Mark Gillett

Come back frequently……

Archive for February 2010

Good Prep……

leave a comment »

……. will make this so much easier.

Your heart will want to leap out of your chest but the view at the top is awesome.....

Written by markgillett

February 27, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Tent Life

leave a comment »

Tent Life

This will be an extremely important factor in your time in the desert. Your tent mates normally end up true friends for life.  You may not contact them very often after the race but if and when you do it will be sincere. You will get to know each other in the raw.

I am not sure if it matters what tent you end up in. Many try to engineer things but often you can’t and invariably it does not workout better. And besides its good not to know. If you manipulate your tent where are the surprises? The new things that we do this sort of thing for.

My advice would be not to engineer your tent. Take what you get, learn from it and make some great and interesting times with your new mates…..

Written by markgillett

February 27, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Marathon des Sables – Last minute prep…

leave a comment »

Its getting close to departure now for the MdS runners and because of my own trip out there I am thinking about my preparations.  But I also know what is going through the minds of the runners. The nerves, the worry, apprehension for some, the excitement and eagerness.  Maybe the fact that they have niggles or injuries that might impede their success. But I also know how huge the event is and that niggles will not really figure. The MdS is bigger than any niggles and unless it’s an acute injury it will go away on the start line and not return again.

I know that kit will be spread out over the bedroom floor or that there will be last-minute purchases fearing that more is needed or that kit is not suitable. Worry about shoes and clothes.  Food and nutrition with calorie counts and if enough electrolytes have been purchased.

All these worries are normal, though, and are part of the success for most runners. Its called preparation and if it is done well success is pretty much for sure.  I had my kit out for 4 months, adding to it, taking from it, counting, packing, unpacking, staring at it and so on.  It’s just my way.

What is scary is those who do not prepare as this is a tough race.  It’s probably the toughest physical thing that most people will do in their life time. If the preparation is weak then the agonies will be high. If the preparation is solid, your belief becomes stronger too and as with my previous post, this is the overriding factor in success ( and strengthening belief can be so easy…..

Runners now have a month left and with everything tied up, every last detail seen to, their race will be a real pleasure. Still extremely tough but tough fun…..

Above are a couple of images, one is the medic tent which does such a great job. They are called doc trotters but the aim is not to have to visit but event the best prepared often suffer blisters so this cannot always be avoided.

I look forward to this years race as I am sure most of the competitors do. It will be great to see new faces and new dramas….!

This is my account from 2006

Written by markgillett

February 27, 2010 at 12:12 pm

The Desert at Work….

leave a comment »

Peace and quiet....

Written by markgillett

February 23, 2010 at 4:57 pm

What is it about the desert? – The Raw & The Cooked

with 7 comments

I am off to the desert again next week.  I haven’t been for a while and I am looking forward to it. This time it’s for a photographic job and to look at other business opportunities.

I have been visiting or exploring deserts since 1984.  My first venture was from Dubai where I borrowed a friends 4×4, got together with some other friends and went out for around 5 days. We explored a region between Dubai and Al Ain and since that first trip I have been hooked. So drawn in by it that I have taken people back, led long journeys through some of the most hospitable parts of the desert in Oman, and more recently taken bereaved youths to benefit from what a desert offers.

People ask me what it is that keeps taking me back and use to find it hard to explain. To begin with it was the excitement of adventuring and exploring something new. Then I would return to the same region many times like the Wahiba in Oman. I would always find something new on each journey but that was not the attraction anymore. It was now about the real reasons I loved it so much in the first place.

The desert strips you back to the real you. You in the raw. It takes away all the gloss that we live with and even if you take some of it with you, you invariably wish you hadn’t. Last time I took my iPod and at the end of the trip I realised I didn’t even get it out. Opting for the sound of the wind in the sand, the crack of the fire and the conversations with the people around me. Then at sleep time, I would watch the stars, shooting stars and make my own music in my head. To listen to music is just wrong for me.

In my early days I did. And funnily the album that always come to mind was that in the title by Fine Young Cannibals. The only music I ever listened to in the desert.

My journey with the youths was when I first saw the real benefit to others. I had taken many people who felt it had changed their lives but these trips were different. The purpose was to give them space and time after their bereavement. Map out their futures or at least make sense of it after their lives had been thrown into turmoil. No one to question them. No expectation other than to survive. We walked 150 km across the Sinai, self supported with camels. Each of those taking part formed lifelong bonds and they are still all close and have each found their path in life for the time being. And an inner peace.

I also see so many people touched by the desert in the Marathon des Sables. Fortunately I get to photograph it each year. I have also run it….. Most runners will tell you its the event. Deep down, I think not. It’s the whole journey from when the training starts but it’s the desert that really gets them. (

Runners put them selves through real hardship but that is not really the deal. It’s more about living with so little. You have just about what you need to live. No more. There is no reason for not completing other than miss management or unfortunate injury and you have all life needs in your pack. And that is all we really need.

