Posted by: thehungryrunner | July 22, 2008

A brush with Greatness: meeting John “The Penguin” Bingham!

The Flexibility Coach meets The Penguin!

The Flexibility Coach meets The Penguin!

I never miss his articles in Runner’s World magazine.  I’ve read his books hungrily (how else?  I’m the Hungry Runner, after all!).  Without a doubt, I would credit him, Amby Burfoot and Jeff Galloway (my two other favorite running experts) in shaping 90% of my running, and really, my attitude and approach to life in general.  In case you don’t already know, John “The Penguin” Bingham is a marathon runner who helped ignite the “second wave” of the running boom.  Great stuff in of itself, but that doesn’t even scratch the surface of his true impact.  Mr. Bingham is responsible for inspiring all us “mortal” runners to embrace our pace and get out there and run (or walk or both) our way to a better life and better health.  Rather than focus on time and pushing for athletic brilliance, he instead makes the case for simply DOING it.  If anything, his emphasis on the ENJOYMENT of the totality of running as opposed to zeroing in on the performance details is, to me, what running — fitness, in fact — is all about.  Sure, it can be great fun to tweak your training and challenge yourself to reaching higher, but the point is to do it regardless of whether that aspect of it is important to you or whether you have natural athletic abilities.  No matter who you are, YOU can be a runner.  That’s a powerful message!  It inspires me and keeps me grounded at the same time.

So imagine my starry-eyed surprise when I found out that a fitness fair at which I would be working my booth for The Flexibility Coach…..was to include an appearance by none other than The Penguin himself!  The only emotion matching my exhuberance upon hearing the news….was the dreadful fear that in my excitement I would stammer myself into two-feet-in-the-mouth embarrassment.  “Cool and clever” isn’t usually how you’d describe me when around someone whose work I admire.

Happily, no major gigglefests or other lamebrained moments from me (that I know of).  Big relief there.

As for the Man himself, I can report that you will NOT find a more unpretentious and unimposing person.  Friendly, down to earth, and refreshingly resolute in his personal and professional approach to the sport, despite the fact that it runs against the grain of the more common go-go-go-GO mentality in this field.  Don’t get me wrong, he’s clearly very disciplined, but he also has a rock-solid head on his shoulders.  And utterly GENUINE.  I got the feeling that if I were to somehow work with or visit with him on a regular basis, he would be no different in those more intimate circumstances than he is in these public appearances.

In short, I felt just as gratified — make that more so — after having met John Bingham as I was before.  When it comes time to those people — celebrities, sources of inspiration, experts — whom we look up to, this isn’t always the case!

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