Ever since I was at school I had always shown a keen interest in running. My long strong legs and a decent set of lungs meant that I could have been quite a good runner if I had actually applied myself. Unfortunately the temptations that came with being a teenager were too great to resist and were to continue throughout my twenties and into my early thirties. I enjoyed regular nights out with the lads too much, nights that would entail heavy drinking and smoking. I preferred the party lifestyle and running, or any form of exercise, was put firmly on the back burner.
It wouldn’t be until a tragic event occurred in my mid-thirties that I would start taking running, and life in general, more seriously. A close friend of mine died suddenly of heart failure. He was the same age as me. I was devastated and wanted to do something to show I cared. Without thinking about it, I secured a charity place in the Great North Run for the British Heart Foundation. I started training but I was in bad shape. As a smoker I found it tough running anything more than a couple of miles. I realised very early on in my training that to complete the 13 miles I would need to stop smoking as I couldn’t breathe properly. And so I did. The distances I covered in my training sessions slowly improved as did my speed, and I successfully completed the race which took place four months later. The elation when I crossed the finish line was immense, as was the joy of raising so much money for my friend and the charity that would help other people like him. Since then, I have taken part in the Great North Run many times, often for charity. The heartbreaking death of my younger brother a few years later led me to run for Asthma, an illness he suffered with throughout his life. I was so proud when I found out I had been their top fundraiser that year. Running can be a great way to channel your grief into something positive when you lose someone so important.
Nowadays I try to run regularly as I find it greatly benefits both my physical and mental health. I am well into my naughty forties, a time of life when the body tends to spread out in all sorts of strange and uncontrollable directions as our metabolism and energy levels slow down. The only way to combat the obligatory beer belly and moobs (man boobs) from making a lamentable appearance on the body of any bloke in the middle of his life is with regular exercise and a balanced diet. Unlike religion, it is basic science and it works. In my case, sandwiches, crisps and cake at lunchtime have been replaced with Ryvita, cottage cheese and fruit. This together with going on regular runs has seen my body stay relatively trim and athletic which leads to increased self-esteem and confidence, mega useful for when I hit the Spanish beaches over the summer!
From a mental perspective, running helps me think more positively. I feel really good about myself and excited for life, especially when I’m trotting about in the beautiful countryside. My mind becomes a hive of activity as I begin to think more lucidly. I think about my life and what the future holds. Sometimes I get really good ideas for my business too. In fact, I actually got the idea for writing this blog post whilst out running. I think it has something to do with the release of endorphins, or happy chemicals, that start to flash around in the brain as a result of exercise. A while ago, I picked up an Achilles injury and had to take a break from running as I could hardly put any weight on my foot. I noticed the negative effects to my physical and mental health from this sustained period of non-exercise almost immediately. Something was missing and I felt more lethargic and quite depressed. It was a relief when I could lace up my trainers and finally get outdoors again.
One thing that does sometimes annoy me is when other runners bomb past me when I’m out jogging. How very dare they! They seem to be running twice as fast as me without the slightest amount of effort. This leaves me feeling frustrated as I continue plodding along gasping for air wondering why I can’t run any faster. I recently read an excellent blog, 5 reasons why going to the gym is like being like a translator, by Paul Kearns which really helped me to deal with this and also with issues I have previously had when comparing myself to other translators. He mentions that when he is down the gym and surrounded by huge muscle-clad blokes lifting much heavier weights than he is, it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day he’s not in competition with them, he’s only in competition with himself. He explains that these other gym goers, or in my case runners, have probably been doing what they do for years. Another thing is that many of the runners who whizz past me may well be half my age and, furthermore, it is doubtful they have put their bodies through what I used to do. So it really doesn’t matter how they are doing, it only matters how I’m doing.
And as Paul also correctly points out, it is the same with translators. We are not in competition with each other. I shouldn’t be comparing the success of other translators with me. Many translators have been translating for much longer so it is only natural for them to have progressed further. For a long time I found it hard to read the monthly updates that many translators post on LinkedIn. These posts showcase the brilliant work that they have achieved in the previous month and are a great way to market yourself. Unfortunately for new translators entering the profession, they can have an adverse effect, especially for those that have been feeding off scraps for several months. When I used to compare myself to other translators, it would sometimes leave me with feelings of negativity as I despaired over my lack of work. But it need not be like that; we aren’t in competition with anyone but ourselves. And by looking at things from a different perspective, the success of fellow translators should be embraced and used as motivation to push us on to the next level. Now I really enjoy celebrating these posts on LinkedIn and like to leave comments congratulating other translators on their marvellous achievements. We aren’t in competition. In fact, we are all in this together and should support one another.
Of course, being successful in the translation business requires a lot of hard work and careful planning, just like it does to be a successful runner. Mo Farah didn’t sit on his arse all day to become a gold medal winner. No brother (or sister)! He took massive continuous action on a daily basis. He had a plan and he stuck to it. It’s the same with translators. You aren’t going to get anywhere in this game without massive continuous action. Have a plan, stick to it and take action. If the plan isn’t getting the results you want, tweak it but keep taking action. I’ve been guilty many a time of trying something and then getting despondent when it doesn’t work. This despondency can inevitably lead to a lack of action. But this won’t get you clients. It’s the same when you are running a marathon; stopping when you are tired or when your legs turn to jelly won’t get you over the finish line. You have to keep on going no matter how hard it gets.
Running has definitely been a force for good in my life. It stopped me from doing the things I knew I shouldn’t be doing. It stopped me from smoking as, otherwise, running was just a form of torture. It made me think about my alcohol intake which, over the years, has greatly reduced. It made me think about how I could improve my diet and, as a result, I have gradually been substituting all the crappy food I used to consume for far more healthier options. It helped me combat the agonising grief that came with the deaths of a good friend and my little brother. Running helped me to make the lifestyle choices necessary to make me feel better about myself. And all the energy and positive vibes that physical exercise creates has led to more positive results in everything I do, including my freelance business. Running, or any other form of exercise, may only be one cog in the grand machine of life, but it’s a very important one. It makes you feel good, sometimes it makes you feel ecstatic, and this is sure to have a knock-on effect in all other areas of your life.