A couple of weeks ago, I went to see my new massage therapist. He’s a man called Garry Miridis and, amongst other things, he used to look after Cathy Freeman. Yes – the Cathy Freeman.
It took me a long time to get up the courage to see him. He is, after all, a complete guru in the athletic world, with a reputation for putting athletes back together. I’m learning that the world of professional or elite sport involves lots of walking a fine tightrope between health and injury.
But sitting with Garry, I realised something that I know in training, but had completely neglected away from running: the connection between body and mind, and the importance of respecting and acknowledging the need for both to co-exist – and the danger that happens in the case of imbalance.
Lots of people have asked me “why” I run such crazy long distances. To be honest from an outsider’s perspective, it’s kind of weird. I’m 47 years old, not historically a runner, and definitely not a naturally talented athlete.
So it wasn’t unusual that I found myself answering questions on a similar line from Garry. What was interesting was the way he phrased it – “why do you want to do this Mina?” Of course I looked a bit puzzled. “Well water of course – I want to solve the world’s water crisis, and I want to inspire every one of us to believe that we too can be the architects of change”.
Garry looked at me. “Let me put it like this,” he said. “You want to solve the water crisis, and you think this is the way to do it, and so you want to run? Or do you want to run and you use this as a way to solve the water crisis?”
Right there, in one question, a man I had known for 10 minutes nailed it.
“Yes,” I replied. “Definitely the first one. I don’t love running, so yes the first one.”
I waited for his response.
“Look under my massage table,” he said.
I was a little intimidated, so I leaned forward and looked carefully.
Written on a piece of white paper in clear black block letters, were the words:
I WANT. I CAN. I WILL.
Garry asked, “What do you see?”
“I want, I can, I will.” I was fighting back tears. It felt weird that a conversation with a relative stranger had evoked such an emotional response.
”The thing is Mina, when we want something so badly, when we realise we can do it, and when we commit to doing it, it is incredible what we can achieve.”
He continued: “The first step is want. Then to believe you can. And then to do. So Mina – what do you want?”
Right then I realised that I do want to run 100 marathons in 100 days. I want it with every core of my being. It’s not because of some masochistic desire to run around the planet or to see how far my body can go, but because it’s my way of showing what it means to be 100% committed to solving our global water crisis. I want to do it to inspire people to join together to solve our water problems. I want to do it because I want people to see that we can all be capable of doing great things.
But at the end of the day, it boils down to - I’m doing this run because I WANT to do it.
And right then, I realised that if I really want it, I also need to believe I can do it. Water is my motivation and failure isn’t an option.
All those doubts about my age, athletic ability, running style and history of injuries need to be put to rest. The nagging internal voice telling me I’m not an athlete needs to be put on the sidelines. I need to stop hearing the negative nellies raising raised doubt about anyone being able to do this – let alone me.
So I took those two words and decided I was going to believe them with every fibre of my mind, heart and soul and truly commit to two things:
Because as I looked through the hole on the massage table down at those words, it struck me that Garry was right.
If I truly want to do this and I absolutely believe that I can do this then no matter the hurdles that are thrown in the way, the doubts that lurk in my mind, or the challenges I have to overcome to make it there, I will succeed.
And when I do that, we can change the world – for us and for the next generation.
To me, that’s all that matters.
I WANT. I CAN. I WILL.