within 33 hours, non-stop.

Tips for the top:

If you want to run then you have to really learn to love it, it has to become part of your life. Otherwise it will be a real struggle and you will probably end up giving in. Remember to keep sight of why you started and enjoy if for what it is – being outdoors and going to new places. It is really important not too concerned with what other people are doing in a race, just remain focussed on your own training. Also take time to run without your watch, without a goal, just run for the love of it (not that easy in the beginning when you feel like your hearts is going to burst).

Where it hurts:

Shin splints and knees strains are pretty common for the runner, knee injuries and metatarsal tares and feet problems. The key is to build up your training slowly, don’t push yourself too fast. If I had a really serious injury I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t run. Really thinking about your posture and getting the right footwear can help to prevent the majority of injuries. I never followed any of the rules to running when I started, I went from running 30 miles a week to over 100 the week after, silly looking back but I survived and fortunately I have never had an injury that has stopped me from training.

Greatest thing about the great outdoors:

There are two main things that I love about running. The first is meeting new people at races and the opportunities to talk with people that I wouldn’t meet any other way. The second is that you miss so much if you’re in a car or even on a bike. When you’re running you get to see things differently, from a different angle. You can go into the woods or down a track and then your back to basics. It’s me, my running shoes and the trail – nothing else.

Who are your sporting heroes:

Sporting hero, I would have to say Kelly Holmes, she is a tough and amazing woman. Watching her win double gold was a moment I still remember and for a young person like I was then to see that is very inspiring. Mo Farah is also up there, watching him win double gold in London was incredible. Again we can only hope that people like Mo can inspire a young generation to get active and perhaps create the future Olympians but more than that just get the youth more into sport in general.

Outside of sport it would have to be my Dad – A lot of questions were asked of him when my Mother passed away and he answered every single one of them perfectly, raising me and my Brother to be polite, caring and ambitious.

How I use Natural Heroes:

I have used the ginger rub for recovery after an run on the West Highland Way and found it to be soothing with a nice warming sensation. Would recommend it over products like deep heat as these only irritate the skin to produce heat.

Twitter: @runwithmark

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So you want to run to work?

Finding the time to exercise when you have a busy lifestyle can be challenging, one of the best ways to do this is to run to work. For two years I never took a bus to or from work, while at first this seems impossible after a couple of weeks and once you’ve created your routine, you will wonder why you ever took the bus.

My distance from work was 3.7 miles, so not terribly far. I used to run to work and then on the run home I’d add in extra miles to make my daily distance a minimum of 7.4 miles.

The best news is, if you live in a traffic congested city like Edinburgh, beating the bus home is a regular occurrence and actually a good challenge to aim for. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing that bus pull out and then seeing it pull in once you get home and have your feet up.

—It’s not difficult to do this but you do have to be organised—

The only thing that could possibly stop your dream of running to work would be if there are no shower facilities at your office/shop. Unless you want to walk around smelling like a yeti (and I did on occasions when the shower was broken) then you should always have a wash when arriving at work! Without fail!

You’ll also need to make sure you have the right amount of working clothes in the office so that you don’t get caught short, then there’s the dreaded realisation that you don’t have enough underpants and have to either go commando or wear those post run pants (also not good from experience)

There is a great website which is all about commuting to work on foot, click HERE to see some of it’s useful tips and advice on breakfast/kit and weight loss from running to work.

Here is my list of what you’ll need to think about before you start running to work…

1. Shower facilities at work or in a nearby gym – You definitely need these unless you work alone because if you don’t you might find yourself alone very quickly.

2. Get your kit organised at the start of the week, I used to take the bus to work on a Monday and take all my work clothes for the week in with me and then I only had to run to work and get dressed when I arrived. On a Friday at 5pm, i’d take it all back home again. This sounds like an almighty chore but once you get into a routine you’ll be packing your things in less than 10 minutes.

