Inspiration is the thing about running that finally got me, that so far has held on to me even though my incredibly lazy nature would be quite happy being a couch potato. Okay, that and the fact that we got rid of the couch. It was that or get rid of the dogs and trust me, there are times I wonder if we made the right choice. (Of course we could always bring up that there IS another alternative, and that’s do a better job training the damn dogs… we won’t go there right now).
There is something amazing about the running community. It’s far more of a real community than I ever expected. And that has really impressed me. I always figured that as I shuffle along, or walk when I need to walk, that most of the real runners would sniff and look down their noses at me as they realized what a pretender I am. I think it’s because I’ve seen and heard enough from skinny people who scoff at people who’ve gotten as big as I have and cannot understand how that could happen. There is some tremendous judgmentalism out there and I’ve been on the back end of that enough that it sinks in after awhile. And see, runners are typically skinny, so I’ve found myself thinking that they’re going to look at me and think to themselves that I’m just wasting space on their track, you know? And I’m sure there are plenty who do feel exactly that way, but what I’ve found is that people are incredibly supportive. Nowhere was that more evident than during the Bear Chase, where these ultra runners, some of whom are running 50 miles at a pace that I’d love to be able to do for 500 yards, are cheering me on and congratulating me for plodding along or even walking, and I got every sense they were really sincere.
And that’s the thing that has really grabbed hold of me, because it seems the glue behind this whole community seems to be this thing called inspiration. Maybe that’s because to get out and run, and to keep running for miles at a time just seems insane enough that we need inspiration to keep going. You see the ultra elite runners who fly in at the end of a 10K at a nearly 4 minute per mile pace, and you think… wow. You see the mom who had two strokes and has overcome in an incredible way, or you see the guy who lost 160 pounds and is now doing half marathons in an hour and a half and doing triathlons all over the place. You see stuff like that and it’s like, I have no excuses. Sometimes the inspiration makes you think I wish I could, sometimes the inspiration makes you realize, I can!
And then, after awhile, we inspire ourselves. We run further than we ever dreamed we could. We improve our time. We find out we actually kinda like this thing called running – sometimes we still recognize we are torturing ourselves and question how we could actually ENJOY it, but we feel good about what we’ve done, and about how far we’ve come, and we want to do more.
Now I don’t know what it is about this week that has me in full self-psycho-analyst mode. See, I’m good with being inspired. I’ve gotten to be pretty okay with thinking, I inspire myself. I have struggled with the idea of being an inspiration to others. I don’t know why that is. Maybe it’s because I know how far I have left to go, you know? It’s like I have this idea that if I put myself out there with what I’ve accomplished then I’m making this statement that I’ve arrived or I’m making myself out to be more than I really am.
But here’s the thing that has blown me away. I have people telling me how I’ve inspired them, and these are people who are so much further along than I am in their health and their fitness and their running. It’s in my nature to think they’re being nice, but I know some of these people and know they don’t just make crap like that up. So how can that be? They KNOW I’m not all the way to where I could be, they KNOW I’m not really that close. So how can they say I inpire them?
Maybe…. maybe inspiration isn’t about saying I’m already there. Maybe inspiration isn’t about having arrived or being great or being perfect. Inspiration can be about being weak. I can relate to the apostle Paul who talked about rejoicing in his weakness. I got more than my share of weakness to rejoice in! I’m starting to understand that, that it’s not the end of the world to have flaws, because, well… we all do, right? But I know for myself, maybe the difference between now and a few years ago is that I think I was more prone to being defeated by my weakness. And if not defeated, maybe just complacent. And maybe inspiration is that moving past that point and deciding I want more.
Part of the reason for starting this blog is wanting to be an inspiration. Sometimes I’m afraid to give myself permission to think that way, but I’m getting better at that. But I think I’ve had a mistaken concept of inspiration. I thought of those who might be in the shoes I once was, of saying I’ve been there and I’ve gotten here. I never considered that I could inspire someone who is so much further along. I always had this warped idea that inspiration was some kind of linear thing – that you were inspired by those ahead of you, you inspired those behind you. The reality is there is no ahead of or behind, there is simply where we are and what are we doing with that? I’m seeing that just in much in what inspires me. I see someone overcome disabilities now running much faster than I can. At the same time I see someone just now able to walk more than a couple blocks at a time for the first time in years. They all inspire me. And maybe I start to understand, inspiration comes in seeing people push through wherever they are in life. I find in myself a deep admiration of people in so many different stages of their life in so many different areas of their life. Inspiration is something that can be found in so many places.
So it’s okay to think that I can inspire. That’s good to know.
And you… you inspire as well. There is something about your life that is inspirational. Maybe that something is what you are about to do. Maybe it’s what you’ve done. Maybe it’s just this incredible attitude or maybe it’s your faith or… honestly I can’t begin to scratch all the surfaces of what can be inspirational about you. But the thing I want to say is, let yourself inspire. Somewhere, someone out there needs your inspiration. It’s really okay to say yes, there is something about you that inspires others.
I love something that’s being done by Tran Creative. They call it the I Am campaign. They are enouraging people to tell their stories and to let themselves be an inspiration. They let you tell about yourself, they take a picture and put together an inspirational poster. The wild thing about it is, they’re just doing it – not trying to sell anything. Now I don’t know, maybe they get some publicity out of doing it, maybe it helps them build their brand, or maybe… just maybe it’s some people who just want to give back a little? I don’t know that the why matters nearly as much as the fact that it’s just a pretty cool thing they are doing. Below is the poster they created for me:
So let me ask you: How are you an inspiration? I know you are. Some way, some how… you are an inspiration. Tell your story. Maybe you can tell it by going to Tran Creative’s facebook page and have them put it in a poster. Maybe you want to write about it somewhere. Maybe you want to just tell me in the comments. Maybe you don’t know yet, and maybe this is the time to think about it and find it. I don’t think it’s bragging or being too caught up in yourself to recognize how you inspire, because I think you’re like me, you have things that are inspiring and you have things that are in need of inspiration. It’s good to know both.