Sunday 28 December 2014

Keep running the race to reach life's ambition

Gerry Duffy

Published 22/07/2014 | 02:30

Come October, I would love to remind him of his words last week, when he saw 10 miles as his limit.
Come October, I would love to remind him of his words last week, when he saw 10 miles as his limit.

One thing my coffee companion said to me got me thinking. I wondered to myself how he would view such a distance 10 weeks hence.

Our conversation was held in a quaint village tea shop in middle Ireland. Seated across from me, was a running convert, who - as he spoke - was as excited as a 10-year-old at a 'One Direction' concert. As the 35-year-old bit into his pastry, he began to share his experience of training for his first marathon. He had recently signed up for Dublin and was a few months into training.

"My long run this Sunday will be 10 miles. I can't believe I can run that far," was his comment.

In a previous time, the lifestyle of the man opposite included barstool activity and more cigarettes than filled a standard box. In some ways, he reminded me of who I once was, at least with the latter.

A year ago, he had a wake-up call. Nothing serious, but it was enough to encourage him in a different direction. Running seemed to offer a cure, so he swapped the barstool and the Marlboros for canal banks and technical t-shirts. Within a few weeks, running and my friend had taken to each other like the proverbial ducks.

He says he looks at life differently now. Previously he had no vitality and little excitement in his life. Now he is bursting with energy and is actively pursuing what were once but dreams. Such was his enthusiasm to share his new mindset and life, the contents of the pastry remained visible in his mouth until fully consumed. I didn't like to look away. His 
passion was infectious.

I believe my coffee companion will, in the coming months, find out just what amazing ability lies within us all. Were we to meet each fortnight, I believe this is how the conversation might go: "My long run last weekend was 16 miles, I can't believe I can run that far."

"My long run last weekend was 20 miles, I can't believe I can run that far."

"My run last weekend was 22 miles, I can't believe I can run 
that far."

Come October, I would love to remind him of his words last week, when he saw 10 miles as his limit.

We all have ambitions and dreams, but many of us doubt our ability to achieve them. If you see yourself in these words, maybe all you need is a tiny change of direction to encourage you to 'carpe diem' and to seize life. We all have an ability to go beyond 22 miles, and I am not talking about running; it is just a metaphor.

For many readers, this dream or ambition might be a 5km, a marathon or a 100km cycle. For you or your brother, wife or friend, it might be an academic qualification, building a home, securing a dream job, writing a book or retiring financially secure.

Unsure how to make your dreams a reality? Take a leaf from my friend. Seize life and then prepare as you would for a marathon. Commit to stretching yourself every week.

If you do, you might be surprised how far you can run.

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