Have you ever found yourself in one of those really surreal situations that has you thinking: “How did my life take me to this point?”, “What did I do to get myself here?” – Well, I seem have these moments on a regular basis right now; sometimes good, often bad, always kind of funny to assess afterwards.
To give you an example, a few months back in sudden a moment of clarity, I noticed that I was sat eating a sandwidge in a shower cubicle on a campsite in Peterborough.
Why did I choose to eat in a shower cubicle, I hear you ask? Simple. Because it was the middle of December and the shower cubicle was a lot warmer than my £20 tent…
Oh okay… wait… why was I camping in the middle of December? Ah yes, this was because I had been offered a really useful work experience placement and I didn’t have the money for a car or a hotel.
To many people, including myself a few years back; I suspect this would not sound like a feasible action plan for essentially working for free and losing a week’s worth of ‘paid’ work in the process; especially considering there was no public transport option to and from the campsite. I reasoned with myself that I would just ‘run’ the seven mile commute each way, including a pretty treacherous stretch of main road with no pavement.
It was in this moment of clarity, that I realized just how much ‘running’ has changed my attitude towards everything slowly over the years. As someone who since graduating, has been stuck in a dead-end job and amassed over five years’ fruitless experience writing hundreds of failed job applications, with only a substantial debt and not a single interview to show for it; I recognized here that an offer of some work experience in the media field was something worth considering. I accepted the offer immediately, and then set to work wondering how on Earth I was going to do it.
At no point throughout this entire debacle did I ever view this opportunity as “impossible” or “can’t be done”. I just kept breaking down the problems I had, and systematically found solutions to them. Or another way of looking at it, I had to break down the word “impossible” and turn it into a series of “difficults” – I sat there for a little while and wondered where this new found ambition had come from that had me sat here staring at my own breath in a less than ordinary situation, and I concluded that it had literally come from running.
I remember when running a marathon seemed ‘impossible’ to me. I remember also coming through all the injuries one by one; and all the ego-bruising exhaustion after each distance PB to finally tackle that one back in 2011.
It was like a release. If I could run a marathon in spite of believing it to be impossible, then what’s to stop me aiming a bit higher? A year later, ‘marathon’ became ‘marathons’ plural, and marathons then progressed to ‘ultra-marathons’. The line of my perceived limitation was being pushed steadily onwards, and my concept of the word ‘impossible’ was also changing as it went.
When I first started telling people I was planning to run from Lands End to John O’Groats unsupported and with little to no money, I no longer had the problem of thinking things were impossible; I now had the very different issue of others telling me it was impossible. Everywhere I went; well-meaning acquaintances would tell me “where I hadn’t thought it through”, “what I would not be able to deal with”, and “Where I would fail”. This is what people do when trying to help; they tell you what you can’t do because you probably hadn’t thought of it.
Making it to John O’Groats through illness, injuries and a little bit of hunger in the wilderness was easily the proudest single moment of my life and to this day it serves as a constant reminder that nothing comes easy, but my god is it satisfying to do it anyway! It also now makes me that little bit extra thankful for any help I do receive along the way. For LEJOG, my list of thank you’s is pretty endless; and now I have my LEJOG to thank for every time I go the extra mile to get something.
And on that note, I now find myself thanking Brooks Running UK and The Running Bug for allowing me to waffle on and tell my story here, alongside other inspiring runners on how running has helped me and how it can help others.
Well here I am now unexpectedly, kitted out with the latest Brooks gear, which is excellent I might add. The Ravenna 6 trainers in particular, are a brilliant combination of comfort and snazziness.
On to the official bit then: If running has helped you as it has me, you can win a pair of Brooks Ravenna 6’s for yourself! Just click this link and submit your own video from The Running Bug website.
After you’ve done that, let me know, because I love hearing these success stories. You can leave a comment below on here, or tweet me at @DanMayers84.
Or better yet, you can join up on The Running Bug yourself and make sure you add me (username ‘RunFrodoRun’) as a friend! It really is a fantastic community on there and well worth joining up and getting involved.
I do sometimes wonder where I’d be if I never took up running. My best educated guess so far is dead in a gutter somewhere near where alcohol is sold… but as a slightly more optimistic speculation, I think I would most likely still be looking out at those lucky few (we all know a few of these people) who seem to cruise through life; never really having to work too hard, and instead of trying that little bit harder, I would be most likely still be moaning about how life is unfair and how everything for me is impossible.
Thanks to running, I now have a much improved health and fitness; I’ve seen some amazing places all up the UK and have a renewed ambition and desire to improve myself every day. That’s why my twitter feed all this week has featured
If this was of any interest, I have more visual evidence of the radical effect running has had on me in this post from last year: