A little over a week ago, around 15,000 people ran the Reading Half-Marathon. I wonder how many spent last week walking like John Wayne, shuffling down the stairs on their bums and using the disabled toilets at work?
And how many have been for a run since? How many, having reached their goal, will run again?
Goals are good. Goals motivate us. Goals give us our ‘why’.
A good goal – be it a target weight, a little black dress, a rapidly approaching beach holiday or an event like the half marathon – keeps us focused. It’ll hold our attention even when our peripheral vision is full of cakes and cozy warm beds.
But too often we cross the finish line and we stop. Literally.
I’m amazed how often this happens. I’ve seen people train 6 months to complete their first marathon. In the process they’ve got stronger, leaner, fitter. Six months later they’re back where they’re started. They can’t run to the end of the road and the thought of going through all that training again is simply too daunting.
I’ve seen others sweat out three training sessions a week, eat clean and abstain from alcohol for months, all to look good in a bikini. Come Christmas, their tan has faded and their bodies are fast returning to jelly.
I’m amazed, but I get it. It’s natural that when you’ve climbed to the top of the mountain, you want to abseil slowly back down again.
But what if, having climbed your mountain, you took a few moments to appreciate the view? Have a look back where you came from – do things look any better from up here than they did from down there?
Now look in front of you – you’ll see more mountains, hills, dales, downs and moors. Having climbed your first peak, a whole new world has opened up in front of you.
If you head back to base camp, you’ll only ever see your mountain top again in postcards, colours fading, paper thinning, less and less impressive with time.
Head on and your mountain will always be there. From the next peak or plain, you’ll turn around to see how far you’ve come and there your mountain will be. From your new vantage point, it may look surprisingly small, but it’ll be sun-kissed and snow-capped and still glorious to behold.
So don’t stop. Don’t waste hard-earned high ground. Keep running.
Find a new goal. Pick somewhere in the distance that looks like it might be worth a visit and start your next journey.
You’ll get lost, you may get hurt, and you may have to pick your way through the occasional dark valley but the view will always be better than from where you started.
And if you haven’t reached the top yet, keep going. It’s worth it.
Remember, the mountains are always full of fellow travellers and guides. They’ll always help if asked. Don’t send up a flare, just get in touch now and we’ll scramble the St Bernards!
PS: Well done to all the Reading Half-Marathon mountain climbers, including Katherine Wood, Paul Butler, Gillian Caveen and Gavin Maitland-Smith. Especially well done to Denise Randell, Gemma Reeves, Franklin Bingham, Bekki Maidment-Cameron, Amanda Adlem and Sarah Fuller who were all running the distance for the first time!
Finally, commiserations to those who didn’t make the start line through injury or illness – particularly Matt Greener; this mountain wasn’t for you, but I’m sure you’ll find another to make your own.