I’ve had this letter for a few weeks and I’ve read it a number of times. The good people at Skins were kind enough to tell some of their athletes about what we’re doing, in the hope that perhaps they could give me some good advice.
I think this letter will be most applicable for my thoughts tomorrow. The Two Oceans Marathon is known as one of the most beautiful ultra marathons in the world, but it is also terribly hilly and will pose a huge threat to me during the race and post event as I try to recover for next week.
But this is exactly where heroes are born. 15 marathons in, tired, jet lagged and knowing that my body could be taken 1km too far tomorrow.. When I pass the 42km mark, I will hit a 3km hill, plus a few more to follow. I will be in a world of pain and my body will scream at me to stop. I have no doubt I will walk a little here. I have no problem with “considering” giving up, because it’s happened on easier races than this one. But when everything is going wrong, it’s time to remember why I’m out here and what drives me to go on. It’s time to break it down to terms I can understand:
Wow what a great great challenge you have set yourself for this year. It sounds like fun to me to be able to run a Marathon every week. I am sure that there will be some pain involved and you are ready for that but also an interesting experiment to see how your body and brain hold up to the punishment.
The purpose of this letter is to both encourage you and wish you good luck and also to give you some ideas to think about when the going gets tough as I am sure it will. As athletes we always fight the negative thoughts that inevitably creep into our minds when we are at our weakest. We ask ourselves if we want to continue and if we can keep going. One of the reasons I set myself challenges in life is to find out how many times you need to ask yourself if it is possible to continue before you finally say no, I can’t go on. So far I haven’t found that limit but I have been close a few times.
As with any goal in life it should be challenging yet realistic. I am sure that your goal is both of these things. 52 Marathons in a year will be a tough challenge for sure but you must have confidence in your own abilities otherwise you wouldn’t have started.
So I wish you well in your endeavour and I look forward to hearing more about your adventure and the celebration at the end of it.
P.S. I wonder if you will ever run a marathon again or if you will have just had enough.
“Hey?”, you’re wondering.. “That’s a very supportive message, but not necessarily awe inspiring…”
Well let me tell you folks, this is as good as it gets. Michael Milton is an astonishing human being, that has spent his life challenging himself to overcome adversity. He is one of Australia’s best known athletes and has won medals all over the world. He’s won gold medals for downhill skiing and track cycling. He’s broken Australian records and been named Australian of the Year. He’s trekked the Kokoda trail and competed in the Mark Webber adventure challenge. He has done this all with just one leg, having lost one leg to bone cancer at age 7. He’s more recently survived further cancer treatment and returned to compete in the Beijing Paralympics.
Michael would have asked himself these basic questions every time the chips are down: Can I? Should I? What if I can’t?
To me the answer is always the same – “Who the hell knows?” To say you know the answer before you even tried is like giving up on yourself before you get out of your chair.. You won’t ever know till you get out there and have a damn go! Michael doesn’t leave it at asking the question. He gets out there to find the answers and seems to always exceed expectations!
When a guy like Michael takes the time to give you a little pep talk, you stop and listen. The fact he even knows I’m out here, trying my heart out, is massive for me. My life has never seen the challenges he’s had sent his way or thrown at himself. I’ll be thinking about that when everything turns to custard somewhere around 35kms.
Thanks Michael. You’re the type of hero the world needs.