3. Kit you’ll need

Proper running shoes (obviously)

Running backpack or bum back for your phone/keys/wallet. Try and carry as little as possible unless you are used to running with weight on your back. I run with an OMM Ultra 15 bag and a Nathan waist pouch with water bottle holder.

Leggings and shorts for cold/hot seasons weather.

Running top that wicks sweat away from your body .

Running socks – I recommend Injinji toe socks.

Waterproof Jacket – I wear a Montane lightweight jacket that’s great in all weathers/seasons.

And for your recovery I’d recommend the amazing Natural Hero, hot ginger rub just DO NOT touch your eyes afterwards! It’s burns.

Here are some links to other interesting articles on running to work…GET OUT THERE!

Run to work

Running to work

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The best presentation I’ve ever seen

My life is richer because I came across this video and watched it, thank you Scott Harrison

Visit for details on how to help

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Slow Life Down

At work today I was chatting with some colleagues and the topic of time passing so quickly came up. A prime example of that was this year and how the hell it’s only 12 weeks until Christmas 2013. It got me thinking about ways in which I could slow down time. Not literally but seemingly.

Modern live with all of our new technology are meant to save us time but instead we have become obsessed with them and as a result life can simply pass us by as we stare at our phone screen or browse the www, I realise the irony of typing this while sitting at a laptop but these new shiny gadgets are exciting and fill us with moments of entertainment. In my experience this enjoyment is fleeting and eventually lead me to questions like; What else could I be doing with my time that is more productive and meaningful.

I am not entirely sure that it has to be like this so I’ve come up with some new approaches which I am going to try and integrate into my daily life.

For this slow life to work I am going to have to take the time to enjoy my mornings, get up an hour earlier and sit with my own thoughts and have some breakfast and coffee. Too long have I woke up, run into the shower and then right out the door with toast in my hand. I’ll have to be in the moment and mindful instead of letting my mind wander off worrying about work and what I don’t have or what I do have. I’ll get back out running and into the outdoors to just be and enjoy everything the world would have to offer if all of the gadgets and conveniences were to disappear.

This is a decision I am taking and I am sure it’ll lead to a happier and more fulfilling life. Not that I am not happy but I reckon I could be even happier if I follow these simple steps.

The plan

1. Clear the diary. It’s in my nature to want to be busy, I get bored easily but I am going to make a choice to cut out a lot of activities that I used to do. I don’t mean catching up with Friends and Family, I mean looking at my phone, watching television or looking at the internet. I’ll focus on what’s really important, what really needs to be done, and let go of the rest.

2. Be in the moment. By this I mean pay attention to what you are doing, I often eat lunch and realise afterwards that I haven’t even tasted any of it, i’ve been that distracted by work or checking the news online. From now on I’ll stop to have a quiet moment in the day to enjoy what I am doing at present. Focus on your actions, on your environment, on others around you. This will take practice but I reckon it’s vital.

3. Turn the phones etc OFF It’s simple, switch your phone or laptop off and don’t wonder if anyones been in touch, you deserve a break from it at points in the day.

4. Focus on people. I was at the pub with some mates, there was 5 of us, I looked around the table and not one of them were having a discussion. Instead they were playing games and on social media. What is going on??? If you are with a Friend or Family member surely you are there to see them? I’m going to stop and pay more attention, simply visiting someone is not enough if you can’t genuinely spare some time to pay attention to them.

5. Appreciate nature. There’s nothing more grounding than sitting in a forest or walking on a beach to make you realise that you are only an mammal on this earth. You might think that you control life and that we rule the world but in actual fact we are only here at Mother natures mercy. It’s really soul affirming to spend sometime getting back to nature.

6. Eat slower. Instead of cramming food down our throats as quickly as possible — leading to overeating and a lack of enjoyment of our food — learn to eat slowly. This is something I am definitely going to struggle with!

7. Find pleasure in anything. Whether it’s the housework or washing the car, try and find something enjoyable in what you are doing. Nobody likes to do the ironing or hoover the car out but why not do it with someone and make it fun, yes you are doing a task or chore but if you’re doing it with someone then it’ll be more fun.

