Role models

Who inspires you to run/cycle/have an adventure? Who makes you think that maybe you can take on that big audacious challenge? Who inspires you to get out there and put the hard miles in when you really don’t want to?

All of us have role models or heroes that we look up to for a whole variety of reasons. When I was a teenager playing rugby I wanted to be just like Neil Back, quiet and unassuming but absolutely committed to his role in the team. Someone who just got on with his job without making a big deal about it and was so effective at what he did.

Fast forward a few years (ok, more than a few) and I’m now a dad to 3 crazy little people and I’m very conscious about the type of role models they see. I’m passionate about showing them that a healthy lifestyle is both normal and important. That exercise should be part of our daily lives and not because we need to stay thin but because it’s fun and makes us happy. That’s why I love involving them in the running that both the lady of the manor and I do. We also show them that a balanced diet means eating good food that we make ourselves but doesn’t mean it can’t include cake and chocolate.

I have 2 sons and a daughter and it’s for my daughter that I’m most conscious about role models. It inevitably won’t be long before she starts noticing the ridiculous stories in the media about ‘beach ready bodies’ and ‘lose fat quickly on this magical diet’ so I need to ensure she has positive influences also. What’s great is that when I look around the running media today or the people I follow on Twitter there are a great many amazing female athletes to inspire both me and her. Even in the mass media I think we’re starting to see women’s sport rise up and provide a much needed antidote to the stories featuring another male footballer in trouble.

I’d like to share a couple of those people who inspire me and hopefully might inspire Matilda also. By no means a complete list and I’d love to know if you have other people who inspire you to take on new challenges:

Emelie Foresberg

Photo: Brett Rivers, San Francisco Running Company

If there is one person who inspires me to get out and run it’s Emelie. I love her positivity, her enthusiasm, her love of being in the mountains without needing a purpose. Watch her in a race and she’s always smiling, enjoying being on the trails but fiercely competitive with it. She’s an elite athlete but when you hear her being interviewed she talks about ‘moving in the mountains’ not hill repeats or threshold sessions, she describes how she’s looking forward to making and eating cinnamon buns when she returns home and her website has a recipe section. Matilda is such an adventurer already at the age of 4 and loves running, I think she could quite easily grow up to be a runner just like Emelie, although we may need to move near some mountains!

Chrissie Wellington

Image triitalian

Image triitalian

Chrissie is of course an amazing champion and holds the incredible record of being unbeaten in her 13 professional races, but what I find inspiring about her is the work she is doing now she’s retired. She’s passionate about equality in sport and in particular getting a Tour de France for women, she’s also a big supporter of Parkrun. What she has achieved in triathlon is inspiring and she’s very down to earth when she talks about how she did it. Maybe accessible is the right word? If I’m looking for role models for Matilda then Chrissie is perfect, a great athlete showing what dedication and hard work can bring and now a showing how a woman can have a strong influential voice.

Who are your role models?

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