Inspiration and where to find it

Where do you find inspiration? This question popped up for me again the other night while watching the wonderful ‘Employable me‘ on ABC. The documentary is about young people who are looking for work and who also have a disability. After the show, someone on Twitter commented how he was unhappy at viewers calling these young people ‘inspiring’ – they’re just people who want jobs and shouldn’t be seen as inspiring for managing their disability and aiming for something everyone wants.

I do understand where he was coming from – the way that society views people with a disability is often either limiting or patronising. But I think that, for me, this puts the category of ‘inspiring’ on some sort of pedestal, a title only for those who have achieved global accolades and stratospheric heights. I find inspiration in stories of people who overcome the things that hold me back. They don’t have to be Olympians, celebrities or elite athletes, although some of those fit the bill. I’m as likely to find inspiration within my running family, in the wider running community or amongst others I know outside of running.

Turia Pitt is one of my inspirations, not for overcoming horrific injuries but for her attitude in the face of whatever life has given her. Her positivity, practicality and desire to live in the moment and not the past or the future is something I strive for.

Kurt Fearnley is another inspiration, for his attitude of determination and his complete refusal to accept limitations others put on him. That’s an attitude to emulate. His face in the last moments of a marathon are what I reflect on during hard kilometres of my long runs – that’s what strength looks like, pushing on despite the pain. I talk a lot to my students about him as he also embraces another admirable quality – being highly competitive yet demonstrating admirable sportsmanship and grace.

Yet not all of those who inspire me are public identities. Within my running family, I have just as many sources of inspiration. People who don’t give up and continue to aim for often ridiculously lofty goals. And then achieve them, despite potential barriers. People who continue to get of bed and face life, even when it hurts, physically or mentally. People who, despite putting their all into their own events, still have energy to spare to cheer on and support others.

And, interestingly enough, I do actually find inspiration in my own achievements. It certainly hasn’t always been that way but has come out through the big goals I’m achieved over the last few years. Sometimes it’s like I’m two people – one full of doubts and another who knows what I’m capable of. On the days I’m the former, I have to remember what I’ve done and how far I’ve come – that’s the inspiration I draw on to keep moving forward and the confidence that I will achieve whatever I set my heart on.

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2017 goal check in time

I know it’s only halfway through December but, while I have a spare moment, it seems a perfect time to check in on my running goals for the year, set so long ago that I’ve almost forgotten what they are…

  • Run 1000km during the year
    Done. Emphatically. So far, I’m up to 1138km for the year. With my current niggles, I’m not expecting to add much to that but it’s already a total that I’m really proud of.
  • Reach my 100 parkrun milestone
    Done. Another one of those milestones that seemed so far off then appeared out of nowhere. And celebrating with the launch of Torquay parkrun with friends from around the state visiting was perfect. The next parkrun milestone of 250 is going to take a while.
  • Sub 35minute parkrun
    No, but getting closer. My best time so far is a smidge over 36 minutes so I’m not far off. Having spent most of this year working on endurance, not speed, my parkrun times have slowed down but this will be a goal I’ll continue to work on next year.
  • Walk a marathon. Not an actual marathon, just the distance to prove to myself that I can
    No. The plan had been to do this before we signed up for Disney, just to reassure ourselves that we could do it. I’ve never been known for doing things in the right order though. In training, I got up to 37km so my first actual marathon distance (fingers crossed) will be on marathon day.
  • Volunteer at running events – parkrun and others
    Yes. I became a run director at You Yangs parkrun and am very close to reaching my 25 volunteer milestone. I volunteered at Barwon River run and Surf Coast trail marathon and thoroughly enjoyed both experiences. There is almost as much joy in watching and helping others achieve as there is in running it yourself and it’s definitely something I’ll continue.
  • Give cycling and swimming a fair go this year
    Not at all. My bike is still sitting, slightly forlorn, in the dining room. It resurfaced from the garage, was cleaned up and tuned and I took it out on the roads….for 1 ride. I think I’ve been for 1 swim as well. I certainly need to do some cross training and am sure one of these (or both) will be it but it’s going to take me a while to learn to love them. Or even like them. Right now, I struggle to be in the same room as them. Must try harder next year.