8. Breathe. When you can feel that your blood pressure is rising and that you are getting slightly frantic, take a deep breathe and remember that most things in life are actually pretty trivial and often not as bad as they might seem.

Good luck!

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The Maggie’s to Maggie’s Challenge


When a Friend of mines, Alan Kennedy (who just finished his first ever Ironman! Congrats) asked me to speak at his new cycling themed cafe in Glasgow on Great Western Road I of course said yes.

It was only after I said yes that a thought struck me, what am I going to talk about?

In the past i’ve always spoken about my previous runs, there have been a few but this time I wanted it to be different.

I’ve been the Community Fundraiser at Maggie’s Cancer Care for just over 12 months and in that time I’ve learnt so much and met so many incredible people. I want to focus on this when I do my talk at Surface+ Cafe but also since all my previous talks have had a running story to tell I need something new to talk about.

On that note, I’ve decided to undertake a Maggie’s to Maggie’s Challenge, we have had several people who have cycled between Maggie’s centres in the UK but I’m a runner so I’ll do this on foot.

The plan is to run between the following places…

Edinburgh to Glasgow to Dundee to Kirkcaldy to Edinburgh

The distance is roughly 225 miles and I’ll aim to do the challenge in 4 days meaning a distance of around 57 miles each day.

I’ve not run an ultra since April 2012 and my training has been up and down since then but that’s because I now have a job which I love and it keeps me busy.

There comes a time though when my love of running screams out to me and this is one of those times.

You can donate to my page by clicking HERE


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I am running again!

I got my running mojo back!

I ran the Highland Fling Ultra in April 2012 and since them I haven’t run another race, I made this decision on purpose, in three years I ran nearly 9,000 miles and when my body and mind decided it needed a rest I had to oblige.
It is with great delight that I have started running again and have a load of exciting races planned for 2013, the sad part is that whilst I used to be able to string together 6 minutes miles on road now I am struggling to piece together 7min 30sec miles, this will improve though, I am sure.

Despite this I have given a new approach to my running, no longer will I strap my garmin to my wrist and hold it close like it’s some priceless piece of kit, no longer will I worry about what my resting hear rate is and even more boring that that, my VO2 Max levels, this wasn’t why I started running back in 2008, I started to stop smoking, get a sense of what I was about and to see new places whilst meeting new people.

So in 2013 that’s exactly what I am going to do, I have signed up to several races that I have never done before, it starts in March with the Endurance Life ultra in Northumberland, it’s part of their great Coastal Trail Series, it’ll be refreshing for me to do a set of new races which prevents things from going stale.

I will return to the Highland Fling in April for one reason, it’s the best race I have ever taken part in, a great day out and truly challenging.

Then I will take huge pride in running the Paris Marathon with my Girlfriend, she hasn’t run a marathon before so it’s going to be a special trip for us both as we are staying together for the entire run.

In May I get to enter Maggie’s monster bike and hike with my colleagues at Maggie’s, this will be another special event for me.

What does everyone else have one for running this year and has anyone else decided to take a break from running? I’d be interested to hear what your plans are for 2013

I have a list of all 2013’s challenges on my personal website, feel free to check the events out – CLICK HERE

All the best


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Homemade Energy Bars

Back in April I decided to make my own energy bars for the Highland Fling Ultra.

They were amazing and since then I have been asked to share the recipe by a lot of people, so here it is.
Peanut Butter, honey, oat bars


Peanut Butter, runny honey, dried fruit (I used cranberries), oats, pumpkin seeds and hazelnuts.


1. Pour as much peanut butter as you want into a bowl, make sure you know how much you have poured in.

2. Pour in half that amount of honey.

3. Heat in a microwave for 30 seconds or until the peanut butter is soft, it shouldn’t be bubbling just softer so you can mix it.

