Get Inspired For Your Next Workout: Yiannis Kouros’ Story

Have you ever been exercising and had your body tell you that you simply can’t do anymore? Okay, stupid question…everyone who has ever exercised has experienced this unwanted phenomenon. But how many of us (or how often can we) overcome this desire to quit and press through the discomfort, pain, and fatigue? I know one person who does…

Yiannis Kouros is a long-distance runner from Greece who has been setting world records since 1985. Big deal right?…there are lots of good long-distance runners out there. What’s so special about Yiannis? Well, let’s take a look at just a few of his records:

Fastest to run 100 miles – he did it in 11 hours and 46 minutes (averaging 13.7km/h)! Not bad right? Get this – he also holds the record for the fastest 1,000 mile run! That one he completed in just over 10 days! His records go on and on…longest running distance in 12 hours, 24 hours, 48 hours, 6 days…you get the picture! This guy can run and he can do it for long periods of time.

Why am I writing about him? Yiannis recently visited Ottawa for a 12-Hour race, a race that he ended up winning decisively. In those 12 hours he ran almost 219km while the runner-up ran “just” 208km. And the best part of his story is that he did this at the age of 56!

Am I suggesting that you (or anyone for that matter) take up ultra-distance running so that you can be like Yiannis? No. But I do love his attitude towards training and competing. When asked why he is able to perform so well and so consistently he replied, “When other people get tired they stop, I DON’T. I take over my body with my mind I tell it that it’s not tired and it listens.”

Read that quote again – other people stop, he doesn’t.

For most of us ultra-distance running is not in the cards but we can apply Yiannis’ principle to our training nonetheless. Here are 3 ways that I’d like to apply his no-quit attitude (I invite you to try this with me):

1) Exercise with a plan.

If we don’t have a plan then there’s nothing to determine whether you quit or if you just finished the workout.

2) Exercise intensely.

I always say that resistance training is cardio training if done properly. When we move our bodies through “big-bang” exercises (i.e. those that incorporate many muscles all in one exercise) we should feel our heart at work. If not, an increase in intensity (maybe via a quicker pace, more challenging exercise choices, less rest between sets, etc.) is in order.

3) Exercise with a goal of getting better.

Exercising for “maintenance” rarely makes sense to me. If you are going to invest time into your body then you should want to see improvement. Don’t settle for status quo.

“When other people get tired they stop, I DON’T. I take over my body with my mind I tell it that it’s not tired and it listens.” Words to live by.