Anything’s possible but you will never know until you try VERY hard…..
I was asked yesterday by a friend, someone who has known me for years, a guy who has seen some of my craziest climbing and kayaking exploits at first hand, a man who stood next to me in the Himalaya looking at huge crazy whitewater rapids and screamed “lets do it Dude!!! “Yet for some reason this challenge made him ask WHY? Why run across a desert and suffer all those torturous miles just to say you did!! , he could understand the fun, thrill and enjoyment of kayaking and climbing but extreme running, what was the point in that???? Why would you even consider doing it in the first place? And how can you find the motivation to go out and run the miles you need to do to be fit enough? . I didn’t really have an answer for him to be honest so I thought about it and decided I’d try to reason it out here on my blog , so here goes …….
I’ve always loved the outdoors , running around the local countryside of the ” the Millars knowes” and “The Targets” when I was a young boy and I loved the long days in the country with my Dad when we used to go shooting , but I was never ever excited about running or even sport for that matter … 2 years of rugby and football in High School saw me leave it behind in 3rd year for computer studies , the team mentality didn’t fit with me from an early age , maybe even at this point I was destined for a “solo” career …. Although my lack of skill with any kind of ball, probably factored highly in that decision.I did however enjoy being fit and trained hard and willingly at the local Boxing club under the watchful eye of my father , his club had a reputation for hardcore training and many a night I would leave there after tough circuits and often one thousand sit ups , bag work, pads and sparring several rounds with the likes of Ex-Scottish champion Stuart Sharkey , Paul McKechnie , James Elliot and let’s not forget Craig “sticky” Brown , I also enjoyed swimming and diving , with 60 foot cliff dives and the ability to swim 3 lengths under the water to my name before I was even out of school … so physically I suppose I have always enjoyed being fit even from an early age.
But being fit, physically and mentally is not something I take for granted , in my late teens I went through what was one of the most enjoyable, yet crazy and self destructive periods in my life … In my search for something different and unknown!!, I entered the underground world of what they now call “RAVE Culture” , this was right at the beginning of a movement from “Disco” and something that still exists now twenty years on , clubbing , techno , drum n bass , garage , pretty much what people even now still enjoy on a Saturday nights clubbing … it all started here ,it was exciting, it was “cool” , we danced all night , partied hard , it started small and it grew to huge venues with thousands of off-their head loved up revellers ….. but it was also my introduction to drugs and later to the depression and unhappiness that has followed me sporadically throughout my life and as is my nature I threw myself into it 110% , messed myself up badly and put myself in trouble both with the Law and with some very bad people …. this was the lowest point in my life, thankfully I was lucky enough to have a father who stepped in when things got real bad, plucked me straight out of my life kicking and screaming, call it an intervention or just a father deciding enough was enough, he did what he’s good at and sorted it , later helping me sort my head out and made me realize that I needed to sort my whole life out. So with his and my mothers help, encouragement and support, a huge lifestyle change began, I left my old habits behind, I went back to programming, bought books on mountain and survival skills, jumped in my car and headed to the Lake district every Friday after work and for months I would spend my weekends wandering the mountains teaching myself mountain skills and enjoying the seclusion and peace, slowly strengthening and rebuilding my confidence, then along the way I discovered Rock Climbing, WOW!! this was it , finally something that I really wanted to excel in and maybe it was because I was a broken man rebuilding himself from the bottom , maybe it was just the right time in my life or maybe it was the climbing itself but I changed , a lot !! , I met some amazing people and they helped show me the way , my determination and self motivation went through the roof , I trained hard , I learnt difficult climbing technique , practiced it , mastered it, I developed the exceptional mental strength climbers need to handle the huge concentration and self control needed to climb the most difficult rock faces , I was working hard , I was putting the effort in and it was repaying me with the satisfaction of self improvement , of achieving goals and the realization that with hard work and sacrifice you can achieve what you might think impossible … this is where I believe my self-motivation comes from … its engrained in me from this period in my life and It has taken me all over the world climbing, kayaking and now extreme running…. I have never let it weaken, I never will !! Ever !! …. So Why apply this to running , well right now its where my heads at , I’ve been through hard times with my business this year , the weather , the recession and many other factors have given me numerous troubles and put intense financial pressure on me both with my business and my personal life and it continues to get tougher , the running has given me a focus away from this , a release , it has allowed me to get out with friends ,to get out on my own ,to let off some steam and to experience something new but at the same time it has required me to be very strong , to sort out my problems , to still be generous with my time when I see my daughter and after all that to fit in the time to run when it would be easier not to … its not been easy , yet in a way it has !!
So right now I’m out there running hundreds of miles , doing everything in my power to keep it interesting but it does get repetitive , yet I keep going despite the fact that I don’t really want to , I enjoy it , I really do! but sometimes it takes strength to get me out the front door .. lots of it , I’m doing it because somewhere in the near future is a test of my character and fitness that I will not fail , if I do then it will not be from a lack of something that I should have done because I will do what it takes no matter what ….. I have had to apply all the lessons I have learnt over the years , and it has again rewarded me with the satisfaction that I am capable of completing what may have seemed impossible only a year ago …..I am no elite athlete, far from it!! I am just a normal 40 something guy working hard, faultlessly doing what it takes and hopefully achieving something special because of it………….