4. Mix both together and add your hazelnuts, dried fruit and oats. Amount isn’t important, just mess around until it’s a good consistency.

5. Someone said I should have added Chocolate chips, I wish I had so i’ll try that next time.

6. Lay the mixture out on a baking tray which is about at least an inch deep and stick it in the fridge.

7. Remove from fridge after about an hour and slice into portions

Enjoy! Simple and they taste amazing, they lasted well on my 10hr run, they didn’t melt and kept me fueled for the entire race.

At the end of the race, delighted with our time

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What is a Fundraiser

After two years of trying I finally landed my dream job as Community Fundraiser at Maggie’s Cancer Care in Edinburgh, The Lothians and Borders. (also Dumfries & Galloway!)

I’ve learned a lot on the past 8 weeks and I am sure it’s only the beginning but there are a two main things that have continued to rear their heads.

One is the amount of people I meet that want my job, it makes me feel very fortunate to be in a job which is in such high demand and I feel even prouder that I managed to stand out during the interview process.

The other thing that I am always asked is whether or not the job is full time or just something on the side.

What do these two things add up to? Well I think it comes down to people not really knowing what is involved in being a professional fundraiser. As I said at the start of the post, I have been learning so much over the past two months and I have a long way to go, I don’t however feel that fundraising is something you ever master, yes you can have specific messages and dynamic approaches to it but I believe that to be successful you must always be ahead of the game and willing to learn.

Our director of Fundraising wrote a post on what makes a someone a successful fundraiser and I think he has pretty much nailed it with this post.

Let me know what you think! Simple when you think about it but at the same time much more challenging that many people believe.

I once saw a job description for a fundraiser that was 7 pages long. The only thing they didn’t want to know in the person spec was their DNA.

Pages of specifics are not what’s required to find a great fundraiser. In the map we think we build for ourselves of roles, tasks, descriptions, specifications, must have’s and desirables its easy to get lost in what really matters. Some of us need the comfort of a checklist. Others find the flush of instinct and the flutter of your heart is all that’s needed. We wrestle with the experienced but frankly wrong candidate , the inexperienced and still wrong candidate and the bright spark of hope,  with no experience but all the potential. When we look at them do we see the example we want to see, the moment of warmth yet determination, the getting it bit, the confidence they can run and walk and stop when they need to and to move something on, to not just deliver but exceed?. Do we see the conscientious individual – able to wash up at the end of the evening rather than leave someone else with the mess? Some will score on the list. Some will score in the heart. Some will score in both.

Take a step back and secretly write down this list. If you are looking for a great fundraiser do you see these qualities? Some or all? A good mix maybe? The potential? The core that fits your team and the talent you can build with. And if you are a fundraiser or want to be, do you see these qualities in you? How would you make them shine?

So here are my 10 essential qualities of a great fundraiser…

  1. An inspirer– understands, harnesses and uses passion, connected to the cause, has a vision and a light
  2. An artist – sees the role and themselves as art, a beautiful thing, crafted and enjoyed
  3. An organiser – of themselves and others and gets things done, plans, see ahead, in front and behind, on time , records stuff that matters
  4. An interpreter – translates needs, desires and language to make things possible, hears more than speaks
  5. A connector – brings people together, finds networks, connections, openings, opportunities
  6. A story-teller – captivating others with the art of telling and listening to stories, collects them, writes them, speaks them
  7. A critic – curious, able to question, analyse, enquire, improve and refine
  8. A coach – helps make people and things better, helps others and themselves
  9. A collaborator – a team member, a gang member, a player, adds to the power of being together
  10. A builder – practical, does the job, like to roll their sleeves up , then take a step back, lean on the shovel and smile with pride

It’s a simple list. It’s not rocket science. It’s not DNA. Its human.

