Picture: Dad’s cross on ‘Glenbrook’, the family farm. The accompanying verse is; “So I lift up my eyes towards the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord who made heavens and earth.” Psalm 121
Tuesday’s session which I inflicted on the training group was the 3-minute session as described in blog 96 days to Rio. Being the final Tuesday session before departing for Rio I wanted to finish with one of my most meaningful workouts. As I retraced the steps of my 3-minute loop run so often before, I was able to reflect a little on the meaning of belief. Ian Leitch had seen something one Saturday morning 18 years ago as I ran my first 3-minute session alongside him, which I had seen myself. He saw natural endurance and speed which had the potential to be so much more potent than how I was using them back then. Indeed in 1998 I was lagging behind other 22 year old guys like Paul Cleary or Michael Power and was being surpassed by young developing runners like Marty Dent, Mark Thompson and a host of others.
But Letichy didn’t look at what I hadn’t achieved or my age of 22 years as a disadvantage. He believed I was lightly trained, a bit green and ready to ’step up’ to the next level. Over the next 2 years Leitchy led me through the transition to become a top runner on the Australian scene and knocking on the door for international teams. His belief had been the catalyst.
Similarly, I look at Brain Sullivan, the Deputy Principal of Parkes High School who watched me tear around Spicer Oval a couple of times when I was 12 and promptly linked me up with a coach, Athletics NSW’s President at the time, John Atterton. Mr Sullivan saw potential and for him it wasn’t enough to clap me on the back and say â€œwell doneâ€ (which he did) but his belief drove him to action. This action provided me, a kid from the bush who lined up for my first NSW Cross Country event in ’gum boots’ (as John Atterton described my heavy joggers), with an experienced and successful coach during my adolescent years. I recall calling Mr Atterton at the end of every 4-week training cycle to report in and ask for a new program. Looking back I probably caught him on the hop at such times and I probably didn’t show the same progression as some of his other charges. Needless to say John was extremely supportive as I followed his detailed programs methodically.
More recently I received the message of belief from Newcastle Sports Psychologist Fiona McCarthy who encouraged me to look inside and see whether I really wanted to retire from competitive running 2 years ago. She saw that my dream and passion was a large part of who I am and how I do life. Rather than packing it all up Fiona encouraged me to be true to myself and to be ok with keep believing. This was remarkable as I had reached out to Fiona to help me pack away my dreams but instead walked out feeling inspired and validated that my long held ambitions were not completely silly or selfish.
And while there have been many who have planted the seed of belief the final person I wish to mention is my late dad, Lawrie, who passed away in December 2014. My dad took pride in the achievements of his kids, he bragged about us all over the Alectown district. He believed in us and followed our careers closely. I sometimes took that belief as pressure but most often as a source of pride. He rode the highs and lows of my performances in a most tangible way. A great deal of the intensity and belief I drew on in preparing for the Berlin Marathon in 2015 was indeed honouring dad. It would have blown his socks off to see me line up in Rio, indeed I do know he will be watching.
Belief is powerful. My journey has been shaped by the belief that others have shown in me. This belief has been transformed into self-belief which is where the magic happens.