It’s not often I get the chance to read, (toddler literature doesn’t count!) so whenever I go on holiday, I always spend a bit of time at the airport browsing the books. I tend to buy one or two that will see me through the flights and the rest of the holiday. A few years ago though, I picked up a book that I found truly inspirational. That book was “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall.
Since reading that, I’ve found it really difficult to find another book that I could get into. More recently, I have joined the library and borrowed a few books. They were all inspirational ones on the topic of running. I have always been sporty, but sometimes my motivation lets me down. I find that in sport, as in most areas of my life, a few wise and inspirational words can make all the difference. I’d like to share the three people that I find really motivational and challenge you to think about who you would pick.
My first choice, of course, has to be Christopher McDougall. I read his book when I was on my honeymoon. The day I got home from the honeymoon, I found out I was pregnant. I was so inspired by the book that I managed to carry on running (waddling) until I was around 7 ½ months pregnant and I started again just two weeks after giving birth. I did a triathlon three months after giving birth and a half marathon when my daughter was 12 months old. The motivation came almost entirely from McDougall. Here are my two favourite quotes from his book;
“Perhaps all our troubles – all the violence, obesity, illness, depression, and greed we can’t overcome – began when we stopped living as Running People. Deny your nature, and it will erupt in some other, uglier way.”
“Just move your legs. Because if you don’t think you were born to run, you’re not only denying history. You’re denying who you are.”
The second person whose words inspire me is the Dalai Lama. This is not for religious or spiritual reasons, in fact I am not religious or spiritual at all. I do, however, think that we could all learn a lot from his attitude to life. The Dalai Lama is well known to be a calm, gentle man who lives in the moment, not dwelling on the past or wasting time worrying about the future. My favourite quote that I believe sums up his amazing take on life is this one;
“The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
There is one final person I cannot possibly exclude from my top three inspirational speakers, and that is a man who I was absolutely captivated by on listening to him at our local Theatre last year; Sir Ranulf Fiennes. He is widely accepted as the world’s greatest living explorer. Most people know of his incredible polar expeditions; he famously cut off his own fingers when suffering from frostbite. What struck me though on listening to him speak, was his inimitable humility and accessibility. He is very down to earth and speaks to an audience as if addressing an old friend. He spoke not only about being the oldest Briton to reach the summit of Everest despite a phobia of heights, but he referred also to his failed attempts at reaching the summit. He did so in a way that demonstrated that even the greatest living explorer hasn’t achieved everything he set out to, and there is no shame not reaching your goal if you have put every ounce of yourself into trying.
I have been following with interest the Coldest Journey team who, led by Sir Ranulph Fiennes, set out to cross Antarctica in winter. Sadly this wasn’t to be, Sir Ranulph was unable to proceed due to injury and the team had to halt progress and concentrate on their scientific studies a couple of months into the journey. However, one of my favourite quotes from Sir Ranulph Fiennes refers to the Coldest Journey team’s educational aim. I feel that it sums up his humility in the face of superhuman achievement;
“Children from all over the Commonwealth who interact on our educational website should be anything but bored by our interaction with the great frozen land of Antarctica. If I had been taught this kind of stuff when I was a child, who knows, maybe I would have got some O’Levels after all.”
Amazingly, there are some incredible motivational speakers who are willing to attend functions and events for clubs, businesses and charities. You may even be lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend a literature festival or a theatre tour to hear one of these people speak, as I did. I can only urge you to take any such opportunity; it might just change your life. I am incredibly grateful to those people (including my mum) who have inspired me to have an active lifestyle because a love of sport and activity has been with me throughout my life and will continue to do so. I only hope that I can inspire Libby to be equally active… and as she competed in her first race just after turning one year old, I don’t think that will take too much effort!
This post was sponsored, but the views, opinions, active lifestyle, competitive toddler and (sadly disproportionately male) people who have inspired such a lifestyle are all mine.