this “project” has been going for just over a year now and while there’s been some obvious benefits in terms of health and fitness, I got to wondering about the real motivation behind it all.
why did the idea of running a marathon spring to mind, for example? is it purely about improving health, or are there some deeper, underlying motivations?
enter the dragon slayer
with the running thing, there’s always been a demon lurking in the shadows. my lack of sporting ability/prowess at school, the specific hatred/pain caused by the school cross-country run, they were there in the background, gnawing away, reminding me of how I’ve always been a geek/swot/nerd who breezed through academic subjects and gave up on everything else that was “too hard”.
in fact, even with the academic stuff I never really did anything outside of my comfort zone. I did well at the subjects I seemed to have a natural ability for, I completed and submitted assignments at the very last minute and when it came to exam revision – I’d cram a little the night before and that was about it.
academic results came to me all too easily and it seems as though I never really worked that hard at all.
ok, so there were exceptions
from the age of 12 to 16, I was also a member of the local sea cadet unit. on reflection, this was actually a little different to school in that I did push myself a little, I did do things that were a little uncomfortable at times.
I learned to play the trumpet, became a well-drilled member of the guard (and later guard commander), had two 1 week stints on TS Royalist (a square-sailed brig) that included climbing up a mast in strong winds, learned to sail a dinghy and much more.
at school I did my best work in maths and computing and also did reasonably well as a second row forward in the school rugby team.
the common thread to all this is the fact that these were things I was interested in, things I enjoyed, things that seemed to come naturally to me.
the end of a dream
at the age of 15 I had my dreams shattered and I was left directionless. I found out that I had a hearing loss and failed the Royal Navy medical.
so I went to college as a default action really – I had absolutely no motivation for being there, nor any idea what I would do with any qualifications I picked up. I had a vague idea of going to uni and being an electronics engineer (I had been interested in getting into Weapons Electronics in the Navy) – but there was nothing concrete there.
I did ok again with my maths, the natural liking and ability for the subject carrying me a little – but everything else was too much like hard work, and I suffered a partial depression. I say “partial” because it was only the actual study that made me feel down.
in many other ways I loved my time at college. the parties, smoking pot, hanging out in the common room when I was supposed to be in lectures, cheap beers at the local pub on a Friday afternoon, gigs at the local arts centre, pilton (glastonbury) festival…
the trend continued on and on
I drifted for a while, never quite pushing any boundaries, never getting out of my comfort zone and falling into a career as a software developer.
though my career has been largely “successful”, it’s been played in “safe mode”. I’ve avoided risks and subsequently missed out on opportunities. mostly I don’t regret those, because they would have conflicted with personal priorities (e.g. I like being home with my family).
some of those things though sit there in the background, gnawing away. just like the cross-country thing…
and so it was that I hit my40s, loaded with debt, obligations, responsibilities and an increasing stock of gnawing “issues” that had started to become increasingly uncomfortable.
and that’s when it it happened
perhaps it’s what they call “midlife crisis”, but those “issues” suddenly started demanding to be heard. I sort of touched on this idea before, very briefly, and it’s becoming increasingly clear to me that these are the real underlying reasons behind it all.
once those things-in-the-shadows started demanding to be heard, they presented themselves as the oldest issue of all – the one that has been festering and fermenting for the most number of years; physical fitness and the cross-country running.
and wham! there I was publicly committing myself to running a marathon….
things have been falling into place ever since
once those issues got themselves heard, and I started doing something about them, the consequences have been phenomenal.
although there’s a very long way to go on many fronts, I have successfully pushed myself beyond the super-comfortable zone. I’ve done crazy stuff (e.g. a 10km fun run) and long-unresolved issues are starting to be addressed.
there have been positive impacts in terms of business, health, and personal contentment. while most of the benefits so far have been improved health and fitness, I feel that a number of internal switches have been made and am now incredibly confident that similar progress is going to be made on all the other fronts.
but it all started with a decision followed by a very simple action. a process so simple that literally anyone can do it.
if I can, you definitely can.