Frogs and posteriorties (part 1)


Frogs and posteriorties (part 1)

19 Jan ’19 Leadership 0

Back in late March, having heard about “Marine time,” (4:30am alarm), I decided to move my morning alarm back to 5am from 6am. At that point, the prospect of my morning alarm starting with a four, seemed… unsociable.

If you are interested in this story, in Marine time, then with little effort, you will bump into retired Navy SEAL and father of four, Jocko Willink. It really is his pitch. It has become a personal leadership, successful people thing.

At April half-term, three unconnected coincidences prompted a response.

  • An unhappy summer suit-fitting – I needed a larger suit jacket and trousers. I was mortified. My children mischievously called me “Daddy Pig.” I bought the same size suit. I didn’t wear it (I couldn’t), rather I hung it up my wardrobe, in it’s suit cover. I carried on wearing my old suit.
  • My 44th birthday – My wife bought me a Ninja and Joe Wicks cook book.
  • Lighter, warmer mornings.

With my birthday money I treated myself to some reasonably priced, over-the-ear bluetooth headphones and committed to running every morning instead of two or three mornings a week. The headphones were not hideously expensive and they keep my ears warm when out I am running. Cable-free is a small delight. From the cookbook, overnight oats, now a staple in my daily routine.

I moved my alarm back to 4:45am. Jocko Willink style, I packed my gym bag, got my work clothes ready and prepped my oats and drink (fresh coffee) before I went to bed.

4:45am, commute, run, work – school. After two-three weeks, I started feeling better about myself. The roads were quieter, the drive was less stressful and I gained 10 minutes. I enjoyed my drive-time podcasts. I was enjoying the beauty and solace of early mornings around the Devil’s Punchbowl. Particularly sunrise, bird song and the occasional deer. I was exploring different runs routes and podrunner mixes. I didn’t rate the power-dribble-shower and when students used my towel.

I was more productive during those uninterrupted seventy-minutes before my run, than at any other time in the working day. I felt that I was more ‘available’ to staff during the teaching day and felt more present in those important conversations. I even started to plan and prioritise the conversations I wanted to convene. I felt less guilty on the days that I did leave work at 4pm, gaining me another 10 minutes by avoiding the home-time bottleneck where the Portsmouth traffic joined the M27. I ate dinner at the dinner table, with my family, three nights of the week. I made better food choices during the day, because I had invested in myself (why waste that effort). I watched less television, mainly because I was little use to anyone after 10pm. I slept more contently.

Sunrise at the Devil’s Punchbowl

At the start of the half-term holiday, I got the suit out of the cupboard and tried it on… hopefully. I had to take it back. 6 weeks, 30 morning runs, sensible eating… I needed smaller suit.

Without the routine of work, I found it hard to keep going during the summer holidays. We holidayed, my wife worked part time and I had parenting duties. I put a few pounds back on but easily stayed in the ‘smaller’ suit. As soon as September kicked in, so did the routine.

I am not going to lie. Winter is tough. I bought two pairs of running leggings and some long sleeve running shirts. Two pairs of running shoes are essential. One pair drying, one pair to run in. As it got colder and darker, I had to flip the work-run routine. It was too cold and too dark. 4:45am, commute, work, run – school. Even then, I had to buy a rechargeable head lamp as it was still pitch black making my way out to the Devil’s Punchbowl at 6:45am.

For me personally, and I can only speak from a personal perspective, 4:45am has been a game changer for me. Now you may be thinking I am a lone wolf. Then you would be wrong. Check out the support for #teacher5oclockclub. A little mutual, moral support, much like Willinks watch photo, goes a long way on the tough mornings. Thank you Paul – for being our Jacko Willinks (not seen you on a run yet?).

What has this all got to do with frogs. That’s connect and coming in part 2. It is how I made those seventy minutes in the morning the most productive seventy minutes in my day.


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