For every gold post box commemorating Olympic triumph, there are a thousand more like this one - tired, flaky paint, with a weed growing up the side. This is the one nearest my house, and although I’ll never be responsible for having it painted gold, I can remember a time when I probably couldn’t have run to it, and more tellingly, couldn’t imagine wanting to.
The sporting achievements this summer are channelled into a bold call – to inspire a generation. It works for me. I remember watching Seoul 1988 as a 12-year-old boy, and writing down each of the world records, and then writing down my own goals right next to them. There’s something beautifully simple about running to the best of your ability, and about the dedication involved, that makes it such a thrilling mistress.
Now I’m trying to play my part – to encourage you all to be courageous, and to see what you can achieve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re at the front of the field, or still sitting on your sofa. It’s time to see what you can do. Like most of you, I’m never going to win a gold medal, but my local post box will forever be there to remind me that it’s down to me to reach my full potential.
Some of you may think that the post box is an out-dated idea, that it’s time to let old technology pass into the past – and that’s how you may feel about your running too. But to paraphrase Sir Ludwig Guttmann, founder of the Paralympic Games: “Whilst you are waiting for the Good Lord to take you, why don’t you see what you can do?”.
And if you don’t need inspiration yourself, think about who you can give it to. My father took up running at the age of 60 - fed up perhaps of hearing me talk about how much fun I was having. He used the benches at the local lake, run-walking from one to the next until one day he was doing laps.
So why don’t you start by taking a run out to your local post box – and better still, take someone with you. And when they can run there, help them find the next one. You may never change the appearance of that post box – but you may change yourself in the process.