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Motivational Speaking

Earlier in 2012 I gave a presentation to 350 people at the annual Scottish Night of Adventure, hosted by Alastair Humphreys.
Hope you enjoy the video…

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Coping with Extreme Heat & Dehydration

Today I have the pleasure of posting a guest article by Mark Lyons, or on twitter as @runner786 

I have followed Mark on Twitter for a good while now and find his level of knowledge in so many disciplines very useful. A climber, kayaker, runner and a whole lot more than that his website is full of inspiration, comedy and useful articles.

See it by clicking HERE

Enjoy todays article on coping with EXTREME  hear and dehydration…

Coping with extreme heat and hydration

I do not write this article on the premise  that I am any kind of expert. I write as someone who over the past 20 years has survived in some of the world’s most inhospitable places and latterly raced/ran in extreme environment ultra-running events where my knowledge of surviving in the intense heat has again been tested, this time to achieve better performance rather than just staying alive.

As an expedition kayaker/climber I have had to be self-sufficient for long periods of time and have researched the effects heat has on the body for more years than I now care to admit. Some of the advice I have taken and the conclusions I have drawn have worked well for me and others have not. I have developed my own practices based on years of my own experience and what I write below is knowledge based on what “works” for me … my advice to anyone reading this is to utilise it as part of your own research and to try it out for yourself in advance of any situation/event that may hinge on your individual hydration plan.          

Heat and hydration: the facts

The human body, although able to survive comfortably for over a month without food, can last only a few days without water, as humans have no way of storing fluid for any longer. We are not camels; there is no hump on our back that we can fill with a month’s supply at any opportunity. Evolution has shaped us in our ability to find regular fresh water . This is to our advantage until we head to where heat is extreme and water is in short supply. In these environments hydration is essential for our bodies wellbeing; it can be the difference between life or death in extreme situations. Water helps regulate our temperature through sweat, which in turn evaporates to cool the blood flowing close to the skin, and when we exert ourselves in hot environments, we sweat a lot! This causes dehydration fast and without regular fluid replenishment our performance will suffer. Left unchecked the body will dehydrate and ultimately overheat. Symptoms can include dark urine, headaches, nausea, dizziness, hallucinations and bad diahorea . The loss of fluids also goes hand in hand with electrolyte loss and these vital salts must also be replenished.

And to make it even more complicated, as ultra runners we run over these hostile environments trying to eek our every last kilojoule of energy to get a good result in our chosen extreme race. At these times, hydration can be the deciding factor in the fine line of reaching peak performance or crashing into the abyss of fatigue and failure.

How to get the best out of your performance in extreme conditions

Dealing with extreme heat is all about the conservation and supply of water. This is the single most important factor to consider when out in the heat and my first piece of very simple advice is to cover up! Not just a hat, consider a long sleeve top and even tights. This one act will keep the skin cooler, hence your blood will cool faster and in turn reduce your need to sweat. A light wicking base layer is actually cooler than bare skin in the direct sun. Not only will it save you from sunburn, but the wicking layer spreads your sweat and gives you a larger cooling area. Some prefer a looser layer so try it and see what works best for you. Either way you will appreciate the difference. The use of a “soak” can help and these can be something as simple as a cotton neck chief regularly soaked in water or the new breed of water absorbing gel variety that retain the water and help to keep you cool for up to two hours.

In the extreme heat and dry climate of the desert a supply of water is required at all times and it needs to be easily accessible. One of the main causes of dehydration when we have adequate water available is a person’s own laziness and a hard to reach bottle can be the culprit. Even the most disciplined of us will find it all too easy to put off taking a drink if it’s difficult to reach, especially when suffering fatigue during a hard days running. So make sure water is easily accessible to avoid this.  Bottle belts, integrated bladder systems and shoulder bottles will keep water at hand, so try to use these. My advice in the desert is to drink small amounts regularly and to be aware of your own thirst. The body will signal in plenty of time when to drink, you just need to be aware of it and to react when it tells you . During my own desert runs I had permanent dry lips and throat so I had to constantly sip small amounts just to stop the dry cough and my lips cracking. This seemed to take care of my requirements, others set their watch on an interval alarm so they knew it was time to take a sip.  At all times remember to monitor your own intake against what is left in your supply and adjust your effort level accordingly. You need to make it to your goal and pacing yourself according to your fluid intake may be required.

