LESSONS FROM WEAKNESS – Why I run

Andrew Murray, running from Scotland to Sahara

Andrew Murray, running from Scotland to Sahara

Desire is frequently stronger than fear. For me, the desire for a challenge and to test myself tend to exceed a fear of failure. Love is definitely stronger than fear. Many life and death stories bear this out.

Setting a challenge that is sufficiently difficult and committing to it 100% is a sure way to learn more about your failings and yourself. I’ve been taught not to be proud and to accept help. Others seeing you visibly struggling know who you really are, rather than a controlled persona. If people accept you when you fail, when you are weak, then there is reassurance in that.

If experience is the best teacher, then we learn most when we are vulnerable and exposed. The light always looks more attractive from the shadows. I like most am reluctant to discuss my weaknesses and vulnerabilities but have gleaned much from times like these. Whether or not I’ve eventually achieved what I set out to do, the darker times reveal the most.

I learnt a bit of French, and read a few books when running from John O’Groats to the Sahara and learnt how to look at myself more honestly in the mirror, to embrace the lessons that difficulties bring. How can we be most resilient when this is needed? I enjoyed the good days but the bad ones were lessons. They helped me be more sympathetic when other people are struggling, and gave me perspective – my problems were only really sore legs when it came down to it.

I can’t guarantee success with RunTheWorld. We’re aiming to give prominence to the message of Physical Activity for Health, and raise some money for SAMH. I’ll aim to complete 7 Ultras on 7 continents in 7 days, after the Ice Marathon in Antarctica. There is a decent chance of achieving these things but there is close to 100% chance of me wanting to give up at times. I guess this is standard when normal people try and do things that are relatively hard.

Following any challenge, perspective becomes skewed – and the rose – tinted spectacles go on. We usually remember the good times. I guess the memories of good times and the prospect of more to come is why I run but difficult experiences can bring their own gifts. There is comfort in knowing what you are not, and how you can learn.

Thanks for your support,

Andrew

 

S2S – BACK HOME

Absolutely loved running out to the sahara, but must say the drive back was a bit tedious. It was interesting virtually retracing the steps that it had taken me 78 days to run, and revisiting some fond memories. The terrain remained spectacular, and wild, but seemed gentler from the comfort of the campervan. Gone was the worry regarding the weather, and whether the local shops had ice, or painkillers. I had plenty time to reflect on the run, interspersed with some fairly terrible CD’s which were mostly mine.

It’s easy to see the run through rose tinted spectacles and say “that wasn’t too bad”, but it still strikes me how physically arduous and mentally draining i found scotland2sahara. It was exactly as i hoped it would be, a decent test of what my body is capable of, and i feel blessed that i chose something that although difficult, was achievable. The prevailing wind direction and the hills certainly taught me a lesson on occasion, and the one over-riding memory is that i never felt i was having to deal with these things alone, but had the support of friends, and family, and everyone else that sent me best wishes and advice. Some of the views, and conditions will stay with me forever.

Back home i’ve had a shower and smell better than i did in the desert. The flavour saving beard has gone leaving me with a ridiculous tan line. My stats show i ran 2659 miles, and lost o.3 kg only. I ate literally hundreds of bananas, satsumas, milkshakes, bread rolls, eating a grand total of 663 000 Kilocalories. I lost 3kg running a self sufficiency jungle race a week before starting, and i’ve put this back on in the last 4 days. An added treat for me will be to see my good friend ian edmond having to try to eat 20 pickled eggs in an hour. We had a sporting wager about how far i’d get, and i’m glad to avoid the fate that awaits him, and his bowels.

It’s also been humbling hearing of other people’s efforts and achievements. For clarity, as this is not always accurately reflected in press articles, i am pleased to have reached the sahara to fulfil a personal ambition. It’s difficult to beat seeing the sahara sands shift during the day, and seeing the african sky at night knowing that you’ve tested yourself and come out the other end. The run is in excess of what the guinnes world record was at the start of the challenge, but i have no desire to claim this, as i’ve learned about Running the Sahara, where Ray, Charlie and Kevin ran 37 miles a day for 111 days. They never claimed the record, but it would not be correct to claim a record, knowing they had exceeded it. I presume it would construe a British record for consecutive ultramarathons, but am happy to stand corrected.

That run, and several others are just fantastic. Hugh Symonds “running high”, over all 3000 feet peaks in GB and Ireland was a brutal accomplishment, and Other great ones include Richard Donovan’s immense 7 marathons in 7 continents in 5 days. Brilliant. I’m also following Ray Zahab crossing the Atacama at present, and Sean Newell cycling between all the commenwealth countries.

No such capers for me, as i sort out all my stuff, and leave the washing machine on non stop. Doing some serious wedding planning this week, and there will be a preview on Adventure show on Tuesday, and other stuff like Reporting Scotland etc. I’ll get some blood tests to confirm that i’m probably a little anaemic, and need to take it easy for a couple weeks but otherwise i’m tickity-boo

On tuesday i’ll meet with Dave and Karen from the yamaa trust, to discuss plans for future fundraising, and projects. Any suggestions or ideas for the trust appreciated. It has astounded me to see the big hearted response from everybody including the likes of Mark Beaumont, Ian Rankin, and Chris Cusiter.

The S2S auction finishes tomorrow, with bargains still to be had. A specialised and individually tailored internet/ phone training plan with supercoach Mandy Miller, is £120, probably a quarter of it’s value, and there are still cut-price opportunities to get into some of the world’s best, and most scenic races. The raffle will also be drawn, good luck to all with tickets.

I’ll blog an update with some stats from the challenge next week, thanks

Andrew