Michael (Mike) Stocks, Runner, Writer, Speaker

A few special hours require many ordinary days

Michael Stocks Running

- Race Day

There came a time in my life when the days and weeks at first seemed to drift but then started to slip by more quickly. I realised that life is finite and as I reached the end of a week, I would wonder what I had achieved. Had I experienced joy? Did I live for every moment? Was I fully engaged with life?

Last night, as I prepared for the race, I flicked through my log book, in which I keep a record of every training run. It’s good to remind myself of the work I’ve done to prepare for a race. As I read the distances and notes, I also remembered a few of those runs: an evening when everything just clicked and I felt invincible, a time when I looked out over London from Alexandra Palace in the glorious sunshine, a moment when I felt suddenly like an athlete as I flew down a hill, a run in the fresh snow and a long run on the treadmill when the snow had turned to ice. The rest of the runs were just names and numbers, their individuality lost in the anonymity of my training regime. ‘Ten miles easy, feeling okay.’

And now, a day that will live with me for ever. What else could I be doing today to engage more fully with life? I’m taking myself to unknown emotional, mental and physical extremes, striving for a level of sporting achievement that once seemed utterly impossible for me. I’m seeking to open new doors by deploying everything I have in one massive effort at achieving personal greatness: the most that I can become with the gifts and limitations that are unique to me.

I spent the five days before the race doing as little as possible – resting up and switching off the body and mind to anything that felt like effort. It was like I was hibernating. Over these past months, I have lost many things to tiredness and the need to rest: opportunities to make new friends, to see art exhibitions, to climb a mountain. But it was all for this.

If I do my best today, I will not look back and feel regret for all the paths not followed. At most, I will feel a gentle pathos and an understanding that many ordinary days are required to make a few great ones.


From Michael’s book, ‘One-Track Mind’, out 18 March 2021


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