Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Waddle On, Penguins!

You may have noticed the quote at the upper right of this blog: “The miracle isn’t that I finished. It’s that I had the courage to start.”

I find these words, written in a book by John Bingham, to be personally meaningful. Sure it applies to training for a marathon. But they mean so much more than that.

Having the courage to start anything – whether it be training for a long run, a new job or basically starting over in life – is often the hardest part.

It's kinda like the modern-day version of another inspiring quote: "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

People tell me all the time that they are impressed with my consistency in training or that I finished another half-marathon.

The compliments are nice, but really, it’s not always about finishing. It's having the courage to start – to start that first mile, to start training for a race, to start moving life in a better direction.

They look skeptical when I tell them I didn’t do anything they couldn't do. I just focused myself and put my mind to it. Anyone can do this. I really believe that.

I’ve found inspiration in many people along the way – some of whom I’ve never even met. One of those people is John Bingham.

Through his books and columns in Runner’s World, I’ve identified with him as a “normal” runner– maybe not someone who was born to run. Once a self-described couch potato with bad habits, he's someone who along the way discovered running (through Team In Training, I might note) as a way to better himself and inspire others.

His advice is practical and real. His stories make me laugh. His nickname – “The Penguin” – kinda says it all. He supposedly “waddles” when he runs. But he runs nonetheless and has finished many, many marathons. An ordinary person doing extraordinary things.

Being a "Penguin" isn't just about how you run. It's more about why you run.

The "What Is A Penguin" tab of John Bingham's website reminds us that "Penguin" has come to mean a person who runs more for the joy of running than for recognition and publi
c rewards. Some of us are perpetual Penguins. We are consumed by the pleasure of movement.

Imagine my surprise and excitement when I opened my mailbox to find a birthday package from my dear friend, Kristi. I unwrapped it and found a copy of John Bingham’s “Marathoning For Mortals.”

An excellent gift – and an excellent book.

I actually read the book last summer when I was in training for the Maine Marathon (before my unfortunate motorcycle mishap knocked me off my training plan and meant I wouldn’t be running the full marathon last year).

I picked up so many good tips about marathoning for “real” people. (And I am definitely a “mortal,” especially when it comes to running. My body likes to remind me of that - often.)

I know it will come in handy as I embark on another training plan for my first 26.2.

I was excited enough about the book and the thoughtfulness of the gift, but as I got in my car to leave for work, something inside me told me to go back and open it. (I know Kristi, after all. And I suspected she might just have another surprise up her sleeve.)

Sure enough, I opened the front cover to find a personalized, signature message from John Bingham and Jenny Hadfield, co-author and Team In Training coach.


Many thanks to Kristi (and her husband Scott, who works for a marathon travel company and I suspect was instrumental in arranging this personalized birthday gift).

And continued thanks to John Bingham for providing encouragement and advice to fellow “penguins” across the country. Just like me.

It seems appropriate to end this post by quoting John Bingham once again: Waddle on, my friends.


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