-By Rachael Thompson
“My religion is very simple, my religion is kindness” – Words spoken by the Dalai Lama and these are words I have started to live by through my running…
What has religion got to do with running?
It was after my 5th marathon in Dorset, UK that I started to really become more conscious of the question, “why am I running?”. This race was a 50km trail run and was 5hrs in the most gruelling conditions of running I had ever experienced. Winds were 60 miles per hour and many climbs where everyone was forced to crawl rather than attempt running. I came third and cried at the end with the female in second place because of the relief the pain was over!
Yes I run to travel and experience new cultures and push my limits, but it is here I decided that I no longer wanted to run marathons just for myself. If I am going to put my body through this anyway I can also devote the run to a purpose greater than myself and inspire some more passion in my run!
This is not to say that the marathons before this were valued any less. I believe all runs are a journey, special to that individual. But I came to a realisation I am craving more than just the individual achievement of that journey and want it to be shared with a greater purpose in mind.
Beginning a new journey!
In April 2016 I ran the London Marathon. I was inspired because this event is the largest marathon fundraiser in the world. I decided to fundraise for a charity called Whizz Kidz, a grassroots charity who supports children requiring wheel chairs. I committed to raising 2000 pounds (about 170,000 rupees). It was such a challenging yet life changing experience. All of a sudden I wasn’t running individually, I was running for everyone who was part of the charity, the children supported by the charity and everyone who sponsored me! This added so much to my experience and contributed to my best time 3 hrs 10 minutes. But it was never about the time, I just wanted to do my best for a greater purpose and was what I needed to do my best. Everyone is a winner here!
Here I am, in India now and I chose to run the Spice Coast Marathon in Kochi to commit my greater purpose a little differently. I decided to combine the marathon with the voluntary work I am doing in Kolkata with the NGO, ‘New Light’ which works for the welfare of children of sex workers. I would not have been able to finish this marathon in the time I did and in the heat and humidity if my greater purpose was not in my heart. When I was fatiguing mentally and physically I would reflect on my journey towards this marathon, take some deep breaths and a surge of tingling positive energy would engulf me and surpass any fatigue so I was able to push harder than I thought possible! I placed first in the female category J
Run for a cause and change the way you look at a race…
If you are looking to make your race experience more than an individual achievement, use this same inspiration and motivation to ask yourself what is a selfless act of kindness I have been wanting to do and TAKE ACTION!
There are so many benefits if you commit to running for a greater purpose, it may focus your training, increase motivation, open new learning experiences from other people. You also discover more about yourself and may grow in ways you didn’t think were possible. I also encourage you to share your purpose and success, not to get a pat on the back but to inspire something in others and awaken the powerful kindness and compassion in people that is often under-utilised or forgotten!
It can be any cause for any distance. Just doing a selfless act of kindness with no expectation of return is the criteria. Your reward is positive energy manifested in the way you shape it! I do encourage sharing your purpose because it does well to inspire others and can keep you on track to push yourself harder!
Let’s give back more to those who are less abled who may never get the chance to experience the pleasure of running like we do. I personally want helping others to be a big part of my life and if running inspires me to do that then I am going to use that as fuel to continue.
Food For Thought!
As some food for thought I will share my next purpose for the 21 km running event on the 27th November in Kolkata, the Airtel Run For Education – I have used this as motivation to get registered as a volunteer at the Mother Teresa House in Kolkata and spend a day as a volunteer. They are always accepting help and running has motivated me to do this. Share yours if you like.
“It is unrealistic to think that the future of humanity can be achieved only on the basis of prayer: what we need is to take action” – Dalai Lama
So run and associate it with an act of kindness and see how it works to inspire you further!
Peace and Love – Rach