What’s Your Why? Inspiring Video All Runners Need To Watch

It’s that time of year again – marathon season – with biggies such as Paris, Brighton and London all within a few weeks of each other. I know marathons happen up and down the UK and worldwide all year round but April always feels more like marathon-month than others so now’s a great time to share this great video, The Why: Running 100 Miles.

I watched this last year when I was training for Snowdonia Trail Marathon and grappling with training that was mentally, emotionally and physically challenging. It was my sixth marathon but my first mountain event (where we would summit Snowdon at mile 23) and throughout the six month training block I was riddled with self-doubt, worry and lack of confidence.

Living in flatter-than-flat east London was not conducive to mountain training, and my inner critic was having a ball by putting me down through every training run and prep-race. I was losing motivation, finding all the training sessions so hard, not enjoying myself and couldn’t understand why.

Exploring why

Luckily, my running coach Luke Tyburski is a phenomenal ultra athlete who has done some crazy big events (such as Morocco to Monaco 12-day triathlon, an event he created himself) so he was great at helping me get to grips with the mental side of things.

I’d ran several marathons before so I was used to the long distance training but CrossFit had come into my life a few years earlier and this had definitely become flavour of the day. So I was fighting conflicting desires and needs and I had to reevaluate my relationship with running. That’s when I wrote Help, I’ve Fallen Out Of Love With Running post.

Like any relationship, dynamics change and evolve over time and that’s part of the joys. And there’s no better time to explore your relationship with a sport, activity or hobby then when you have to tick off big miles on a Sunday morning.

I also kept in mind one of my favourite quote from Luke: ‘It’s only at reaching your limits where you’ll catch a glimpse of your true potential’.

Digging deeper

With long distance events such marathons, 50km, 100km and 100 milers becoming more popular, it makes sense to dig deep and find the sticky or meaningful reasons why we run.

I started reading more about mental side of athletes and sports performance – I had How Bad Do You Want It? on my bedside table – and stumbled on this mini docu film by Billy Yang on why ultra runners do ultramarathon events. Why do they put themselves through so much physically, mentally, emotionally? What’s the pull, the lure and enjoyment in something so seemingly gruelling?

Billy also goes beyond commonly cited reasons such as self-improvement and challenge to bigger questions about our need to seek out situations where we’re challenged to the point of extreme, in a way our modern day lives don’t require us to.

Not only is The Why beautiful and humbling to watch but it helped me see things in a new, fresh light. Suddenly I realised others also suffered in similar ways (with anxieties, self-doubt, fear) so it no longer felt like there was something wrong with me as a runner or that I was failing.

‘When reaching your limits, it’s only there you’ll catch a glimpse of your true potential’.

I realised the conversation of why is one all long distance runners, endurance athletes and probably all athletes have to answer, not just to others but really deep down to themselves. After all, it’s the why that feeds the endless drive and determination needed to smash through these incredible feats.

Watch the film

I watched it a few times before my race as it was so inspiring. I hope you enjoy it and get something out of it too, whether it’s your first marathon or you’re a regular on the ultra trails. It might fire up your own why to help you power through your next event or inspire you to book one. And if you’re running London next week, good luck and enjoy it!

Would love to hear what you think!

Alternative Ways of Being #7 – World Peace Day

world peace day Ganga jata dhara
world peace day Ganga jata dhara
“Peace is the happy, natural state of man. It is his birthright.

 

Many are working today for the promotion of world peace without having peace in themselves. You can elevate others only if you have elevated yourself. This world can be saved only by those who have already saved themselves.

 

Remove the hatred, greed, delusion, selfishness and jealousy, deeply ingrained in human society and spread the message of inner peace.

 

Only inner peace can lead to world peace. That alone is true service to humanity.”

 

– Swami Sivananda Saraswati 
Shared from Tools for Inner Peace – yoga for refugees in UK and Lebanon.

