By Katleen Vangodtsenhoven
“How do you keep on swimming, cycling and running over and over again many times per week?” That is a question that people often ask me. They want to know how I find the energy to keep on training. People are also curious to know if I ever have days that I don’t feel like working out at all.
Well, I’ll tell you one little secret… There are days that I find hard to get to the pool, to jump in and to start swimming. Other days riding my bike for three hours seems like the hardest thing to do. Even running can feel like a huge thing to do when I didn’t sleep very well or because I have such heavy legs. Always plenty of excuses. There are even days that I ask myself why on earth I decided to sign up for this again.*
So why did I go for it once more? And how do I motivate myself to do it anyway? There is a whole lot more to it than you might think. I am not just doing this for myself. Sure, I partially do it to challenge and to push myself further and further. I love the feeling of getting myself stronger and more determined after every training. I can also mention the tremendous health effects of working out. Although all of that is true, it’s still not my main reason. Definitely not.
So, what is my motivation? I know that there are people out there who are following my Win4Youth adventures. Some cheer loudly while others play more the discrete style, but they are following me. And, it seems like I am capable of inspiring these people! They see me pushing myself through my limits, and they think ‘hey, maybe I could do that as well.’ And you can!
To be clear, I am not an athlete. I am not a professional athlete. I am just a women who used to run a lot, who cycled to work from time to time and who was scared as hell to swim (let alone in an ocean!). But, I am also a woman who managed to overcome these fears once and who crossed the finish line of the Gavá Olympic distance triathlon as a Win4Youth Ambassador last year.
If people are getting inspired by what I do, I cannot let them down. If the fact that I decided to ignore the excuses in my head helps them go out and go for that swim, run, ride or whatever workout, I think that is pretty amazing. That puts a smile on my face. And, as an Alumni Ambassador, I believe that it is precisely my role: to inspire fellow Ambassadors and in all other people to start or keep moving. But it also works the other way around.
I also know that I am not alone. When I get up early in the morning or go out late in the evening to train, I know that at the other side of the world there are fellow Win4Youth Ambassadors & colleagues, clients, associates in other countries who are doing the same thing. We are all one team, and we all have one goal – 8M Kilometres and 438,000 hours.
That’s part of the magic of Win4Youth. I get inspired by not being alone, but with others taking on this challenge. Each ambassador has peculiar athletic abilities, problems, and fears, but in the end, we are all the same no matter our language or nationality. We are all Ambassadors of this wonderful initiative called Win4Youth.
I also push myself when it gets difficult because of the team spirit around Win4Youth. My world doesn’t stop and end at the end of my front door but reaches the far ends of the globe and mostly, because our effort supports Plan International work too.
Plan International helps youth people who aren’t as privileged as our children. So yes, when I am cycling up a hill, and my legs are burning, it helps me to keep on going. When I stand in a lake, and I feel the fear sneaking in, or when I am running in the heat, and I feel so tired, then I think about this other beautiful reason why I am doing this. And then I know that I am doing something good.
That it’s not just helping me to become a better version of myself, that I’m not just inspiring others to go beyond their limits, but that I am also contributing to help youngsters to get a better life. How amazing is that? That’s exactly what keeps me going. So sign up for Win4Youth (if you haven’t already), and the next time you hesitate to get out to exercise, give yourself that little extra push and go! You won’t regret it, I promise.
*Katleen Vangodtsenhoven is a Win4Youtn Ambassador for the second time in a roll.