Beyond the Finish Line:

Running and Living with Purpose

The NC500 Guide to Life

Life is You, vs Yourself

This daily blog explores the remarkable parallels between a running challenge, and the journey of life.

I have divided these learnings into 15 lessons, one for each day I ran, so whether you’re a seasoned marathoner or someone who feels faint at the thought of running for a bus, this blog is for you.

Author: Nicky Forster

Day 2

Life is You, vs Yourself


Life is a journey, of highs and lows, of challenges and setbacks, of wins and losses.

We navigate the internal challenges and external influences on a daily basis.

 At the heart of this journey lies a profound conflict, life being you versus yourself.


 This paradoxical battle between who we really are and who we want to be is at times our biggest challenge.

That’s why comparisons with others are so unhelpful, it increases pressure on us by extending the limit of the person we want to be, distancing ourselves further form the person we currently are.

The battle between me and myself was an ever-present internal dialogue throughout the NC500 challenge.

“This is too much, you can’t do this”.

“Just keep going, you will get there”.

“You’re hurting, stop running”. 

“You need to get running again, walking will take hours”.

 “What are you trying to prove, what’s the point in all of this”.

 “No this is worthwhile, it is doing good for you and others”.


It’s exhausting, but I know how valuable it is to me, being, well, me!

As I navigate this inner conflict, i realize that life’s beauty lies not in the absence of struggle, but in the presence of it and the process of becoming the best version of me.

Some of the greatest moments of this challenge, came out of the darkest moments of despair.

Day 4 of my challenge was a 38 mile run/walk which came after the longest and toughest stage, I was tired both mentally and physically before I started.

Added to this, at day 4 my mind hadn’t yet toughened to all the stressors of the challenge – the distance, the terrain, the blisters, the loneliness, the weather, the food, the pressure of making it to the end point each day, the thoughts going through my mind.

Former US Navy Seal, David Goggins, calls this “callousing the mind”.

Day 4 was split into 2 parts, a 17 mile section going up and over the highlands, dropping back down to a tiny hamlet called Kinlochewe, from there it was a 21 mile flat section along a busy-ish (this is the Scottish Highlands) road to Gairloch, shouldn’t be an issue, but I hadn’t factored for one thing . . . . the rain.

It can only be described as torrential and continuous.

The first part to Kinlochewe was fine, wet, but my mood was fine.

Sitting eating a toasted cheese and onion sandwich, I looked at the weather app on my phone.

Ah good, it’s going to clear this afternoon.

As I sat chatting to a local, I tried to do this a every opportunity, for company and to engage with life in the Highlands as much as I could during my time there, she commented, “we’ve got this all week”, looking up at the sky.

I challenged it with my phone app as evidence to back up my claim, but she said “no. I’m afraid it’s here to stay”.

Dejected, I set off for Gairloch

I soon decided that I wasn’t going to run much that day, but internally telling myself repeatedly, ‘come on, you need to run”.

“If you don’t want to run then stop trying to run, just bloody walk, but make the decision”.

I lost the battle to run pretty quickly, that gave the rain time to get in, which it did.

They say water will find the path of least resistance.

I set off from lunch at 2.00pm, by 4.30pm I was soaked.

To the bone

If you get wet, you soon get cold.

I rang family but that made me emotional, and to be fair, even though they tried, they couldn’t help.

By the time I finished at 8.30pm I was really cold, wet and mentally weak.

To make things worse, that night was a camping night.

And the rain still

As I checked in, I begged the woman to let me sleep in a campsite building, anywhere, the reception, the wet room, even the toilet block.

“Please, please don’t make me pitch my tent in this rain”.

“I can’t, I’m not allowed” she replied.

I finally gave in, went for a shower, the one luxury each day I looked forward to.

As I dried myself, I heard a voice, ‘are you in here”.

“Yes”, I replied.

“My partner has driven a Jeep round and parked it on the grass, on the back is a caravan, it’s not been used for over a year so it might be a little musty, but its dry. You are welcome to sleep in that tonight”.

The feeling of relief flooded over me and all I could do was send out a muffled, thank you, whilst my emotions got the better of me, I sat with my face in my hands and cried for several minutes.

I had made it, got through the day, won the battle.

I would be back on the start line tomorrow.

To do it all over again

This battle between you and yourself is an integral aspect of the human experience.

The footballer Dele Ali has recently talked of it as he opened up about his battles with mental health.

It shapes our individuality, defines our character, and creates personal growth.

So, embrace the battle, for it is in the struggle that you will truly find yourself.

Be the best version of you

Your journey to a brighter future starts here

Let’s do it!

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