Inspiration from a 100-year old

100 years ago, in 1912, the summer Olympics were held in Stockholm, Sweden.

On Sunday the 14th of July 1912 the Olympic Marathon was run with 69 participants. It was a hot day and many runners suffered from the heat, only half of them completed the race.

One of the 34 people who didn’t finish the race that day was the Japanese runner, Shizo Kanaguri. His “disappearance” created the “myth of the missing Japanese” and I remember growing up with the tales of what happened that hot summer day. Apparently he wasn’t feeling well due to the heat and the long travel through Russia he’d had to make to get to Sweden. He was invited into a family’s garden for lemonade and buns (typical Swedish cakes, most common version is the cinnamon roll). He stayed there and rested for a bit and then returned to his hotel, checked out and went back home to Japan.

For years afterwards there was apparently talk about what could have happened to him. What happened was that he became a very influential person in sports in Japan and went on to participate in two more Olympics in the 20’s, but for some reason people in Sweden still just knew him as the “Japanese who disappeared”.

He was finally tracked down by some Swedish journalist and was invited back to Sweden in 1967 to complete the marathon! He finally entered the Stockholm Stadium after almost 55 years and crossed the finishing line, making his marathon race the “longest in history”:-).

Yesterday it was exactly 100 years since the 1912 Olympic Marathon, and a 100th Anniversary Jubilee Marathon was run. This time there were almost 9000 participants (including a great grandson of Kanaguri!) running the same race (well almost, roads have changed in 100 years so they had to make some changes to the course).

I went to watch the race as the runners passed us twice on their way north to the turning point and then on their way south into the city again. It was just a couple of hundred meters from our house. And close by, near to the house where Kanaguri was offered lemonade and buns (the actual house is not there anymore), great grandchildren of the hospitable family were serving lemonade and buns to runners and spectators (including Kanaguri’s great grandson). The circle was completed.

I got so inspired!

There was so much joy, there were so many running styles, there were people who seemed to be having a great time and those who seemed to suffer, there were people with hats, without shoes, men in dresses (1912 style!), people holdings signs, wearing wigs – there was even a women dressed as Superwoman!

Watching the race was exactly the kick in the bum that I needed to get myself properly back on track for my race. So what if I’ve missed a few weeks of training!

And who knows, maybe I’ve got a Marathon in me in due course…..

Slowly building a new self image

A self image, the way we look at ourself, is a powerful thing.

Whatever we believe ourself to be, with conviction, then that is what we are.

Sometimes, if it’s a strong, positive self image, it would work in our favour. But if it’s a limiting self image, one that maybe has been created over time without thinking about it’s negative impact, one that stops us from achieving something of importance to us – then it needs to be changed.

My self image when it comes to running, is that I don’t!

Specifically, I have always said “I’m not a runner”, and I may have done all sorts of sports in my life, but running has never, ever been on the agenda. Until now.

Now that I’ve decided to run a 10K race, it’s time to build a new self image, brick by brick.

It’s funny how it works though, the mind. Even as I had made the decision to enter the race, I kept saying to people that “I’m not a runner”. And I’ll tell you what, that’s not a helpful self image to have if you want to be able to complete a 10K race!

So it must be changed, this self image of mine. And the app that I’ve engaged to help me, helps me to do that too. The way the training programme on the app works is that it started me off running 30 seconds out of every 5 minutes on my 45-60 minute walk/run. And then it slowly builds. So now I run 1,5 minutes out of every 5 minutes.

I’m a 1,5 minute runner!

And it works, I am slowly building a new self image when it comes to running. I couldn’t start by saying “I’m a 10K runner” because I (my mind!) wouldn’t have believed it. But it’s worked to say “I’m a 30 second runner” (sure, I can do that, the mind thinks), and then “I’m a 1 minute runner” (if I can do 30 seconds, I can probably do 1 minute) and now “I’m a 1,5 minute runner” (Yes, why not, I am slowly getting more stamina, I can do 1,5 minutes now).

And the feeling is fantastic! Slowly and steadily I am building a new self image, and it’s working.

I’m a 1,5 minute runner! This is currently my running self image.

And next week I’ll be a 2 minute runner:-)

It works. Step by step by step, little by little. That’s how we build a new view of ourself. It’s really cool:-)

Creating a new habit

I’m not sure what possessed me, but I have decided to start running.

And typical for me, I can’t just start running, I have to enter a running race. Oh no, not yet, it’s not until 1 September, but the clock has started ticking. 159 days to go.

So it’s high time for me to create a new habit, the habit of running. Like everything else it needs some discipline to create a new habit – determination and staying power.

To help me in my endeavor, I have enlisted the help of an iPhone app, which has promised to take me from “couch potato to 10K in 13 weeks”. It sounds just right actually, something that will tell me exactly what to do and when:-). But that is of course only part of the solution.

I will stop talking about myself as a non-runner. I have only recently realized that that’s exactly what I do. So my first step is to create a new self image when it comes to running:

I’m a runner!

I’m a runner!

I’m a runner!

There, I’ve started. It’s a small step, but our self image tends to have self-correcting power, so it’s a crucial step.

There’s loads more to come, and I’m ready – bring it on!

Have you stopped listening to the news? Good!


I love news! I want to know what’s going on in the world – what people are doing and why, what’s happening to our nature, what medical discoveries have been made? And then I open the newspaper, or look at its cover, because that is unfortunately enough:-( .Or switch on the TV or the radio – it’s the same everywhere. Everything is reported in such dark terms – “worst”, “crashing”, “layoffs”, “downward spiral”, “dead” – on and on, endlessly.

Don’t think I’m recommending putting your head in the sand – absolutely not! I think us human beings have a joint responsibility for all the things that happen in the world and therefore we need to know what’s going on in the world.   Unfortunately we are so influenced by what’s said and reported around us though. When we’ve heard 10 times in a day that there is a financial crisis then this may finally create a belief that that is the case (whether this is true or not), which affects our thoughts and our actions.  We start believing what’s being said so much that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We start acting to reinforce what we’ve heard.

“As there is a financial crisis, our business will do badly this year”. And then I get depressed, introspective, and no longer see possibilities, or look for them, or create them! Instead of thinking – “what are the possibilities here, how can we offer more relevant products and services in the current situation?”

“Since there is a credit crunch, I may loose my job”. And that makes me feel down, negative and less focused on my job (and more on the worry!). Instead of thinking – “I’ll show everyone how good I am at what I do, put in some extra effort. I’ll remind myself of my strengths, continually invest in my own development so that I can market myself and be attractive on the job market if I want to look for a new job”.

So what can we do?

Take control of your mind! Take control of your thoughts!

Don’t let the world around you dictate how you think and how you feel. It’s always possible to make a choice. And if you listen to the news, think of how they affect you. Balance the “bad” news with the “good” news.

Bombard yourself with positive, strenghtening thoughts – the thoughts that can create positive results. Read a book that makes you laugh. Watch your favourite sitcom or funny film. Don’t watch the news just before going to bed (then you risk taking the news with you into your dreams) – let yourself go to sleep with a calm, peaceful and positive mind, read or listen to a relaxing and affirming recording, or your favourite music. Use affirmations, visualise.

Search on Google for websites that focus on good news or positive aspects of the news. Look around and notice all the good things that happen – people having fun, people helping each other, children exploring life with a curious mind.

There’s an abundance of good news. Listen to them, enjoy them and let them help you create the reality you want. It’s your life – live it, love it!