‘Why am I doing this?’ It’s something I often ask myself, when I am setting off out on a long run, or getting up early to take part in some challenge that I have set myself. That initial slog at the beginning of something that is going to be hard is when you question everything – Why did I not just stay in bed? Why is this so hard today? Can I really do this?
So many of our members do some pretty incredible things, whether it is going from Couch to Marathon, taking on obstacle races, climbing mountains or overcoming debilitating conditions to become more active.
But why? I reckon it is because most of us have been inspired into action by someone or something. So this week I want to tell you about some of the amazing physical achievements that keep me inspired and keep me focused when I am lacking in motivation and feeling like I just can’t be bothered.
Just this past weekend, 120 Be Strongers attended the Woodland Warrior event in Accrington. And how amazing you all were. I am still reeling from the mental strength, resilience, support and camaraderie that was shown throughout this event, to all the Be Strong team. You acted as one massive community who supported every single member regardless of their physical ability. And on more than one occasion I saw things that made my eyes leak, just a little bit. It was truly incredible. You guys all hold a special place in Rick and my hearts and we love seeing you all achieve.
There were some truly amazing physical achievements this weekend, but it isn’t all about who can run the furthest and the fastest, it is 100% about the people who have progressed the most on their journey, and we saw that in spades this weekend.
Feats of human endurance
This last 12 months or so, have seen some pretty inspirational feats be completed, the sorts of things that when you hear about them you just think ‘Wow! that is incredible’.
Just last month, American woman, Sarah Thomas, aged 37, swam the English channel a record 4 times consecutively! More than any other person ever has before. She had no breaks, no sleep, she wasn’t allowed to touch the support boat or any member of her support crew during her 54 hour, 130 mile swim. Her support crew were only allowed to spend an hour in the water with her at a time, and they kept her energy up by dangling a protein recovery drink with added electrolytes and caffeine from the back of the support boat for her to drink every 30 minutes. She suffered terrible pain in her mouth and throat, due to the salt water, and was even stung in the face by a jelly fish. And she did this for 54 hours! It truly was a feat of human endurance.
And what makes this even more incredible is that Sarah only finished treatment for cancer last year, in 2018. The grit and determination that Sarah must have shown throughout the challenge is phenomenal. I am truly amazed that a human being is capable of such a feat. Hearing about such feats, inspires me to keep going in training when it gets tough, and it seems like I am not getting anywhere, because if you keep going, you undoubtedly will get to where you want to be. Sarah’s swim almost doubled in length, due to the currents she was faced with in her quadruple channel crossing and I am sure there were times when she really did feel like she wasn’t getting anywhere, but she persevered and she did it, even when it meant swimming 130 miles rather than the predicted 80.
This is reflective of our journeys too. They don’t always go in a straight line, or quite as planned. But we have two options when things don’t go to plan – we give up and never get to where we want to be, or we push on, dig deep and see the challenge through. And this is exactly what Sarah Thomas did!
Love the life you live
Another woman who I find inspiring is fell runner, Jasmin Paris. In 2018, Jasmin, a 35 year old, mother of one and veterinary surgeon, became the first woman to win the Spine Race – a 7 day, 268 mile fell race that covers the length of the Pennine Way in England and Scotland. She beat the previous course record holder by 15 hours – completing the ultra-course in 83 hours, 12 minutes and 25 seconds. This meant she would have been running for 11 hours a day, on average. The previous record holder Eoin Keith, had completed the course in just over 95 hours in 2017, and the previous female record was set at 105 hours.
Even more remarkably, Jasmin was still breastfeeding her daughter at the time she took part in the Spine Race so had to stop to express milk at times, whilst running the course.
Jasmin claims that the mountains and fells make her feel at peace, which is why she undoubtedly excels at fell running. She just does what she loves. And we should take inspiration from this – if there’s a sport or an activity you love, then do it, and do it as often as you can. For me, I also love the fells and mountains, but walking them rather than running. I love the way I feel when I reach the trig point of a mountain, the satisfaction and achievement. I love the views that you get (on a sunny day), and the way it makes you feel like a tiny speck on this enormous planet of ours, and how we really are just a tiny cog in a massive machine.
What do you love doing? Tell us about it below, and how often you do it. Maybe this has reminded you how much you used to love something, and how you might like to start doing it again. If it has tell us about it!
Do something crazy
I also follow a guy called Sean Conway, who sets himself the most insane, crazy challenges. Challenges like running the length of the British Isles, cycling around the world, and what I think is the most epic adventure yet, a completely self-supported triathlon around the coast of the Great Britain. In this event, Sean cycled, ran and swam the entire coastline of Great Britain, completely self-supported. His documentary and story of how he managed it is truly inspiring. This particular challenge saw him cycling on a bike made from Bamboo, for 3350 miles around the unforgiving Cornish, Welsh, Cumbrian and Scottish coastlines to Yorkshire. In Scarborough he donned his running shoes, to pound the trails and pavements to Brighton, where he squeezed into his wetsuit to swim from Brighton back to Lulworth Cove. He camped out in fields alone on his birthday, ate dog treats for their low cost, high protein value, and liquidised roast dinners just to get the calories in that he needed to fuel his adventure. Sean makes it clear that all his adventures aren’t successful but he gives everything a flipping good go! His appetite for life is infectious and certainly makes you want to try something crazy when you see him in action.
Stories like these really make you believe that anything is possible when you put your mind to it. And what separates these people from us mere mortals? Well nothing really, other than attitude and mindset. When you believe that you can do something and put all your effort and determination in to it, then it happens.
Now, I am not suggesting that we all start signing up for Ironman events or ultra-marathons, but if you have ever fancied doing something, take your inspiration from these amazing human beings and just take that leap of faith. Believe that you can do it, seek some good advice about how to make it possible, and get on with living your dream!