Giving it Some Ben
Words by Mark Jarvis
“That made me angry & you don’t want to make me angry”
That is a quote from Ben Ainslie during the 2012 Olympic sailing competition. For those who don’t follow sailing, Ben is our most decorated Olympic Sailor (4 Golds and a Silver). The 2012 Olympics were likely to be Bens last and he was widely tipped to win. There was an incident in one of the early races where Ben felt two of the other competitors ganged up against him and then came the comment. Whatever the rights and wrongs it seemed to do the trick because 3 days later Ben was Olympic champion again and laid his claim to a place in history.
Now I don’t generally get angry. There were moments with my daughters when they were teenagers and they were becoming better at a forthright decision than me, and the odd moment where I witness injustice first hand but generally I am a calm person. Those of you who have read my other pieces in this publication will know that at the start of July I damaged my achilles tendon. This meant no running with my friends for most of the summer - (I joined them on my bike in a very 1920s coaching style shouting encouraging words as they still ran round our local park).
So, I was delighted when I got back to running with them. Only 2-3K initially - I would peel off after the first lap. Gradually I felt stronger and was able to up the pace a bit and run a few 100m more each time. Then came the day. I was ready in my head to give the full 5K a go. It was a brisk morning, not quite frosty in the microclimate of urban Coventry but definitely a nip in the air. We met in the car park and set off. A good strong pace I thought; we got to the first incline, pace maybe a bit strong but it is OK I will be fine, then the second incline. At which point one of my friends asked a very innocent and genuine question. I answered but in 3-word chunks - I knew I was in trouble, I knew talking uphill at this pace was not good. I kept going for another 150m or so but it was over - mentally I was out; I stopped to walk encouraging my friends to run on.
It was then that the red mist descended. I had so wanted to complete 5K that day. Not only had I not done 5k I had done a lot less than my normal 3.5K. There was a little bit of shouting - fortunately I went into the wooded part of the trail at this point and then I went home. Partway through the afternoon (I was still seething and not being very productive from a work perspective), I remembered the Ben Ainslie story. I decided to channel this unusual anger into something positive. I went to bed early, woke promptly on Friday morning, did some stretches got in the car and went to the park.
On my own, I set off around our regular running route. It wasn’t quick, it wasn’t pretty (well I wasn’t, the park looked great at sunrise) but it was 5K. I know many of you eat 5K and more for breakfast every day but for me that one was such a result. Getting angry was just the mental stimulus I needed to get me around the course. I am greatly blessed to have friends who look at my Garmin feed and are encouraging. So by 9 I had messages of congratulation coming in and encouragement to keep it up now I had got there. I still do not always run 5K when I join my friends but it is getting easier and I feel stronger each run, but I think I will leave the proper getting angry to Ben.