Updated: Apr 18
This is a guest post courtesy of Jon.
Jon before and after starting his running journey.
Like any job application, that question can score you the most points, yet it is the hardest to really understand. The temptation is always to say, I do it because I’m good, or just because I love it, or because I’ve achieved these things!… Okay Jon, well done, we’ll score that one a two out of five…!
Finding your why is about what gets you up in the morning. It’s about your passion, how it makes you feel and how deeply it goes with you.
I am sharing my insight and reflection of this journey over a three-year period of running.
In my view, there are a number of areas in your life that you must be satisfied with to feel true happiness. For me there are five categories, personal growth, heath, family/friends, work and spiritual.
On reflection, whilst I am truly driven, I’ve realised you can have them all, just not at the same time.
When I look back at the journey over the last three years, I can say at times it was painful. But I now realise that all of those times, the pain was growing pains. It was about finding out who I was and where I wanted to go.
So, here’s my story… it is not for self-service, nor for fun, but if I can inspire one person to get moving, then I’ve achieved what I set out to do.
The trade-off in life
When I look at those five categories above, I’ve realised that at the age of 33 I’d given all of my energy and effort to work, perhaps subconsciously. The payoff in this area has been great, as I’ve achieved more than I ever thought I could. I have money, possessions and a roof over my head. I don’t worry about financial matters. The trade-off has been the other areas: personal growth, health, family/friends, spirituality. In 2016 I was seriously overweight. I was unhappy in the deepest way.
Back in March 2016, I decided that I couldn’t carry on the way I was going. Something had to give. Something triggered in me. A voice was saying, you need to change, you need to get healthy. It’s only with the benefit of hindsight that I realise my subconscious was telling me, that health was the area I needed to work on most. Work had taken care of itself. It was time to give something else a go.
To quote a phrase “a journey of a thousand miles, must begin with the first step.”
Now that first step was not pretty let me tell you! I was a hefty 16 stone chap, 6ft2 and with very limited fitness. My first step was like ‘Chunk’ from the Goonies doing the ‘truffle shuffle’.
But I pushed myself on the first few 5ks. My time was slow, but I didn’t stop. It was an achievement. As the weeks went on, I started running more and more. Initially by adding the odd 1k to make 6k. Again, slow but an achievement. On one occasion I took the wrong turn down a tow path, and accidently ran 10k without really realising. When I came back and checked the route on Strava, I thought wow a) I can do it and b) I really enjoyed it.
I had started in the August of 2016 and by the end of October 2016 I was up to running 16 miles. I couldn’t believe it.
People often ask me how I did that so quickly? For me, running is in the mind. I’ve realized that there’s two people living in your head. That’s your child self and your adult self… Sounding crazy? Yes, but just stay with me for this bit.
Your child self is the inpatient one that wants or doesn’t want something now! Let me give you an example, if you’re running, how often have you said in your head, “I can’t go any further or I need a rest?”Another part of your mind will say “yes you can”.But often the part of your head saying “I can’t go any further” will win. Well why? Anyone who has children will know that if you try to argue with a child it will often do what it wants anyway. So you have to find a way to talk to the child that allows it to understand why it can keep going. That comes from an intelligence that goes beyond your mind. To do that you need three things:
Knowledge, insight and depth….
Knowledge, insight and depth comes from a deep understanding of what you’re doing. For me this is where I lacked. It would be the one reason I would stop running after I’d hit my goals and it becomes so important to keep going, to make it your norm, to learn how to engage with that voice inside of your head that says ‘you don’t want to go out today in the rain’…. That’s why I joined London City Runners.
London City Runners
I nervously turned up to the meeting place, a pub in Bermondsey on a cold rainy evening. There was a handful of people looking nervous too and I thought, ah they’re also new.
I’m not sure what I was looking for at the time, but with hindsight I’ve realised I was seeking to strengthen that adult in my head that can say ‘keep going, you will feel great’, or to put another way I was seeking to strengthen that knowledge, insight and depth.
Words cannot express this next part. I met Tim Navin-Jones who ran the club. He was the friendliest person. People naturally gravitated to his warm character. He was inspiring everyone around him. He spoke to us as new people and encouraged us to socialise, to keep going.
We ran a 10k route around the Thames, passing the London eye, and down to Westminster. As a chap originally from Devon I am always in awe of the bright lights around London and this was a beautiful route.
When we came back Tim greeted us as if we just achieved world peace. He would say “what you’ve done 10k? That’s bloody awesome!”
As the months and years have gone on the club has kept going. It’s grown so much that it now has its own club house. But its much more than a club. It’s a place of absolute positive energy, warmth and a community that achieves so much more than running.
London City Runners has become that adult in my head that keeps me going, even when the child part of my head doesn’t want to.
So why do I run?
So, going back to the question of this article… Why I run. Well I guess the answer has morphed and grown over time.
It started out as a conscious decision to get fit, improve my health and lose weight. But the benefits are much more than that. It’s spilled over into the other five categories and improved every aspect. It’s benefitted mood and therefore those around me. It’s helped me grown personally. It’s helped me at work because I am full of energy and passion. It’s helped me spiritually, because when I run, I feel a deep sense of calm and being present in that moment.
I hope this inspires just one person to run and then I achieved what I’ve set out to do.