#21in2021 Journal: Gratitude and resilience

One of the areas on which I speak regularly is resilience, and a recurring theme in those talks is thankfulness. I have personally found that gratitude and resilience go hand in hand. Kristin Armstrong is a three time Olympic Gold Medallist and puts it likes this.

When we focus on our gratitude, the tide of disappointment goes out and the tide of love rushes in – Kristin Armstrong, three-time Olympic Gold Medallist

Challenging Times

I would be lying if I said that life had not been challenging of late. In many regards, it has been a perfect storm with work exhausting me mentally to the extreme, added to events in my personal journey. In short, it has left me lacking in sleep, bereft of energy and judging success and failure in the simplest of terms, that of simply sustaining through the day and of being able to spend any quality time with my wonderful wife.

It is hardly the ideal backdrop to running 21 in marathons in a year. Yes, I have been exercising regularly, but it has typically been a fatigued and short burst at either end of the day commuting to and from the office, often with a shorter gap from the evening run home to the morning’s return than is particularly healthy… running home at 8pm and then leaving at 6am the next day must beg questions.

Trying to Run on Empty

After having to delay the start of this year’s fundraising campaign after coming off my bike two weeks ago, I was very much looking forward to this morning’s Phoenix Spring Marathon to get up and running. However, a week of working hours well beyond reasonable, sleeping minimally and eating on the fly left me very ill-prepared and reluctant this morning.

One of the first rules you learn as a marathon runner is to respect the distance and that is something I certainly do. From the very first mile this morning, my head, heart and, in particular, my legs were all heavy. In a race of 8 out and back laps of circa 3.3 miles, I was pretty convinced at the end of two laps that I was not going to run another 20 miles. By the time I reached the half-way stage, I knew it would be stupid to continue.

You should experience physical challenges as a marathon runner but it is the freshness of the mind that sustains you. Today, my mind was as shattered as my body. But here is where gratitude comes in. I would, in the past, have spent the rest of the day telling myself how awful I’d been and beating myself up whereas I sit here so grateful for having had the clarity of thought to walk away when I did.

Gratitude and Resilience

Actually, throughout the challenges that seem to have engulfed 2021 to this point, I have constantly been grateful for my wife, friends and family, and God’s grace in the journey. In the past, I would crudely heap failure at my own doorstep when things went wrong. Now, I remain grateful for what I have and always feel very comfortable in my decision making and ability to choose the right way to overcome those challenges, much as I posted last week.

Sometimes, the way to overcome is not to run through, or even over or around walls, but to walk away from them and start again from fresh.

Today was disappointing, but we learn through our challenges and I’ll return refreshed and ready to go

I guarantee you that on 7 May at the beautiful Bewl Water in Kent, I will be ready to start again. If we call today adversity, then we use it to strengthen resolve. I call it learning and wisdom, and I call it another moment in the journey, one that will still contain 21 marathons in 2021 – and as a quick ps, I will of course be updating the list on the page as I will have to add another date to it!

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