Unexpected Inspiration

I spend a lot of time looking for inspiration, for life lessons, for ways to improve myself, my attitude, and my thinking. A lot of my time is spent reading books, articles, and blogs. Having discussions with trusted friends and colleagues to bounce around ideas. Watching Ted talks and presentations.

Alongside this I always try and reflect on my own choices and actions, think over scenarios that I have witnessed, been involved in or have discussed with friends as I am their trusted friend and sounding board.

Then, as with a lot of things, when you are least expecting it, in a time and place where you were not even thinking, you get some inspiration.

Around six years ago, I realised I needed to improve my health and fitness (bear with me here) and so I engaged the services of a personal trainer. He inspired me, put me on a great track to reach my goals, and is now a good friend.

What he also did was get me to start running. Which was surprising initially, as he told me that he hated running and rarely did it. There were two very good reasons why he suggested it. One was that it is great for all round fitness and would help me to set achievable targets in a short period of time (I am very competitive against myself and am always chasing improvement).

The second was that it would give me time to think, to clear my head, focus purely on myself, my running, and my surroundings. At the time my job was very stressful, and I needed that headspace.

Me and running don’t really get on. I am tall, a bit gangly, very uncoordinated and have issues with balance. It takes me a while to get into pace and form when I run. Which is a bit crappy. But is also amazing, as it means I have to concentrate on that, which clears my mind of all else.

So back to this inspiration. Saturday morning, early morning, I was lying in bed, awake and unable to sleep (I have posted before about my insomnia) so I thought I may as well get up and go run (Saturday is usually my run day).

Running gear on, cap to hide lockdown hair (and to partially disguise me so that hopefully no one I know will recognise me) away I go.

Recently my focus has been on two things, consistency of pace and adding in hills (not in the same run as that would be silly even for me). Today I wanted to beat the hill that defeated me last week, so I chose the hill route.

At my peak I ran 8min 30 miles. I’m older and less fit now so average about 10min 15. With hills in mind I set my pacer to 10min 30 and off I went. It was awful, I felt uncoordinated, my arms and legs doing different things, my breathing all over, my pace thready.

Mentally my focus was gone, physically my legs were burning, my quads painful, my left knee niggly and threatening issues later. At this point I abandoned any thoughts of pace and just settled into blasting out my 35 mins of exercise.

As I ran I was looking around me, saying hello to people I passed, looking at houses, keeping an eye out for the beach coming into sight, trying to spy the end of the sunrise. My brain was recalculating my route to give me as much beachfront time as possible, my thoughts were on plans for the day ahead and the rhythm of my footfall.

Fast forward to the end of my run, 35 mins and 3.5 miles later. 1.4 miles from home, so plenty of time to think as I headed back (I am very strict on runs that I either run to a time or distance, then stop and walk home from wherever I am).

When I was walking back my phone was buzzing incessantly in my pocket. Which actually was bugging me and ruining my chilled mindless state. When I pulled my phone out and looked at it, it was my running app, telling me I had achieved 5 awards on the run.

One was a goal I had signed up to achieve. 4 were around my pace. I had done my second fastest mile and two miles, fastest 5km, 3rd fastest 1km. All of this was achieved when I felt I had failed and put in a poor performance.

The inspiration that I had gained, and the lesson that I had learned (again) was that sometimes we achieve more when we stop trying. Switch our focus from all out to achieve and move it to enjoy the journey and appreciate the outcome.

So on Saturday morning, I went out for a run, thought I failed, achieved lots, and learned a lesson.

Where did your last inspiration or lesson come from?
Were you searching for it, or did it seek you?

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