The need for a culture that celebrates those who endure
A subject Peter Watson is most qualified to speak about is endurance given his exceptional multi-marathon achievements.
“Endurance is one of those things where you discover that you can do more than you could ever imagine,” Peter stated. “But you need to put yourself in a position where you have the opportunity to endure.”
“I think too often we are afraid of the cost of doing something, but we don’t ever position ourselves so we have to endure,” Peter commented.
But how did all this start for Peter, a confessed couch potato until the ripe old age of 40?
Peter Watson is not your average runner, he’s what you would call an extreme runner who prefers to run to raise funds for charities.
Most long distance runners will tell you there’s a great deal of preparation needed to run a marathon. But what about 57 marathons in 59 days?
Now that is extreme. Peter has every right to categorise himself as an ultra-marathon runner, and as we’ve mentioned, endurance is one of them.
Peter’s a Kiwi who’s lived in Australia since the turn of the century and had met his wife here in 1988 when he was attending a Bible college at Wollongong.
As far as Peter Watson’s interest in running, it all began as a result of tragic circumstances when he was 35 years old.
“I received news my brother had been killed when hit by a car as he was running across a road. He was an amazing runner who’d become better and better at it as he got older,” Peter recalled, saying his brother was about 40 when he died and it was his death that inspired Peter to make the commitment to run a marathon in honour of his brother.
But it wasn’t until Peter was close to 40 that he began running after he’d seen a photo of himself looking decidedly plump.
“I literally couldn’t run around the block when I first started running. But I set a goal to run a marathon a few months down the track,” Peter said, saying he went from being fat to running a 42 kilometre race in just a few months.
20Twenty host host Neil Johnson, who’s the first to admit he’s not a runner, wanted Peter to elaborate on the jolt it sometimes takes to shake us out of a malaise of doing things the way we always have done.
For Peter it was a number of things.
“Often we expect one thing to change our life but when we reflect back it’s often a number of things. One thing shakes us but that won’t give us enough impetus to actually make the change,” Peter said, saying change takes effort, time and energy.
Peter said it was four to five years from his brother’s death to his commitment to run this marathon, and to mention his own standard of well-being. “One, I noticed my health wasn’t very good, and another thing, I was pastoring a church and when you’re leading people I discovered you really can’t control them.”
“There’s certain things you can do but what they do is their choice, but I realized I needed to have more control of my life and exercise for me would provide some balance in my life,” Peter observed, saying it was about change, health and a few other things that had accumulated.
“There was enough pain in my life that I was willing to make the effort,” Peter confessed, adding that to go running you need to spend some money, buy some running shoes and set aside time to run every day or every two days.
“So any change requires some effort. And the other thing that helped me was setting a date for the race and telling people about it,” Peter said, saying that’s a very powerful way of motivating yourself.
Peter’s a pastor and he had some words of wisdom to share about leadership.
“You don’t have to be perfect to lead people but you need to be able to convey to people that you’re on a journey and the journey you’re taking is forwards and not backwards,” Peter shared, and that’s where the exercising plays a part.
“When people see some part of your life where you are exercising discipline, that you’re setting goals and you’re moving forward and you’re willing to pay a price for it, I think that adds a lot of integrity to your leadership, and running for me gave me an understanding of that,” Peter explained.
The running also gave Peter the opportunity to hang out with people outside of the church. And the other big plus for Peter has been to combine the running with raising money for charities.
“Running is not just about me. And people get more excited about the charities than they do about the running. The running is just a means to an end to something bigger than that.
“Probably 90 percent of the money raised (for Destiny Rescue) came from outside of the church. They have a real compassion as well and they are able to connect into something that they are compassionate about, so that’s fantastic,” Peter highlighted.
Neil wanted to know Peter’s thoughts on endurance, a subject he’s very qualified to speak about given his exceptional ultra-marathon track record.
Peter described endurance with the run that’s a start finish course, one that takes you to a turn-around halfway point before the journey home to the finish line. He compares that to the run that simply takes you around and around in circles.
“The running around in circles gives you a choice of stopping and that’s really hard to continue. But when you’re in the middle of the bush and you’re 20 kilometres away from anything, there’s no choice, you’ve got to keep on going, that’s endurance.”
“I think in life we need to position ourselves sometimes where we don’t actually have a choice to stop. We keep on going,” Peter said, saying it’s not in our culture to celebrate those people who do that really well. Who endure.
“We celebrate sports people, which is fantastic. But we don’t celebrate the single mum who’s raising her children and every day has to get up and get her kids to school,” Peter informed.
“We don’t celebrate the people with disabled children and one of the things I’ve learned from running and taking part in big events, is the awareness that we need other people to support and encourage us.”
“Running has made me aware of other people running very difficult events in their lives. It could be a business, a family, or ministering to homeless people. Whatever it is they are doing, we’ve got to learn to celebrate these people and be their cheer people, because it really does make a difference for them to keep on enduring,” Peter shared.
“Some people can endure by themselves and that’s brilliant, but most people need a cheers squad behind them to help them endure to go further than they thought they could achieve by themselves,” Peter concluded.
|Current||1. Impact Facilitation|
1. Hope Connect (Telopea Family Support), The Salvation Army,
2. Church in the Market Place
|Education||1. University of Technology, Sydney|
|Websites||1. Staff Team Training, YouTube Resources|
Causes Peter cares about:
For further information: https://au.linkedin.com/in/peterwatson01