As anyone who knows me is aware, I love the Olympics. I was unrelentingly positive about London 2012 from years in advance (I think I still have my "I backed the bid" sticker somewhere), throughout and now looking back (I still get emotional watching montages). One of the taglines of the Games was Inspire a Generation and recently I've been thinking about that more. Since the Olympics I've become more serious about running, and both my husband and a mutual friend have taken it up. The three of us now regularly exchange tweets about running and our friend wondered recently whether we had all been inspired by the Olympics.
I have to be honest- I loved the slogan and thought that if I was a child or teenager I would have been so excited and definitely inspired. However until now I hadn't really considered that maybe I had been inspired to run more because of that Olympic legacy. I had originally taken it to mean that youngsters would be inspired to be the future TeamGB stars and although I am sure that that will be one of the effects, I've come to realise that a far bigger consequence will be the little inspiration filtering through communities and friendship groups. It doesn't matter that most of us are too old (in athlete terms) to even dream of competing - we can still be inspired.
These thoughts led me to ponder a little more about what inspires me. Staying on the Olympics theme, I love watching Mo, Jess and other champions, but I don't think they inspire me in terms of my own running. Ultimately they are professional athletes and they are working full-time at trying to be the best in the world. I'm working full-time at another job, trying to fit in running as a hobby so it is difficult to draw realistic comparisons. I'm more likely to be inspired by those athletes who are at the top of their game but not able to work solely on their sport. I listened to Marathon Talk this week and they interviewed marathon runner Susan Partridge. She finished 10th at the World Championships last week but by the time the interview was conducted she was back at work. I could not believe that! Tenth in the world but with another "real" job aswell! Definitely inspiring.
Of course I've written all of this without drawing attention to the obvious - I have neither the natural talent nor the dedication to ever be anywhere close to an Olympian. For this, and other reasons, I think that I draw on inspiration closer to home. I've already blogged about parkrun and that kind of "grass roots" running really appeals to me. Through parkrun I've been inspired by so many different kind of runners including these: Mary, a regular Cambridge parkrunner in the 75-79 age category who usually runs round in about 27 minutes; countless number of junior runners who turn up every week to try and beat their time but who also learn about volunteering and supporting others; my friend Michaela who ran at least 10K every day for 17 days straight (whilst also working) to raise money for charity, and lastly Neil who in running has found a focus away from work and become healthier and happier as a result.
Running and in particular parkrunning rocks.
Who or what inspires you?