So, not a bad year all round. I don’t know whether I’ll have any immediate goals when 2018 ticks over as all I can focus on right now is healing my legs and getting to the finish line at Disney x 4! I fully expect to have some post-event blues after that as the training has been so intense and consuming that I haven’t planned or thought about what might come next. I’m not even signed up to any other events which is highly unusual for me. I know I want to do more parkrun tourism next year but that’s all that’s on the agenda at this stage. So watch this space 🙂

Setting big goals…..then smashing them

I set myself a really big running goal last year and didn’t achieve it, although I did come close. So I put it out there for another shot this year. To run 1000km in the year. And today, with a month and a half to go until the end of the year, I ticked over that magical number.

I remember it seeming like such a far off, almost impossible thing when I set it and, despite all the events I entered last year, I was still 150km away at the end of the year. This year, I have marathon training to thank for the increase in mileage – already looking forward to seeing my total at the end of December.

It’s also interesting to look at my running in general over the last few years. 2014 was when I started running consistently (there were some years of running prior to this but very sporadically). Great to see the generally upward trend and it already has me thinking about what goal to set for next year. 😀

2017 goals

Setting running goals for the last few years has actually worked for me – I think it brings out my slightly competitive side (albeit when only in competition with myself). Having wrapped up my 2016 goals early, I’ve been thinking ever since about what else I want to achieve which has been quite a challenge as I feel like 2016 has been such an amazing year of running and can’t imagine it being any better.

There is one goal I didn’t achieve so that is the one that will carry over – to run 1000km. I knew from the start that this was a stretch goal and will still be a challenging one for me to achieve in 2017…

  • Run 1000km during the year
  • Reach my 100 parkrun milestone
  • Sub 35minute parkrun
  • Walk a marathon. Not an actual marathon, just the distance to prove to myself that I can
  • Volunteer at running events – parkrun and others
  • Give cycling and swimming a fair go this year

Some of those are rather easy, others I can’t imagine achieving but never say never!

Checking in on my running goals

With a mere 2 months of the year to go, my mind has already started drifting to what my running goals might be for next year…..which then brings me back to how I’m tracking for this year’s goals.

Reach my 50 parkruns
Done – still very proud of this achievement and love wearing my 50 shirt. Clearly my new goal in this vein is to reach my 100 next year 🙂

Try out as many new parkruns as possible
Definitely have been doing this. I haven’t counted up how many I’ve done this year but I’ve certainly racked up some kilometres trying out parkruns near and far.

Improve my parkrun time
This was a goal I didn’t think I’d be able to do much about but, recently, I’ve managed 2 PBs and have knocked a minute off my time which I’m really pleased with.

Try out a trail event
Tick. I haven’t just tried out a trail event, I took on a huge one in the Surf Coast trail half marathon. As well as a few smaller ones with the Hoka series. I’m officially hooked. Wish I’d tried them out sooner 🙂 I’ve also discovered how much I love the trails in my own backyard and run them whenever I can.

Dream goal – 1000km for the year
Still a bit of a dream and I’m not sure I have it in me to reach it this year. I’m currently on 723km for the year which is over 100km more than I was at this time last year but still quite a way off my dream goal. And I’m far too sensible these days to push the kilometres beyond what I should. Probably 😉

So, 4 out 5 goals achieved (and 1 that I’ll get very close to) – nothing to complain about there! My running has definitely been more consistent this year and I have my amazing running friends to thank a lot for that. It’s so much easier to make yourself get out there and run when you know you have people waiting for you and the chance for a coffee and chat at the end. Here’s to dreaming big in 2017.

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Surf Coast trail half marathon – my toughest event of the year but such great memories