Monday 29 January 2018

Brutal Men and Women 2018 Galleries live and all about Happiness

Be Happy.
Happy New Year (again, and yes it's almost too late to say it one last time).

One of the key "raison d'etres" for us running this business and in our work life is "to make people happy". We just happen to have chosen sport photography as the medium to do this, and if it doesn't work, then we'll try something else !

This for example is not how we aim to make you happy or ourselves happy in the workplace...
but it is how I used to make myself happy in my old corporate jobs. I knew I had to leave...

Here in the brave world of entrepreneurial spirit, I can't do that (well I can, but I'd have no clients - ref the cartoon, and starvation isn't a top option), so how can we do the best job doing what we do ?

So first off, there's the happiness of seeing yourself in an image doing something sporty - for me recognising that feeling for myself was a motivation to be able to provide that for you and start up the company. This is pretty much the main basis of what we do - week in week out. Take good pictures of people achieving things, share them with them, and hopefully you'll buy them ! Time to rock for the win-win !

The next thought is how can we maximise your happiness from our photos ?

Getting events to pay for them instead so you can just download them is the next obvious step - whilst they have the "pain" of paying for them, it removes the "transaction pain" for all the participants - so net-net only one person feels the pain, and you don't - result is - more people are happier ! (this has been shown to increase the net happiness of a group of friends that eat together - only one person pays each time - the extra amount they pay doesn't make them feel much more unhappy pain, but for the others - not having to pay  - makes them significantly happier. So as long as the bills roughly add up equally each time and you take turns - and it will make your group meals together happier!)

How can we make sure that the pictures we take are the ones that will make you happiest ? and how can we make sure that the maximum happiness is being extracted from everything we produce and do ? This is where we start to get a bit deeper into the neurology of Happiness.

What is Happiness ?
Happiness is a positive memory - so we need to know what makes a memory, and how it is recalled as a good happy one. For this I've been reading this blog here - which has some fascinating information on happiness and memories and all things psychological.
**warning - this will take up a lot of time when you start browsing it** ideal for commuting if you have bored moments, it's written in an engaging and informative way with lots of references and as much detail as you care to dig into with the links provided, and a nice doses of humour.

For example this blog on Stoicism might have you reeling with self-cringe and truth and a bit of "that's a good idea" that you might prefer to read :

Anyways, I've been reading through and come to think of a few interesting things we can do to help you be more happy, and how you can use our work to also make yourself and your friends more happy (for free!), and how to recall those memories - which also makes you happier... I'll leave you to find which "barking up the wrong tree" posts have made me think of these things:

This is what we can do which should make your race experiences that bit happier: 
1. Take photos at the right point on a race - the finish, and at the point of peak emotion (might be good, might be bad, but it's the peak) out on the course. These are the two things you will remember according to the research.
2. Get the race organisers to make the finish a big happy deal for you - because the memory of the end of an experience overwrites all the feelings and perceptions you had during an event.
3. Write a little congratulations note to you into the order emails when we manually put collection orders together (everyone likes a bit of a "well done" don't we!)
4. Encourage you to find photos of your friends, and share them back to your friends (use the free links buttons) with a little "saw you did this - well done!" note. Spread the love - it works.

Interestingly we can also use the same findings from the happiness neurology to make ourselves happier in our job (because let's be honest, the pay isn't ever going to...and anyway money doesn't make you happy - past a certain level it's been shown to actually make you more stressed, although I'm willing to find out in the name of science) - 
1. starting off with item 3 above - being positive to someone else - and saying thank you - has proven self-happiness effect. Mainly because it forces you to think of happy things ("gratitudes" - i.e. things you are grateful for..)
2. big up the encouragement we give you at races when you run past us - it's one of the reasons people enjoy marshalling at races too, and we sometimes get feedback that people really appreciated our efforts out on a course.
3. I can try to find some things to be grateful for that other people did at events and put them into the blog here. Interestingly even the act of trying to remember things to be grateful for (we need a verb for that), is proven to make you happier. On the flip side - it means I have to put even more effort into writing this !
4. we can write thank you's to the photographers after an event, as well as put them into our post race reports to the organisers - rather than just the cold factual reporting we currently turn out. Happier photographers is always a good thing, as is happy race organisers.

my peaceful happy desktop background - taken up on the south downs way in 2017

Events can also do a better job at making you happy with their event:
1. help events to design better "peak emotional points" and finish experiences for you to leave you with that Happy Glow of achievement. We see more events than the event organisers do, and we know which events have the best post-race engagement - there's definitely a format for the perfect race finish. Have a look at what the Ironman events do as a finish line experience (although it's not very busy for them compared to a half marathon) and see what those OCR races do for those peak emotional moments ! It explains why some people get so passionate about them.