Alternative ways of being #6: Kofi Annan

7 quotes by Kofi Annan about gender equality and why empowerment of women matters

Kofi_Annan_at_World_Economic_Forum_on_Africa_2007

  1. Strengthen girls’ access to secondary, as well as primary education. Education holds the key to unlocking most of the obstacles facing girls and women — from being forced into early marriage, to vulnerability to HIV/AIDS and other diseases.
  2. Guarantee sexual and reproductive health and rights.  How can we achieve real equality when half a million women die of pregnancy-related causes every year — causes that are entirely preventable?
  3. Invest in infrastructure to reduce women’s and girls’ time burdens.  What are the prospects for girls and women who are forced to spend half of every day gathering water, fuel and other necessities for their families?
  4. Guarantee women’s and girls’ property and inheritance rights. How can women climb out of poverty without access to land and housing?  And without that security, how can they protect themselves against the impact of HIV/AIDS?
  5. Eliminate gender inequality in employment.  And a good job is also a woman’s best protection against falling prey to trafficking.
  6. Increase women’s share of seats in national parliaments and local government.  Equality of opportunity in policy-making is not only a human right; it is a prerequisite for good governance.
  7. Redouble efforts to combat violence against girls and women.  That means leadership in showing, by example, that when it comes to violence against women and girls, there are no grounds for tolerance and no tolerable excuses.

“Whatever the very real benefits of investing in women, the most important fact remains:  women themselves have the right to live in dignity, in freedom from want and from fear.”

‘Above all, I would urge the entire international community to remember that promoting gender equality is not only women’s responsibility — it is the responsibility of all of us.

Sixty years have passed since the founders of the United Nations inscribed, on the first page of our Charter, the equal rights of men and women.

Since then, study after study has taught us that there is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women.

No other policy is as likely to raise economic productivity, or to reduce infant and maternal mortality.

No other policy is as sure to improve nutrition and promote health — including the prevention of HIV/AIDS.

No other policy is as powerful in increasing the chances of education for the next generation.

And I would also venture that no policy is more important in preventing conflict, or in achieving reconciliation after a conflict has ended.

But whatever the very real benefits of investing in women, the most important fact remains:  women themselves have the right to live in dignity, in freedom from want and from fear.’

 

Taken from United Nations, Secretary General, Kofi Annan who Calls on International Community to Promote Gender Equality and Invest in Women’ – February 2005

 

#QuoteOfTheDay…

“The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.” – James Madison (1751-1836), US politician and 4th president of United States.

Quote of the Day Sophia Loren James Madison

Thanks to Kay Montano for sharing this on her Instagram feed which I then regrammed on my Instagram). Marking one week since the horrifying terror attacks in Paris, which had followed equally terrible attacks in Ankara Turkey and then Beirut. Not to mention the daily attacks in Baghdad, and of course Syria. Later in the week it was Nigeria and we ended with Mali. Thinking of everyone. Praying for peace.

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Alternative Ways of Being #3

“We’ve become an increasingly harsh world, and when we become harsh with each other and forget our humanity then we end up in these standoff positions. We need to rediscover what it is to be human, and that every human being matters.” – Reverend Trevor Willmott

I’m not usually one for religion but these are wise words, from The Church of England, in response to David Cameron’s stand against migrants in Calais this weekend.

I keep wondering myself where people’s compassion and empathy have gone recently, so glad to hear someone speaking out about this.

A friend of mine wrote a wonderful piece in The Pool about her family’s escape from Vietnam in 1979 – she was lucky as several countries back then opened their borders in response to the crisis and her family eventually resettled in the UK, but others today, have not been so lucky as governments (and people), show less empathy and compassion.

I think whether people are fleeing war, violence, persecution or leaving a non-war torn country simply for better job or education opportunities, why shouldn’t everyone have the right to seek a better life? Not just the privileged. Nick Cohen sums it up in this piece, “If you hate the migrants in Calais, you hate yourself”:

“Human beings move. We are a restless species. If you have never moved to a new country to find work, your forebears certainly did. Go back far enough in your family, my family or any family on this planet and you will find that our common ancestors were migrants. In hating them, we hate ourselves.”

Migrants-in-Calais-Pascal-Rossignol-Reuters
Photograph: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

The point I’m trying to make is we don’t have to carry so much negativity in our eyes, minds and heart towards others. However different they are to use. However alien their life might seem. There are alternative ways of being. 

We could be a little more understanding to each others’ struggles. Every single one of us is trying to get through life, survive and make it work. Others have a harder time than others, and some, of course cheat their way round, giving others a bad name. But in general I try to see the human story in each person, not the headline.  

Quote of the Day…

‘Wouldn’t we all do better not trying to understand, accepting the fact that no human being will ever understand another’

Read this great line today in Graham Greene’s The Quiet American (catching up on old classics) which sounded so apt in light of recent events in France and other terrors around the world. Can we ever really understand the mental mechanics of another person’s mind?
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