Always remember  your electrolyte replacement when filling water bottles. Be it salt tabs taken separately from your water or a Nuun/High5 water dissolvable tablet , it’s very important. One of my very fit tent mates in the Marathon des Sable had a habit of forgetting his salt tablets and on day four I caught up with him while running across a long desert plain. As unusual as it was for me to catch a runner of his calibre, it wasn’t as crazy as the dance he appeared to be doing in front of me, hands in the air, shake them like you just don’t care! As I gained on him, I saw why he was repeatedly shaking them in the air, they were like huge fat pork sausages! He had left his salt tabs to late and had an electrolyte imbalance causing extremity fluid retention. 20 minutes later he recovered and left me for dust, literally.

The lure of high altitude races in the Himalaya and even hot alpine forays can bring other factors into the mix and dehydration at altitude can be caused simply by breathing. At only six-thousand feet you exhale and perspire moisture twice as fast as you do at sea level. The reduced air pressure allows increased evaporation from your skin and lungs, the higher you go the worse it becomes. Running, kayaking and even the slow progress of mountaineering is eating up the body’s water supply FAST ! At high altitude the body can delay in sending out the signal that it needs fluid, so careful attention to your hydration plan is required even when you’re not exerting yourself.

I personally suffered from bad dehydration while on an expedition in the Himalaya, sat in a kayak at 17,000 feet surrounded by water and yet I was unable to drink a drop due to the high silt concentration, think dark grey liquid mud. The particular section I was kayaking down was so full on that I was constantly fighting to stay upright and keep my lines. Stopping to drink fresh water was far from my mind and the headache that I thought was the cold water constantly engulfing me was actually the onset of dehydration. This happened in the space of an hour and gave me the shock of my life when I suffered a bout of dizziness as I swung into a must make eddy above a huge siphon. Dizzily swirling around trying to stay upright next to certain death is something to reinforce the need to hydrate, I’ll tell you.

My final piece of advice is that if you should suffer some kind of dehydration effects, be it the first signs of mild dehydration or the initial stages of heat stroke, then please sip the water slowly, no guzzling. Take slow regular sips until you feel yourself getting back to normal.

Have Fun.



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ASICS Gel Cumulus 13 – REVIEW

Asics Gel Cumulus 13 –

Runner – Mark Cooper

Size – 8

Weight – 335 Grams

Style – Neutral

The Asics Cumulus 13 is a great shoe which is relatively lightweight for a shoe with such fantastic cushioning. I do a lot of trail running so usually favour a pair more fitting to the terrain. However, I was keen to move my focus for the next twelve months to road running and in particular, get PB’s in all distances.

I wore the Cumulus to the Jog Scotland 5k last week and began the race not expecting much chance of a new PB. I ended up setting a new PB with a time of 18 minutes 20 seconds. The running shoes felt great all the way around and given the difficult conditions and muddy corners stood up well with my feet remaining dry. I was delighted with my new PB and I do feel that the shoe had a part to play in it.

Overall I would recommend the Cumulus to runners of all levels, the only negative I could come up with was perhaps a mid sole that was slightly on the rigid side. I am pretty much struggling to find anything else wrong with the shoe.

Also a note that I have wide feet and these felt very comfortable when they were on with a large toe guard incase you fancied having a run on the trail in them.

A very good and versatile shoe which I am confident will help me reach my goal of PB’s in every distance.


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Guest Blog – David Haas – Fitness Fun with Cancer

This is a guest blog post by David Haas from The Mesotheliona Cancer Alliance

I really believe in the content of the site so was happy for David to come on here with a post. You can follow David on Twitter – HERE

Fitness Fun With Cancer

Cancer is not a diagnosis anyone wants to receive. Just hearing the word can bring on a debilitating fear. But that doesn’t have to be the case. A person who has just been told they have skin or even mesothelioma cancer can choose how they will handle receiving such a diagnosis.

