You just never know where inspiration might come from.
When I started running 13 years ago, I would not have believed that one day I would be inspired by someone who started walking for exercise in their late sixties.
As a new runner, I admired the “fast” runners in our town. My definition of fast was anyone who was faster than I, so I admired nearly all of the other runners.
I wanted to run like them. I wanted to look as good in my running clothes as they did and I wanted people to some day admire (ital)me(ital) as a runner. I looked to them for inspiration.
For me, motivation comes from inside and gets me out the door to exercise. Inspiration, on the other hand, comes from something or someone who encourages me to be better.
I am inspired nearly every day by people who walk through our door, or participate in our training groups. The 60-something walker I mentioned has had a huge impact on me since the first night I met her nearly five years ago.
She showed up to walk with a half-marathon training group. That first walk of less than 30 minutes resulted in sore feet, blisters, ankle-and-shin pain — and a thousand-watt smile in spite of the discomfort.
She knew that she had taken the first steps on the road to walking a half-marathon.
Over the next several weeks, we fit her in more supportive and appropriate shoes and a local podiatrist made orthotics to address some of her foot and ankle issues. Each week, she showed up to walk with her group as they gradually increased their mileage in preparation for their half-marathon of 13.1 miles.
It was hard for her. Not only was she accomplishing something that few people ever consider doing at that point in their lives, she was doing it with problems that would keep many of us on the sidelines.
As if that wasn’t enough, she was also lovingly caring for her husband, whose illness would take him from her within the next year. Yet she was there every week, adding steps and miles as she pursued a very personal goal.
I had the privilege of being there when she crossed the finish line on that Sunday morning. We shared a hug and a few tears, and I saw that same thousand-watt smile that I had seen the first night I met her. I knew what she had gone through to get to the finish line, and in my mind she was a champion in every sense of the word.
Her perseverance in the face of adversity has inspired me more than all of those fast runners that I admired back when I started running.
Don’t get me wrong, I still wish I could run like those guys.
But my walking friend has taught me that I can accomplish more than I thought—if only I show up, work hard, never give up, and keep smiling. I will always be grateful to her for that.
Inspiration is all around us. Sometimes we are just looking in the wrong places.
John Corbett owns All About Running & Walking, 12162 N. Rancho Vistoso Blvd., Suite 140, www.runningwalking.com.