Running, healthy eating and leadership coaching – what’s the relationship? - Freedom Works UK Running, healthy eating and leadership coaching – what’s the relationship? - Freedom Works UK
person enjoying freedom in an open space at dusk

A few weeks ago, I had a chat with a friend about why I am putting so many posts about my running and photos of my cooking while 75% of my work is leadership coaching.

There are parallels and each activity has the same issues and concerns associated with for it to be successful.

So, I’m putting all 3 side by side to compare and see what we see.


preson running for exercise on the road

01/05/2020: It’s the 22nd consecutive 8k runs I have done in the last 25 days.

It’s taken me just over 8 months to get to this level of consistency with my running. And 1 year and 8 months to get to 87kgs in weight (from over 100kgs in weight) and reverse type 2 diabetes.

But every morning when the alarm goes off at 6am to get up to run, there is more often than not, hesitancy. A disbelief that I can quite do this.

But I ignore it and get on with the action.

a bowl of healthy colourful salad food

My problem is that I am a good cook, I have a good palette so I am prone to eat and I used to eat all the staff that tasted great. And everything was fried in oil or butter, or made of rice or wheat and full of sugar or salt. Not good if you want to lose weight.

About 1 year and 8 months ago, I started a revolution of not frying everything, gave up alcohol, sugar, wheat, rice, dairy (apart from cheese, occasionally). I reinvented menus which were low in glycaemic index and no added fats, sugars or carbs.

Choosing to eat healthy vs not is still a daily choice.

people jumping out of a plane, parachuting, representing freedom

Life Works Be Free Be A Leader Programme is a 7 month leadership coaching programme that has been in development for 10 years. The essence of the programme is to enable the participants to make the impossible possible and do it.

Before the programme starts, there is a 4hour stand alone setup session, this is to enable participants to identify what is currently imossible which they would like to make possible and show how the programme over 7 months would enable them to do it. At the end of this they will have to either commit or leave, but make the choice then and there and not go away and think about it.


preson running for exercise on the road

As I begin a run, initially there is always hesitancy, maybe there is a little niggle somewhere or its raining or its too cold or too hot.

But I have learnt not to heed those concerns and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

To alleviate boredom, I run different courses each day, each 8k long run is slightly different and listen to music in my Spotify.

And also, at the beginning I set out at an easy comfortable space, influenced by Deepak Chopra’s notion of “effortless” running.

I have also found that there is a posture for running. And as long as you stick to the posture, I remain injury free. So, I stick to the posture consciously and after a while it becomes a habit.

I remember that I have learnt so many things that I can do by this process that I couldn’t have told you before.

a bowl of healthy colourful salad food

I imagine a recipe for next day each day. I have to think of my eating principles of no high glycaemic index food (wheat/rice, mostly vegetables, meat and fish), no added fat/oil, no added sugar and dairy free.

Then I go shopping for the ingredients and occasionally have to adjust the ingredient on the hop as they may not be available on the shelf and have to think about the taste and flavours.

Then, I start the process. This often involves chopping ingredients, or getting ingredients ready, like toasting and grinding spices, whisking, blending, mixing etc.

Then in my head I work out the order of the cooking or the process, what goes in first and what’s next. Tasting for seasoning or the taste I’m looking for as the dishes develop. Correcting and balancing the tastes.

It’s a real learning curve while all this is happening, will it pay off as you imagined?

people jumping out of a plane, parachuting, representing freedom

It takes people an enormous amount of courage to commit to the programme at the end of the setup session.

They are unsure, scared but completely committed to their gold medal outcome or making what is impossible for them possible and doing it.

Then set up to achieve a smaller result which ends up as a stepping stone for the main result by the end of 9 3hour sessions which is called Be Free.

Each session, week or 2 weeks apart according to the schedule we all agree to, they take on a result to do with the end of 9 session result.

The idea is either to achieve it or fail to achieve it, and be in action, and use a tool they learn each session to set themselves free and be in action and deal whatever comes up.


preson running for exercise on the road

Each day I run a different route, that means 7 different routes a week, they do of course cris-cross bits of others but there are parts that are just on that route.

