On Inspiration and Heroes (mile marker 18)

I don’t usually need much in the way of motivation to get out and run.  I love the routine of exertion and sweat and the endorphin kick that comes with hoofing it up an incline.  But like anyone else, there are a number of days when I just…don’t…wanna.  It’s too cold! It’s too hot! There’s too much smoke in the air (a legitimate excuse the last two summers). I’m tired! I ate too much bacon!  Running is dumb! What is running anyway? Why are we here?  Who are we? Etc.

I usually only require a slight nudge to get past these thoughts—I will remind myself that I have never once regretted going for a run.  That is once I’m about 10 minutes into it.   I’ll sometimes just take a quick walk to the end of the sidewalk, glance westward and consider the foothills and mountains that hold many potential adventures.  Sometimes my leg muscles will start twitching, itching to get moving.  Sometimes the thought of keeping the routine going gets me rollin’.  “If you want to run Leadville, you gotta run. Even and especially when you don’t want to.”  That usually does it.

But when none of these work…

I’ll read a quote or poem, listen to a song, watch a video clip, learn about an amazing human doing amazing things.  I’ve noticed that one of the biggest motivators/inspirations to keep running is a simple picture of a person (any person) hiking or running on a trail.  I’d like to know the psychology/sociological reasons behind this (Maeve…Kels…?).  I’ve included many of these inspirations below.  Maybe they’ll help you too.  Now, let’s be clear: these words/pictures/videos/links have a touch of cliché-ness to them.  They are not my experiences.  They are not my own thoughts.  But they can help. If they get me out the door, I’ll take it.   Enjoy!

Film and Photos:

Anton Krupicka (see: OtHeR bLoGs link), a local Colorado mountain runner, provides this winter inspiration (helpful for the months ahead):  http://vimeo.com/26899667

Kels and I don’t really like the name of this website, but my goodness, the photos!   www.trailporn.com

Great and fitting title to this trail running short-film: http://vimeo.com/47355798

I might have already included this Leadville 100 video in one of my first posts, but it definitely keeps my eye on the prize, and feet on the trail: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWRActOyvek

Great athletes, great landscapes.  Not much more needed:    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uAWGblQXv0  I love the last line: “Ideally I’d like to be a bird—but running is a close second.”

The shred of patriotism in me mixed with my hockey-filled upbringing always combines to produce a tear and goose bumps when I watch this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYscemhnf88

Amazing People:

I get inspired by lots of different people—many I know pretty well: Kelsea (what an amazing woman!), my parents, my siblings, the great bee wrangler of northeast Minneapolis; and many I don’t know so well: Mandela, Gandhi, Trotsky, David James Duncan, Mr. Darcy (??), Subcomandante Marcos.  Here’s a few others more closely associated with running and the wilderness:

A great and humble man, I spent about 6 months reading everything I could find on this guy.  Simply unbelievable:  http://www.runnersworld.com/elite-runners/emil-zatopek

The Zatopek of the cycling world. Before the drugs. Before the money.      http://www.cyclelicio.us/2009/mick-murphy-the-irish-iron-man-cyclist/

Kilian Jornet—probably the best endurance athlete to come along in a while, and a pretty cool dude too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRl0PjiPnyM

Dick Freakin’ Proenneke.  Ever heard of this guy? Lived in the Alaskan wilderness. Alone. For 35 years.  Documented it too.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYJKd0rkKss

Some Words:

(there’s so many powerful, beautiful words and quotes out there—though quotes can be so cliché and devoid of meaning sometimes.  Remember those “motivational posters” with quotes at the bottom?  Lol.  But…sometimes certain quotes can help.)

“…what is it you will do with your one, wild and precious life?”  Mary Oliver

“Some people create with words or with music or with a brush and paints. I run. It’s more than just a race, it’s a style. It’s being creative.”  Steve Prefontaine

“Every day in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows that it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you better be running.”  Abe Gubegna


My brother and I spent a couple summers (about ten years ago) watching the Tour de France, being totally inspired and in awe of Lance Armstrong, and then we’d get on our road bikes and ride in the afternoon.  Those were great summers.

As a baseball fan I remember the glorious summer of 1998, when Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa matched dinger for dinger in pursuit of the coveted home run record.

These are two of many examples that have taught me a lesson about inspiration.  I stopped having/believing in heroes a while ago—about the time I realized that humans are prone to do both amazing and beautiful things—exploration, endurance, science, spiritual introspection, compassion—amazing things!—but also plenty of not-so great things too: we cheat, we lie, we fight and compete for meaningless honors and glory (as well as a host of other things not needing mention).  Ok…what’s my point?  Regardless of whether you are a super-athlete, a scientist discovering cancer treatments, a president, a Buddhist monk…whoever—you will make mistakes.  You will fail sometimes. You are not perfect.  Hero-worship can set one up for disappointment and what’s worse (in my opinion), it will distract you from being your own hero, your own inspiration.  It will distract you from your own greatness and your own adventure.  In short: being inspired to do fun/amazing/challenging things by other people doing amazing things = good.  Turning these people into heroes = well, not so helpful.  Be yourself. Have your own style. Live your own adventure. Or as Sanka Coffie puts it:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=askJo-rtUFE

I’m just lookin’ to get off the couch (when I’m feeling unmotivated), in order to create and live out my own adventure.

Thanks for readin’.  Run on.


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