Not infrequently, people have told me ” I inspire them”. This statement has always puzzled me. I don’t know quite why folks think I am an inspiration. Is it because, although I am old and fat and a very slow runner, that I keep doing it? This is my usual thought, and I’ve talked about it a bit out on the trail. Maybe I take my self-consciousness about being fat and the slowest runner a bit too much to heart at times.
So, recently, a newby ultra runner completed her first 100 mile race. In her tweets about the race, she said she was doing the race “to inspire you!”
Well, that just puzzled me more. I do not run 100 miles to “inspire you”. I don’t run them to impress you. Heck, I don’t even raise money for any charity. I run 100 miles for me-me me me me me. Totally selfish and self absorbed.
So, I started to look up the definition of “inspire”. I admire certain friends, on both their outlook on life, training, goals, etc etc. I never really use the term “inspire” in that context. But maybe I use the word “motivate” in the similiar way other people use “inspire”, because many people do motivate me.
to fill with an animating, quickening, or exalting influence: His courage inspired his followers.
2. to produce or arouse (a feeling, thought, etc.): to inspire confidence in others.
3. to fill or affect with a specified feeling, thought, etc.: to inspire a person with distrust.
4. to influence or impel: Competition inspired her to greater efforts.
Maybe since I am more goal oriented I use the word motivate:
To provide with an incentive; move to action; impel.
1885, “to stimulate toward action,” from motive (q.v.), perhaps modeled on Fr. motiver or Ger. motivieren. Motivation first recorded 1873; the psychological sense of “inner or social stimulus for an action” is from 1904.
When I talk to Slim or Bob Combs I am always motivated to do more, to push the envelope, to try and do more races outside what I am capable of doing. Perhaps the word “inspire” would actually be synonymous here.
Anyways, I’m almost forgetting where I am going here. Personally, I am very hard on myself. I always have been. I find it very hard to accept compliments and praise. So when folks tell me I inspire them, I never know where that comes from. So, as I try to take an objective look at myself, from a runner perspective, I have found some positive facts. I am very positive and usually quite cheerful out on the trail. I like to laugh and crack jokes. If you would turn around and look at me, I usually run quite a bit with a smile on my face(since I’m usually pretty happy out there.) I am a very slow runner but very persistent. I have great determination and focus. I do not talk about negative thoughts or negativity (except for some poking fun type stuff) out on the trail.
So maybe that’s what people call inspiring in the above paragraph. Maybe it does help other runners to see someone come into the AS behind them, smiling, in a good mood. Maybe it helps get someone out the door for a 2 mile run to hear me tweet I’ve just ran 10 miles on the trail (and hey, Kimba, the people on Twitter probably don’t even know you are fat and old) and feel great. So maybe that is what inspiration is.
Enough mental rumination. Ran 5 hilly miles on side road, Chapel Hill Road. It was cold this am! 50 degrees. I forgot to use the albuterol inhaler, and in these transitional days of weather, I cannot forget this. Some forced breathing and wheezing. Petted a nice black lab who fondly reminded me of two of my deceased black lab dogs. Despite the bronchial problems, glad I got out there for the run. I’m going to run on this road alot more in prep for the OC100, as it’s all up and down hills.