I met my wife in the desert and I know her heart is the same. She feels it too. She needs to go back as I do.. In April 1000 more people will feel it on the mds, experience the beauty. Some won’t like it but all will be affected in some way. Most will cry when they cross the line. Not because they are glad its over but more sad. Sad that they have to leave behind the rawness of what has just changed them forever.

It is the people of the desert that that teach us most. I have spent much time with bedouin too and this is usually the most humbling experience. They share everything. If you meet them on the journey they will sit down and offer you coffee and dates no matter what hey have left. They will help without question if you are in trouble. They will act like family.

The next few weeks I will see this environment again. Not in a solo role and not out of touch with modern life but it’s still the desert.

Give it a try…..

Written by markgillett

February 23, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Finding Inspiration-Ordinary People

with 3 comments

Today I had a real problem finding inspiration.  I had a list as long as your arm to to get through which is now tomorrows, I had to run (which I did i the end) and I needed to blog which I struggled with until now…

I thought about what it is that inspires me and went to my image library.  I looked through some more resent stuff and some old stuff too…  I usually do this when i need inspiration.

Ordinary people inspire me. Its very easy to go to a talk and listen to a great achiever and come away temporarily inspired but its so short sighted. If I have a good call or coaching session, I fly.  If I am working with a group I invariably come away inspired. Tonight I had an email communication with someone who told me how I had again inspired him, I think he had no idea how he inspired me too….

Take a look at those around you. In your office, at home, your friends, or just ordinary people you see in the street. Then take a deeper look at them and perhaps their circumstances. Look at their lives and what they endure, or achieve. Who they ‘be’.

The world is full of inspirational people who are ordinary, people who do extraordinary things in their life.  People who seem to be ordinary but actually are not, they have qualities that perhaps they don’t share on a stage but they they are no lesser being.

The images I have posted today each have a story to them. Some quite sad, some not but all are perceived as ordinary people in their environment but who are actually extraordinary.

Look around you for inspiration but look with your eyes open.  Look deeper than just clothing, hair styles or cars or the things that annoy you. Get to know the people in your team in the office. Sometimes the inspiration is right on your doorstep…..

Written by markgillett

February 22, 2010 at 11:17 pm

Making Change….

with one comment

So often you hear about making a change in your life.  “Live your dream not someone elses” Just heard that one in a cafe! “Live life to the full”, and so on…. But this is invariably said without too much thought or that its easy just to make a change and be a better person.  A person who loves him or herself.  A person who is not taken for advantage anymore.

Changing is far greater than that though. Most of us have learnt habit patterns over years.  Since childhood we have been learning to be who we are. Learning to act and react in the  way we do. Mostly subconsciously but always from the people around us and closest to us. We take for granted that that is the right way or the best for us. Mostly we dont event think about it until certain triggers in our lives have an effect. We then question our behaviour or actions. We question our being…

So, to make a change to life long habits cannot be done in a day.  The decision to make that change itself can take time. You recognise something you do not like, you need to change but another year goes by. Something else happens and finally, snap!  Its when you get that snap that the toughest part of the whole process begins. You decide to change. Some people make conscious decisions and follow through with good positive actions.  Some need help to get them through the process but what is most important is to recognise that change will take time.  Change requires unlearning and re learning new habit patterns. Getting use to those new ones can be a real roller coaster of emotions so requires real dedication. Dedication to the task. Without one can easily slip back to what they know best….

Someone close to me stated recently how it would all be different after a certain date.. Wow! I wish I could know that. I wish I could say ” everything will be fine after the 17th”.  You simply cant. Whatever the situation. You cannot say if you will slip back or if you will have made that change.

When learning a new skill you go through 3 stages of learning. Cognitive (Beginner – learning the skill or behaviour) associative (aware and practicing new skill) and automotive. You know it and do not think about it anymore. Maybe address it from time to time and check for bad habits creeping in but essentially you are there.

A simple analogy is changing you grip on a golf swing or a technique change in your tennis game.  You need to go through all those stages before it finally works. The easy route is to give up and slip back to what you know best and just say “well that didn’t work”.  But that is just a cop out.

Making change is good.  It can be hugely beneficial to you and the people around you. It is never guaranteed but the only person who can make the decision is you. It can also be a fun process…….

Making a life change is the same as making a skill change.  You need to go through a process and practice this and practice is more until it becomes final  This can take years but often does not with good work.  More in a bit….

Written by markgillett

February 21, 2010 at 3:15 pm

Posted in Coaching, Life