2. Design the last bit of the course as the fastest nicest picturesque part of the course (i.e. don't park a massive white light-van next to the finish run-in to block the crowd and ruin the pictures - like one of the events we attend does every.single.year., or place the back of your admin tents all along one side of the finish run in stopping people from supporting along the finish), make it easy, enjoyable, as long as possible as your layout allows, refreshing and memorable. Not in a carpark, just off a turn, with no crowds and no view of the runners approaching (we stopped covering that one - because nobody wanted to remember the finish - in fact we sold more pictures from just before the finish because of it - which was very very unusual).

3. Give your event the personal touch - based on neurological research - just a bit of congratulatory touching - i.e. a congratulatory pat on the shoulder/back, even a hand-shake - can give you as a runner an immensely better sense of liking the race more than you had before. Race directors - take note - even for the big races - it is literally the "personal touch" that makes a difference in all events - even the big ones - and for all runners, not just the ones at the back with the pacers (which is where we see it most often). Dropping a medal around someones neck doesn't count - but that's still way better than just handing them a medal. Sponsors - be aware - this is what you should be getting your sponsorship/marketing team to be doing at events - congratulatory personal touch (the right sort, not the wrong sort that gets you in trouble!), and giving out sponsor goodies randomly race photos using pic2go (but I digress...)

And what can you do about your own happiness right now ?
Turns out there is quite a bit - here's a list with explains, and one of the obvious ones is to plan something fun for tomorrow, which if you're a runner - work out when you're going to fit your training in and who you're going to do it with ! Then when you wake up next day - you have something to look forwards to in the day !
and also as I said earlier - find photos of your friends (easily on our gallery), and share them back to your friends (use the free links buttons) with a little "saw you did this - well done!" note. Spread the love - it works.

and this is a good starting point in the Barking up the wrong tree blog for you to have a read
remember - above all - we want Serotonin - ahead of dopamine. Dopamine is the crack addiction of facebook and social media, serotonin is the hormone of feeling loved.

Those gallery links you wanted
So on that note, here's the links to this weekends race galleries, where you all did rather well, and a few photos of the same !

Future events - please take special note of the races with free race photos and get yourselves booked in !
Date Event Website
Sat-27/01/2018 Brutal Men only
Sat-27/01/2018 Brutal Women Only
Future Events
Sun-04/02/2018 Watford Half
Sun-11/02/2018 Worthing Half Marathon
Sun-18/02/2018 Hampton Court Half Marathon
Sat-24/02/2018 National XC Champs - Free live race photos with Pic2Go
Sun-04/03/2018 Leicester 10k
Sun-04/03/2018 Steyning Stinger - Free Race Photos
Sun-18/03/2018 Fulham 10k - Free Race Photos
Sun-18/03/2018 Hastings Half Marathon
Sun-18/03/2018 Salomon Richmond Half and 10k
Sun-18/03/2018 Brentwood Half
yes, he's err Nuts ! (Have you entered that yet?)

All upside down and a bit lost

Wrongens enjoying it all, this pic won't make their wrongun standards...

avoiding the land mines

The taste of victory

you are seeing double. yes.

the water was colder than expected

that undeniable hand signal that the gloves were working

posing, or five legged race, but good winners of the event branding prize all the same

job done and flying in victorious Mo Farah style at the finish

The alternative Mo Farah finish style that he's not tried yet

That look of confidence at the start

The innocent exuberance of youth, before it all went pear shaped and they found the mud

swishy water

a step too far - and then what were you supposed to do !?

Step on top of it like this - that's what you're supposed to do...Bambi here demonstrates

mmm, chocolate bath

after an almost-a-faceplant shocked face

relaxing at the foot spa after a good run out

more swishy water nymphs

taking the mexican wrestler approach to all in water combat - just about to do a bodyslam
And with that, I congratulate you all on your endeavours this week, am chuffed with my own which has my resting pulse back down to 50bpm (I've decided Tuesdays and Thursdays are my training days and nothing can make that change - and it seems to be working).