Getting cancer is something one cannot control and should not be where a person puts their energy. Instead, energy needs to be put into doing things that will make a person feel better about themselves, yet is still fun too. Fitness is perfect for not only helping the body get back into a balanced state of healing; it can also be a way to have fun and forget about any problems one may be facing.

Let’s talk about some of the ways a person dealing with cancer can bridge the gap between fitness and fun.

Exploring the City

Walking is a great way to get the body moving and can be done by anyone, no matter their fitness level. There are bound to be unexplored areas of the city in which a person lives. Taking a walk around those areas can provide a new perspective on the city. And it doesn’t have to be walking around the whole city; a person could just walk around their neighborhood, leaving each day headed in a different direction. It will burn calories while at the same time help to focus the mind on the beauty surrounding them rather than on cancer.

Sign up for a Fitness Class

Fitness classes are easy to find because they are everywhere. Whether it is the local YMCA or a fitness studio in the area, be sure to pick a class that seems interesting. If a person likes to be in the water, there are fantastic aquatic classes that are great for fitness level and easier on the joints. Or maybe a person has always wanted to take a kickboxing class, this would be the perfect time to sign up.

Join a Gym

A fitness center can be the best of all worlds for some. Any good fitness center will have a large selection of exercise equipment, including everything from stationary bikes to free hand weights. In addition, one should check to see if there are group classes available that are included as a part of the membership fee.

The key to making fitness fun is to find something that is enjoyable, because then it won’t feel like exercise. No one says a person has to pick one fitness regimen and stick to it forever; the fun part will be in trying out new things and discovering what one prefers to do in order to stay physically fit.

A person should never let something like a cancer diagnosis stop them from continuing to live their life as if it will continue on for many years to come. Fitness needs to be a priority for everyone, whether they are suffering from cancer or not.

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Steve Jobs Stanford Commencment Speech 2005

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college.  Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation.  Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born.  My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption.  She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife.  Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl.  So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?”  They said: “Of course.”  My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school.  She refused to sign the final adoption papers.  She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college.  But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition.  After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it.  I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out.  And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life.  So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK.  It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made.  The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn’t all romantic.  I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple.  I loved it.  And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on.  Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country.  Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed.  Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this.  I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great.  It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life.  But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me.  And we designed it all into the Mac.  It was the first computer with beautiful typography.  If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts.  And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them.  If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do.  Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college.  But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.  So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.  You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.  This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life.  Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20.  We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees.  We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30.  And then I got fired.  How can you get fired from a company you started?  Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well.  But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out.  When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him.  So at 30 I was out.  And very publicly out.  What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn’t know what to do for a few months.  I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down – that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me.  I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly.  I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley.  But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did.  The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit.  I had been rejected, but I was still in love.  And so I decided to start over.

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.  The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything.  It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife.  Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world.  In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance.  And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple.  It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it.  Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick.  Don’t lose faith.  I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did.  You’ve got to find what you love.  And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers.  Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.  And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.  If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.  As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.  So keep looking until you find it.  Don’t settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.”  It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”  And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.  Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.  You are already naked.  There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer.  I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas.  I didn’t even know what a pancreas was.  The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months.  My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die.  It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months.  It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family.  It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day.  Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor.  I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery.  I had the surgery and I’m fine now.

This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades.  Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die.  Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there.  And yet death is the destination we all share.  No one has ever escaped it.  And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life.  It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away.  Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.  Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.  Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.  And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.  They somehow already know what you truly want to become.  Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation.  It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch.  This was in the late 1960’s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras.  It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue.  It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age.  On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous.  Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”  It was their farewell message as they signed off.  Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.  And I have always wished that for myself.  And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry.  Stay Foolish.

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