I’ve been saying yes to some public speaking invites lately. Why? Because it freaks me out. If it is true that life begins outside the comfort zone, then it should be worth it in the bigger scheme of things. It has also been a fun and engaging process to reflect on 12 years of professional endurance racing in an effort to draw the key learning experiences and values that have risen furthest to the top of my current mindset.
While I try to make my talks unique and targeted to each respective audience, I also found my main theme remains constant throughout. It was what I referred to as my “Three P’s” entailing Patience, Perseverance and People. These three things are what I now view as being the essential ingredients that have kept me in the game for so long and that have continued to help me find success in triathlon, multisport and adventure races around the world. So, time to share with my Camino Comrades:
- Patience: Like anything important and meaningful, we must be prepared to follow the process in its (often uncertain) entirety towards the goal. There are no shortcuts to any place worth going. As a kid I would do the odd running event. I was generally finishing in the back half of the field. Did it matter when I was twelve? Not at all. How about when I was sixteen? Marginally more so, but still not. Running presented a feeling of freedom and closed the gap between body and mind. As I entered adulthood I started to perform better in competitions. By the time I was in my early twenties I was winning races. Had I given up as a kid because of a preoccupation with results rather than the simple joys running presented to me, I’d never have realised a dream of making exercise part of my professional life.
- Perseverance: This one boils down to consistency. It took me eleven years to win the Kathmandu Coast to Coast which is a long time in the short lifespan of a professional athlete. I had good races and terrible ones, but they all added something to my athletic make-up and over time that becomes very powerful. I’d also been training the majority of the days that made up those eleven years and endurance sport is very accumulative. That is a lot of time teaching your body what it needs to be able to do in order to realise a dream.
- People: We have a saying in NZ that comes from Maori culture: ‘He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata’ which translates to: ‘What is the most important thing in the world? It is the people, it is the people, it is the people’. Over the years I have learned (and continue to learn) that living a good life and achieving the things that matter most relies on our ability to surround ourselves with the right people. Life is too short to spend time and energy around people who do not make us happy. My successes as an athlete and person have everything to do with the people I spend my days around. As an athlete this can mean choosing a good physio, doctor, massage therapist, coach, training partner etc. But above all, to me it is my family and close friends. I often ask myself ‘are the people on my team still going to be there for me if I lose?’. If the answer is yes, they are the ones that will help me win.
It has been another fantastic year of racing, coaching, traveling and watching my kids grow up. Being asked to speak at events and in front of community groups makes me think I must be doing something reasonably meaningful and it is nice to share my experiences with people around me. Though as I said, it is always a bit scary and I am pumped to now be back into full training swing and doing what I really love again. Bring on the summer season!