I’d love you to meet Stefaan Engels.
He’s 50 years old and lives in Belgium.
I heard Stefaan being interviewed by JB Glossinger, expert in human potential and performance and the founder of MorningCoach.com, (the world’s first personal evolution system and my daily dose of philosophy – check it out)
Stefaan had just finished 365 marathons in 365 days! That’s a marathon every day for a whole year – straight.
Having never heard of Stefaan, I immediately pictured this older, skinny, ultra marathon man who’s body was a temple and who’s achievements were based on an artificial base of life… crew, facilities, sleep chambers with a pure oxygen mask, uber space food sticks… only few of us could create.
I’ve been doing something physical (training, yoga or running) and hour a day for the past six months straight and I know the joys, surprises it’s given me and the commitment it’s taken me – the only way I can get through it to just committing to each day – short term stuff – knowing today isn’t the day I’m going to stop momentum. It’s as simple and as complex as that.
JB Glossinger broached my two burning questions early – “How did you wake up one morning and say – I think I’ll do a year of marathons” and “You’re body must be your temple – What’s your life like to maintain such a huge physical commitment?”
Stefaan explained that he loves life and is fanatic about sports. He’s restless, single and always on the lookout for new ideas and campaigns that get people moving. The first time was in 2008, when he completed 20 long-distance triathlons and made the Guinness Book of Records. And in 2011 he finished running a marathon every day for a year.
Even though he was an overnight celebrity, this didn’t happen overnight – and as I listened I got it!
I was tuned into the One Percent A Day philosophy in full flight.
For years, Stefaan, a very driven practitioner of endurance sports, had been running marathons for twenty years, and triathlons for ten. This was just the next evolution of his commitment.
This was an ace segue into “but what about the sacrifices in life” question.
“It must have been such a mental challenge to know you had run x amount of marathons and you had x amount left to go – how did you cope” a very curious JB asked.
And the answer was golden…and as soon as the surprising words poured from his mouth into my ears I welled up and started to cry.
Stefaan shared that he never thought about how long he’d do this for because he didn’t know what was physically possible. So all he committed to was the very day he was living. Today was the only thought he had. “Today, all I have to do was run a marathon and that was possible” he shared.
Today wasn’t going to be the day he stopped and he never thought about tomorrow or planned ahead, his team did that so his focus was 100% on the one task at hand – and it was very achievable.
He would sleep 10 hours a night then wake and eat. He’d get his shoes on and run for anywhere between 2.5 and 4 hours, with a support crew, well wishers and his friends, raising money for various charities all over the world. Then he’s have a massage and the rest of the day was his – and he enjoyed it!
Every night he gathered new and old friends at a restaurant and eat whatever his body felt like and drank a few beers and a bottle of wine. He had generous sponsors and felt incredibly blessed that he didn’t have to worry about life’s needs, his job was to run a few hours a day and relax and enjoy life by living it one day at a time.
“I don’t regard my marathon year as torture. It is more like a regular job. I am running just as Joe Average goes to work on Monday morning, whether or not he feels like it. I don’t always feel like running, but when I am done, I take a shower, have some physiotherapy for an hour and that wraps up my day.”
A great expression of the One Percent A Day philosophy – commit to what’s possible and enjoy yourself the rest of day – day by day.