So, there are different challenges in each of them. The traffic, the walkers and other runners, rain or cold or both, wind etc but there is this feeling I can go on running all day.

The most annoying thing is smokers on the track or the road. My lungs react badly, so I end up coughing. Also, the air pollution makes me cough as well. But since the lock down there is a marked improvement in the air quality.

Then, on different days I feel different even in the run, some days I feel like a slug trying to run and on other days I seem to have a spring in my step and feeling fine.

Some routes are more challenging than others because they have big hills to run up. But I take it all in my stride and run as fast as my body and my technique allows me to. As I know mine is a longer race than just this one run or just this one moment.

a bowl of healthy colourful salad food

Each time I cook, I try to have a little adventure in cooking. In this lock down time I have been more adventurous in trying out new recipes, for example making souffle’s, but not with butter, flour or sugar!

That is challenging because a banana souffle without sugar is a bit dull, but then if I added some dates which are naturally sweet, then it sweetens up and not with lashings of artificial sugar.

I have also made brownies without butter, sugar or flour (wheat) and that too became a triumph at first time but then I attempted a cake which was a cake but wasn’t quite or tried to make ravioli from rye flour pasta which was not at all successful. So, there were some experiments that didn’t turn out to be right.

But when I made pasta with rye flour, that was also a great triumph as I never made things like that before, as my strengths were curries or sauces or Asian type savoury dishes.

But I take it as a part of the challenge to go beyond my limits of cooking ability to try and dare to come up with new ideas.

people jumping out of a plane, parachuting, representing freedom

During the programme, participants systematically take on all the areas they want to be champions at. These could be life, career, business, relationships, leading a team or a company, making transitions successfully etc.

But I have also helped people to challenge themselves to deal effectively with anxiety, social anxiety and depression. The kind of subjects that coaching didn’t attempt to tackle, but from a very different angle. As a result, people were able to leave behind habitual patterns of anxiety, social anxiety or depression for good.

One of the occupational hazards of taking on identifying and then making the impossible happen, is that this is completely unchartered territory for those people and all the usual tricks of the trade doesn’t work here, if it did, they would have achieved those results.

It makes people unstoppable in perusing what they want to do and to invent new ways of taking action and doing things they previously couldn’t do, just like I couldn’t in my running and cooking.

They try and fail, get up again and try and then succeed. I provide a safe and secure space to fail.


preson running for exercise on the road

After completing a run and walking back home, the feeling is of a complete satisfaction. Yes, you are tired and your clothes are wet but physically you feel really great, mentally you feel so accomplished and calm. The rest of the day is now all ahead of you and you are looking forward to it, awake and ready to go.

So, I get home, and rest for about 30 minutes, have a glass of water and a warm cup of tea, then have a shower, first warm and after 5 minutes turn on cold, and have a cold shower for 10 minutes, dry and apply tiger balm to main muscles ie thighs, hamstrings, knees, calves, ankles and feet. This calms down all my tired hot muscles and prevent physical aches.

Then a nice breakfast.

a bowl of healthy colourful salad food

I usually wait about 15/30 minutes before eating each dish after making it.

90% of the time, the results are fantastic and the dishes ends up in Facebook and LinkedIn. The 10% are bad to terrible but they are learning points.

People share lots of stuff in those sites, mostly their opinions about politics or the subject of their work. I share results of my cooking and running, it’s my self-expression, I don’t run the world of politics or operate the environment or fix other problems, I take myself out of the NHS que or do something which I can affect in the wold and people say they get inspired by my shares.

people jumping out of a plane, parachuting, representing freedom

People accomplish things that were not possible for them before and the life isn’t the same anymore.

In each programme, the participants not only complete this gold medal result but also invites people from their life, for pays for and leads a graduate coaching session. To coach their participants from the experience of the course.

We say, when you can give away what you got, you can have it for ever.

And that’s what they get, to have their life work, and they get to be free and be leaders of their lives.

We transform lives and develop leaders with a purpose

Join us this Sunday 3rd May, to talk about all these 3 aspects of life under lockdown.