Motivation is a funny thing, some people seem to have endless motivation to dedicate themselves to a fitness goal, whereas others would rather juggle hand grenades than pop out for a jog. Those who have less motivation watch cyclists buzz through the streets of London in the pouring rain from the seat of their car and wonder why anybody would put themselves through that, or question why anybody in their right mind would get up early on a Saturday morning to run 5KM with hundreds of others at a parkrun event. The difference is those of us who regularly exercise have realised the benefits a healthy, active lifestyle can bring.
However the majority of the population of the world do not engage in regular exercise, they deem it to be too much effort, or swear blindly that they’d never be any good at it. They try to justify it to themselves by over inflating half truths about the dangers of exercise, persuading themselves that a sedentary lifestyle is safer and better for them than taking the marginal risks that come with exercise.
Now, imagine if I were to randomly stop half a dozen people in the street and tell them that if they could run/walk 26.2 miles in under 8 hours, that I would give them £1,000,000 each. I’m pretty sure I’d have six people lining up on my start line of my marathon, and they’d dig deep enough to finish.
Take that and apply it to an entire city, if I was to place an advert on the tube promising commuters a million big ones to complete an Ironman race this time next year. The swimming pools would be turning people away, the roads would be overrun with cyclists and you would’t be able to move in parks for people working on their run. London would become the healthiest city in the world, the obesity rate would plummet, the life expectancy would skyrocket, happiness levels would spike, the city would save billions.
I want to avoid getting too preachy here, but the fact is most people value money over their health and wellbeing. But why do so many of us dedicate our lives to amassing as much money as possible? Why is it that people will spend their lives slaving away in a job they hate for a big fat wage packet? For the most part people want a better quality of life, they subscribe to the idea that a bigger house and luxuries will make themselves feel better about themselves. But have they ever considered the enormous self confidence and self belief that comes with finishing an event or beating a personal best? When I crossed the finish line of my first triathlon I could almost physically feel the weight that had been on my shoulders for the last four years being lifted.
The other appeal of money is people want to buy people’s respect, they believe if they invite their friends round to their designer flat for dinner or drive to work in a Porsche wearing an Armani suit that people will look up to them. But what about being able to tell someone you are a triathlete? That you have run a marathon in under 3 hours? That you have raced at the Ironman world championships?
As athletes we hurl ourselves at the finish line as if there was a suitcase full of cash waiting for us, because for us the satisfaction of getting the result we want is priceless, and I hope to inspire that passion in as many people as possible.