I recently ran the Towpath Challenge – 5 days of running along the Grand Union Canal from London to Birmingham – as part of the inaugural 2018 National Running Show at Birmingham NEC.
I was very lucky to hang out with a bunch of pretty awesome crazy-assed adventure runners.
After a couple weeks of recovering, it’s good to look back and reflect on the experience – some new lessons learned and others reinforced.
From @luketyburski – Reflections. Take the time and look back ?. Think, learn and take action to build and improve.
It is something I have struggled with – not so much the looking back, but the looking back with pride first rather than with tough judgement or self-criticism (which has generally been my reflex reaction).
This realisation about how I look back came from a recent visit I made to Edwalton Primary School after my #63in63 adventure. On the school hall wall was the quote ‘Look back with pride, look forward with confidence’.
I was there to encourage and inspire kids to have fun with running and exercise and to encourage the idea of being adventurous and chasing extraordinary.
To share that love and passion for adventure running and being fit and active, it helps to be truly proud of what I’ve done.
So that’s my current goal – be less self-critical and be more proud. Look back with PRIDE, look forward with CONFIDENCE.
From @raoulmonks1 – find your WHY and you can and will do amazing things.
Raoul had never run back to back ultra-days and quite frankly he pretty much blitzed it, so I doubt it will be his last. The thing that pushed him and was always on his mind was his WHY – he was there to help raise money for a friend who needed treatment for late stage Lymes Disease (a disease I know a lot about ).
The whys have always been my number 1 motivation tool to do the things I do.
I was often asked how did I train to run 63 marathons in 63 days.
Obviously run-training was a big part of the answer ?, but writing was also a crucial part.
I wrote pretty much daily for the best part of 7 years about this adventure I was going to do. I wrote out WHY I was doing it. Over and over and over again.
When it came to running the marathons, my why’s were so ingrained that I was able to overcome the hurdles I came across, the pain I was going through and the negative thoughts that crept in.
My WHY’s kept me going.
They kept me training through the bad weather.
They kept me focused on doing this adventure when I had very little support.
They helped me achieve my dream goal which in turn, helped raise money for a great charity (Huntington’s Disease Association) and it helped inspire a lot of people to push their own boundaries and chase their own extraordinary.
Pretty powerful stuff!
From @jamieisrunning – you don’t have to be the first, the best, the fastest. Be adventurous and see where it takes you.
This has definitely tickled my adventure bone and helped me get out of a bit of a funk to tell the truth.
After finishing my 63 adventure, a common question was ‘what’s next’. A very valid question and one I’m sure not asked with judgement more with genuine interest.
But I kept thinking ‘well I’ve got to go bigger, harder, further – be the first to do this, that and the next’.
Actually, I don’t!
Instead I will keep doing what I love – running for love, fun and adventure.
Each time I go out – if it’s on a recovery run or I’m pushing my limits (like I did during this towpath challenge) – so long as I’m setting out to be MY best, then that’s all I need to do.
Again, it’s a message I share with kids at schools and with people I’ve coached and mentored – I just gotta remember to implement on myself ?.
From @barefootaleks – always see the funny side of everything you do.
Be serious about the goal but have fun and share that fun along the way. Laughter is always the best medicine for when it hurts (and ultra-running sometimes hurts a bit ?).
Laughing is most definitely a wonderful thing to practice – running or life-in-general.
Alex also did this thing that I like to do when I’m on a long, long run … ‘rundance’.
His artist of choice was Beyonce and we rundance’d to ‘Crazy right now’ and ‘put a ring on it’.
My favourites are a bit more old-skool – Tina Turner ‘Proud Mary’ and Aretha Franklin ‘preacher’s son’.
He may have also talked about how wonderful barefoot or sandal running is on canal paths, up mountains, in mid-winter … but for the foreseeable future I’ll stick to doing my barefoot running on sand.
From @elisecdowning – go wild, make plans, but if there is a better opportunity – take it!
Elise set off to run around the UK with a tent in her backpack with the idea of going wild.
She learned really early on that she didn’t really enjoy camping wild and that people are usually very kind in offering help. In her case it was the offer of a bed – which she took!
I’ve always been very reticent in asking for help and often quite hesitant in accepting it. It’s not that I don’t usually need it, it’s some crazy idea that I’ve got to do it all myself. Crazy right!
Thankfully, as I got more tired throughout my adventure, I became more open to both asking and accepting help. I truly could not have ‘done it alone’.
We also talked about cows and that they ARE in fact evil. So glad I’m not the only one who thinks this!
From @twicethehealth Hannah & Emily – one day you are not (a multi-day ultra runner) and then bam ? do one event and you forever are and nobody can take that away from you.
Like Raoul, the girls had never done multi-day ultra-running but they believed that they could do more than what they’d done before and went for it. They did truly ‘smash it’.
This is the key to pushing your boundaries and chasing extraordinary. You have what you normally do, then there’s that boundary that’s just out in front that with effort, commitment and determination, you can go out and do your best to surpass.
I love watching people going above and beyond their normal – setting their new benchmarks and looking back and saying ‘wow’ look what I did.
And the girls proved that doing it with your bestie always makes it better and funner.
I truly missed my bestie/runbuddy/person-who-brings-me-coffee-in-bed ?/my-man Sharif this past week … I had to get my own coffee and everything ??
From my good friend and THE marathon running guru Ben @the401challenge Smith – it’s more than okay to say ‘I need to stop and take a break’.
Just as he did during my #63in63 adventure when he practically force fed me fish and chips ? because I was in desperate need of calories, Ben dished out some very sage advice that was beneficial to us both.
Running all the miles is not the only way to inspire and help people. Thank you soooo much for this reminder ?.
From @mikeseaman2709 founder of the National Running Show – follow your dreams and your passions.
The show was a thought inside Mike’s head that he nurtured for nearly 7 years. This struck a deep and meaningful chord with me. I had my 63 adventure in my head for about the same time.
If you want to make your dreams a reality then you have to take action. Mike met like-minded people, his idea began taking shape and after 2 years of solid planning and action the show was born … and it was a humongous success.
My reality has surpassed even my wildest dreams – the people I have met, the messages of congrats from my life-heroes, the gifts of products I’ve been given (running is free and yet very expensive ?) and Mike saying I’ll be a speaker at 2019’s National Running Show.
Eeek and YAY!
So last, but not least the lessons learned from @nikkilovefitlife (yeah that’s me) – you’re never too old and it’s never too late to make your dreams a reality.
Keep chasing extraordinary … it is most definitely an experience worth working for.
P.S. There was one other harsh lesson that both Ben and I experienced – crazy-assed adventures are far less painful when you train!