As I went out of the front door for a run first thing this morning in sub-zero temperatures and with snow on the ground, I had in my mind the question of why I do things like this: would it not be more reasonable to give it a miss? It’s the same thing that empties the gyms as we progress through January and the New Year’s resolutions fall by the wayside. People give up. The voice of reason says: ‘This is uncomfortable/time consuming/I might hurt myself/I have too many more important things to do and…I can’t’.
Everyone who starts running or going to the gym starts with a purpose, but in the clutter of everyday life that purpose is all too easily submerged. The voice of reason says it’s less important, even maybe selfish: a foolish dream that we’ll never achieve, so we may as well give up. And with that we can return to our comfort zone, conscience intact. To keep going demands that you’re unreasonable and believe you can achieve your purpose – that you have determination. There’s a gem of a quote in Jonny Wilkinson’s autobiography, it’s from his trainer Blackie: “A great gridiron (American football) coach summed up the effects of determination like this ‘Most players are about as effective as they make their minds up to be”.
One hundred years ago Scott’s expedition to the south Pole was testing human endurance to it’s limits. As expedition member Apsley Cherry-Garrard observed in his book ‘The Worst Journey in the World’, it was the physically biggest and strongest men, the ones least expected to fail, who succumbed to the cold and fatigue first: “The man with the nerves goes farther.” In other words, the ones who have the most determination have the best chance of survival.
So this morning I ran with the snow and frozen ground crunching under my feet. No-one else was around to notice the vivid yellow shocks of Mimosa, the first almond blossoms just opening and the sunlight suddenly cast across a snow covered vineyard as the sun rose above a horizon of cloud. I had the pleasure of those moments and had I still been under the duvet they would have passed me by. Well worth being unreasonable for.