Enjoy Eric's blog  and make sure you find a picture of a friend on our gallery, and then share it back to them with a positive vibe. and did you know we almost have the entire 2014 gallery live now (as well as 2015,2016 and 2017) to work from.
Also we're going back to churn out 2008 next...that'll be 10 years ago. You're going to love to see how much you've changed !!
And remember - Happiness brings success - not the other way around - so make yourself more Happy, and you'll be even more successful.

until next time, be happy,

Monday 8 January 2018

2018 Tadworth 10 Gallery now live

The start - up the hill from the grandstand, It's Epsom.
The Tadworth 10 Gallery is now live and online - we managed a nice quick turnaround from the race after getting in and re discovering our fingers and toes were still attached, the numbness from the cold wasn't too bad...

Date Event Event / Gallery
Sat-30/12/2017 Brutal Longmoor
Mon-01/01/2018 Serpentine 10k
Sun-07/01/2018 Tadworth Ten
Sun-04/02/2018 Watford Half
Sun-11/02/2018 Worthing Half Marathon
Sun-18/02/2018 Hampton Court Half Marathon
Sat-24/02/2018 National XC Champs

There's a few other events to add onto that list, and whilst we're down to two of us in the office, there's a lot to get on with so apologies for the tardiness. One notable omission is the South of England XC champs, which is at Stanmer Park in Brighton this year (on the 27th Jan) so make sure you take your club photographer with you for that one. We will however be at the National English Cross Country Championships this year at Parliament hill - with the same Pic2Go free downloads that we had last year at Nottingham - so brace yourselves for a festival of photos on that one... and make sure you've got your entry in by Friday with your club team manager - it's a real lifetime achievement event.

Tadworth 10 race gallery
a few fun photos from Sunday, the rest of the gallery is here: 
Fetch Batman ?

very very bouncy for running up hill into the wind !

that second before being mugged

There's high knees, and then this !

He had asked for number 666

Peacful Surrender

Well, at least it looks like he's winning with the right race number

A Jaunty angle to get the removed number

Superman was on his way

I swear I have not photoshopped the race numbers or Tshirt text

Hello Amanda !

One way to Clean the sand off his shoes 

Besotted ?

thinking too hard about stuff - try to forget it

That relaxed smile at the finish

Admiring glances as you finish fast

All too much, too cold and too windy

So that's it for this week, apart from being annoyed about the fortnightly recycling bin guys not taking the extra two bags of recyling next to the wheelie bin - because they were in plastic bags and they don't recycle plastic bags (face palm), generally things are going well as we plan into 2018.

I hope the first week back at work wasn't too rough for you too, and the training regime is starting to become a reality - if you're just onto your April marathon plan - then unless you're already an accomplished runner - is that too late ? Stop being silly and target a september marathon instead. Seriously.

Until next time, your March half marathon to enter this year is - The Brentwood Half


Wednesday 3 January 2018

2018 Serpentine NYD 10k, and Brutal Longmore 2017 - and Happy New Year !

Happy New Year !

Very best of luck wishes and dreams for 2018 - may it be better than 2017, no matter what happened then, it's all in the past, and you've nothing else to be bothering yourself with really have you. It's not like you can jump to any other particular year and give that a go instead eh ? (Unless you are Dr Who, and they don't read this blog anymore/now/next year). Give 2018 a go, it's all we've got.

"Happy Christmas and New Year", in semaphore, at the Brutal Longmoor 2017
Here's a handy list of galleries you may have missed, including the latest events at the end.
(Actually you didn't miss those blogs, I didn't blog, because I had a bit of a pause after 10 years of one every can get to you you'know. But now it's 2018 and I'll try to get back into it).

Date Event Gallery Link
Sun-22/10/2017 Cambridge Town and Gown 10k
Sun-22/10/2017 Abingdon marathon
Sat-28/10/2017 Beachy Head 10k and Mara
Sun-05/11/2017 LBVCR - The Veteran Car Run
Sat-11/11/2017 Brutal Bourne Woods
Sun-12/11/2017 PP Grand Union Half
Sun-19/11/2017 The Brighton 10k
Sun-10/12/2017 The Hogs Back
Sun-10/12/2017 The Seaford Mince Pie 10
Sat-30/12/2017 Brutal Longmoor
Mon-01/01/2018 Serpentine NYD 10k

If you are having difficulty remembering your race number - then that is on the other results site here:

I have no idea why serpentine don't put race numbers in any of their race results pages ever - but there you go...

Sun-07/01/2018 Tadworth Ten - coming soon

One of the upsides of having a quieter period, and downside, is that I end up doing very much more of the cataloguing and indexing of the images (yes - it's manual if we don't use the pic2go barcodes), and we spend the whole of new years eve and new years day smashing our way through the two recent event galleries (party on!) so I get more of a chance to select images that are just ripe for the picking for the blog... so they probably get a little sillier. Well I hope they do...
By the way - If anyone out there is a capable programmer looking to get paid to write an AI and facial recognition indexing app for us, then please do get in touch (we know normal OCR doesn't work by the way) with CV and reasons you're interested !

