Sometimes it’s very easy to get preoccupied with developing yourself, I’m just as guilty of this as others. The reason I ran my first marathon was because I was searching for something beyond myself, by achieving that goal. It took me a while to realise that even though I may not had accepted myself, what I am is enough. The path of continually looking for more, can be a continuous downhill journey.
Eight marathons later I may have improved upon my efforts from my first marathon, but rather than looking at how my running benefits me, a question I’ve asked myself recently is how can I make a contribution from something I enjoy doing, whilst knowing that I’ll never be challenging to win a World Marathon Major race. I’m not being defeatist, I’m just being realistic.
After completing my last marathon a man in his forties was bending the ear of all that cared to listen about how he missed his time a sub 3 hour marathon by 5 minutes. Now I can understand his frustration to a certain extent, he has probably worked really hard in training, but even if he did manage to get the time he wanted he is still approx 45mins slower than the elite male runners who race to win. Does reaching getting that time make him any more or less a person of value?
Or you meet the person who holds down a full time job and is juggling family commitments and tells you that they came in twentieth position out of 100. Are you telling me this because you are deeply insecure, or hoping that I will respect you more for being the nineteenth quickest loser?
My feeling is unless you are in a position to challenge and win, I have greater sympathy if you miss out on your goal. It’s the elites in the sport that get everyone else inspired and that is their contribution. For example Paula Radcliffe’s record at the London marathon inspires me.
But if your not in a position to win, please take that pity party elsewhere about finishing in twentieth position. If you said to your family or friends what do you most value about me and they said its your PB marathon time then I’d be very worried about what your contribution to others has been.
People may say I’m just bitter because I’m not a sub 3 hour marathon runner for example. But for me you should do the best that you can with the tools you have, but if you can’t compete against the elites then it shouldn’t devalue who you are as a person.
Its been said many times before… It’s not about about finish times it’s about the finish line.
The question I’ve started to ask myself is where can I make a contribution? I don’t want those that know me to say he ran this amount of marathons and was very determined etc etc. And that’s it… What a wasted, self absorbed life were I contributed nothing to others.
The charity mind state that 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. In the short time I’ve started this profile online I’ve been really touched by the stories, people have shared about their own challenges or those of family members who made a recovery or did not.
People like Emma Chandler, whose cousin Jay Devlin recently committed suicide. Emma is undertaking a Tough Mudder event and raising money in Jay’s memory for (CALM) the campaign against living miserably, offers men support and information when they’re down or in crisis at www.thecalmzone.net. They exist to prevent suicide, the single biggest killer of men aged under 45 in the UK. Latest figures show that 76% of all UK suicides were male. Please visit the link below and support a worthy cause.
In my small way I want to highlight the stigmas experienced by people suffering mental health issues. Whereas suffers feel ashamed or don’t believe that they are facing a real sickness, and think it’s ok to suffer in silence. Or those that don’t understand think of it as a weakness. Cancer is not a weakness and neither are issues to do with mental health.
So in relation to the 1 in 4 theme, my challenge for 2016 is to run four UK marathons in one year starting in Manchester and ending in Chelmsford. I know that exercise can benefit people with mental health challenges alongside other treatment. Please watch this space as I document the journey.
I believe it’s important to create value in other people’s lives. It could be one person or a billion. But I would challenge you to ask yourself how can you use your talents to benefit others?