Thursday, 10 January 2008

Just try... dammit!

Yesterday I had two experiences where I was left thinking, "Why won't they just give it a try?" Over the years I've enthusiastically tried to get friends and relations (and strangers) to experience some of the wonderful sports and events that I have had the fortune to encounter. They ask, I answer. One thing they usually have in common is that they want something new and exciting in their lives and they want to do more activity. But, they never show up.

Person #1
A woman phoned me yesterday wanting to know about trail running in Joburg. My answer, in short, was that there aren't any formal trail running initiatives but that she should just phone a friend and head out to Gilloolies (she lives near me) or any other such open space.

I also suggested that she give orienteering a try as there are regular events that would also introduce her to great trail running locations. But before I had completed the sentence she commented, "Oh no, my direction is bad".

I replied, "If 6-year old children can do it, so can you".

Issue number 1: This woman phoned about trail running. With nothing specific available I gave her a fantastic alternative that incorporates trail running and will enable her to meet other people who appreciate trails.

Issue number 2: She decided before I had finished that she couldn't do it. She hadn't even tried!

Person #2
I bumped into a chap from my old running club in Woolies. Over the years he has done multiple Comrades, Two Oceans and loads of other road races. He is strictly a road runner. 9-years ago, when I first got involved in adventure racing, I recall him asking me about it and saying how he needed something different in his life. He was tired of the same-old road events and the "Comrades is my life purpose" mentality that persists in running circles.

After various injuries he took a break from running and while still involved with the club, he hasn't done much for two years. He wants to run again and is thinking of doing Comrades and Two Oceans (again) this year.

He has known me for almost 10-years and I see him occasionally at gym. For a long time he has had an interest in expanding his running repertoire; he always asks what events I'm doing.

Sadly, I do not expect to see him on trails or at orienteering. Not now. Not ever.

What does Oprah have to do with this?
Last night on the Oprah re-run she was discussing happiness. She had a happiness professor on the show and ran through a standard quiz thing that you answer in order to gauge your level of happiness (I actually think it is more a satisfaction and fulfillment quiz than happiness, although all three are related). One of the statements says, "If I could, I would change very few decisions in my life".

I was in total agreement with this statement. I am who I am because of the decisions - and consequences thereof - that I have made. Sport experiences included.

If I hadn't jumped into my first adventure race after seeing an ad in a mag I wouldn't be typing this blog. I'd probably still be playing underwater hockey. And if I hadn't taken the step to attend a training session with the Wits Underwater Club (WUC) in my first week at university, I wouldn't have discovered this truly unusual and challenging sport - nor would have I spent 7 years with WUC, progressing to play Provincial and National level and nor would I have become involved in sport administration and coaching.

I recently discovered Parkour as I was writing an article for a mag. I had heard about it years ago but the mag article was the kick I needed to attend a jam session. I love it! and I now incorporate elements in my regular training sessions (a bit like explosive plyometrics). Last night I attended a salsa dance class at gym - it was fabulous and is easy to incorporate into my weekly training schedule.

I think what has really got me yesterday (and I've had a number of similar calls and emails in the past week) is that people take that first step to ask about AR, trail running and orienteering. They have obviously got some kind of desire to give it a bash. But, they make no effort at all to take that next participatory step. Do they want me to say, "I'll fetch you at 07h00 and hey, don't worry about tieing your shoelaces, I'll do that too".

I've said this same sentence to people many, many times. "Just try it. If you like it, you know where to find it and it will be there for you. If you don't like it, you don't have to come back."

There are websites and events so there is no lack of information and opportunity.

Interested people, you need to make at least a little effort to attend. Then I'll gladly share my time and experience to teach and assist you. But you've got to show up first.

1 comment:

Sakkie said...

I think that sums it up. I do had similar experiences in the past where people are keen to do something adventures but never get around to do it.People in the major city centers might not have save outdoor facilities but most of the events are held close to these centers. We in Phalaborwa have plenty of nature but nobody wants to come and race or even train out in the sticks.(to hot I think)So Lisa this is an invitation to any body that wants to come out to Phalaborwa for a run and a ride in the wild.