A simple explanation of why I invest so much of myself in engaging in endurance runs that try to help others
Very early in life, I realized that if people did not help each other, we would end up in a society where the most important values would no longer be the driving forces pushing humanity forward. The new set of values would focus on materialism, individualism and selfishness. And although people believe that social media creates communities, it does not. It has isolated people. Being part of a group online does not have the same benefits as participating in a live group. Social media has become a data acquisition machine whose only purpose is to help corporations sell you more things you do not need.
Community is a fundamental concept that considerably helped the human race rise to the top of the food chain. It is at the core of our race. It is what makes us human.
Every day, I see people suffering in silence. Many of them suffer because they cannot or will not ask for help because asking for assistance is often viewed as a sign of weakness. I am one of these people. I know from first-hand experience how people reacted when I attempted to ask for assistance in the past. I usually get this look that says, “YOU need help? How come? You seem so in control and on top of things.” Most of us want to show our success by purchasing and displaying things we do not need. We think these items will make people believe we are successful. My wake-up call came when I realized that people liked the expensive things I had but not me. First, I was sad. My life became a big blur, but a few weeks later, my mental lens focused again, and I decided that living a minimalistic life was the way I wanted to live the rest of my life.
I went through very rough times as I engaged in my new lifestyle, which demanded a routine and strict discipline. My revenues dropped dramatically. I lost touch with many friends. I disconnected from many social gatherings and became reclusive. And, oh yes, I started running.
I’ve been running considerably for over fifteen years, covering tenths of thousands of kilometres. I’ve been freelancing in marketing strategy and other marketing aspects for years. It allowed me to work from anywhere without a boss telling me what, when and how to do it. It was a difficult life for quite a while. Scarcity, stress paying bills, and other obligations did not help my transition. But in the end, after going to war with myself, I found peace.
I decided to use my running abilities to raise awareness and funds for charity organizations. I quickly realized that these organizations would welcome the money I raised but were unwilling to support my efforts. Asking them to post a few articles about what I was doing to help them on their social media feeds articles seemed impossible. Also, I had doubts about where the money would go. I was disappointed in so many ways. I decided to move on and be more helpful and impactful by helping one person at a time.
In 2019, I undertook to run, over sixty consecutive days, a total distance of 5,000 km on a treadmill to help prolong a cancer patient’s life, that’s two marathons per day. The experience taught me so much about myself. I dug so deep into my physical and mental reserves. On the other side of suffering, there was another world. There was a whole new world of experiences and abilities. But I also discovered that running to help others gave me a tangible sense of purpose. At the end of each day, I was exhausted but happy and at peace. Also, I knew that the money raised by the event would go where it was supposed to go, not toward executives’ salaries, expense accounts and lavish headquarters. The entire experience left me with the hunger to do more, much more.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world by storm by the end of 2019. I planned to run from Vancouver to Montreal from June 1st to July 31st, 2020. All my potential sponsors backed away, claiming that they would concentrate on elite athletes for the time being. That statement crushed me. I put so much training into my preparation and made so many sacrifices. But I guess there are worst things in life. I moved on and decided to prepare for a 2021 attempt. At that point, anyone who wanted to refuse something blamed COVID-19. It became a joke!
So here we are. It is now 2022. COVID-19 is still present, but I suppose that people are tired of the restrictions, the loss of control over their lives and the sense that they were test subjects for a government that had no clue, no plan, and clearly no strategy to protect its people from the pandemic. In retrospect, I should not complain about the whole thing. All I lost was sponsorship money and a few freelance projects. I suppose things could have been worse. Many lost their lives or loved ones.
For others, things got much worse.
This year, I will concentrate on helping one family cope with a real tragedy (more to come soon about this matter).
So why do I do what I do? I do it because if I do not, who would? I do it because I enjoy an out of the ordinary health, and I can use it to promote the benefits of healthy living and fitness. I do it because helping others helped me in so many ways. I do it because it feels right. I do it because it feels good. I do it because this is who I have become.