Brutal Longmoor 2017
by far the most popular Brutal of the year, with the timing and location being one of the classics of this event series. And being unseasonally mild, there was no ice to break on the way around. #bigdissapointment, so there should have been more smiling...

Feel the family love. You drown. They laugh.

what every man thinks they look like in their own mind...when wading through the shit at work

Chaaarrge !!

The pre race toilet queue is getting a little busy these days

So strong his number fell off

In the spirit of frozen, or some other Mr Magneto comic book hero thingy, I bring you "bog man"

always nice to be recognised, even if it is a surprise for them to see you at work

sorry, can't help you with that one

proper team running through the water

someone knows whats going on here

looks like someone got two birds with one stone this time

Jen seems to enjoy it far more than they did

[David Attenborough Voice] Here we see Territorial marking of some sort or another, as they wade through the Bog, she marks it as her own. Scattering her scent all around the deepest parts. [Ed] WHAAAT ? Fetch Dr Freud !!

oooh ! cold legs

That free feeling, possible image uses include advert for something or other.

the tiny runner behind - has a long pole held her in front - to which 8357 is attached. She runs every race like this. Awesome work - both of you.

 Clare Miller - she's quite good

never exaggerate the difficulty when surrounded if you want to be believed

could have been worse

almost a full face plant, bit of a shock

winning Santa Elves

if you go into the woods today... #hardbrexit ?

confused Carrie

the shock of the cold water made her jump a little

Good team finish together

Head stuck in the mud ? well that's one way to show off your tatoos

Serpentine NYD 10k
The worlds first TRIPLE photobomb on 587...

yes. Number 1. Enjoy it !

Always got to be first, but still raises a hand in victory. #doyouhaveanelderbrothertoo

Undercover TRex spotted in Hyde Park

Honestly looks like he enjoyed the race far far more than anyone else. Ever.

Ealing Pigeons

Ealing Seagulls

RUN ! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE ! oh actually, don't worry you're good.

boom ! You've got to want it.

Flying !

Top T shirt caption for new years day

Sorry mate, she's not into you.

Only the cool can carry off a hat like that with British Athletics squad trackies. Do not try this at home, you will fail.

So that's the start of 2018 in the bag for you all. Well done, keep up the training and join us on strava here if you're bored too and need to see what some likeminded people are up to for some inspiration

I need some inspiration myself to get going through winter. I cheat a bit and take vitamin D tablets, which helps with the lack of sunlight here in the office, and whilst we have a quiet few months until everything kicks off for pre-london marathon. My problem is almost every few times I go for a run, my calf or hamstrings blow up like a hot knife. I've got to discipline myself to some slow paced stuff and ease back into it much more gently. This however gets my adductors like something else!!!

Having had a bit of a chesty cough these past weeks as well has been excuse enough. I'm also going to try to sort out a spin-rig to watch some dvd box sets on, I have a very cheap spin bike and an old laptop to play them on - so will see if I can do some gentle HR controlled work. I've a box set of the West Wing, and the original series of 24 to watch from about 5 years ago - so I really ought to do that. I might last more than half an hour at a pinch. Shame I can't really put that on zwift yet (that's too techy so far).

In other news, I'm back down to 12st.0lb, from my 13st6lb New Year's weigh in in 2016 when three months later I adopted the High-Fat,Low-Carb way of eating. I can now stick both arms fully down the front of my old trousers and still have space. yaay go me !

If you know me, you'll know I've done pretty much zero exercise to achieve this weight loss (and waist from 36in back to 32in), it's all been done by keeping off the sugar and carbs. If you fancy giving something really easy a go on the health front - then try this - and personally I've not paid or joined or signed up for anything - just read this and give it a go - , and if you prefer a bit of a video - here's the best explanation
Also our food bill is probably less, so financially it's made sense too. can't be bad really. Oh, and the better half has lost frankly so much weight she's almost unrecognisable (in a good way), so if you eat together in a household - consider talking it through and both giving it a go. If you're fit already it certainly won't do you any harm either to do it all together (disclaimer - I'm not a medical expert, do your own research).

And finally for those of you who read right to the end - as a special bonus and a thank you for being here - here's a 10% discount code for you to use on the SSP gallery for the whole of 2018: HNYBLOG2018
Keep it quiet - it's only for you as you're a special person and this is the only time I'm going to mention it, so feel the love xxx

until next time