the family affair

On Mother’s Day we headed into Southbank, where Sheri, Riley and my mum joined some friends in a team entered in the Mother’s Day Classic Fun Run/Walk. It was kind of cool to see the three generations together walking/running in the 4.5k event, and all three enjoyed it a lot.

As did the other two kids and I, watching from the sidelines.  So we went home all inspired to all enter the event in 2015 and run/walk together…but that wasn’t quite soon enough so satisfy our craving for instant gratification.

So we scoured the internet for events, Mitch signed up for a kids try-athlon hosted by Weetbix this coming weekend at Southbank, and then we started looking further afield.

The Gold Coast Marathon came to mind…for the obvious reason that we’ll be there for the event anyway. When we dug a little deeper, the whole event includes a heap of different distances and categories…so we’ve signed up the whole gang. Mitch and MK will run the 2k kids dash, Sheri and Riley the 5.7k run, all on Saturday morning, and I’ll be there Sunday for the full distance event.

It’s given our whole family quite a buzz to all be entered. Training plans are developing and we’ve already had one whole-family training session on the street out the front – with Mitch practicing triathlon transitions on the footpath, and everybody else running laps of the block (including the dog…who thought it was awesome!).

It’s been nice to talk together about it this week, to be sharing a goal and as a family looking forward to an event that had up until now been mostly about my Sunday race.

Training for the marathon has continued, with a little bit of both up and down over the last couple of weeks.  I’ve managed two quite long runs at 25 and 28.7k respectively) but also run into a couple of little niggly injury worries – both problems I’ve had in the past.

With some time on the massage table, a few days rest and a session with a running-specialist physio at intraining, all seems under control for the moment, so I’ll just (cautiously) press on with the program. A quieter weekend this week (with long run at 18-20k) precedes what is planned as a 32k long run next weekend, so it’s definitely a week to look after the legs a little.

The other down moment this week was waking up one morning for my regular mid-distance run and almost pulling the pin. Mostly I’ve not struggled for motivation, and once I’m awake have been happy to get up and go.

This day however, I really struggled to get going. I had that thought “why am I doing this?” and for the first time, had no answer.  It was only that (a) I knew I would feel guilty if I didn’t go; and (b) I have some friends who have been great encouragers on the whole marathon project that got me out of bed and onto the streets.

I guess that’s life sometimes isn’t it.  No matter how much we like the idea of something (moving house, new job, parenthood, whatever your mountain might be) there are moments when the reality of the challenge overwhelms the theoretical motivation. There are moments when we say “why am I doing this?”.

On the whole I’m not advocating for guilt as a motivator, so that leaves me with the critical importance of friends and family that encourage and support us.  So, I’m thinking, next time you’re struggling for motivation, who can you turn to that will help you feel great about what you’re attempting?  And conversely, look around to see who in your life is trying something new….and fire some words of encouragement there way.

A little of that action goes a very long way.

Training since I last blogged:

10/5  –  25.3km @ 5.37 pace

12/5  –  47.5km road bike

13/5  –  10.0km @ 5.33 pace

15/5  –  10.2km @ 5.34 pace

19/5  –  28.7km @ 5.51 pace

22/5  –  8.2@km 5.53 pace

Full details at strava

you are a machine!

Recently I was in Canberra for work, staying with a friend in the foothills of Mt Taylor, to the city’s south.

With my battle against middle age continuing, I packed the running shoes, intending to get out for an early morning run before each day’s conference gathering got under-way.

My host advised a left turn from his driveway and then head up towards Mt Taylor to pick up a flat walking trail that runs all the way around the bottom of the mountain with quiet countryside and spectacular views – and a distance of around 5k or so.  Perfect.

So I headed out, turned left into the park and started up the 2-300m straight uphill section (flat!) to the walking trail.  As I huffed and puffed my way up the hill, a young bloke came around the corner at the top and headed down the trail toward me.

As we passed, him strolling downhill, me doing a good impression of a man about to have a heart attack, he spoke to me:

“Great work! You are a machine!”

I puffed my way up, and he was gone.  Never seen him before, unlikely to ever see him again.

Those words were powerful, just as I felt like slowing to a walk I found a little extra energy to complete the last of the climb to the trail.

A machine!

Now honest truth be told, I would have looked anything but.  Hunched over, almost shuffling, breathing hard, mismatched running cclothes, ill-fitting old cap.

Some machine….

But, days later, I still feel a little burst of energy when I think of his words.

They cost him nothing to utter. Just a couple of words to a complete stranger.

Such is the power of encouragement.

Further on in the run I nodded hello to a couple of retired blokes out walking their dogs. Later as I looped around the mountain I came upon them again, this time a more friendly greeting exchanged between us all.

Day two and and I ran Mt Taylor once more. How could I not? I was a machine!

Of course I saw those two same gents and their pair of pooches, out for their morning walk, and the greeting was once again a little more friendly as I continued on my way.

And then one final time as I neared my last stretch, almost out on my feet with the hills in my legs (flat!), I ran into that same pair, chatting animatedly, walking their dogs.  They looked up, saw me coming and one spoke aloud to his friend, and to me:

“Aha, we know this guy, he’s the runner! Keep it up, you are doing awesome!”

I returned the greeting, we chatted momentarily as I passed, and that was that.

From somewhere came the energy to finish out that run, standing just a little taller, striding out just a little longer.

Words are free.

But they are also priceless.

Of course just as easily words can hurt and drag down, but on this occasion, these occasions, two different people offered freely the gift of encouragement to a stranger. Words not deserved, or earned, and with nothing to be earned in return by the giver…..but given anyway, given generously.

And not only did I run a little longer and better as a result, but resolved to pass on words of encouragement wherever I can, to friend or stranger.

Encouragement might just be the gift that keeps on giving.

And it’s free.

Get better than that.